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Publication Date: New York: One World, 2021. xxxiii, 590 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 21 Nov. 2021 p. 1. Description: The animating idea of The 1619 Project is that our national narrative is more accurately told if we begin not on July 4, 1776, but in late August of 1619, when a ship arrived in Jamestown bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric and unprecedented system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country’s very origin. The 1619 Project tells this new origin story, placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country. Orchestrated by the editors of The New York Times Magazine, led by MacArthur and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, this collection … shows how the tendrils of 1619–of slavery and resistance to slavery–reach into every part of our contemporary culture, from voting, housing and healthcare, to the way we sing and dance, the way we tell stories, and the way we worship. Interstitial works of flash fiction and poetry bring the history to life through the imaginative interpretations of some of our greatest writers. The 1619 Project ultimately sends a very strong message: We must have a clear vision of this history if we are to understand our present dilemmas. Only by reckoning with this difficult history and trying as hard as we can to understand its powerful influence on our present, can we prepare ourselves for a more just future
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2021. 213 p.
Reviewed: FA Mar./Apr. 2021 p. 217. Description: Drawing on an extensive array of sources, this book reveals that many of modern Russia’s most distinctive and outstanding features can be traced back to an inconspicuous but exceptional year. Russia became what it did, in no small measure, because of 1837. The catalog of the year’s noteworthy occurrences extends from the realms of culture, religion, and ideas to those of empire, politics, and industry. Exploring these diverse issues and connecting seemingly divergent historical actors, Paul W. Werth reveals that the 1830s in Russia were a period of striking dynamism and consequence, and that 1837 was pivotal for the country’s entry into the modern age. From the romantic death of Russia’s greatest poet Alexander Pushkin in January to a colossal fire at the Winter Palace in December, Russia experienced much that was astonishing in 1837: the railway and provincial press appeared, Russian opera made its debut, Orthodoxy pushed westward, the first Romanov visited Siberia-and much else besides. The cumulative effect was profound. The country’s integration accelerated, and a Russian nation began to emerge, embodied in new institutions and practices, within the larger empire. The result was a quiet revolution, after which Russia would never be the same. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2021. ix, 561 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 7 Oct. 2021 p. 16; NYT 100 Notable Books of 2021 (NYT/BR 5 Dec. 2021) Description: This is a full history of the war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2020. It covers political, cultural, strategic, and tactical aspects of the war and details the actions and decision-making of the United States, Afghan government, and Taliban. The work follows a narrative format to go through the 2001 US invasion, the state-building of 2002-2005, the Taliban offensive of 2006, the US surge of 2009-2011, the subsequent drawdown, and the peace talks of 2019-2020. The book examines the overarching questions of the war: Why did the United States fail? What opportunities existed to reach a better outcome? Why did the United States not withdraw from the war?
Publication Date: New York: Pegasus Books, 2021. xvi, 508 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: PW 22 Mar. 2021 p. 78; LR May 2021 p. 28; TLS 21 May 2021 p. 26. Description: Sixteen hundred years ago Britain left the Roman Empire and swiftly fell into ruin. Grand cities and luxurious villas were deserted and left to crumble, and civil society collapsed into chaos. Into this violent and unstable world came foreign invaders from across the sea, and established themselves as its new masters. The Anglo-Saxons traces the turbulent history of these people across the next six centuries. It explains how their earliest rulers fought relentlessly against each other for glory and supremacy, and then were almost destroyed by the onslaught of the vikings. It explores how they abandoned their old gods for Christianity, established hundreds of churches and created dazzlingly intricate works of art. It charts the revival of towns and trade, and the origins of a familiar landscape of shires, boroughs and bishoprics. It is a tale of famous figures like King Offa, Alfred the Great and Edward the Confessor, but also features a host of lesser known characters–ambitious queens, revolutionary saints, intolerant monks and grasping nobles. Through their remarkable careers we see how a new society, a new culture and a single unified nation came into being. (publ.)
A sweeping narrative history of Athens, telling the three-thousand-year story of the birthplace of Western civilization. Even on the most smog-bound of days, the rocky outcrop on which the Acropolis stands is visible above the sprawling roof-scape of the Greek capital. Athens presents one of the most recognizable and symbolically potent panoramas of any of the world's cities: the pillars and pediments of the Parthenon - the temple dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, that crowns the Acropolis - dominate a city whose name is synonymous for many with civilization itself. The birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy and theatre, Athens' importance cannot be understated.
Call Number: Received Not Yet Cataloged-Grant Book
Publication Date: Leiden, Neth.: Leiden UP, 2020. 603 p.
Reviewed: TLS 30 Apr. 2021 p. 11. Description: A new English translation of Huizinga’s Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen, which is celebrating its centenary and still ranks as one of the most perceptive and influential analyses of the medieval period. It is a classic study of life, culture and thought in fourteenth and fifteenth century France and the Netherlands. This is a new and unabridged translation of Huizinga’s text and aims to capture its importance as a landmark of historical scholarship as well as remarkable work of literature. The translation is based on the Dutch edition of 1941–the last edition Huizinga worked on and checked during his life. The retranslation is as faithful to the Dutch original as possible and includes beautiful new English renderings of the Old and Middle French poems. Over 300 works of art, illuminated manuscripts and miniatures pertinent to Huizinga’s discourse are included as well as a complete bibliography of Huizinga’s own reading and an up-to-date introduction.
Note: Originally published as: Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen: studie over levens- en gedachtenvormen der veertiende en vijftiende eeuw in Frankrijk en de Nederlanden (Haarlem, Neth.: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1919).
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2021. ix, 394 p.
Description: Provides the most authoritative, up-to-date treatment of the Black Death, giving not just a narrative account but also a thorough examination of the latest forensic, historical, and DNA evidence to date. It covers all aspects of the disease: epidemiology, geographic spread, demographic impact, medical responses, environmental impact, religious responses, the flagellant movement, Jewish pogroms, social and economic impact, and artistic responses. Aberth also lays out the parameters of current debates in Black Death studies, and offers an entire chapter devoted to environmental impacts of the Black Death, a topic not usually covered in other books. He covers the entire period of the medieval Black Death, from 1347 to c.1500, and includes a chapter on global perspectives on the Black Death, especially in terms of its origins in Central Asia.
Publication Date: New York: Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2021. 499 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 28 Nov. 2021 p. 14. Description: Revealing the central yet intentionally obliterated role of Africa in the creation of modernity, this book vitally reframes our understanding of world history. In a sweeping narrative that traverses 600 years, one that weaves precise historical detail with poignant personal reportage, Pulitzer Prize finalist Howard W. French retells the story of medieval and emerging Africa, demonstrating how the economic ascendancy of Europe, the anchoring of democracy in America, and the fulfillment of so-called Enlightenment ideals all grew out of Europe’s dehumanizing engagement with the “darkest” continent. French dramatically retrieves the lives of major African historical figures whose stories have been repeatedly etiolated and erased over centuries, from unimaginably rich medieval African emperors who traded with Asia; to Kongo sovereigns who heroically battled seventeenth-century European powers; to ex-slaves who liberated Haitians from bondage. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2020. viii, 599 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 12 Mar. 2021 p. 23. Description: The Viking Age–between 750 and 1050–saw an unprecedented expansion of the Scandinavian peoples. As traders and raiders, explorers and colonists, they reshaped the world between eastern North America and the Asian steppe. Based on the latest archaeological and textual evidence, Children of Ash and Elm tells the story of the Vikings on their own terms: their politics, their cosmology, their art and culture. From Björn Ironside, who led an expedition to sack Rome, to Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, the most traveled woman in the world, Price shows us the real Vikings, not the caricatures they've become in popular culture and history. (publ.)
Publication Date: Boston: Beacon Pr., 2021. 308 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 7 Apr. 2022 p. 32. Description: An examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture, and and how–regardless of political leanings–every individual can act as both the suppressors and the suppressed. Through compelling narrative, historian Eric Berkowitz uses stories of the past to reveal the dangers of erasing history and how censorship has shaped our modern society. More than just a history of censorship, this book illuminates the power of censorship, how it has shaped states, ideas, and culture, and it’s something we all participate in. This engaging cultural history of censorship and thought suppression throughout the ages takes readers fom the first Chinese emperor’s wholesale elimination of books to the Vatican’s suppression of pornography from its own collection, to Henry VIII’s decree of death for anyone who “imagined” his demise, and on to the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the troll armies that swarm critics of the Trump administration. Highlighting the base impulses from many famous acts of suppression, scholar Eric Berkowitz demonstrates the fragility of power and how censorship is used as a tool to maintain the class and gender disparities of the status quo. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury, 2022. xvi, 367 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: LR March 2022 p. 16. Description: Brunhild was a foreign princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet in sixth-century Merovingian France, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport, these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms, changing the face of Europe. The two queens commanded armies and negotiated with kings and popes. They formed coalitions and broke them, mothered children and lost them. They fought a decades-long civil war against each other. With ingenuity and skill, they battled to stay alive in the game of statecraft, and in the process laid the foundations of what would one day be Charlemagne’s empire. Yet after the queens’ deaths–one gentle, the other horrific–their stories were rewritten, their names consigned to slander and legend. Award-winning writer Shelley Puhak sets the record straight. She resurrects two very real women in all their complexity, painting a richly detailed portrait of an unfamiliar time and striking at the roots of some of our culture's stubbornest myths about female power. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2020. xxiii, 397 p.
Reviewed: TLS 7 May 2021 p. 23. Description: In 1925 a team of archaeologists was sent by famed archaeologist James Henry Breasted, the Director of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, to search for the city that King Solomon built in the tenth century BCE. These excavations are rightfully famous for the light they shed on one of the most important cities in biblical times: the ancient city of Megiddo, in Israel, the site of Armageddon. The books and articles that the original participants published are still used, and debated, by archaeologists working in the region today. However, these scholarly publications provide only a small window into the daily activities of the team members and the stories behind their amazing discoveries. Using a treasure trove of other writing–including more than three decades’ worth of letters, cablegrams, cards, and diaries, archaeologist and historian Eric Cline, who spent twenty years digging at Megiddo himself, brings the Chicago excavators and their discoveries to life situating them against the backdrop of the Great Depression in the United States as well as the growing troubles and tensions in British Mandate Palestine. Their story, as recounted by Cline, often reads more like melodrama than dry archaeological report and provides a unique glimpse of the internal workings of a dig in the early years of biblical archaeology. In the course of telling their story, Cline gives readers the full picture of an archaeological site from its first discoveries to its most recent excavations placing it all in the larger scheme of the rise and fall of civilizations, from the Neolithic Revolution through the Romans. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2021. x, 689 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 10 Dec. 2021 p. 12. Description: Shortly before Easter, 1540 saw the end of almost a millennium of monastic life in England. Until then religious houses had acted as a focus for education, literary, and artistic expression and even the creation of regional and national identity. Their closure, carried out in just four years between 1536 and 1540, caused a dislocation of people and a disruption of life not seen in England since the Norman Conquest. Drawing on the records of national and regional archives as well as archaeological remains, James Clark explores the little-known lives of the last men and women who lived in England’s monasteries before the Reformation. Clark challenges received wisdom, showing that buildings were not immediately demolished and Henry VIII’s subjects were so attached to the religious houses that they kept fixtures and fittings as souvenirs. This rich, vivid history brings back into focus the prominent place of abbeys, priories, and friaries in the lives of the English people. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2021. xix, 376 p., 12 p. of plates.
Reviewed: FA Jan/Feb 2022 p. 193. Description: Nazi Germany killed approximately thirteen million civilians and other noncombatants in deliberate policies of mass murder, overwhelmingly during the war years. Almost half the victims were Jewish, systematically destroyed in the Holocaust, the core of the Nazis’ pan-European racial purification program. Alex Kay argues that the genocide of European Jewry can also be examined in the wider context of Nazi mass killing. For the first time, Kay considers Europe’s Jews alongside all other major victim groups: captive Red Army soldiers, the Soviet urban population, unarmed civilian victims of preventive terror and reprisals, the mentally and physically disabled, the European Roma, and the Polish intelligentsia. He shows how each of these groups was regarded by the Nazi regime as a potential threat to Germany’s ability to successfully wage a war for hegemony in Europe. This groundbreaking work combines the full quantitative scale of the killings with the individual horror. (publ.)
Blume reveals how one courageous American reporter uncovered one of the deadliest cover-ups of the 20th century--the true effects of the atom bomb--potentially saving millions of lives. Just days after the United States decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear bombs, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. But even before the surrender, the US government and military had begun a secret propaganda and information suppression campaign to hide the devastating nature of these experimental weapons. The cover-up intensified as Occupation forces closed the atomic cities to Allied reporters, preventing leaks about the horrific long-term effects of radiation which would kill thousands during the months after the blast. For nearly a year the cover-up worked--until New Yorker journalist John Hersey got into Hiroshima and managed to report the truth to the world. As Hersey and his editors prepared his article for publication, they kept the story secret--even from most of their New Yorker colleagues. When the magazine published "Hiroshima" in August 1946, it became an instant global sensation, and inspired pervasive horror about the hellish new threat that America had unleashed. Since 1945, no nuclear weapons have ever been deployed in war partly because Hersey alerted the world to their true, devastating impact. This knowledge has remained among the greatest deterrents to using them since the end of World War II.
Publication Date: Montreal; Chicago: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2021. ix, 475 p.
Description: In 1944, the Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever was airlifted to Moscow from the forest where he had spent the winter among partisan fighters. There he was encouraged by Ilya Ehrenburg, the most famous Soviet Jewish writer of his day, to write a memoir of his two years in the Vilna Ghetto. Now, seventy-five years after it appeared in Yiddish in 1946, Justin Cammy provides a full English translation of one of the earliest published memoirs of the destruction of the city known throughout the Jewish world as the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Based on his own experiences, his conversations with survivors, and his consultation with materials hidden in the ghetto and recovered after the liberation of his hometown, Sutzkever’s memoir rests at the intersection of postwar Holocaust literature and history. He grappled with the responsibility to produce a document that would indict the perpetrators and provide an account of both the horrors and the resilience of Jewish life under Nazi rule. Cammy bases his translation on the two extant versions of the full text of the memoir and includes Sutzkever’s diary notes and full testimony at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. Fascinating reminiscences of leading Soviet Yiddish cultural figures Sutzkever encountered during his time in Moscow–Ehrenburg, Yiddish modernist poet Peretz Markish, and director of the State Yiddish Theatre Shloyme Mikhoels–reveal the constraints of the political environment in which the memoir was composed. Both shocking and moving in its intensity, From the Vilna Ghetto returns readers to a moment when the scale of the Holocaust was first coming into focus, through the eyes of one survivor who attempted to make sense of daily life, resistance, and death in the ghetto.
Publication Date: New York: Dutton/Penguin, 2021. 321 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 9 Sept. 2021 p. 11. Description: In the late spring of 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma, erupted into the worst single incident of racial violence in American history. Over the course of sixteen hours, mobs of white men and women looted and burned to the ground a prosperous African American community, known today as Black Wall Street. More than one thousand homes and businesses were destroyed, and scores, possibly hundreds, of people lost their lives. Then, for nearly a half century, the story of the massacre was actively suppressed. Official records disappeared, history textbooks ignored the tragedy, and citizens were warned to keep silent. Now nearly one hundred years after that horrible day, historian Scott Ellsworth returns to his hometown to tell the untold story of how America’s foremost hidden racial tragedy was finally brought to light, and the unlikely cast of characters that made it happen. Part true-crime saga, part archaeological puzzle, and part investigative journalism, The Ground Breaking weaves in and out of recent history, the distant past, and the modern day to tell a compelling story of a city-and a nation-struggling to come to terms with the dark corners of its past. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2020. xvi, 763 p., 12 p. of plates.
Reviewed: LR June 2020 p. 23. Description: Nine years of age when he came to the throne in 1216, Henry III had to rule within the limits set by the establishment of Magna Carta and the emergence of parliament. Pacific, conciliatory, and deeply religious, Henry brought many years of peace to England and rebuilt Westminster Abbey in honor of his patron saint, Edward the Confessor. He poured money into embellishing his palaces and creating a magnificent court. Yet this investment in “soft power” did not prevent a great revolution in 1258, led by Simon de Montfort, ending Henry’s personal rule. Eminent historian David Carpenter brings to life Henry’s character and reign as never before. Using source material of unparalleled richness–material that makes it possible to get closer to Henry than any other medieval monarch–Carpenter stresses the king’s achievements as well as his failures while offering an entirely new perspective on the intimate connections between medieval politics and religion. (publ.) Note: 1st of an intended 2-volume set. Vol. 2 to cover the years 1258-1272.
