• HISTORY

Thirst

Whether we've used water to nourish or impress, to thwart or encourage, for sustenance or recreation, Steven Mithen details how our global consumption has always teetered on the edge on unsustainability -- never more so than today.

 

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  • HISTORY

Reporting the Revolutionary War

History comes alive in this fascinating collection of Todd Andrlik's prized eighteenth-century newspaper clippings. Likening the experience of reading these facsimile primary documents to that of a treasure hunt, the author conjures up the thrills experienced firsthand by a revolutionary generation.

 

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  • HISTORY

1775: A Good Year for Revolution

Independence! As dates go, there are few more sacred to the American imagination than 1776 -- but contrarian historian Kevin Phillips thinks we're one year off. A story of the moment the tide turned, and the British lost their grip on a colonial treasure.

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The Black Count

As thrilling as any of Alexandre Dumas's novels (think The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers) is the story of his father, a mixed race man brought from Haiti to France in bondage who eventually commanded 50,000 men in Napoleon's army. Tom Reiss immortalizes a swashbuckling hero who defied attitudes towards race and only stumbled when his boldness threatened the Emperor himself.

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  • HISTORY

Fortress Israel

Noting -- but hardly condoning -- the dominant role the armed forces play in crafting Israel's worldview, Patrick Tyler takes an in-depth look at how a "culture of toughness and militarism" has permeated the nation's foreign and domestic policies, for better and worse.

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  • HISTORY

Lincoln's Hundred Days

With casualties from the Civil War mounting, President Lincoln turned his attention to a document that proved the cornerstone of his legacy. Louis P. Masur's comprehensive work of history captures the critical period between the issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and the signing of the final, significantly altered, decree.

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  • HISTORY

American Empire

A panoramic account of America's great transformation into the world's leading power, from the economic boom of the 1950s and the civil rights struggle that came after, to the troubled 1970s and beyond.

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  • HISTORY

Rabid

Vampires and werewolves may have their mythic origins in the much realer threat of rabies. A journalist and a veterinarian explore the history of the virus that has frightened and fascinated for centuries.  Science with a bite.

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  • HISTORY

City of Ravens

According to legend, Charles II warned that if there were no ravens at the Tower of London, the British Nation would collapse. The truth behind how these clever birds became tourist attractions is unpacked by natural historian Boria Sax. The result is a captivating exploration of how we make myths and endow animals with unique meaning.

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  • HISTORY

Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace

Isabella Robinson boldly recorded her inmost thoughts -- including her infatuation with a married man -- in a diary discovered by her husband on a fateful day in 1858. Kate Summerscale uses the diary itself, and the ensuing divorce trial, to render the world of Victorian women in revelatory detail.

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  • HISTORY

The Baker Who Pretended to Be King of Portugal

On August 4, 1578, King Sebastian of Portugal was slain on the field of battle. Sixteen years later, in one of the most audacious impostures of the last five hundred years, Gabriel de Espinosa appeared in a Spanish convent town passing himself off as the lost monarch. Ruth MacKay recalls the conspiracy, which took almost a year to unravel, in her engrossing historical account of scheming and absurdity.

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  • HISTORY

Winter King

Henry VIII and his wives hog the spotlight when modern readers look back at England in the 1500s. But his father boasted an exemplary reign of some twenty-four years, during which time many foundation stones of the monarchy were laid. Penn turns the life of this savvy, bold, and yet under-appreciated ruler -- last king of England to earn his crown in battle -- into a magical tapestry full of court intrigue, personal triumphs, and unmitigated disasters, in which figures most prominently the charming Catherine of Aragon.

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  • HISTORY

The Dreyfus Affair

Try to imagine any of the trivial political controversies of 2012 still earning a book-length study a century from now. Impossible, no? But France's Dreyfus Affair of 1894 was much grander stuff. Piers Paul Read's fresh and comprehensive take on the scandal sheds new light on Dreyfus's personal life, looks closely at the poor man's unjust exile, and tries to assess just what endowed this incident with its long-lasting fascination.

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  • HISTORY

James Madison and the Making of America

An insightful, authoritative biography of our nation's fourth president from history professor Kevin R. C. Gutzman  offers a fresh perspective on this Founding Father, whose contributions to our country went beyond the vital role he played in shaping and ratifying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and in writing The Federalist Papers.

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  • HISTORY

A Short History of England

Compacting two dense millennia into a comparatively short and eventful narrative, Simon Jenkins treats readers to the gem-like historical highlights of one of the most successful and idiosyncratic nations on the planet. Whether outlining the transition from monarchy to democracy or speculating on Great Britain's future role in the world, the author maintains a lively, bantering, exuberant tone.

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  • HISTORY

Lost Kingdom

Hawaii is the state where our president was born -- but how did the United States come to claim it as its own? In this deeply researched narrative history, author Julia Flynn Siler (The House of Mondavi) recounts the dramatic, disturbingly dark story of the island nation's annexation, and the overthrow of its proud final ruler by the U.S. This  poignant saga of imperialist ambition and paradise lost unfolds with an appropriately lush appeal.

