The King and the Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and Edward the Seventh, Secret Partners

Historian Fromkin's focus isn't so much on the personal history between President Teddy Roosevelt and King Edward VII of Britain (indeed, the two men never actually meet in Fromkin's narrative), as it is about the shifting national alliances in the Atlantic world before World War I. Fromkin skillfully describes how Edward, after the 1901 death of his mother, Queen Victoria, moved his country toward an alliance with France and in opposition to Germany, ruled by his nephew Kaiser William II. President Roosevelt and the king both favored this crucial diplomatic shift, which would later lead to the two world wars of the 20th century. As Fromkin shows, much of the European diplomacy of this era was personal. The Great Powers were mainly monarchies with family interconnections. Fromkin analyzes the kaiser's "passionate dislike of his uncle," King Edward, and traces that animosity to William's strict military upbringing, compared with Edward's playboy lifestyle. Kaiser "William's whole view of Great Power foreign policy over the course of two decades," Fromkin explains, "was colored by his undying hatred" of his royal British uncle. Fromkin also explores how Roosevelt helped Edward reach his goals: Roosevelt, writes the author, "was Anglophile" and believed the English-speaking peoples were destined to rule the world. When the kaiser attempted to destroy Britain's new diplomatic arrangement with France, Roosevelt sided with Edward. Germany "charged it was being encircled by its enemies," concludes Fromkin, and would unsuccessfully fight two wars to shift this established strategic alliance.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.