Publication Date: London: I.B. Tauris, 2021. 392 p.
Review: LR Aug. 2021 p. 14. Contents: vol. 1: At the Crossroads of Empires; vol. 2: [forth.] Description: A landscape of high mountains and narrow valleys stretching from the Black to the Caspian Seas, the Caucasus region has been home to human populations for nearly 2 million years. Historian and explorer Christoph Baumer tells the story of the region’s history through to the present day. It is a story of encounters between many different peoples, from Scythians, Turkic and Mongol peoples of the East to Greeks and Romans from the West, from Indo-European tribes from the West as well as the East, and to Arabs and Iranians from the South. It is a story of rival claims by Empires and nations and of how the region has become home to more than 50 languages that can be heard within its borders to this very day. This first volume charts the period from the emergence of the earliest human populations in the region–the first known human populations outside Africa–to the Seljuk conquests of 1050CE. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Pr. of Harvard UP, 2021. 377 p.
Reviewed: LR April 2021 p. 9; PW 25 Jan. 2021 p. 57; FA Jan/Feb 2022 p. 202. Description: The Mongols are widely known for one thing: conquest. In the first comprehensive history of the Horde, the western portion of the Mongol empire that arose after the death of Chinggis Khan, Marie Favereau shows that the accomplishments of the Mongols extended far beyond war. For three hundred years, the Horde was no less a force in global development than Rome had been. It left behind a profound legacy in Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East, palpable to this day. Favereau takes us inside one of the most powerful sources of cross-border integration in world history. The Horde was the central node in the Eurasian commercial boom of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and was a conduit for exchanges across thousands of miles. Its unique political regime–a complex power-sharing arrangement among the khan and the nobility–rewarded skillful administrators and diplomats and fostered an economic order that was mobile, organized, and innovative. From its capital at Sarai on the lower Volga River, the Horde provided a governance model for Russia, influenced social practice and state structure across Islamic cultures, disseminated sophisticated theories about the natural world, and introduced novel ideas of religious tolerance.
Publication Date: New York: Metropolitan/Henry Holt & Co., 2021. x, 466 p.
Description: Between 1918 and 1921, over a hundred thousand Jews were murdered in Ukraine by peasants, townsmen, and soldiers who blamed the Jews for the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. In hundreds of separate incidents, ordinary people robbed their Jewish neighbors with impunity, burned down their houses, ripped apart their Torah scrolls, sexually assaulted them, and killed them. Largely forgotten today, these pogroms–ethnic riots–dominated headlines and international affairs in their time. Aid workers warned that six million Jews were in danger of complete extermination. Twenty years later, these dire predictions would come true. Drawing upon long-neglected archival materials, including thousands of newly discovered witness testimonies, trial records, and official orders, acclaimed historian Jeffrey Veidlinger shows for the first time how this wave of genocidal violence created the conditions for the Holocaust. Through stories of survivors, perpetrators, aid workers, and governmental officials, he explains how so many different groups of people came to the same conclusion: that killing Jews was an acceptable response to their various problems.
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2020. ix, 300 p.
Review: NYT/BR 30 Jan 2021 p. 13 (ref.); NYRB 8 Apr. 2021 p. 38. Description: A stunning behind-the-curtain look into the last years of the illegal transatlantic slave trade in the United States. Long after the transatlantic slave trade was officially outlawed in the early nineteenth century by every major slave trading nation, merchants based in the United States were still sending hundreds of illegal slave ships from American ports to the African coast. The key instigators were slave traders who moved to New York City after the shuttering of the massive illegal slave trade to Brazil in 1850. These traffickers were determined to make Lower Manhattan a key hub in the illegal slave trade to Cuba. In conjunction with allies in Africa and Cuba, they ensnared around two hundred thousand African men, women, and children during the 1850s and 1860s. John Harris explores how the U.S. government went from ignoring, and even abetting, this illegal trade to helping to shut it down completely in 1867.
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2021. xi, 491 p.
Reviewed: PW 22 Feb. 2021 p. 60; TLS 29 Oct. 2021 p. 25.s Description: Historian Joshua D. Rothman tells the disturbing story of the Franklin and Armfield company and the men who built it into the largest and most powerful slave trading company in the United States. In so doing, he reveals the central importance of the domestic slave trade to the development of American capitalism and the expansion of the American nation. Few slave traders were more successful than Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice Ballard, who ran Franklin and Armfield, and none were more influential. Drawing on source material from more than thirty archives in a dozen states, Rothman follows the three traders through their first meetings, the rise of their firm, and its eventual dissolution. Responsible for selling between 8,000 and 12,000 slaves from the Upper South to Deep South plantations over a period of eight years in the 1830s, they ran an extensive and innovative operation, with offices in New Orleans and Alexandria in Louisiana and Natchez in Mississippi. They advertised widely, borrowed heavily from bankers and other creditors, extended long term credit to their buyers, and had ships built to take slaves from Virginia down to New Orleans. Slavers are often misremembered as pariahs of more cultivated society, but as Rothman argues, the men who perpetrated the slave trade were respected members of prominent social and business communities and understood themselves as patriotic Americans. By tracing the lives and careers of the nation’s most notorious slave traders, this book shows how their business skills and remorseless violence together made the malevolent entrepreneurialism of the slave trade. And it reveals how this horrific, ubiquitous trade in human beings shaped a growing nation and corrupted it in ways still powerfully felt today. (publ.)
Lidtke Mill, also known as the Lime Springs Mill Complex, is a historic building located on the Upper Iowa River located in the "Old Town" area of Lime Springs, Iowa, United States. It is part of the 10 acres (4.0 ha) Lidtke Park. The mill is an L-shaped structure is composed of limestone covered with a yellow brick veneer. The main section was completed in 1857 and rebuilt after a fire in 1894. At one time, it not only milled grains but also provided hydroelectric power to surrounding communities. The footprints of a worker nearly electrocuted there can still be seen in the floor of the control room. The miller's house is a frame structure that follows a rectangular plan. The original section of the building was built in 1857. Wings on the west and east sides were added around 1880. The cement block section on the north side was added in 1927. The mill complex is now open as a museum. From time to time, events such as the Buckwheat Festival are held at the site. The mill and the miller's house were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. ---From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Publication Date: New York: New Press, 2019. xii, 497 p.
Description: Loewen provides an examination of historic sites all over the country where history is literally written on the landscape, including historical markers, monuments, historic houses, forts, and ships. The author uses his investigation of these public versions of history, often literally written in stone, to correct historical interpretations that are profoundly wrong, to tell neglected but important stories about the American past, and most importantly to raise questions about what we as a nation choose to commemorate and how, contrasted to what we omit and cover over. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Liveright, 2021. 336 p.
Description: The fascinating-and eerily timely-tale of the forgotten Depression-era psychologists who overthrew long-accepted racist and classist views of childhood development. “Doomed from birth” was how psychologist Harold Skeels described two toddler girls at the Orphans’ Home in Davenport, Iowa, in 1934. Following prevailing eugenic beliefs, Skeels and his colleague Marie Skodak assumed that the girls had inherited their parents’ low intelligence and sent them to an institution for the “feebleminded” to be cared for by “moron” women. To their astonishment, under the women’s care, the children’s IQ scores became normal. This revolutionary finding, replicated in eleven more “retarded” children, infuriated leading psychologists, all eugenicists unwilling to accept that nature and nurture work together to decide our fates. Recasting Skeels and his team as intrepid heroes, Marilyn Brookwood weaves years of prodigious archival research to show how after decades of backlash, the Iowans finally prevailed. In a dangerous time of revived white supremacy, this is an essential account, confirmed today by neuroscience, of the power of the Iowans’ scientific vision.
Publication Date: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021, c2020. xviii, 417 p.
Reviewed: PW 23 Nov. 2020 p. 96; NYRB 2 Dec. 2021 p. 45. Description: Baron Otto von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon Wiesenthal, on the run for three years, from 1945 to 1948. Philippe Sands pieces together Wächter’s extraordinary, shocking story. Given full access to the Wächter family archives-journals, diaries, tapes, and more-and with the assistance of the Wächters’ son Horst, who believes his father to have been a “good man,” Sands writes of Wächter’s rise through the Nazi high command, his “blissful” marriage and family life as their world was brought to ruin, and his four-year flight to escape justice-to the Tirol, to Rome, and the Vatican; given a new identity, on his way to a new life via “the Ratline” to Perón’s Argentina, the escape route taken by Eichmann, Mengele, and thousands of other Nazis. Wächter’s escape was cut short by his mysterious, shocking death in Rome, in the midst of the burgeoning Cold War (was he being recruited in postwar Italy by the Americans and the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps or by the Soviet NKVD or by both; or was he poisoned by one side or the other, as his son believes-or by both?). (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2020. xxxvii, 536 p., 32 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYRB 22 July 2021 p. 27. Description: At the end of the fourth century, as the power of Rome faded and Constantinople became the seat of empire, a new capital city was rising in the West. Here, in Ravenna on the coast of Italy, Arian Goths and Catholic Romans competed to produce an unrivaled concentration of buildings and astonishing mosaics. For three centuries, the city attracted scholars, lawyers, craftsmen, and religious luminaries, becoming a true cultural and political capital. Bringing this extraordinary history marvelously to life, Judith Herrin rewrites the history of East and West in the Mediterranean world before the rise of Islam and shows how, thanks to Byzantine influence, Ravenna played a crucial role in the development of medieval Christendom. Drawing on deep, original research, Herrin tells the personal stories of Ravenna while setting them in a sweeping synthesis of Mediterranean and Christian history. She narrates the lives of the Empress Galla Placidia and the Gothic king Theoderic and describes the achievements of an amazing cosmographer and a doctor who revived Greek medical knowledge in Italy, demolishing the idea that the West just descended into the medieval “Dark Ages.” Beautifully illustrated and drawing on the latest archaeological findings, this monumental book provides a bold new interpretation of Ravenna's lasting influence on the culture of Europe and the West. (publ.)
In 1620, separatists from the Church of England set sail across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Understanding themselves as spiritual pilgrims, they left to preserve their liberty to worship God in accordance with their understanding of the Bible. There exists, however, an alternative, more dispiriting version of their story. In it, the Pilgrims are religious zealots who persecuted dissenters and decimated Native peoples through warfare and by stealing their land. The Pilgrims' definition of liberty was, in practice, very narrow. Drawing on original research using underutilized sources, John G. Turner moves beyond these familiar narratives in his sweeping and authoritative new history of Plymouth Colony. Instead of depicting the Pilgrims as otherworldly saints or extraordinary sinners, he tells how a variety of English settlers and Native peoples engaged in a contest for the meaning of American liberty.
Publication Date: Oxford, England: Oxford UP, 2021. viii, 176 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 24 Mar. 2022 p. 29. Description: On 20 January 1942, fifteen men arrived for a meeting in a luxurious villa on the shores of the Wannsee in the far-western outskirts of Berlin. They came at the invitation of Reinhard Heydrich and were almost all high-ranking Nazi Party, government, and SS officials. The exquisite position by the lake, the imposing driveway up to the villa, culminating in a generously sized roundabout in front of the house, the expansive, carefully landscaped park, … all give today’s visitor to the villa a good idea of its owner’s aspiration to build a sophisticated, almost palatial structure as a testament to his cultivation and worldly success. But the beauty of the situation stood in stark contrast to the purpose of the meeting to which the fifteen had come in January 1942: the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” According to the surviving records of the meeting, items on the agenda included the precise definition of exactly which group of people was to be affected, followed by a discussion of how upwards of eleven million people were to be deported and subjected to the toughest form of forced labour, and following on from this a discussion of how the survivors of this forced labour as well as those not capable of it were ultimately to be killed. The next item on the agenda was breakfast.
Publication Date: New York: Liveright/W. W. Norton, 2021. xvii, 301 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 21 Apr. 2021 p. 25. Description: The sixteenth century in Europe was a time of chronic destabilization in which institutions of traditional authority were challenged and religious wars seemed unending. Yet it also witnessed the remarkable flowering of a pacifist culture, cultivated by a cohort of extraordinary women rulers–most notably Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Catherine de’ Medici–whose lives were intertwined not only by blood and marriage, but by a shared recognition that their premier places in the world of just a few dozen European monarchs required them to bond together, as women, against the forces seeking to destroy them, if not the foundations of monarchy itself. Emeritus Prof. & Renaissance scholar Maureen Quilligan delves into the connections the regents created among themselves, connections that historians have long considered beneath notice. “Like fellow soldiers in a sororal troop,” Quilligan writes, these women protected and aided each other. Aware of the leveling patriarchal power of the Reformation, they consolidated forces, governing as “sisters” within a royal family that exercised power by virtue of inherited right–the very right that Protestantism rejected as a basis for rule. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2021. xii, 435 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 23 Sept. 2021 p. 43. Description: The era of the Enlightenment, which gave rise to our modern conceptions of freedom and democracy, was also the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. America, a nation founded on the principle of liberty, is also a nation built on African slavery, Native American genocide, and systematic racial discrimination. This book traces the complex relationship between freedom and race from the eighteenth century to today, revealing how being free has meant being white. Tyler Stovall explores the intertwined histories of racism and freedom in France and the United States, the two leading nations that have claimed liberty as the heart of their national identities. He explores how French and American thinkers defined freedom in racial terms and conceived of liberty as an aspect and privilege of whiteness. He also discusses how the Statue of Liberty–a gift from France to the United States and perhaps the most famous symbol of freedom on Earth–promised both freedom and whiteness to European immigrants. (publ.)
Call Number: Received Not Yet Cataloged-Grant Book
Publication Date: New York: Scribner, 2021. XV, 311 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 5 Dec. 2021 p. Description: The Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous objects in the world, attracting millions of visitors to the British Museum ever year, and yet most people don’t really know what it is. Discovered in a pile of rubble in 1799, this slab of stone proved to be the key to unlocking a lost language that baffled scholars for centuries. Carved in ancient Egypt, the Rosetta Stone carried the same message in different languages-in Greek using Greek letters, and in Egyptian using picture-writing called hieroglyphs. Until its discovery, no one in the world knew how to read the hieroglyphs that covered every temple and text and statue in Egypt. Dominating the world for thirty centuries, ancient Egypt was the mightiest empire the world had ever known, yet everything about it-the pyramids, mummies, the Sphinx-was shrouded in mystery. Whoever was able to decipher the Rosetta Stone, and learn how to read hieroglyphs, would solve that mystery and fling open a door that had been locked for two thousand years. Two brilliant rivals set out to win that prize. One was English, the other French, at a time when England and France were enemies and the world’s two great superpowers. This book chronicles this high-stakes intellectual race in which the winner would win glory for both himself and his nation. A riveting portrait of empires both ancient and modern, it is an unparalleled look at the culture and history of ancient Egypt and a fascinating, fast-paced story of human folly and discovery unlike any other. (publ.)
A riveting, comprehensive history of the Arab peoples and tribes that explores the role of language as a cultural touchstone This kaleidoscopic book covers almost 3,000 years of Arab history and shines a light on the footloose Arab peoples and tribes who conquered lands and disseminated their language and culture over vast distances. Tracing this process to the origins of the Arabic language, rather than the advent of Islam, Tim Mackintosh-Smith begins his narrative more than a thousand years before Muhammad and focuses on how Arabic, both spoken and written, has functioned as a vital source of shared cultural identity over the millennia.
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2021. xxxii, 256 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 24 Jan. 2021 p. 10. Description: Some celebrate Lincoln for freeing the slaves; others fault him for a long-standing conservatism on abolition and race. James Oakes gives us another option in this exploration of Lincoln and the end of slavery. Through the unforeseen challenges of the Civil War crisis, Lincoln and the Republican party adhered to a clear antislavery strategy founded on the Constitution itself. All understood the limits to federal power in the slave states, and the need for state action to abolish slavery finally. But Lincoln and the Republicans claimed strong constitutional tools for federal action against slavery, and they used those tools consistently to undermine slavery, prevent its expansion, and pressure the slave states into abolition. This antislavery Constitution guided Lincoln and his allies as they navigated the sectional crisis and the Civil War. When the states finally ratified the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, it was a confirmation of a long-held vision. (publ.)
