The grandeur of a nation's history.



The Golden Empire

By Hugh Thomas


A chronicle of the founding of Spain's Latin American empire, this engrossing book finds the nation at its peak of global influence from 1522 to 1566, when Charles V ruled the undisputed powerhouse of Europe and extended its reach to the New World. Highlighted in colorful detail are the sharp ends of Spain's imperial spears, the men who first ventured across intemperate seas and through sweltering jungles in the name of King and country, including Cortés, Pizarro, and de Soto. Neither condemning nor endorsing colonialism's assault on indigenous people, Thomas seeks rather to encapsulate a specific time, the dawn of a new Europe.



The Ornament of the World

By Maria Rosa Menocal


More than any other European country, Spain has been at the crossroads of  three major monotheisms. During the period of Moorish conquest (756-1492), the Ummayads and their political descendants displayed inclusive tolerance to the "peoples of the Book"; Jews persecuted elsewhere in Europe flocked to the Iberian peninsula, and the intellectual heritage of the classical world was preserved for posterity. Offering insights that could prove invaluable to our globalized era, Maria Rosa Menocal composes a valuable portrait of this period of cultural equanimity, and its eventual devolution into the chaos of the Inquisition.



Spain: A History

Edited by Raymond Carr


From the prehistoric period to the era of Roman colonization, from the Moorish invasion to the Inquisition, from the Spanish Civil War to Spain's inclusion in the EU, this sweeping, comprehensive collection of essays offers a dynamic perspective on Spain's hotly contested history. Often overlooked by those enthralled by France and England, Spain's past is crowded with drama, spectacle, and not a little blood. Amid the wars and power struggles, some of  humanity's greatest works of art emerged, and this volume --  edited by historian Raymond Carr, but including diverse and often competing points of view -- includes  over 70 pages of illustrations to bring Spanish art and architecture to life.




By Robert Hughes


Beyond Madrid, Barcelona is the  Spanish city best known to the rest of the world. Except that it isn't part of the historic Spain of Aragon and Castile -- rather, it's the capital of what was once the Kingdom of Catalonia, and that country's language, culture, and cuisine give this city its unique personality (and its spirit of independence, celebrated by George Orwell in his Homage to Catalonia). In this volume, famed art critic and historian Robert Hughes doesn't merely provide a guide to the city's landmarks, but unveils its tumultuous, violent, and deeply fascinating story.



Don Quixote

By Miguel de Cervantes


A work of sheer storytelling genius, credited by many as the first European novel, Don Quixote (published in two parts in 1605 and 1615) is the most influential work of the Spanish Golden Age, if not all of Spanish literature. The tale concerns an old country gentleman who, after reading of a lost chivalric era, becomes delusional and believes that he is a knight errant charged with the protection of honor. That a madman should be the last guardian of honor is Cervantes' wry commentary on the faded glory of the world in which he lived. Hilarious and dismaying, packed with tangential tales and a gallery of colorful characters, including the beleaguered squire Sancho Panza, this book is bursting with a vitality and irony that remains uniquely Spanish, though its sensibility has been taken to heart by readers around the globe.

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).