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December 2013

History Books Roundup: Reliving the Past

December 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, history buffs will be delighted by the number of outstanding history books releasing this month. Among these December releases, which have been compiled by's Greg Fitzgerald, are HEIR TO THE EMPIRE CITY: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt by Edward P. Kohn, WARSAW 1944: Hitler, Himmler, and the Warsaw Uprising by Alexandra Richie, BETWEEN MAN AND BEAST: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel, and BEETHOVEN: THE MAN REVEALED by John Suchet.

Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo by Jack Cheevers - History

December 2, 2014

1968 was a year filled with mind-boggling headlines. Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were struck down by assassins’ bullets. The war in Vietnam was raging. And a small, nondescript former cargo ship, the USS Pueblo,and her crew were seized by the North Koreans in international waters. This massively researched book tells the full story of what became known as "the Pueblo incident."

Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet - Biography

December 16, 2014

Beethoven scholar and classical radio host John Suchet has had a lifelong, ardent interest in the man and his music. Here, in his first full-length biography, Suchet illuminates the composer’s difficult childhood, his struggle to maintain friendships and romances, his ungovernable temper, his obsessive efforts to control his nephew’s life, and the excruciating decline of his hearing.

Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel - History

December 3, 2013


In 1856, Paul Du Chaillu ventured into the African jungle in search of a mythic beast, the gorilla. After wild encounters with vicious cannibals, deadly snakes and tribal kings, Du Chaillu emerged with 20 preserved gorilla skins --- two of which were stuffed and brought on tour --- and walked smack dab into the biggest scientific debate of the time: Darwin's theory of evolution. Quickly, Du Chaillu's trophies went from objects of wonder to key pieces in an all-out intellectual war.

Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer by Thom Hatch - Biography

January 27, 2015

GLORIOUS WAR, the definitive biography of George Armstrong Custer’s Civil War years, is nothing short of a heart-pounding cavalry charge through the battlefield heroics that thrust the gallant young officer into the national spotlight in the midst of the country’s darkest hours. From West Point to the daring actions that propelled him to the rank of general at age 23 to his unlikely romance with Libbie Bacon, Custer’s exploits are the stuff of legend.

The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left by Yuval Levin - History/Politics

December 3, 2013


For more than two centuries, our political life has been divided between a party of progress and a party of conservation. In THE GREAT DEBATE, Yuval Levin explores the origins of the left/right divide by examining the views of the men who best represented each side of that debate at its outset: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine.

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince by Jane Ridley - Biography

August 12, 2014

THE HEIR APPARENT chronicles the eventful life of Queen Victoria’s firstborn son, the quintessential black sheep of Buckingham Palace, who matured into as wise and effective a monarch as Britain has ever seen. Granted unprecedented access to the royal archives, noted scholar Jane Ridley draws on numerous primary sources to paint a vivid portrait of the man and the age to which he gave his name.

Heir to the Empire City: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt by Edward P. Kohn - History/Politics

December 10, 2013


Historian Edward P. Kohn argues that it was Theodore Roosevelt's hometown of New York that made him the progressive president we celebrate today. During his early political career, he took on local Republican factions and Tammany Hall Democrats alike, proving his commitment to reform at all costs. HEIR TO THE EMPIRE CITY reveals that Roosevelt’s true education took place not in the West but on the mean streets of 19th-century New York.

Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherill Tippins - History

November 4, 2014

The Chelsea Hotel, since its founding by a visionary French architect in 1884, has been an icon of American invention: a cultural dynamo and haven for the counterculture, all in one astonishing building. Sherill Tippins, author of the acclaimed FEBRUARY HOUSE, delivers a masterful and endlessly entertaining history of the Chelsea and of the successive generations of artists who have cohabited and created there.

The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams by Ben Bradlee, Jr. - Biography

December 3, 2013


Ted Williams was the best hitter in baseball history. His batting average of .406 in 1941 has not been topped since, and no player who has hit more than 500 home runs has a higher career batting average. Those totals would have been even higher if Williams had not left baseball to serve as a Marine pilot in WWII and Korea. He hit home runs farther than any player before him --- and traveled a long way himself, as Ben Bradlee, Jr.'s biography reveals.

Metronome: A History of Paris from the Underground Up by Lorànt Deutsch - History

December 3, 2013


METRONOME follows Loránt Deutsch, historian and lifelong Francophile, as he goes on a compelling journey through the ages, treating readers to Paris as they've never seen it before. Using 21 stops of the subway system as focal points --- one per century --- Deutsch shows, from the underground up, the unique, often violent, and always striking events that shaped one of the world’s most romanticized city.

The Queen's Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I by John Cooper - History

December 11, 2013


Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth's Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect his queen and country.

Secrets of the Knights Templar: A Chronicle 1129-1312 by Susie Hodge - History

December 3, 2013

SECRETS OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR is the compelling chronicle of the warrior monks and their fight to defend the Catholic faith, and of their participation in the efforts to vie for control of the Holy Land with the Muslim armies of Kurdish military genius Saladin and his successors. Informally organized in 1119 to protect pilgrims on their journeys to visit the Holy Land, and officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church in 1129, the medieval Knights Templar grew into an elite fighting force that played a central role in the battles of the Crusades.

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History by Don Oberdorfer and Robert Carlin - History

December 10, 2013


Ever since Korea was first divided at the end of World War II, the tension between its northern and southern halves has riveted --- and threatened to embroil --- the rest of the world. In this landmark history, now thoroughly revised and updated in conjunction with Korea expert Robert Carlin, veteran journalist Don Oberdorfer grippingly describes how a historically homogenous people became locked in a perpetual struggle for supremacy --- and how they might yet be reconciled.

The Venetians: A New History: From Marco Polo to Casanova by Paul Strathern - History

November 15, 2014

The Republic of Venice was the first great economic, cultural and naval power of the modern Western world. After winning the struggle for ascendency in the late 13th century, the Republic enjoyed centuries of unprecedented glory. THE VENETIANS illuminates the character of the Republic during these illustrious years by shining a light on some of the most celebrated personalities of European history.

Warsaw 1944: Hitler, Himmler, and the Warsaw Uprising by Alexandra Richie - History

December 10, 2013


In 1943, the Nazis liquidated Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. A year later, they threatened to complete the city’s destruction by deporting its remaining residents. As Soviet soldiers turned back the Nazi invasion of Russia and began pressing west, the underground Polish Home Army decided to act. Taking advantage of German disarray and seeking to forestall the absorption of their country into the Soviet empire, they chose to liberate the city of Warsaw for themselves. WARSAW 1944 tells the story of this brave --- and errant --- calculation.