Robert Hopkins was a man caught between two worlds. As a member of the Dakota Nation, he was unfairly imprisoned, accused of taking up arms against U.S. soldiers when war broke out with the Dakota in 1862. However, as a Christian convert who was also a preacher, Hopkins's allegiance was often questioned by many of his fellow Dakota as well. Without a doubt, being a convert--and a favorite of the missionaries--had its privileges. Hopkins learned to read and write in an anglicized form of Dakota, and when facing legal allegations, he and several high-ranking missionaries wrote impassioned letters in his defense. Ultimately, he was among the 300-some Dakota spared from hanging by President Lincoln, imprisoned instead at Camp Kearney in Davenport, Iowa, for several years. His wife, Sarah, and their children, meanwhile, were forced onto the barren Crow Creek reservation in Dakota Territory with the rest of the Dakota women, children, and elderly.
Dear Delia chronicles the story of Henry F. Young, an officer in the famed Iron Brigade, as told through 155 letters home. His insights, often poignant and powerful, enable readers to witness the Civil War as he did. Young covers innumerable details of military service--from the camaraderie, pettiness, and thievery he witnessed among the troops, to the brutality of internecine war. He was an equally astute observer of the military leadership, maneuvers and tactics, rumored troop movements, and what he considered the strengths and weaknesses of African American soldiers. From newspapers, he retained a firm grasp of Wisconsin and national politics, often noting incidents of graft and corruption and offering pointed opinions regarding the 1864 presidential election.
Because of our shared English language, as well as the celebrated origin tales of the Mayflower and the rebellion of the British colonies, the United States has prized its Anglo heritage above all others. However, as Carrie Gibson explains with great depth and clarity in El Norte, the nation has much older Spanish roots--ones that have long been unacknowledged or marginalized. The Hispanic past of the United States predates the arrival of the Pilgrims by a century, and has been every bit as important in shaping the nation as it exists today. El Norte chronicles the sweeping and dramatic history of Hispanic North America from the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century to the present--from Ponce de Leon's initial landing in Florida in 1513 to Spanish control of the vast Louisiana territory in 1762 to the Mexican-American War in 1846 and up to the more recent tragedy of post-hurricane Puerto Rico and the ongoing border acrimony with Mexico.
Publication Date: New York: Harper, 2020. xxiv, 386 p.
Reviewed: PW 21 Sept. 2020 p. 77. Description: Examines how the educations of America's first four presidents, and in particular their scholarly devotion to ancient Greek and Roman classics, informed the beliefs and ideals that shaped the nation's constitution and government. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2021. 297 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 14 Mar. 2021 p. 14. Description: Science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy's southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today. Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers–slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers–who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia. Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate. (publ.)
The triumphant and "engaging history" of the young women who devised a winning strategy that defeated Nazi U-boats and delivered a decisive victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. By 1941, Winston Churchill had come to believe that the outcome of World War II rested on the battle for the Atlantic. A grand strategy game was devised by Captain Gilbert Roberts and a group of ten Wrens (members of the Women's Royal Naval Service) assigned to his team in an attempt to reveal the tactics behind the vicious success of the German U-boats. Played on a linoleum floor divided into painted squares, it required model ships to be moved across a make-believe ocean in a manner reminiscent of the childhood game, Battleship. Through play, the designers developed "Operation Raspberry," a counter-maneuver that helped turn the tide of World War II. A Game of Birds and Wolves is a heart-wrenching tale of ingenuity, dedication, perseverance, and love, bringing to life the imagination and sacrifice required to defeat the Nazis at sea.
Publication Date: Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2020. xix, 506 p.
Description: In this general-interest book, historian Guy de la Bédoyère takes us into the day-to-day life of a soldier in the imperial Roman army. His compelling narrative draws on archaeological evidence and the words of Roman historians and of the soldiers themselves, especially through their religious dedications, tombstones, private letters, and graffiti. The result is a window on how the men, their wives, concubines, and children lived, whether in bleak frontier garrisons or guarding the emperor in Rome. Bédoyère explores the history of how common soldiers fought the emperors’ wars; mutinied over pay; marched in triumph; threw their weight around in city streets; and eventually, if they survived, enjoyed the benefits of an honorable retirement. (publ.)
Long neglected in world history, the Ottoman Empire was a hub of intellectual fervor, geopolitical power, and enlightened pluralistic rule. At the height of their authority in the sixteenth century, the Ottomans, with extraordinary military dominance and unparalleled monopolies over trade routes, controlled more territory and ruled over more people than any world power, forcing Europeans out of the Mediterranean and to the New World. Yet, despite its towering influence and centrality to the rise of our modern world, the Ottoman Empire's history has for centuries been distorted, misrepresented, and even suppressed in the West. Now Alan Mikhail presents a vitally needed recasting of Ottoman history, retelling the story of the Ottoman conquest of the world through the dramatic biography of Sultan Selim I.
In The Heartland, Kristin L. Hoganson drills deep into the center of the country, only to find a global story in the resulting core sample. Deftly navigating the disconnect between history and myth, she tracks both the backstory of this region and the evolution of the idea of an unalloyed heart at the center of the land. The Heartland speaks volumes about pressing preoccupations, among them identity and community, immigration and trade, and security and global power.
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2020. 275 p.
Reviewed: LJ Dec/Jan 2020/21 p. 9 Description: The idea that historical events, catastrophes in particular, didn’t happen on their own but were driven by the hidden machinations of malign influences has deep roots. The appeal is clear: we can ascribe these events not to human shortsightedness or frailty, or to the contingencies of fate and circumstance, but to unseen forces. Conspiracy theories and paranoia go hand in hand. Something, or someone, is trying to control our lives and to regain that control we need to expose the truth. Conspiracy theories have lately proliferated, powered by the Internet and social media, as well as by the declining influence of the traditional gatekeepers of facts and information. In his new book, Richard J. Evans, one of the world’s leading historians of the Third Reich, explores this new golden age of conspiracy theories and what underlies it. To do that, he focuses on five of the most enduring conspiracies theories of the Nazi period, including those that fueled Hitler’s rise in the first place. Hence he reexamines the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; the “stab-in-the-back” myth about the of the role of Jews in Germany’s loss in World War One; and the 1933 burning of the Reichstag, which the Nazis used to solidify their grip on power. Evans also delves into the multiple rumors regarding the ill-fated and mysterious 1941 flight to England by Rudolf Hess, Deputy Leader of the Nazi Party, and his death in Spandau prison in 1987. Lastly, he turns to the recurrent rumor that Hitler somehow managed to escape from Berlin in 1945 and live out his days in Argentina. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2018. xi, 244 p.
Description: World history is littered with tall tales and those who have fallen for them. Ian Tattersall, a curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, has teamed up with Peter Névraumont to create this antihistory of the world, in which Michelangelo fakes a masterpiece; Arctic explorers seek an entrance into a hollow Earth; a Shakespeare tragedy is “rediscovered;” a financial scheme inspires Charles Ponzi; a spirit photographer snaps Abraham Lincoln’s ghost; people can survive ingesting only air and sunshine; Edgar Allen Poe is the forefather of fake news; and the first human was not only British but played cricket. Told chronologically, Hoax begins with the first documented announcement of the end of the world from 365 AD and winds its way through controversial tales such as the Loch Ness Monster and the Shroud of Turin, past proven fakes such as the Thomas Jefferson’s ancient wine and the Davenport Tablets built by a lost race, and explores bald-faced lies in the worlds of art, science, literature, journalism, and finance. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2020. xviii, 499 p.
Reviewed: TLS 13 Nov. 2020 p. 30; LRB 18 Feb. 2021 p. 29. Description: Based on the most recent historical and archaeological evidence, this book provides a sweeping narrative of one of the world’s first great urban experiments, from Bronze Age origins to the demise of cities in late antiquity. We are used to thinking of Athens and Rome and Alexandria as great models of urbanism, and of the ancient world itself as a world of cities. In fact cities came late to this corner of Eurasia and were almost always tiny compared to those of neighbouring regions. Greg Woolf chronicles the history of the ancient Mediterranean city, against the background of wider patterns of human evolution, and of the unforgiving environment in which they were built. Woolf is the Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, at the University of London. (publ.)
This biography of Alcibiades, the charismatic Athenian statesman and general who achieved both renown and infamy during the Peloponnesian War, is both an extraordinary adventure story and a cautionary tale that reveals the dangers that political opportunism and demagoguery pose to democracy. As Jacqueline de Romilly brilliantly documents, Alcibiades's life is one of wanderings and vicissitudes, promises and disappointments, brilliant successes and ruinous defeats. Born into a wealthy and powerful family in Athens, Alcibiades was a student of Socrates and disciple of Pericles, and he seemed destined to dominate the political life of his city--and his tumultuous age.
Lost Without the River is an elegantly wrought memoir of resilience, courage, and reinvention. The story of a girl whose family struggled against Depression-era hardship and personal tragedy to carve out a small farm in rural South Dakota. The youngest of seven, Barbara wrestles against the expectations of her family, the strictures of the church, and the limits imposed by a male-dominated culture. Eager for adventure, she leaves the farm--first for the Peace Corps and ultimately for the unknown environs of Manhattan's Upper East Side--but she never truly escapes. Lost Without the River demonstrates the emotional power that even the smallest place can exert, and the gravitational pull that calls a person back home.
The little-known true story of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, the woman who headed the largest spy network in occupied France during World War II. In 1941 a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman, a young mother born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour, became the leader of a vast intelligence organization--Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was temperamentally made for the job. Her group's name was Alliance, but the Gestapo dubbed it Noah's Ark because its agents used the names of animals as their aliases. In this dramatic account of the war that split France in two and forced its people to live side by side with their hated German occupiers, Lynne Olson tells the fascinating story of a woman who stood up for her nation, her fellow citizens, and herself.
A new account of the famous site and story of the last stand of a group of Jewish rebels who held out against the Roman Empire Two thousand years ago, 967 Jewish men, women, and children--the last holdouts of the revolt against Rome following the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple--reportedly took their own lives rather than surrender to the Roman army. This dramatic event, which took place on top of Masada, a barren and windswept mountain overlooking the Dead Sea, spawned a powerful story of Jewish resistance that came to symbolize the embattled modern State of Israel. Featuring numerous illustrations, this is an engaging exploration of an ancient story that continues to grip the imagination today.
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2020. 257 p.
Reviewed: TLS 20 Nov. 2020 p. 4. Description: This tells how the religious values of the Pilgrims prompted their settlement of the Plymouth Colony and how those values influenced the political, intellectual, and cultural aspect of New England life a hundred and fifty years before the American Revolution. It begins in early seventeenth-century England with their persecution for challenging the established national church, and their struggles as refugees in the Netherlands in the 1610s. It then examines the challenges they faced in planting a colony in America, including relations with the Native population. The book emphasizes the religious dimension of the story, which has been neglected in most recent works. In particular it focuses on how this particular group of puritan congregationalists was driven by the belief that ordinary men and women should play the determinative role in governing church affairs. Their commitment to lay empowerment is illustrated by attention to the life of William Brewster, who helped organize the congregation in its early years and served as the colony’s spiritual guide for its first decade. The participatory democracy that was reflected in congregational church covenants played a greater role in the shaping of Massachusetts churches than has previously been accepted. This outlook also influenced the earliest political forms of the region, including the Mayflower Compact and local New England town meetings. Their rejection of individual greed and focus on community was an early form of an American social gospel. (publ.) Note: 2020 was the 400th anniversary of the founding of Plymouth Colony in 1620.
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2020. xxi, 408 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 30 Aug. 2020 p. 12; NYRB 17 Dec. 2020 p. 72. Description: For Americans, World War II began in December of 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor; in Soviet historical accounts, the war was prompted by the German invasion of June 1941; for the British and the French, the war was not taken seriously until the German forces penetrated French territory in May 1940. But for Poland, the war began on Sep-tember 1, 1939 when the Nazi army invaded Poland by land and by air, where they were soon joined by Stalin's army. In Poland 1939, Roger Moorhouse introduces the September Campaign as the triggering event of World War II and challenges the prevailing historical understanding of the start the war. The Polish campaign of 1939 is the least written-about and least understood campaign of World War II. Although many of the doctrines and practices that would feature so strongly throughout the war–the targeting of civilians, race war, Blitzkrieg, aerial bombing–would see their debut in Poland, the campaign is rarely given any real scrutiny. In his close examination of the often-overlooked September Campaign, Moorhouse explores the Anglo-French betrayal of Poland, when both Britain and France pledged to defend Poland but then did nothing of the sort (their inaction resulted in the slaughter of 16,000 Polish civilians). He offers an insightful account of the September Campaign, and unravels the misconceptions and myths that have clouded the beginnings of World War II. This is the first English-language history of the September Campaign. Moorhouse draws from memoirs of generals, diplomats, letters of soldiers and civilian diaries, as well as private and previously untapped documentary archives in Poland, to expose the true history of the September Campaign, the event that set the tone for the bloody conflict to come. (Publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2020. 432 p.
Reviewed: PW 21 Sept. 2020 p. 78. Description: For over seventy years and five generations, the enslaved families of Prince George’s County, Maryland, filed hundreds of suits for their freedom against a powerful circle of slaveholders, taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation’s capital. Piecing together evidence once dismissed in court and buried in the archives, Univ. of Nebraska history professor William Thomas tells an intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys, and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: St. Martin’s Pr., 2020. 291 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 28 Feb. 2021 p. 26. Description: In a forceful but humane narrative, former soldier and head of the West Point history department Ty Seidule's Robert E. Lee and Me challenges the myths and lies of the Confederate legacy–and explores why some of this country’s oldest wounds have never healed. Ty Seidule grew up revering Robert E. Lee. From his southern childhood to his service in the U.S. Army, every part of his life reinforced the Lost Cause myth: that Lee was the greatest man who ever lived, and that the Confederates were underdogs who lost the Civil War with honor. Now, as a retired brigadier general and Professor Emeritus of History at West Point, his view has radically changed. From a soldier, a scholar, and a Southerner, American history demands a reckoning. In a unique blend of history and reflection, Seidule deconstructs the truth about the Confederacy–that its undisputed primary goal was the subjugation and enslavement of African Americans–and directly challenges the idea of honoring those who labored to preserve that system and committed treason in their failed attempt to achieve it. Through the arc of Seidule’s own life, as well as the culture that formed him, he seeks a path to understanding why the facts of the Civil War have remained buried beneath layers of myth and even outright lies–and how they embody a cultural gulf that separates millions of Americans to this day. Part history lecture, part meditation on the Civil War and its fallout, and part memoir, Robert E. Lee and Me challenges the deeply-held legends and myths of the Confederacy–and provides a surprising interpretation of essential truths that our country still has a difficult time articulating and accepting. (publ.)
Paul Christopher Anderson shows how and why the conflict remains the nation's defining moment, arguing that it was above all a struggle for power and political supremacy but was also a struggle for the idea of America.
Publication Date: New York: St. Martin’s Pr., 2020. 624 p.
Reviewed: PW 21 Sept. 2020 p. 79. Description: Takes a fresh look at the Middle Kingdom in the light of the recent massive changes inside the country. Taking into account exciting new archeological discoveries, the book begins with China’s prehistory–the early dynasties, the origins of the Chinese state, and the roots of Chinese culture in the age of Confucius. Wood looks at particular periods and themes that are now being reevaluated by historians, such as the renaissance of the Song with its brilliant scientific discoveries. He paints a vibrant picture of the Qing Empire in the 18th century, just before the European impact, a time when China’s rich and diverse culture was at its height. Then, Wood explores the encounter with the West, the Opium Wars, the clashes with the British, and the extraordinarily rich debates in the late 19th century that pushed China along the path to modernity. Finally, he provides a clear up-to-date account of post-1949 China, including revelations about the 1989 crisis based on newly leaked inside documents, and fresh insights into the new order of President Xi Jinping. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2020. x, 447 p.
Reviewed: TLS 20 Nov. 2020 p. 4. Description: In 1620, separatists from the Church of England set sail across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Understanding themselves as spiritual pilgrims, they left to preserve their liberty to worship God in accordance with their understanding of the Bible. There exists, however, an alternative, more dispiriting version of their story. In it, the Pilgrims are religious zealots who persecuted dissenters and decimated the Native peoples through warfare and by stealing their land. The Pilgrims’ definition of liberty was, in practice, very narrow. Drawing on original research using underutilized sources, John G. Turner moves beyond these familiar narratives in his sweeping and authoritative new history of Plymouth Colony. Instead of depicting the Pilgrims as otherworldly saints or extraordinary sinners, he tells how a variety of English settlers and Native peoples engaged in a contest for the meaning of American liberty. (publ.)