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  • HISTORY

Saladin

French medieval historian Anne-Marie Eddé separates fact from fiction -- reality from myth -- as she parses the exploits and accomplishments of Saladin (aka Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub), the Kurdish leader credited with recapturing Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, defeating Richard the Lionheart, and uniting the Muslim world. From this deeply researched narrative, a picture emerges of a complex man viewed in the context of his era, and the ensuing era that man helped define.

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  • HISTORY

Jerusalem: The Biography

Some cities have so much personality, they're practically people. And in Simon Sebag Montefiore's new history of that elderly entity dubbed Jerusalem, we discover a complex character eternally at the heart of Western civilization. Highlighting the 3000-year saga of the city via a parade of luminous historical figures, the author evokes a unique and irreplaceable locus of hopes, dreams, and fears.

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  • HISTORY

The Pursuit of Italy

Historian David Gilmour takes a revisionist view of the past two centuries when he argues in this new volume that the unification of Italy was a mistake, a yoking-together of many disparate strains never meant to huddle under one national umbrella. To bolster his thesis he introduces the reader to a wealth of famous figures, beautifully delineated historical moments, and slice-of-life, human-interest stories.

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  • HISTORY

The Unraveling

Despite being one of the younger countries on the globe, Pakistan has accumulated an astonishing amount of turbulent history in the last half century, whose Gordian Knot is cut brilliantly here by State Department veteran John R. Schmidt. Examining Pakistan's emergence as a regional hot spot , Schmidt shows us why this country remains so vital to international affairs.

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  • HISTORY

The Sugar Barons

The history of the world can be traced through its most valuable commodities, one of which, for a time, was simple cane sugar. "White gold" funded the rise and fall of empires, shaping our modern geopolitical landscape and establishing the economic promise of the New World. The not-so-sweet nexus of all this greed and chicanery was the Caribbean, its history of slaves and masters, fortunes and failures portrayed brilliantly here by scholar and former West Indies citizen Matthew Parker.

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  • HISTORY

The Romantic Revolution

In the catalogue of great ideas, few have had as significant an impact as those connected with the Romantics. A perpetual font of individualism, passion, and creativity, the Romantics have influenced the course of western civilization out of all proportion to their numbers. Veteran historian Tim Blanning, long the authority on this period, details the genesis, flowering, and triumphs of the philosophies and lifestyles first expressed by the likes of Goethe, Wordsworth, and Keats.

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  • HISTORY

The Oil Kings

Andrew Scott Cooper's absorbing chronicle of US diplomacy in the Middle East yeilds fresh insights gleaned from newly declassified documents about America's decision in 1976 to break ties with the Shah of Iran and turn to Saudi Arabia for cheaper oil. The reverberations of that choice are still felt today, and Cooper's exceptional reporting gives readers a deeper appreciation for the complexity of the region's recent history.  

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  • HISTORY

Carthage Must Be Destroyed

In some alternate universe, it was Carthage, not Rome, that reigned supreme in the ancient Mediterranean. In our world, of course, the North African empire was destroyed, its history relegated to footnotes. Richard Miles lays out eight centuries of Carthaginian glory in an engrossing book replete with larger-than-life personages, dramatic battles, and unprecedented cultural accomplishments.

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  • HISTORY

Twelve Turning Points of the Second World War

Alternating between battlefield and factory, boardroom and Oval Office, historian P. M. H. Bell dissects a dozen essential programs, actions, attitudes, and campaigns that each served as a major pivot upon which the fate of nations turned during the twentieth century's largest exercise in global organized violence.

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Lost in Shangri-La

In the history of World War II, tales of battlefield heroics have often obscured odder but no less stirring exploits. Mitchell Zuckoff's fascinating chronicle remedies one such lacuna, as it brings to light a perilous quest for survival following a plane crash in Dutch New Guinea, in which a trio of American soldiers survive the elements, warlike islanders, and fate through a series of adventures worthy of Indiana Jones.

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  • HISTORY

Monsters of the Gévaudan

In 1764, as the Enlightenment dawned over Paris, a series of terrible killings in central France gave birth to a mystery that has endured for centuries.  Jay M. Smith's penetrating work of history revists a cultural turning point in which stories of werewolves competed for attention with groundbreaking works of science.

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  • HISTORY

She-Wolves

"She-wolf" is what Shakespeare called Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482), who wielded power over England in the vacum created by the infirmities of her husband, Henry VI. In this superb royal history, Helen Castor chronicles the life of Margaret and other formidable queens who paved the way for the rule of Elizabeth I.

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  • HISTORY

The King's Speech

Anyone who has seen the fine film starring Colin Firth as George VI, who assumed the British throne in 1936, and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, the innovative speech therapist who taught the monarch to master his debilitating stutter, will welcome this chronicle, based upon Logue's diaries and correspondence, of the real events behind the drama.

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  • HISTORY

The Abacus and the Cross

A science-minded Pope who honored Islamic thought? Such was the resumé of Pope Sylvester II, who, prior to his death in 1003 AD, did his best to enlighten the Dark Ages. Nancy Marie Brown sets his uniqueness in a vivid medieval context.

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April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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