A reappraisal of the giant massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, and then the Turkish Republic, against their Christian minorities. Between 1894 and 1924, three waves of violence swept across Anatolia, targeting the region's Christian minorities, who had previously accounted for 20 percent of the population. By 1924, the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks had been reduced to 2 percent. The Thirty-Year Genocide is the first account to show that the three were actually part of a single, continuing, and intentional effort to wipe out Anatolia's Christian population. While not justified under the teachings of Islam, the killing of two million Christians was effected through the calculated exhortation of the Turks to create a pure Muslim nation. Revelatory and impeccably researched, Benny Morris and Dror Ze'evi's account is certain to transform how we see one of modern history's most horrific events.
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. xii, 252 p., 8 p. of plates.
Description: Valkyries: the female supernatural beings that choose who dies and who lives on the battlefield. They protect some, but guide spears, arrows and sword blades into the bodies of others. Viking myths about Valkyries attempt to elevate the banality of war–to make the pain and suffering, the lost limbs and deformities, the piles of lifeless bodies of young men, glorious and worthwhile. Rather than their death being futile, it is their destiny and good fortune, determined by divine beings. The fateful agency of women is widespread in Norse sources. Norse sagas and Viking myths tell stories of war and strife, loyalty and betrayal, murder and revenge, privation and success. The women in these stories take full part in the power struggles and upheavals in their communities and families, for better or worse. But in some spheres, women are systematically oppressed or excluded because of their gender, and the sagas comunicate heartbreaking stories of girls’ and women’s traumatic experiences that resonate strongly today. In Valkyrie, Jóhanna Katrín Fridriksdóttir introduces readers to the dramatic and fascinating texts recorded in medieval Iceland. It was a culture able to imagine women in all kinds of powerful roles, pulling the strings not just in this world but in the other-world too. Drawing on the latest historical and archaeological evidence, this book uncovers the reality behind the myths and legends to reveal the dynamic, diverse lives of Viking women. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2020. 420 p.
Description: The dynamics of military disaster are equally, if not more, important as understanding how to achieve success on the battlefield. This comprehensive book covers the complete gamut of human history as it tells the compelling stories of the worst military debacles of all time. It covers battles, campaigns, and wars, starting with the ancient Persians and Greeks and finishing with the U.S. conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not limited to land warfare, however, the book also includes a number of the most disastrous naval engagements and campaigns in world history. It opens with a detailed introductory essay illuminating the role military strategy and politics played in some of the worst battlefield failures throughout history. The entries, organized alphabetically, are augmented with several engaging sidebars related to various military disasters. This eclectic collection includes coverage of many lesser known military disasters such as the Taiping Rebellion, during which 20 times more Chinese died than the number of people killed in the American Civil War. (publ.)
Publication Date: Oxford, England: Oxford UP, 2019. xxv, 240 p.
Reviewed: FA 98(5) Sept./Oct. 2019 p. 230. Description: Germany’s financial collapse in the summer of 1931 was one of the biggest economic catastrophes of modern history. It led to a global panic, brought down the international monetary system, and turned a worldwide recession into a prolonged depression. The German crisis also contributed decisively to the rise of Hitler. Soon after the crisis, the Nazi Party became the largest party of the country which paved the way for Hitler's eventual seizure of power in 1933. The reason for the financial collapse was Germany’s large pile of foreign debt denominated in gold currency which condemned the government to cut spending, raise taxes, and lower wages in the middle of a worldwide recession. As the political resistance to this austerity policy grew, the German government began to question its debt obligations, prompting foreign investors to panic and sell their German assets. The resulting currency crisis led to the failure of the already weakened banking system and a partial sovereign default. Hitler managed to profit from the crisis, because he had been the most vocal critic of the reparation regime. As the financial system collapsed, his relentless attacks against foreign creditors and the alleged complicity of the German government resonated more than ever with the electorate. Sadly enough, Germany’s creditors hesitated too long to take the wind out of Hitler's sails by offering debt re-lief. (publ.)
Reviewed: PW 18 Nov. 2019 p. 67. Description: On March 25, 1942, nearly a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. Filled with a sense of adventure and national pride, they left their parents’ homes wearing their best clothes and confidently waving good-bye. Believing they were going to work in a factory for a few months, they were eager to report for government service. Instead, the young women–many of them teenagers–were sent to Auschwitz. Their government paid 500 Reich Marks (about $200) apiece for the Nazis to take them as slave labor. Of those 999 innocent deportees, only a few would survive. The facts of the first official Jewish transport to Auschwitz are little known, yet profoundly relevant today. These were not resistance fighters or prisoners of war. There were no men among them. Sent to almost certain death, the young women were powerless and insignificant not only because they were Jewish–but also because they were female. Now author Heather Dune Macadam reveals their poignant stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women’s history. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2019. xvi, 254 p.
Reviewed: TLS 6 Dec. 2019 p. 39; NYRB 13 Feb. 2020 p. 28. Description: The 1291 siege of Acre was the Alamo of the Christian Crusades–the final bloody battle for the Holy Land. After a desperate six weeks, the beleaguered citadel surrendered to the Mamluks, bringing an end to Christendom’s two-hundred year adventure in the Middle East. In this book, Roger Crowley delivers a lively narrative of the lead-up to the siege and a vivid, blow-by-blow account of the climactic battle. Drawing on extant Arabic sources as well as untranslated Latin documents, he argues that Acre is notable for technical advances in military planning and siege warfare, and extraordinary for its individual heroism and savage slaughter. A gripping depiction of the crusader era told through its dramatic last moments, Crowley offers a new view on a crucial turning point in world history. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2019. vii, 416 p.
Description: The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In this book, historian Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Americans have been wary of almost every group of foreigners that has come to the United States. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed German immigrants for their “strange and foreign ways.” Americans’ anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement in the 1850s. Over the century that followed, Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Central Americans, and the so-called browning of America. Xenophobia has not been an exception to America’s immigration tradition, an episodic aberration on an inevitable march toward inclusion. It is, in fact, Lee argues, an American tradition in its own right, deeply embedded in our society, economy, and politics, forcing us to confront this history, Lee explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens us all. It is a necessary corrective and spur to action for any concerned citizen. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Historical Facts and Fictions Ser.] Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2018. xviii, 225 p.
Description: This book debunks popular myths and misconceptions about the American Civil War through primary source documents and shows how misinformation can become so widespread. The American Civil War deeply divided the nation and was a pivotal point in American history. The acrimony and bitterness of this four-year struggle, coupled with its importance to the fabric of American life, has resulted in the development and perpetuation of many myths about the conflict. This work separates myth from reality. The author examines 10 popular myths about the war, each of which is examined in terms of its origins and how it became ensconced in the American memory. It uses primary sources to explain the evolution of the myths and to inform the reader about what really happened, providing a unique quality to this work. Moreover, the book not only explains the flaws in the myth but encourages the reader to further investigate each of the topics. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: British Library, 2018. 424 p.
Reviewed: TLS 29 Nov. 2019 p. 12 (TLS Book of the Year). Description: The Anglo-Saxon period stretches from the arrival of Germanic groups on British shores in the early 5th century to the Norman Conquest of 1066. During these centuries, the English language was used and written down for the first time, pagan populations were converted to Christianity, and the foundations of the kingdom of England were laid. This richly illustrated new book–which accompanies a landmark British Library exhibition–presents Anglo-Saxon England as the home of a highly sophisticated artistic and political culture, deeply connected with its continental neighbours. Leading specialists in early medieval history, literature and culture engage with the unique, original evidence from which we can piece together the story of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, examining outstanding and beautiful objects such as highlights from the Staffordshire hoard and the Sutton Hoo burial. … These national treasures are discussed alongside other, internationally important literary and historical manuscripts held in major collections in Britain, Europe and the United States. (publ.) Cataloging Note: Class 942 not 002.09 (vl)
Publication Date: New York: Pegasus Books, 2019. 400 p.
Reviewed: Economist 29 June 2019 p. 81. Description: The Borgia family have become a byword for evil. Corruption, incest, ruth-less megalomania, avarice and vicious cruelty–all have been associated with their name. And yet, paradoxically, this family lived when the Re-naissance was coming into its full flowering in Italy. Examples of infamy flourished alongside some of the finest art produced in western history. This is but one of several paradoxes associated with the Borgia family. For the family which produced corrupt popes, depraved princes and poisoners, would also produce a saint. These paradoxes which so characterize the Borgias have seldom been examined in great detail. Previously history has tended to condemn, or attempt in part to exonerate, this remarkable family. Yet in order to understand the Borgias, much more is needed than evidence for and against. The Borgias must be related to their time, together with the world which enabled them to flourish. Within this context the Renaissance itself takes on a very different aspect. Was the corruption part of the creation, or vice versa? Would one have been possible without the other? (publ.)
Publication Date: [Dynasties Ser.] London: Reaktion Books, 2019. 376 p.
Reviewed: LR Dec./Jan. 2019/20 p. 31. Description: For 270 years, the House of Braganza provided the kings and queens of Portugal. During a period of momentous change, from 1640 to 1910, this influential family helped to establish Portuguese independence from their powerful Spanish neighbours. They ruled the vast empire of Brazil from 1822 to 1889, successfully creating a unified nation and preventing the country from splitting into small warring states, and they saved the monarchy and government from total destruction by the marauding armies of Napoleon. In his fascinating reappraisal of the Braganza dynasty, Malyn Newitt traces the rise and fall of one of the world’s most important royal families. (publ.) Note: Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705) was Queen Consort of Charles II of Eng-land, and is the namesake for whom the Borough of Queens, New York, is named. Kings County (Brooklyn) was named after her husband, King Charles II, and Richmond County (Staten Island) was named for Charles’ son, the Duke of Richmond.
Publication Date: New York: Viking, 2018. xviii, 378 p.
Reviewed: CHE 11/6/2019 (referenced) Description: LBJ’s towering political skills and his ambitious slate of liberal legislation are the stuff of legend: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and environmental reform. But what happened after the bills passed? One man could not and did not go it alone. Joshua Zeitz reanimates the creative and contentious atmosphere inside Johnson’s White House as a talented and energetic group of advisers made LBJ’s vision a reality. They desegregated public and private institutions throughout one third of the United States; built Medicare and Medicaid from the ground up in one year; launched federal funding for public education; provided food support for millions of poor children and adults; and launched public television and radio, all in the space of five years, even as Vietnam strained the administration’s credibility and budget. Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti, Joe Califano, Harry McPherson and the other staff members who comprised LBJ’s inner circle were men as pragmatic and ambitious as Johnson, equally skilled in the art of accumulating power or throwing a sharp elbow. This is the story of how one of the most competent White House staffs in American history–serving one of the most complicated presidents ever to occupy the Oval Office–fundamentally changed everyday life for millions of citizens and forged a legacy of compassionate and interventionist government. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2019. xlix, 437 p.
Description: A comprehensive resource for understanding all aspects of the Declaration of Independence, which marked the formal beginning of the colonies’ march toward the creation of the United States of America, this encyclopedia contains more than 200 entries examining various facets of the Declaration of Independence and its enduring impact on American law, politics, and culture. It details key concepts, principles, and intellectual influences that informed the creation of the document, reviews charges leveled in the Declaration against the British crown, summarizes the events of the first and second Continental Congresses, profiles influential architects and signers of the Declaration, discusses existing copies of the Declaration, explains the document’s influence on other governments/nations, covers historic sites related to the document, and discusses depictions of the document and its architects in American art, music, and literature over time. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2018. xv, 385 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYRB 16 Jan. 2020 p. 38. Description: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero–these are the names history associates with the early Roman Empire. Yet, not a single one of these emperors was the blood son of his predecessor. In this captivating history, a prominent scholar of the era documents the Julio-Claudian women whose bloodline, ambition, and ruthlessness made it possible for the emperors’ line to continue. Eminent scholar Guy de la Bédoyère asserts that the women behind the scenes–including Livia, Octavia, and the elder and younger Agrippina–were the true backbone of the dynasty. De la Bédoyère draws on the accounts of ancient Roman historians to revisit a familiar time from a completely fresh vantage point. (publ.)
Description: The rise of the alt-right alongside Donald Trump’s candidacy may seem to be unprecedented events in the history of the United States, but D.J. Mulloy shows us that the radical right has been a long and active part of American politics during the twentieth century. From the German-American Bund to the modern militia movement, D.J. Mulloy provides a guide for anyone interested in examining the roots of the radical right in the United States–in all its many varied forms–going back to the days of the Great Depression, the New Deal and the extraordinary political achievements of Franklin D. Roosevelt. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Opinions Throughout History Ser.] Amenia, N.Y.: Greyhouse, 2020. 400 p.
Description: From the Revolutionary War to the national crisis brought about by mass shootings in the 21st century, this volume provides a historical look at the controversial debate over gun rights and gun control. Chapters provide a detailed look at major events in the debate, including: the shift from state militias to federal military; the rise of organized crime; high profile shootings; the War on Drugs; and the development of new commercial weapons. Readers will learn how these events shaped and shifted public opinion on this highly divisive issue. Primary document analysis draws from the courts, the government, and the popular press, all showing how opinion on this issue has changed and how the effort to balance personal liberty and national security has complicated the legality of gun ownership and the on-going effort to curb gun violence. (publ.)
Publication Date: [The Thom Hartmann Hidden History Ser.] Oakland, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler, 2019. 192 p.
Reviewed: PW 25 Feb. 2019 p. 20. Description: Progressive radio host in America and a New York Times bestselling author Thom Hartmann looks at the real history of guns in America and what we can do to limit both their lethal impact and the power of the gun lobby. Taking his typically in-depth, historically informed view, he examines how guns have played important roles throughout American history, from early European settlement to the Revolutionary War and Manifest Destiny, through the use of Slave Patrols in the Deep South (which became the “well-regulated militias” so debated in 1787), to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recent school massacres. Looking at the present, Hartmann documents how inequality in America and the number of people killed in mass shootings have grown together over the last fifty years. Finally, he identifies a handful of common-sense and powerful solutions that would address the issue at different levels: from getting money out of politics to get the National Rifle Association out of lobbying, to passing laws that would treat gun ownership like car ownership (title, license, insurance), to addressing the social despair and economic inequality that drive violent crime and mass shootings. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2020. 175 p.
Note: Library Standing Order. Description: Historical revisionism refers to any reinterpretation of recorded history, but whether this practice is beneficial, harmful, or some-where in between is hotly contested. While allowing newly discovered evidence and facts to enter the historical record may seem benign, the reinterpretation of existing facts to reflect contemporary morality is a far more controversial aspect of the topic. Many also worry this could lead to historical facts being distorted, as has been the case with Holocaust denial. This volume discusses the different forms and causes of historical revisionism along with the ethical, social, and scholarly concerns related to the issue. (publ.)
Publication Date: Dubuque, IA: Heartland Financial USA, 2018. xvi, 241 p.
Description: Follows the history of the Dubuque-based financial institution from its beginnings in 1935 with the founding of Dubuque Bank and Trust through its growth and multiple acquisitions. Note: Local/Iowa interest. Acquisition Note: Gift of the author.
Publication Date: New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2018. 296 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 5 July 2019 p. 13. Description: Americans who remember World War II reminisce about how it brought the country together. The less popular truth behind this warm nostalgia: until the attack on Pearl Harbor, the nation was deeply, dangerously divided. Bradley W. Hart uncovers the homegrown groups who sought to protect and promote Hitler, leave Europeans (and especially European Jews) to fend for themselves, and elevate the Nazi regime. Some of these “friends” were Americans of German heritage who joined the Bund, whose leadership dreamed of installing a stateside Führer. Some were as bizarre and hair-raising as the Silver Legion, run by an eccentric who claimed that Hitler fulfilled a religious prophecy. Some were Midwestern Catholics like Father Charles Coughlin, an early right-wing radio star who broadcast anti-Semitic tirades. Seom were even members of Congress, who used their franking privilege–sending mail at cost to American taxpayers–to distribute German propaganda. And celebrity pilot Charles Lindbergh ended up speaking for them all at the America First Committee. We try to tell our-selves it couldn't happen here, but Americans are not immune to the lure of fascism. (publ.)
Publication Date: U. Calif. Pr., 2019. xxxi, 668 p.
Reviewed: LRB 19 Dec. 2019 p. 7; LR Aug. 2019 p. 8. Description: Charles I, often known as Charlemagne, is one of the most extraordinary figures ever to rule an empire. Driven by unremitting physical energy and intellectual curiosity, he was a man of many parts, a warlord and conqueror, a judge who promised “for each their law and justice,” a defender of the Latin Church, a man of flesh-and-blood. In the twelve centuries since his death, warfare, accident, vermin, and the elements have destroyed much of the writing on his rule, but a remarkable amount has survived. Janet Nelson’s wonderful new book brings together everything we know about Charles, sifting through the available evidence, literary and material, to paint a vivid portrait of the man and his motives. Building on Nelson’s extraordinary knowledge, this biography is a sort of detective story, prying into and interpreting the fascinating and often obdurate scraps of evidence, from prayer books to skeletons, gossip to artwork. Charles’s legacy lies in his deeds and their continuing resonance, as he shaped counties, countries, and continents, founded and rebuilt towns and monasteries, and consciously set himself up not just as King of the Franks, but as the head of the renewed Roman Empire. His successors–in some ways even up to the present day–have struggled to interpret, misinterpret, copy, or subvert his legacy. Janet Nelson gets us as close as we can ever hope to come to the real figure of Charles the man as understood in his own time. (publ.)
Reviewed: TLS 24 Jan. 2020 p. 9 (reviewer) Description: Wachsmann offers an ... integrated account of the Nazi concentration camps from their inception in 1933 through their demise, seventy years ago, in the spring of 1945. The Third Reich has been studied in more depth than virtually any other period in history, and yet until now there has been no history of the camp system that tells the full story of its broad development and the everyday experiences of its inhabitants, both perpetrators and victims, and all those living in what Primo Levi called “the gray zone.” (publ.)
Publication Date: [The Lamar Series in Western History] New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2019. ix, 530 p.
Reviewed: Economist 2 Nov. 2019 p. 77; TLS 29 Nov. 2019 p. 14 (2019 Book of the Year). Description: The first comprehensive history of the Lakota Indians and their profound role in shaping America’s history. This first complete account of the Lakota Indians traces their rich and often surprising history from the early sixteenth to the early twenty-first century. Pekka Hamalainen explores the Lakotas’ roots as marginal hunter-gatherers and reveals how they rein-vented themselves twice: first as a river people who dominated the Missouri Valley, America’s great commercial artery, and then–in what was America’s first sweeping westward expansion–as a horse people who ruled supreme on the vast high plains. The Lakotas are imprinted in American historical memory. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull are iconic figures in the American imagination, but in this groundbreaking book they emerge as something different: the architects of Lakota America, an expansive and enduring Indigenous regime that commanded human fates in the North American interior for generations. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Random House, 2019. xxiv, 428 p.
Reviewed: LR Aug. 2019 p. 18. Description: In 1941 a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman, a young mother born to privi-lege and known for her beauty and glamour, became the leader of a vast intelligence organization–the only woman to serve as a chef de résistance during the war. Strong-willed, independent, and a lifelong rebel against her country’s conservative, patriarchal society, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was temperamentally made for the job. Her group’s name was Alliance, but the Gestapo dubbed it Noah’s Ark because its agents used the names of animals as their aliases. The name Marie-Madeleine chose for herself was Hedgehog: a tough little animal, unthreatening in appearance, that, as a colleague of hers put it, “even a lion would hesitate to bite.” No other French spy network lasted as long or supplied as much crucial intelligence–including providing American and British military commanders with a 55-foot-long map of the beaches and roads on which the Allies would land on D-Day–as Alliance. The Gestapo pursued them relentlessly, capturing, torturing, and executing hundreds of its three thousand agents, including Fourcade’s own lover and many of her key spies. Although Fourcade, the mother of two young children, moved her headquarters every few weeks, constantly changing her hair color, clothing, and identity, she was captured twice by the Nazis. Both times she managed to escape–once by slipping naked through the bars of her jail cell–and continued to hold her network together even as it repeatedly threatened to crumble around her. Now, in this dramatic account of the war that split France in two and forced its people to live side by side with their hated German occupiers, Lynne Olson tells the fascinating story of a woman who stood up for her nation, her fellow citizens, and herself. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2019. viii, 627 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 26 Mar. 2020 p. 42. Description: The principles of the French Revolution remain the only possible basis for a just society–even if, after more than two hundred years, they are more contested than ever before. In this work, Jeremy D. Popkin offers an ac-count of the revolution that puts the reader in the thick of the debates and the violence that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a new society. We meet Mirabeau, Robespierre, and Danton, in all of their brilliance and vengefulness; we witness the failed escape and execution of Louis XVI; we see women demanding equal rights and black slaves wresting freedom from revolutionaries who hesitated to act on their own principles; and we follow the rise of Napoleon out of the ashes of the Reign of Terror. Based on decades of scholarship. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. xii, 297 p.
Reviewed: Nation 11/18 Nov. 2019 p. 24. Description: The first survey of the Pan-African movement this century, this book pro-vides a history of the individuals and organisations that have sought the unity of all those of African origin as the basis for advancement and liberation. Initially an idea and movement that took root among the African Diaspora, in more recent times Pan-Africanism has been embodied in the African Union, the organisation of African states which includes the entire African Diaspora as its “sixth region.” Hakim Adi covers many of the key political figures of the 20th century, including Du Bois, Garvey, Malcolm X, Nkrumah and Gaddafi, as well as Pan-African culture expression from Negritude to the wearing of the Afro hair style and the music of Bob Marley. (publ.)
Publication Date: [The California World History Library; no. 27] Oakland: U. Calif. Pr., 2019. xviii, 248 p.
Reviewed: TLS 6 Dec. 2019 p. 6. Description: In 1545, a native Andean prospector hit pay dirt on a desolate red mountain in highland Bolivia. There followed the world’s greatest silver bonanza, making the Cerro Rico or “Rich Hill” and the Imperial Villa of Potosí instant legends, famous from Istanbul to Beijing. The Cerro Rico alone provided over half of the world’s silver for a century, and even in decline, it remained the single richest source on earth. Potosí is the first interpretive history of the fabled mining city’s rise and fall. It tells the story of global economic transformation and the environmental and social impact of ram-pant colonial exploitation from Potosí’s startling emergence in the 16th century to its collapse in the 19th. Throughout, Kris Lane’s invigorating narrative offers rare details of this thriving city and its promise of prosperity. A new world of native workers, market women, African slaves, and other ordinary residents who lived alongside the elite merchants, refinery owners, wealthy widows, and crown officials, emerge in lively, riveting stories from the original sources. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2019. v, 517 p.
Reviewed: LRB 18 Mar. 2021 p. 21. Description: This book is a transatlantic history of Puritanism from its emergence out of the religious tumult of Elizabethan England to its founding role in the story of America. Shedding critical new light on the diverse forms of Puritan be-lief and practice in England, Scotland, and New England, David Hall provides a multifaceted account of a cultural movement that judged the Protestant reforms of Elizabeths reign to be unfinished. Hall describes the movements deeply ambiguous triumph under Oliver Cromwell, its political demise with the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, and its perilous migration across the Atlantic to establish a perfect reformation in the New World. He examines the tribulations and doctrinal dilemmas that led to the fragmentation and eventual decline of Puritanism, and presents a compelling portrait of a religious and political movement that was divided virtually from the start. In England, some wanted to dismantle the Church of England entirely and others were more cautious, while Puritans in Scot-land were divided between those willing to work with a troublesome king and others insisting on the independence of the state church. This book traces how Puritanism was a catalyst for profound cultural changes in the early modern Atlantic world, opening the door for other dissenter groups such as the Baptists and the Quakers, and leaving its enduring mark on what counted as true religion in America. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. vii, 180 p.
Reviewed: FA 98(1) Jan./Feb. 2019 p. 201. Description: The era known as Reconstruction is one of the unhappiest times in Ameri-can history. It succeeded in reuniting the nation politically after the Civil War but in little else. Conflict shifted from the battlefield to the Capitol as Congress warred with President Andrew Johnson over just what to do with the South. Johnson’s plan of Presidential Reconstruction, which was sympathetic to the former Confederacy and allowed repressive measures such as the “black codes,” would ultimately lead to his impeachment and the institution of Radical Reconstruction. While Reconstruction saw the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments, expanding the rights and suffrage of African Americans, it largely failed to chart a progressive course for race relations after the abolition of slavery and the rise of Jim Crow. It also struggled to manage the Southern resistance towards a Northern free-labor economy. … Reconstruction suffered from poor leadership and uncertainty of direction, but it also laid the groundwork for renewed struggles for racial equality during the civil rights movement. In this concise history, award-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo delves into the constitutional, political, and social issues behind Reconstruction to provide a lucid and original ac-count of a historical moment that left an indelible mark on the American social fabric. (publ.)
Publication Date: Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. xiii, 288 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 15 Dec. 2019 p. 19. Description: The remarkable story of Fred Mayer, a German-born Jew who escaped Nazi Germany only to return as an American commando on a secret mission behind enemy lines. Growing up in Germany, Freddy Mayer witnessed the Nazis’ rise to power. When he was sixteen, his family made the decision to flee to the United States–they were among the last German Jews to es-cape, in 1938. In America, Freddy tried enlisting the day after Pearl Harbor, only to be rejected as an “enemy alien” because he was German. He was soon recruited to the OSS, the country’s first spy outfit before the CIA. Freddy, joined by Dutch Jewish refugee Hans Wynberg and Nazi defector Franz Weber, parachuted into Austria as the leader of Operation Greenup, meant to deter Hitler’s last stand. He posed as a Nazi officer and a French POW for months, dispatching reports to the OSS via Hans, holed up with a radio in a nearby attic. The reports contained a goldmine of information, provided key intelligence about the Battle of the Bulge, and allowed the Al-lies to bomb twenty Nazi trains. On the verge of the Allied victory, Freddy was captured by the Gestapo and tortured and waterboarded for days. Remarkably, he persuaded the Nazi commander for the region to surrender, completing one of the most successful OSS missions of the war. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2019. xi, 303 p.
Reviewed: LR Nov. 2019 p. 31; TLS 17 Jan. 2020 p. 8. Description: Facing one of the worst famines in history, the new Soviet government under Vladimir Lenin invited the American Relief Administration, Herbert Hoover’s brainchild, to save communist Russia from ruin. For two years a small band of Americans fed more than ten million men, women, and children across a million square miles of territory. They prevented the loss of countless lives, social unrest on a massive scale, and, quite possibly, the collapse of the communist state–and the Soviet government managed to erase the memory of American charity. Smith resurrects the story of the ARA: a story filled with political intrigue, espionage, the clash of ideologies, violence, adventure, and romance, and some of the great historical figures of the twentieth century. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2019. vii, 400 p.
Reviewed: LR Dec./Jan. 2019/20 p. 24. Description: Brilliant horsemen and great fighters, the Scythians were nomadic horse-men who ranged wide across the grasslands of the Asian steppe from the Altai mountains in the east to the Great Hungarian Plain in the first millennium BC. Their steppe homeland bordered on a number of sedentary states to the south–the Chinese, the Persians and the Greeks–and there were, inevitably, numerous interactions between the nomads and their neighbours. The Scythians fought the Persians on a number of occasions, in one battle killing their king and on another occasion driving the invading army of Darius the Great from the steppe. Relations with the Greeks around the shores of the Black Sea were rather different–both communities benefiting from trading with each other. This led to the development of a brilliant art style, often depicting scenes from Scythian mythology and everyday life. It is from the writings of Greeks like the historian Herodotus that we learn of Scythian life: their beliefs, their burial practices, their love of fighting, and their ambivalent attitudes to gender. … Barry Cunliffe here marshals this vast array of evidence–both archaeological and textual–in a masterful reconstruction of the lost world of the Scythians, allowing them to emerge in all their considerable vigour and splendour for the first time in over two millennia. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: W.W. Norton, 2019. xxix, 224 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT 8 Sept. 2019 p. SR7 (excerpt/op.ed); NYT/BR 13 Oct. 2019 p. 13; PW 24 June 2019 p. 163; NYRB 5 Dec. 2019 p. 24; LRB 30 July 2020 p. 21; TLS 21 Feb. 2020 p. 9. Description: The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2019. xiii, 346 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 5 July 2019 p. 13. Description: Drawing on previously unpublished letters, diaries, interviews, and visa records, Michael Dobbs provides an illuminating account of America’s response to the refugee crisis of the 1930s and 1940s. He describes the deportation of German Jews to France in October 1940, along with their con-tinuing quest for American visas. And he re-creates the heated debates among U.S. officials over whether or not to admit refugees amid growing concerns about “fifth columnists,” at a time when the American public was deeply isolationist, xenophobic, and antisemitic. … This is the intimate ac-count of a small village on the edge of the Black Forest whose Jewish families desperately pursued American visas to flee the Nazis. Battling formidable bureaucratic obstacles, some make it to the United States while others are unable to obtain the necessary documents. Some are murdered in Auschwitz, their applications for American visas still “pending.” (publ.)
Publication Date: Williamsburg, Va.: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2019. 320 p.
Description: As the essays here demonstrate, Anglo-Americans have been simultaneously experimenting with representative government and struggling with the corrosive legacy of racial thinking for more than four centuries. Virginia, contrary to popular stereotypes, was not the product of thoughtless, greedy, or impatient English colonists. Instead, the emergence of stable English Atlantic colonies reflected the deliberate efforts of an array of ac-tors to establish new societies based on their ideas about commonwealth, commerce, and colonialism. Looking back from 2019, we can understand that what happened on the shores of the Chesapeake four hundred years ago was no accident. Slavery and freedom were born together as migrants and English officials figured out how to make this colony succeed. They did so in the face of rival ventures and while struggling to survive in a dangerous environment. Three hallmarks of English America–self-government, slavery, and native dispossession–took shape as everyone contested the future of empire along the James River in 1619. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2019. xxvi, 259 p.
Reviewed: TLS 4 Oct. 2019 p. 36. Description: Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore takes us on a journey from ancient times to the twenty-first century: some speeches are heroic and inspiring; some diabolical and atrocious; some are exquisite and poignant; others cruel and chilling. The speakers themselves vary from empresses and conquerors to rock stars, novelists and sportsmen, dreamers and killers, from Churchill and Elizabeth I to Stalin and Genghis Khan, and from Michelle Obama and Cleopatra to Bob Dylan, Nehru and Muhammad Ali. All human drama is here: from the carnage of battlefields to the theatre of courtrooms, from table-talk to audiences of millions, from desperate last stands to orations of triumph, from noble calls for liberation to genocidal rants, from foolish delusions and strange confessions to defiant resistance and heartbreaking farewells, this book spans centuries, continents and cultures. In the accessible and gripping style of a master storyteller, Montefiore shows why these seventy speeches are essential reading, and how they enlighten our past, enrich our present and inspire–and hold warnings for–our future.
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2017. x, 197 p.
Reviewed: NYT/M 16 Feb. 2020 p. 46 (“The 1619 Project”) Description: In 1859, at the largest recorded slave auction in American history, over 400 men, women, and children were sold by the Butler Plantation estates. This book is one of the first to analyze the operation of this auction and trace the lives of slaves before, during, and after their sale. Immersing herself in the personal papers of the Butlers, accounts from journalists that witnessed the auction, genealogical records, and oral histories, Anne C. Bailey weaves together a narrative that brings the auction to life. Demonstrating the resilience of African American families, she includes interviews from the living descendants of slaves sold on the auction block, showing how the memories of slavery have shaped people’s lives today. (publ.)
Publication Date: Oakland: U. Calif. Pr., 2019. xxiv, 296 p.
Reviewed: Nation 21 Oct. 2019 p. 28. Description: From the ongoing issues of poverty, health, housing and employment to the recent upsurge of lethal police-community relations, the black working class stands at the center of perceptions of social and racial conflict today. Journalists and public policy analysts often discuss the black poor as “consumers” rather than “producers,” as “takers” rather than “givers,” and as “liabilities” instead of “assets.” In his new history, Joe William Trotter, Jr. refutes these perceptions by charting the black working class’s vast contributions to the making of America. Covering the last four hundred years since Africans were first brought to Virginia in 1619, Trotter traces black workers’ complicated journey from the transatlantic slave trade through the American Century to the demise of the industrial order in the 21st century. At the center of this compelling, fast-paced narrative are the actual experiences of these African American men and women. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2018. xxiii, 247 p.
Description: Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore selects over one hundred letters from ancient times to the twenty-first century: some are noble and inspiring, some despicable and unsettling; some are exquisite works of literature, others brutal, coarse and frankly outrageous; many are erotic, others heartbreaking. The writers vary from Elizabeth I, Rameses the Great and Leonard Cohen to Emmeline Pankhurst, Mandela, Stalin, Michelangelo, Suleiman the Magnificent and unknown people in extraordinary circumstances–from love letters to calls for liberation, declarations of war to reflections on death. In the colourful, accessible style of a master storyteller, Montefiore shows why these letters are essential reading: how they en-lighten our past, enrich the way we live now–and illuminate tomorrow. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Defining Documents in World History Ser.] Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2017. 2 vols.
Description: This title offers in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents and historic events that make up the story of a century marked by scientific discovery, codification of laws, the development of religious doctrine, civil war, colonization, and the expansion of trade on a global level. Articles begin by introducing readers to the historical context surrounding the document, followed by a description of the author’s life and circumstances in which the document was written. Next, a detailed analysis of the document provides an in-depth examination of the issues surrounding the document and its historical significance. An historical timeline and bibliography of supplemental readings will support readers in understanding the broader historical events and subjects in the period. (publ.)
Publication Date: Defining Documents in World History Ser.] Ipswich, Mass.: Sa-lem Pr., 2018. 2 vol.
Description: This set considers the first fifty years of the last century through in-depth analysis of seventy-two primary documents including speeches, letters, treaties, pacts, manifestos, essays, book excerpts, and first-hand reports. Designed for high school and college students, the aim of the series is to advance the study of primary source historical documents as an important activity in learning about history. The material is organized under seven sections and each section begins with a brief introduction to define the questions and problems underlying the subjects addressed throughout each grouping of historical documents: (1) Africa and the African Diaspora; (2) Asian Affairs; (3) Euroamerican and World Affairs; (4) Latin American Affairs; (5) The Middle East; (6) Women in the World; & (7) Technology, Medicine, and the Environment. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. xliv, 478 p.
Reviewed: TLS 15 June 2018 p. 35. Description: In February 1937, following an abortive attack by a handful of insurgents on Mussolini’s High Command in Italian-occupied Ethiopia, “repression squads” of armed Blackshirts and Fascist civilians were unleashed on the defenseless residents of Addis Ababa. In three terror-filled days and nights of arson, murder and looting, thousands of innocent and unsuspecting men, women and children were roasted alive, shot, bludgeoned, stabbed to death, or blown to pieces with hand-grenades. Meanwhile the notorious Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani, infamous for his atrocities in Libya, took the opportunity to add to the carnage by eliminating the intelligentsia and nobility of the ancient Ethiopian empire in a pogrom that swept across the land. In a richly illustrated and ground-breaking work backed up by meticulous and scholarly research, Ian Campbell reconstructs and analyses one of Fascist Italy's least known atrocities, which he estimates eliminated 19-20 percent of the capital's population. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Reaktion Books, 2018. 780 p.
Description: Located at the intersection of Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan has been strategically important for thousands of years. Its ancient trade routes and strategic position between India, Inner Asia, China, Persia and beyond has meant the region has been subject to frequent invasions. Modern Afghanistan is a culturally and ethnically diverse country, but one divided by conflict, political instability and by mass displacements of its people. Jonathan L. Lee places the current conflict in Afghanistan in its historical context and challenges many of the West’s preconceived ideas about the country. Lee chronicles the region's monarchic rules and the Durrani dynasty, focusing on the reigns of each ruler and their efforts to balance tribal, ethnic, regional and religious factions, moving on to the struggle for social and constitutional reform and the rise of Islamic and Communist factions. He offers new cultural and political insights from Persian histories, the memoirs of Afghan government officials, British government and India Office archives, recently released CIA reports and WikiLeaks documents. Lee also sheds new light on the country’s foreign relations, its internal power struggles and the impact of foreign military interventions such as the “War on Terror.” (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Bloomsbury, 2019. xxii, 519 p., 16 p. of plates.
Review: NYRB 9 May 2019 p. 44.Description: At the conclusion of the American Revolution, half the modern United States was part of the vast Spanish Empire. The year after Columbus’s great voyage of discovery, in 1492, he claimed Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for Spain. For the next three hundred years, thousands of proud Spanish conquistadors and their largely forgotten Mexican allies went in search of glory and riches from Florida to California. Many died, few tri-umphed. Some were cruel, some were curious, some were kind. Mission-aries and priests yearned to harvest Indian souls for God through baptism and Christian teaching. Theirs was a frontier world which Spain struggled to control in the face of Indian resistance and competition from France, Britain, and finally the United States. In the 1800s, Spain lost it all. Goodwin tells this history through the lives of the people who made it hap-pen and the literature and art with which they celebrated their successes and mourned their failures. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Defining Documents in American history Ser.] Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2013. 2 vols.
Description: Chronicles key documents during the revolutionary era. Included are founding documents, speeches and political tracts, political sermons, and letters. Also included are Native American and African slave narratives. An important supplement to each historical document is a carefully designed lesson plan, which follows national history standards for learning, to guide students and educators in document analysis and historical comprehension. Study questions, activities, and suggested author pairings will establish the legacy of documents and authorship for readers today. In addition, comparative analysis highlights how every document emerges from a myriad of social and political influences. A historical timeline, maps, and a bibliography of important supplemental readings will support readers in understanding the broader historical events and subjects in the period. An introduction for each of the major subjects covered in the title considers the significance of document analysis for students and educators. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2019. 180 p.
Reviewed: PW 25 Feb. 2019 p. 20. Description: This book examines the controversies surrounding gun control, which are less about whether it “works” and more about whether the nation should prioritize traditional values of rugged independence or newer values of communitarian interdependence. West Point emeritus professor Campbell presents an unbiased analysis and explanation of the gun control/gun rights debate. He examines the controversy in a broad historical perspective, illustrating how large social forces and prominent personalities helped to shape differing attitudes and cultures, while explaining the broader social context surrounding the debate, rendering the subject more easily understandable. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2019. xxvi, 325 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Economist 16 Feb. 2019 p. 72; Choice (Jul. 2019 vol. 56 no. 11) Recommended for community college libraries. Description: The Amritsar Massacre of 1919 was a seminal moment in the history of the British Empire, yet it remains poorly understood. In this dramatic ac-count, Kim A. Wagner details the perspectives of ordinary people and argues that General Dyer’s order to open fire at Jallianwalla Bagh was an act of fear. Situating the massacre within the “deep” context of British colonial mentality and the local dynamics of Indian nationalism, Wagner provides a genuinely nuanced approach to the bloody history of the British Empire. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2018. xviii, 205 p.
Description: Reveals the ironic role that anti-Catholicism played in defining and sustaining some of the core values of American identity, values that continue to animate our religious and political discussions today. Farrelly explains how that bias helped to shape colonial and antebellum cultural understandings of God, the individual, salvation, society, government, law, national identity, and freedom. In so doing, this book provides contemporary observers with a framework for understanding what is at stake in the debate over the place of Muslims and other non-Christian groups in American society. (publ.)
Publication Date: . New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2019. xxvi, 630 p., 24 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 28 Jun3 2019 p. 9; TLS 29 Nov. p. 12--2019 Book of the Year. Description: This kaleidoscopic book covers almost 3,000 years of Arab history and shines a light on the Arab peoples and tribes who conquered lands and disseminated their language and culture over vast distances. Tracing this process to the origins of the Arabic language, rather than the advent of Is-lam, Tim Mackintosh-Smith begins his narrative more than a thousand years before Muhammad and focuses on how Arabic, both spoken and writ-ten, has functioned as a vital source of shared cultural identity over the millennia. Mackintosh-Smith reveals how linguistic developments-from pre-Islamic poetry to the growth of script, Muhammad’s use of writing, and the later problems of printing Arabic-have helped and hindered the progress of Arab history, and investigates how, even in today’s politically fractured post-Arab Spring environment, Arabic itself is still a source of unity and disunity. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Public Affairs, 2018. xviii, 281 p.
Reviewed: PW 9 Apr. 2018 p. 66; LJ 15 May 2018 p. 66; NYT 22 Sept. 2019 p. SR 6. Description: The American frontier is one of our most cherished and enduring national images. We think of the early settlers who tamed the wilderness and built the bones of our great country as courageous, independent–and white. In this groundbreaking work of deep historical research, Anna-Lisa Cox shows that this history simply isn't accurate. In fact, she has found a stunning number of black settlements on the frontier–in the thousands. Though forgotten today, these homesteads were a matter of national importance at the time; their mere existence challenged rationalizations for slavery and pushed the question toward a crisis–one that was not resolved until the eruption of the Civil War. Blending meticulous detail with lively storytelling, Cox brings historical recognition to the brave people who managed not just to secure their freedom but begin a battle that is still going on today–a battle for equality. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Henry Holt, 2019. xviii, 776 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT 12 May 2019 p. SR6 (author op./ed.) u<>Description: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Atkinson tells the story of the first twenty months of the bloody struggle to shake free of King George’s shackles. From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, the ragtag Continental Army takes on the world’s most formidable fighting force and gradually finds the will and the way to win. It is a riveting saga populated by singular characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of how best to deploy artillery; Nathaniel Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes one of America’s greatest battle captains; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves himself the nation’s great-est diplomat; George Washington, the commander-in-chief who learns the difficult art of leadership amid the fire and smoke of the battlefield. And the British are here, too: we see the war through their eyes and their gunsights, and as a consequence the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels is all the more compelling. Full of fresh details and untold stories, Atkinson gives stirring new life to the first act of our country's creation drama. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2018. xvii, 511 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 6 Dec. 2018 p. 46. Description: This book explores the impact fugitive slaves had on the politics of the critical decade leading up to the Civil War. Through the close reading of diverse sources ranging from government documents to personal accounts, the author traces the decisions of slaves to escape, the actions of those who assisted them, the many ways black communities responded to the capture of fugitive slaves, and how local laws either buttressed or undermined enforcement of the federal law. Every effort to enforce the law in northern communities produced levels of subversion that generated national debate so much so that, on the eve of secession, many in the South, looking back on the decade, could argue that the law had been effectively subverted by those individuals and states who assisted fleeing slaves. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Scribner, 2019, c2018. 401 p., 8 p. of plates
Reviewed: WSJ 9/10 Mar. 2019 p. C9 Description: Tells the story of the first and greatest visionary of the print age, a man who saw how the explosive expansion of knowledge and information generated by the advent of the printing press would entirely change the landscape of thought and society. He also happened to be Christopher Columbus’s illegitimate son. At the peak of the Age of Exploration, while his father sailed across the ocean to explore the boundaries of the known world, Hernando Colón sought to surpass Columbus’s achievements by building a library that would encompass the world and include “all books, in all languages and on all subjects.” In service of this vision, he spent his life travelling–first to the New World with his father in 1502, surviving through shipwreck and a bloody mutiny off the coast of Jamaica, and later, throughout Europe, scouring the bookstores of the day at the epicenter of printing. The very model of a Renaissance man, Hernando restlessly and obsessively bought thousands and thousands of books, amassing a collection based on the modern conviction that a truly great library should include the kind of material dismissed as ephemeral trash: ballads, pornography, newsletters, popular images, romances, fables. Using an invented system of hieroglyphs, he meticulously catalogued every item in his library, devising the first ever search engine for his rich profusion of books and images and music. A major setback in 1522 gave way to the creation of Hernando’s Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books and inspired further refinements to his library, including a design for the first modern bookshelves. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Ballantine Books, 2019. xiii, 359 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 23 June 2019 p. 14; LJ June 2019 p. 140. Description: This book, which greatly expands the companion PBS series, tell the stories of the visionaries–based on eyewitness accounts and newly discovered archival material–who helped America win the space race with the first lunar landing fifty years ago. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy proposed the nation spend twenty billion dollars to land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade. Based on eyewitness accounts and newly dis-covered archival material, Stone & Andres reveal for the first time the unknown stories of the fascinating individuals whose imaginative work across several decades culminated in America's momentous achievement. More than a story of engineers and astronauts, the moon landing–now celebrating its fiftieth anniversary–grew out of the dreams of science fiction writers, filmmakers, military geniuses, and rule-breaking scientists. (publ.)
Publication Date: . [Defining Documents in American history Ser.] Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2014. 2 vols.
Description: Surveys key documents produced during the Civil War with special attention devoted to the war-time policies of President Abraham Lincoln and the 37th US Congress. A special feature of the volumes is the inclusion of letters and diaries by soldiers and civilians writing about their experiences. The two volumes are organized into several chapters that cover the progress of the war beginning with early debates on secession, through war-time events on the political and battle fronts and concludes with a look to-ward the issues of race and reconstruction. (publ.)
Publication Date: Chapel Hill: U. North Carolina Pr., 2016. xi, 742 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 19 Jan. 2017 p. 54. Description: In this book, Robert Parkinson argues that to unify the patriot side, political and communications leaders linked British tyranny to colonial prejudices, stereotypes, and fears about insurrectionary slaves and violent Indians. Manipulating newspaper networks, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and their fellow agitators broadcast stories of British agents inciting African Americans and Indians to take up arms against the American rebellion. Using rhetoric like “domestic insurrectionists” and “merciless savages,” the founding fathers rallied the people around a common enemy and made racial prejudice a cornerstone of the new Republic. (publ.)
Publication Date: Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2019. 442 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Sept. 2019 vol. 57 no. 1) Highly Recommended for community college libraries. u<>Description: Its tempting to think that we live in an unprecedentedly fertile age for conspiracy theories, with seemingly each churn of the news cycle bringing fresh manifestations of large-scale paranoia. But the sad fact is that these narratives of suspicion–and the delusional psychologies that fuel them–have been a constant presence in American life for nearly as long as there’s been an America. In this sweeping book, Thomas Milan Konda traces the country's obsession with conspiratorial thought from the early days of the republic to our own anxious moment. He details centuries of sinister speculations–from antisemitism and anti-Catholicism to UFOs and reptilian humanoids–and their often incendiary outcomes. Rather than simply rehashing the surface eccentricities of such theories, Konda draws from his unprecedented assemblage of conspiratorial writing to crack open the mindsets that lead people toward these self-sealing worlds of denial. What is distinctively American about these theories, he argues, is not simply our country’s homegrown obsession with them but their ongoing prevalence and virulence. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2017. 220 p.
Reviewed: TLS 19 Oct. 2018 p. 32. Description: Little is known about Arabia in the sixth century CE. Yet from this distant time and place emerged a faith and an empire that stretched from the Iberian peninsula to India. Today, Muslims account for nearly a quarter of the global population. G.W. Bowersock seeks to illuminate this most obscure and yet most dynamic period in the history of Islam--from the mid-sixth to mid-seventh century–exploring why arid Arabia proved to be such fertile ground for Muhammad’s prophetic message, and why that message spread so quickly to the wider world. In Muhammad’s time Arabia stood at the crossroads of great empires, a place where Christianity, Judaism, and local polytheistic traditions vied for adherents. Mecca, Muhammad’s birthplace, belonged to the part of Arabia recently conquered by the Ethiopian Christian king Abraha. But Ethiopia lost western Arabia to Persia following Abraha's death, while the death of the Byzantine emperor in 602 further destabilized the region. Within this chaotic environment, where lands and populations were traded frequently among competing powers and belief systems, Muhammad began winning converts to his revelations. In a troubled age, his followers coalesced into a powerful force, conquering Pales-tine, Syria, and Egypt and laying the groundwork of the Umayyad Cali-phate. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2019. 576 p.
Reviewed: PW 17 Dec. 2018 p. 132 (author interview p. 131); NYRB 9 May 2019 p. 44; LJ Winter 2018 p. 83; NYT/BR 10 Mar. 2019 p. 15; TLS 6 Dec. 2019 p. 32. Description: Because of our shared English language, as well as the celebrated origin tales of the Mayflower and the rebellion of the British colonies, the United States has prized its Anglo heritage above all others. However, as Carrie Gibson explains with great depth and clarity, the nation has much older Spanish roots–ones that have long been unacknowledged or marginalized. The Hispanic past of the United States predates the arrival of the Pilgrims by a century, and has been every bit as important in shaping the nation as it exists today. El Norte chronicles the sweeping and dramatic history of Hispanic North America from the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century to the present–from Ponce de Leon's initial landing in Florida in 1513 to Spanish control of the vast Louisiana territory in 1762 to the Mexican-American War in 1846 and up to the more recent tragedy of post-hurricane Puerto Rico and the ongoing border acrimony with Mexico. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Defining Documents in American history Ser.] Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2014. xvi, 322 p.
Description: Provides an in-depth analysis of sixty primary source documents, introducing the document’s historical context, followed by a description of the author’s life and circumstances in which the document was written. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cham, Switz.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. xi, 128 p.
Reviewed: TLS 19 Oct. 2018 p. 39. Description: This book provides the first dedicated study of the Évian Conference of July 1938, an international initiative called by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While on the surface the conference appeared as an attempt to alleviate the distress faced by Jews being forced out of Germany and Austria, in reality it only served to demonstrate that the nations of the world were not willing to accept Jews as refugees. Since the Holocaust, a generally-held assumption has been that the Évian Conference represented a lost opportunity to save Germany’s Jews, and that the conference failed to rescue the Jews of Europe. (publ.) “Despite the post-war development of international law granting rights and protection to refugees, as today’s refugee crisis deepens the parallels with the 1930s, the lessons from Évian are all too clear.” (TLS)
Publication Date: [The Princeton History of the Ancient World Ser.] Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2017. 417 p.
Reviewed:TLS 21 Sept. 2018 p. 29 Description: Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. This is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome’s power–a story of nature’s triumph over human ambition. Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. He takes readers from Rome’s pinnacle in the second century, when the empire seemed an invincible superpower, to its unraveling by the seventh century, when Rome was politically fragmented and materially depleted. It is a poignant reflection on humanity's intimate relationship with the environment. (publ.)
Publication Date: Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Pr., 2019. 216 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Sept. 2019 vol. 57 no. 1) Highly recommended for community college libraries. Description: From its origins in the 1750s, the white-led American abolitionist movement adhered to principles of “moral suasion” and nonviolent resistance as both religious tenet and political strategy. But by the 1850s, the population of enslaved Americans had increased exponentially, and such legislative efforts as the Fugitive Slave Act and the Supreme Court’s 1857 ruling in the Dred Scott case effectively voided any rights black Americans held as enslaved or free people. As conditions deteriorated for African Americans, black abolitionist leaders embraced violence as the only means of shocking Northerners out of their apathy and instigating an anti-slavery war. In this book, Kellie Carter Jackson provides the first historical analysis exclusively focused on the tactical use of violence among antebellum black activists. Through rousing public speeches, the burgeoning black press, and the formation of militia groups, black abolitionist leaders mobilized their communities, compelled national action, and drew international attention. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: John Murray, 2018. xiii, 382 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 15 June 2018 p. 39 Description: “This book is written in the belief that the average English-speaking man or woman has remarkably little knowledge of French history. We may know a bit about Napoleon or Joan of Arc or Louis XIV, but for most of us that’s about it. In my own three schools we were taught only about the battles we won: Crécy and Poitiers, Agincourt and Waterloo. The rest was silence. So here is my attempt to fill in the blanks...” John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) finally wrote the book he always wanted to write, the extremely colorful story of the country he loved best. From frowning Roman generals and belligerent Gallic chieftains, to Charlemagne (hated by generations of French children taught that he invented schools) through Marie Antoinette and the storming of the Bastille to Vichy, the Resistance and beyond, it is packed with heroes and villains, adventures and battles, romance and revolution. (publ.)
Publication Date: Athens: U. Georgia Pr., 2018. vi, 256 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Jan. 2019 vol. 56 no. 5) Top 75 books recommended for community college libraries. Description: Twelve scholars of piracy show why pirates thrived in the New World seas of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century empires, how pirates operated their plundering ventures, how governments battled piracy, and when and why piracy declined. The essays presented take the study of piracy, which can easily lapse into rousing, romanticized stories, to new heights of rigor and insight. The authors also delve into the enduring status of pirates as pop culture icons. Audiences have devoured stories about cutthroats such as Blackbeard and Henry Morgan from the time that pirates sailed the sea. By looking at the ideas of gender and sexuality surrounding the pirate stories, the fad for hunting pirate treasure, and the construction of pirate myths, the book’s contributors tell a new story about the dangerous men, and a few dangerous women, who terrorized the high seas. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2018. ix, 264 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Choice (May 2019 vol. 56 no. 9) Highly recommended for community college libraries; NYRB 27 June 2019 p. 47; LR Feb. 2019 p. 30 u<>Description: From the birth of Islam in the seventh century to the voyages of European exploration in the fifteenth, Africa was at the center of a vibrant exchange of goods and ideas. It was an African golden age in which places like Ghana, Nubia, and Zimbabwe became the crossroads of civilizations, and where African royals, thinkers, and artists played celebrated roles in the globalized world of the Middle Ages. Drawing on fragmented written sources as well as his many years of experience as an archaeologist, François-Xavier Fauvelle reconstructs an African past that is too often denied its place in history. (publ.) Note: Originally published as: Le Rhinocéros d’Or: Histoires du Moyen Âge Africain (Paris: Alma Éditeur, 2013).
Publication Date: New York: Scribner, 2019. 496 p.
Reviewed: PW 10 Dec. 2018 p. 55; PW 25 Mar. 2019 p. 84; NYT/BR 7 July 2019 p. 14; NYRB 26 Sept. 2019 p. 53. Description: A forgotten, dark chapter of American history with implications for the current day, this tells the story of the scientists who argued that certain nationalities were inherently inferior, providing the intellectual justification for the harshest immigration law in American history. Brandished by the upper class Bostonians and New Yorkers–many of them progressives–who led the anti-immigration movement, the eugenic arguments helped keep hundreds of thousands of Jews, Italians, and other unwanted groups out of the US for more than 40 years. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Riverhead Books, 2019. 512 p.
Reviewed: Economist 26 Jan 2019 p. 77; TLS 5 July 2019 p. 12; NYRB 15 Aug. 2019 p. 37; TLS 29 Nov. 2019 p. 14 (2019 Book of the Year). Description: The received idea of Native American history has been that it essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee: Not only did more than 150 Sioux die at the hands of the U.S. Cavalry, but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life for his nonfiction and his novels, David Treuer began to uncover a different narrative. Not despite but rather because of American Indians’ intense struggles to preserve their tribes, their cultures, and their very existence, the true story has been one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. In this book, Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir to explore how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering. The forced assimilation of children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and at the same time steered the emerging shape of self-rule and inspired a new gen-eration of resistance. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Penguin Pr., 2019. xxvi, 399 p.
Reviewed:NPR (25 Apr. 2019); NYT/BR 19 May 2019 p. 22. Description: When Kristin L. Hoganson arrived in Champaign, Illinois, after teaching at Harvard, studying at Yale, and living in the D.C. metro area with various stints overseas, she expected to find her new home, well, isolated. Even provincial. After all, she had landed in the American heart-land, a place where the nation’s identity exists in its pristine form. Or so we have been taught to believe. Struck by the gap between reputation and reality, she determined to get to the bottom of history and myth. The deeper she dug into the making of the modern heartland, the wider her story became as she realized that she’d uncovered an unheralded cross-roads of people, commerce, and ideas. But the really interesting thing, Hoganson found, was that over the course of American history, even as the region’s connections with the rest of the planet became increasingly dense and intricate, the idea of the rural Midwest as a steadfast heartland became a stronger and more stubbornly immovable myth. (publ.)
Reviewed: Choice (Dec. 2018 vol. 56 no. 4) Top 75 books recommended for community college libraries. u<>Description: This clear and focused text provides an introduction to imperial Russian and Soviet history from the crowning of Mikhail Romanov in 1613 to Vladimir Putin's new term. Through a consistent chronological narrative, Kees Boterbloem considers the political, military, economic, social, religious, and cultural developments and crucial turning points that led Russia from an exotic backwater to superpower stature in the twentieth century. The author assesses the tremendous price paid by those who made Russia and the Soviet Union into such a hegemonic power, both locally and globally. He considers the complex and varied interactions between Russians and non-Russians and investigates the reasons for the remarkable longevity of this last of the colonial powers, whose dependencies were not granted independence until 1991. He explores the ongoing legacies of this fraught decolonization process on the Russian Federation itself and on the other states that succeeded the Soviet Union. (publ.)
Publication Date: Medford, Mass.: Polity Pr., 2018. v, 142 p.
Reviewed: TLS 20 July 2018 p. 29. Description: “How can any certainty about history be established, and why does it matter?” Lynn Hunt shows why the search for truth about the past, as a continual process of discovery, is vital for our societies. We justify our actions in the present through our understanding of the past. But we live in a time when politicians lie brazenly about historical facts and meddle with the content of history books, while media differ wildly in their reporting of the same event. Frequently, new discoveries force us to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about the past. So how can any certainty about history be established, and why does it matter? Lynn Hunt shows why the search for truth about the past, as a continual process of discovery, is vital for our societies. History has an essential role to play in ensuring honest presentation of evidence. In this way, it can foster humility about our present-day concerns, a critical attitude toward chauvinism, and an openness to other peoples and cultures. History, Hunt argues, is our best defense against tyranny. (publ.)
Description: For more than a hundred years, Central Asia was the heartland of the mightiest military power on the planet. But after the fragmentation of the all-conquering Mongol polity, the region began a steep decline which rendered this former domain of horse lords peripheral to world affairs. The process of deterioration reached its nadir in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the former territories and sweeping steppes of the great khans were overrun by Tsarist Russia. In the concluding volume of his acclaimed Central Asia quartet, Christoph Baumer shows how China in the east, and Russia in the northwest, succeeded in throwing off the Mongol yoke to become the masters of their own previous rulers. He suggests that, as traditional transcontinental trade routes declined in importance, it was the `Great Game' - or cold war between Imperial Russia and Great Britain - which finally brought Central Asia back into play as a region of strategic importance. This epic history concludes with an assessment of the transition to modern independence of the Central Asian states and their struggle to contain radical Islamism.
Publication Date: New York: Thames & Hudson, 2018. 348 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Apr. 2019 vol. 56 no. 8) Recommended for community college libraries. Description: In 668 BCE Ashurbanipal inherited the largest empire in the world, stretching from the shores of the eastern Mediterranean to the mountains of western Iran. He ruled from his massive capital at Nineveh, in present-day Iraq, where temples and palaces adorned with brilliantly carved sculptures dominated the citadel mound, and an elaborate system of canals brought water to his pleasure gardens and game parks. Ashurbanipal, proud of his scholarship, assembled the greatest library in existence during his reign. Guided by this knowledge, he defined the course of the empire and asserted his claim to be “King of the World.” This book features images of objects excavated from all corners of the empire and high-lights the British Museum’s unrivaled collection of Assyrian reliefs, which bring to life the tumultuous story of Ashurbanipal’s reign: his conquest of Egypt, the crushing defeat of his rebellious brother, and his ruthless campaign against the Elamite rulers of southwest Iran. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2019. 240 p.
Reviewed: PW 7 Jan. 2019 p. 48; FA 98(1) Jan./Feb. 2019 p. 202. Description: Long before the United States was a nation, it was a set of ideas, projected onto the New World by European explorers with centuries of belief and thought in tow. From this foundation of expectation and experience, America and American thought grew in turn, enriched by the bounties of the Enlightenment, the philosophies of liberty and individuality, the tenets of religion, and the doctrines of republicanism and democracy. Crucial to this development were the thinkers who nurtured it, from Thomas Jefferson to Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. DuBois to Jane Addams, and Betty Friedan to Richard Rorty. This book traces how Americans have addressed the issues and events of their time and place, whether the Civil War, the Great Depression, or the culture wars of today. Spanning a variety of disciplines, from religion, philosophy, and political thought, to cultural criticism, social theory, and the arts, history professor Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen shows how ideas have been major forces in American history, driving movements such as transcendentalism, Social Darwinism, conservatism, and postmodernism. In engaging and accessible prose, this introduction to American thought considers how notions about freedom and be-longing, the market and morality–and even truth–have commanded generations of Americans and been the cause of fierce debate. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. xxviii, 556 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 8 July 2018 p. 13 Description: Describes how nineteenth-century British efforts to open China to trade set in motion the fall of the Qing dynasty and started a war that allowed for the rise of nationalism and communism in the twentieth century. … When Britain launched its first war on China in 1839, pushed into hostilities by profiteering drug merchants and free-trade interests, it sealed the fate of what had long been seen as the most prosperous and powerful empire in Asia, if not the world. But internal problems of corruption, popular unrest, and dwindling finances had weakened China far more than was commonly understood, and the war would help set in motion the eventual fall of the Qing dynasty–which, in turn, would lead to the rise of nationalism and communism in the twentieth century. As one of the most potent turning points in the country’s modern history, the Opium War has since come to stand for everything that today’s China seeks to put behind it. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Miriam S. Balmuth Lectures in Ancient History and Archaeol-ogy Ser.] Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2018. xxvii, 335 p.
Reviewed: LRB 3 Jan. 2019 p. 15. Description: ho were the ancient Phoenicians, and did they actually exist? The Phoenicians traveled the Mediterranean long before the Greeks and Romans, trading, establishing settlements, and refining the art of navigation. But who these legendary sailors really were has long remained a mystery. This book makes the startling claim that the “Phoenicians” never actually exist-ed. Taking readers from the ancient world to today, this monumental book argues that the notion of these sailors as a coherent people with a shared identity, history, and culture is a product of modern nationalist ideologies–and a notion very much at odds with the ancient sources. Josephine Quinn shows how the belief in this historical mirage has blinded us to the compel-ling identities and communities these people really constructed for them-selves in the ancient Mediterranean, based not on ethnicity or nationhood but on cities, family, colonial ties, and religious practices. She traces how the idea of “being Phoenician” first emerged in support of the imperial ambitions of Carthage and then Rome, and only crystallized as a component of modern national identities in contexts as far-flung as Ireland and Lebanon. The author delves into the ancient literary, epigraphic, numismatic, and artistic evidence for the construction of identities by and for the Phoenicians, ranging from the Levant to the Atlantic, and from the Bronze Age to late antiquity and beyond. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. xviii, 621 p.
Reviewed: LR July 2018 p. 18; TLS 7 Sept. 2018 p. 28. Description: Uses the prism of George Washington’s life to bring focus to the great Native leaders of his time–Shingas, Tanaghrisson, Bloody Fellow, Joseph Brant, Red Jacket, Little Turtle–and the tribes they represented: the Iroquois Confederacy, Lenape, Miami, Creek, Delaware; in the process, he re-turns them to their rightful place in the story of America’s founding. This book spans decades of Native American leaders’ interactions with Washington, from his early days as surveyor of Indian lands, to his military career against both the French and the British, to his presidency, when he dealt with Native Americans as a head of state would with a foreign power, using every means of diplomacy and persuasion to fulfill the new republic’s destiny by appropriating their land. By the end of his life, Washington knew more than anyone else in America about the frontier and its significance to the future of his country. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. xxviii, 505 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 19 Jan. 2017 p. 22. Description: Over the course of 66 days in 1967, more than 4,000 “class enemies”–including young children and the elderly–were murdered in Daoxian, a county in China’s Hunan province. The killings spread to surrounding counties, resulting in a combined death toll of more than 9,000. Commonly known as the Daoxian massacre, the killings were one of many acts of so-called mass dictatorship and armed factional conflict that rocked China during the Cultural Revolution. However, in spite of the scope and brutality of the killings, there are few detailed accounts of mass killings in China’s countryside during the Cultural Revolution's most tumultuous years. Years after the massacre, journalist Tan Hecheng was sent to Daoxian to report on an official investigation into the killings. Tan was prevented from publishing his findings in China, but in 2010, he published the Chinese edition of The Killing Wind in Hong Kong. Tan’s first-hand investigation of the atrocities, accumulated over the course of more than 20 years, blends his research with the recollections of survivors to provide a vivid ac-count exploring how and why the massacre took place and describing its aftermath. Dispelling the heroic aura of class struggle, Tan reveals that most of the Daoxian massacre’s victims were hard-working, peaceful members of the rural middle class blacklisted as landlords or rich peasants. Tan also describes how political pressure and brainwashing turned ordinary people into heartless killing machines. More than a catalog of horrors, The Killing Wind is also a poignant meditation on memory, moral culpability, and the failure of the Chinese government to come to terms with the crimes of the Maoist era. By painting a detailed portrait of this massacre, Tan makes a broader argument about the long-term consequences of the Cultural Revolution, one of the most violent political movements of the twentieth century. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: William Collins, 2018. xxxi, 397 p., 16 p. of plates
Reviewed: TLS 29 June 2018 p. 35 (article by author) Description: Henry II conquered the largest empire of any English medieval king. Yet it is the people around him we remember: his wife Eleanor, whom he seduced from the French king; his son Richard the Lionheart; Thomas Becket, murdered in his cathedral. Who was this great, yet tragic king? Henry II had all the gifts of the gods. He was charismatic, clever, learned, empathetic, a brilliant tactician, with great physical strength and an astonishing self-belief. Henry was the creator of the Plantagenet dynasty of kings, who ruled through eight generations in command of vast lands in Britain and Europe. Virtually unbeaten in battle, and engaged in a ceaseless round of conquest and diplomacy, Henry forged an empire that matched Charlemagne’s. King of the North Wind offers a fresh evaluation of this great yet tragic ruler. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. xxxi, 271 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 6 June 2019 p. 28. Description: Flavius Claudius Julianus was the last pagan to sit on the Roman imperial throne (361-363). Born in Constantinople in 331 or 332, Julian was raised as a Christian, but later rejected it, and during his short reign tried to revive paganism, which, after the conversion to Christianity of his uncle Constantine the Great early in the fourth century, began losing ground at an accelerating pace. … As sole emperor, Julian restored the worship of the traditional gods. He opened pagan temples again, reintroduced animal sacrifices, and propagated paganism through both the spoken and the written word. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. 392 p.
Reviewed: PW 25 June 2018 p. 61; PW 24 Sept. 2018 p. 97. Description: In August 1955, the fourteen-year-old Chicago boy supposedly flirted with a white woman named Carolyn Bryant, who worked behind the counter of a country store, while visiting family in Mississippi. Three days later, his mangled body was recovered in the Tallahatchie River, weighed down by a cotton-gin fan. Till’s killers, Bryant’s husband and his half-brother, were eventually acquitted on technicalities by an all-white jury despite overwhelming evidence. It seemed another case of Southern justice. Then details of what had happened to Till became public, which they did in part because Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted that his casket remain open during his funeral. In 2005, fifty years after the murder, the FBI reopened the case. New papers and testimony have come to light, and several participants, including Till’s mother, have published autobiographies. Using this new evidence and a broadened historical context, Elliott J. Gorn delves more fully than anyone has into how and why the story of Emmett Till still resonates, and always will. (publ.)
Publication Date: [The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures Ser.] Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2018. xviii, 350 p.
Reviewed: FA 97(6) Nov./Dec. 2018 p. 213; NYRB 6 JUne 2019 p. 45. Description: Americans revere the Constitution even as they argue fiercely over its original toleration of racial slavery. Some historians have charged that slave-holders actually enshrined human bondage at the nation’s founding. Sean Wilentz shares the dismay but sees the Constitution and slavery differently. Although the proslavery side won important concessions, he asserts, antislavery impulses also influenced the framers’ work. Far from covering up a crime against humanity, the Constitution restricted slavery’s legitimacy under the new national government. In time, that limitation would open the way for the creation of an antislavery politics that led to Southern secession, the Civil War, and Emancipation. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: NYU Pr., 2019. xi, 233 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Jul. 2019 vol. 56 no. 11) Top 75 books highly recommended for community college libraries. Description: In Pocahontas and the English Boys, historian Karen Ordahl Kupperman shifts the lens on the well-known narrative of Virginia’s founding to reveal the previously untold and utterly compelling story of the youths who, often unwillingly, entered into cross-cultural relationships–and became essential for the colony’s survival. Their story gives us unprecedented access to all the players in early Virginia. Kupperman presents the real story of Pocahontas, who, from the age of ten, acted as emissary for her father, the great Powhatan, alongside the never-before-told intertwined stories of Thomas Savage, Henry Spelman, and Robert Poole, young English boys who were sent to live with powerful Native leaders and became important intermediaries. Pocahontas and the English Boys is a riveting seventeenth-century story of intrigue and danger, knowledge and power, and four youths who lived out their lives between cultures. As Pocahontas, Thomas, Henry, and Robert collaborated and conspired in carrying messages and trying to smooth out difficulties, they never knew when they might be caught up in developing hostilities. While their knowledge and role in controlling communication gave them status and a degree of power, their relationships with both sides meant that no one trusted them completely. Written by an expert in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Atlantic history, this book unearths gems from the archives–Henry Spelman’s memoir, travel accounts, letters, and official reports and records of meetings of the governor and council in Virginia--and draws on recent archeology to share the stories of the young people who were key influencers of their day and whose stories are now set to transform our understanding of early Virginia. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Greenhaven Pr., 2019. 128 p.
Description: The recent wave of statues, building names, and other monuments memorializing figures like Christopher Columbus and Confederate generals being removed from public spaces and college campuses has brought the reassessment of historical figures to the fore. It has raised questions about whom we choose to venerate; how historical narratives form; and whether it is best to erase problematic figures from the historical record, present a new interpretation on them, or attempt to be as unbiased as possible by contemporary attitudes when regarding them. Readers will learn more about this timely and complicated issue through a wide range of perspectives. (publ.) Note: Library Standing Order.
Publication Date: London: Allen Lane, 2018. xxii, 462 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: LR Dec./Jan. 2018/19 p. 6; TLS 1 Feb. 2019 p. 15. Description: Eighteenth-century Scotland is famed for generating many of the enlightened ideas which helped to shape the modern world. But there was in the same period another side to the history of the nation. Many of Scotland’s people were subjected to coercive and sometimes violent change, as traditional ways of life were overturned by the “rational” exploitation of land use. This is a superb and highly original account of this sometimes terrible process, which changed the Lowland countryside forever, as it also did, more infamously, the old society of the Highlands. Based on a vast array of original sources, this pioneering book is the first to chart this tumultuous saga in one volume, with due attention to evictions and loss of land in both north and south of the Highland line. In the process, old myths are exploded and familiar assumptions undermined. With many fascinating details and the sense of an epic human story, University of Edinburgh emeritus professor of Scottish History and Palaeography T. M. Devine creates an evocative memorial to all whose lives were irreparably changed in the interests of economic efficiency. This is a story of forced clearance, of the destruction of entire communities and of large-scale emigration. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: I.B. Tauris, 2018. xix, 226 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Oct. 2018 vol. 56 no. 2) Top 75 book highly recommended for community college libraries. Description: The conflict that swept over France from 1337 to 1453 remains the longest military struggle in history. A bitter dynastic fight between Plantagenet and Valois, The Hundred Years War was fought out on the widest of stages while also creating powerful new nationalist identities. In his vivid new history, Michael Prestwich shows that it likewise involved large and charismatic individuals: Edward III, claimant to the French throne; his son Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince; wily architect of the first French victories, Bertrand du Guesclin; chivalric hero Jean Boucicaut; inspirational leader Henry V, unlikely winner at Agincourt (1415), who so nearly succeeded in becoming King of France; and the martyred Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc, thought to be divinely inspired. Offering an up-to-date analysis of military organization, strategy and tactics, including the deadly power of English archery, the author explains the wider politics in a masterful account of the War as a whole: from English victory at Sluys (1340) to the turn of the tide and French revival as the invader was driven back across the Channel. (publ.)
Publication Date: Philadelphia: U. Penn. Pr., 2018. xiv, 304 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Mar. 2019 vol. 56 no. 7) Top 75 books highly recommended for community college libraries. Description: In 2002, we learned that President George Washington had eight (and, later, nine) enslaved Africans in his house while he lived in Philadelphia from 1790 to 1797. The house was only one block from Independence Hall and, though torn down in 1832, it housed the enslaved men and women Washington brought to the city as well as serving as the country's first executive office building. Intense controversy erupted over what this newly resurfaced evidence of enslaved people in Philadelphia meant for the site that was next door to the new home for the Liberty Bell. How could slavery best be remembered and memorialized in the birthplace of American freedom? For Marc Howard Ross, this conflict raised a related and troubling question: why and how did slavery in the North fade from public consciousness to such a degree that most Americans have perceived it entirely as a “Southern problem”? Although slavery was institutionalized throughout the Northern as well as the Southern colonies and early states, the existence of slavery in the North and its significance for the region's economic development has rarely received public recognition. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. xv, 268 p.
Description: This book presents a new history of the most important conflict in European affairs during the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War. It describes the complex origins of the conflict, the collapse of the Spanish Republic and the outbreak of the only mass worker revolution in the history of Western Europe. Stanley Payne explains the character of the Spanish revolution and the complex web of republican politics, while also examining the development of Franco’s counterrevolutionary dictatorship. Payne gives attention to the multiple meanings and interpretations of war and examines why the conflict provoked such strong reactions at the time, and long after. The book also explains the military history of the war and its place in the history of military development, the nonintervention policy of the democracies and the role of German, Italian and Soviet intervention, concluding with an analysis of the place of the war in European affairs, in the context of twentieth-century revolutionary civil wars. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Penguin, 2019. xxii, 296 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 28 Apr. 2019 p. 14; TLS 16 Aug. 2019 p. 12; NYT/BR 8 Dec. 2019 p. 28 ("100 Notable Books of 2019"); NYRB 5 Dec. 2019 p. 24. Description: A profound new rendering of the struggle by African Americans for equality after the Civil War and the violent counterrevolution that resubjugated them, as seen through the prism of the war of images and ideas that have left an enduring stain on the American mind. The story of the abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar one, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: If emancipation came in Lincoln’s America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s America? … The story Gates tells begins with Union victory in the Civil War and the liberation of nearly four million enslaved people. But the terror unleashed by white paramilitary groups in the former Confederacy, combined with deteriorating economic conditions and diminished Northern will, re-stored “home rule” to the South. One of the most violent periods in our history followed the retreat from Reconstruction, with thousands of African Americans murdered or lynched and many more afflicted by the degrading impositions of Jim Crow segregation. An essential tour through one of America’s fundamental historical tragedies, this book is also a story of heroic resistance, as figures from Frederick Douglass to W. E. B. Du Bois created a counternarrative, and culture, inside the lion’s mouth. (publ)
Publication Date: Montreal, Quebec: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2018. 208 p.
Description: Between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries in Europe, not all women fit the stereotype of passive housewife and mother. Many led bold and dynamic lives. In this collection of historical portraits, Maria Teresa Brolis tells the fascinating tales of fashion icons, art clients, businesswomen, saints, healers, lovers, and pilgrims–both famous and little known–who challenge conventional understandings of the medieval female experience. Drawing on evidence from literary works and archival documents that include letters, chronicles, trials, testimonials, notary registers, contracts, and wills, Brolis pieces together an intricate overview of sixteen women’s lives. Note: Originally published as: Storie di Donne nel Medioevo (Bologna: Società Editrice Il Mulino, 2016).
Publication Date: Charlottesville: U. Virginia Pr., 2018. xv, 312 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 23 May 2019 p. 31. Description: Analyzes the debates over the Compromise of 1850 to reveal the underlying assumptions and values of the North and the South a decade before the outbreak of the Civil War. Rather than examining voting patterns, factional alignments, legislative maneuvering, and specific measures of the Compromise, this account looks at the language of the debate, the words of the senators and representatives, to discover the concepts and beliefs that defined the North and the South as the sectional confrontation approached. To a large extent, these opposing ideologies had common roots and were based on shared assumptions. Northerners and southerners had similar views of gender and masculinity, pursued the common goal of capital accumulation, and were in fundamental agreement over the superiority of the white race. But conflicting views of slavery, and especially slavery expansion, led to the development of highly divergent systems of belief about politics, economics, and society that would sustain the deepening sectional division and eventually support separation. This examination of the language of the debate yields a novel account of the dynamic driving the crisis of 1850 and sectional conflict generally. The ideological formulations of the Compromise debates of 1850 laid the foundations of the American Civil War. (publ.) “… By simply taking the debates seriously, Maizlish has made an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the origins of the Civil War.” (NYRB)
Publication Date: New York: Pegasus Books, 2018. vii, 456 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: PW 25 June 2018 p. 180. Description: Without the benefit of hindsight, how do you interpret what's right in front of your eyes? The events that took place in Germany between 1919 and 1945 were dramatic and terrible, but there were also moments of confusion, of doubt–even of hope. How easy was it to know what was actually going on, to grasp the essence of National Socialism, to remain untouched by the propaganda, or predict the Holocaust? Travelers in the Third Reich is an extraordinary history of the rise of the Nazis based on fascinating first-hand accounts, drawing together a multitude of voices and stories, including politicians, musicians, diplomats, schoolchildren, communists, scholars, athletes, poets, fascists, artists, tourists, and even celebrities like Charles Lindbergh and Samuel Beckett. Their experiences create a remarkable three-dimensional picture of Germany under Hitler–one so palpable that the reader will feel, hear, even breathe the atmosphere. These are the accidental eyewitnesses to history. Disturbing, absurd, moving, and ranging from the deeply trivial to the deeply tragic, their tales give a fresh insight into the complexities of the Third Reich, its paradoxes, and its ultimate destruction. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2018. 275 p.
Reviewed: LR Feb. 2019 p. 28. Description: When Will Hunt was sixteen years old, he discovered an abandoned tunnel that ran beneath his house in Providence, Rhode Island. His first tunnel trips inspired a lifelong fascination with exploring underground worlds, from the derelict subway stations and sewers of New York City to sacred caves, catacombs, tombs, bunkers, and ancient underground cities in more than twenty countries around the world. … In a narrative spanning continents and epochs, Hunt follows a cast of subterraneaphiles who have dedicated themselves to investigating underground worlds. He tracks the origins of life with a team of NASA microbiologists a mile beneath the Black Hills, camps out for three days with urban explorers in the catacombs and sewers of Paris, descends with an Aboriginal family into a 35,000-year-old mine in the Australian outback, and glimpses a sacred sculpture molded by Paleolithic artists in the depths of a cave in the Pyrenees. … He reveals how the subterranean landscape gave shape to our most basic beliefs and guided how we think about ourselves as humans. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2018. ix, 258 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 6 June 2019 p. 46 (referenced) Description: The essence of United States slavery was forced labor. Enslaved people’s unrequited toil built a significant portion of the nation’s wealth. They labored in many farming, mining, construction, transport, and factory settings. But by the 1830s most worked in cotton fields in the Deep South in the most important sector of the American economy. The cotton bales they made streamed into factories in New and old England, spun into yarn and woven into fabric clothing people across the globe. Cotton shipped abroad each year increased from just a few thousand bales in 1790 to four million by 1860. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. xii, 417 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: PW 27 Aug. 2018 p. 110. Description: December 1777. It is 18 months after the signing of the Declaration of In-dependence, and some 12,000 members of America’s beleaguered Continental Army stagger into a small Pennsylvania encampment 23 miles northwest of British-occupied Philadelphia. The starving and half-naked force is reeling from a string of demoralizing defeats at the hands of King George III’s army, and are barely equipped to survive the coming winter. Their commander in chief, the focused and forceful George Washington, is at the lowest ebb of his military career. The Continental Congress is in exile and the American Revolution appears to be lost. Yet a spark remains. Determined to keep the rebel cause alive through sheer force of will, Washington transforms the farmland plateau hard by the Schuylkill River into a virtual cabin city. Together with a dedicated coterie of advisers both foreign and domestic–Marquis de Lafayette, Baron von Steuben, the impossibly young Alexander Hamilton, and John Laurens–he sets out to breathe new life into his military force. Against all odds, as the frigid and misera-ble months pass, they manage to turn a bobtail army of citizen soldiers into a professional fighting force that will change the world forever. This book is the story of how that metamorphosis occurred, despite thousands of American soldiers succumbing to disease, starvation, and the elements. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Harper, 2018. xxxiii, 857 p., 32 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 25 Nov. 2018 p. 12; TLS 23 Nov. 2018 p. 11 (2018 Book of the Year); TLS 16 Nov. 2018 p. 26; LRB 18 July 2019 p. 35; FA 98(1) Jan./Feb. 2019 p. 199. Description: Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the 1968 Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and much less familiar miniatures such as the bloodbath at Daido–where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out–together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh’s warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed two million people. Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it overwhelmingly as one for the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings, and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here we are given testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bar girls, and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, and Huey pilots from Arkansas. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Penguin Pr., 2018. 453 p.
Reviewed: PW 17 Sept. 2018 p. 76; LJ 1 Nov. 2018 p. 77; NYT/BR 6 Jan. 2019 p. 9; NYRB 16 Jan. 2020 p. 29. Description: Explains how fugitive slaves escaping from the South to the northern states awakened northerners to the true nature of slavery and how the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act divided the nation and set it on the path to civil war. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: William Morrow, 2018. viii, 357 p., 16 p. of plates
Reviewed: LJ 1 June 2018 p. 102 Description: In the spring of 1860 on the eve of a civil war that threatened to tear the country apart, two Americans conceived of an audacious plan for linking the nation’s two coasts, thereby joining its present with its future. This book traces the development of the Pony Express and follows it from its start in St. Joseph, Missouri 1,500 miles west to Sacramento. It was an audacious plan to create a financial empire by transforming communications across the hostile territory between the nation’s two coasts. In the process, they created one of the most enduring icons of the American West: the Pony Express. Daring young men with colorful names like “Bronco Charlie” and “Sawed-Off Jim” galloped at speed over a vast and unforgiving landscape, etching an irresistible tale that passed into myth almost instantly. Equally an improbable success and a business disaster, the Pony Express came and went in just eighteen months, but not before uniting and captivating a nation on the brink of being torn apart. (publ.)
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2017. 2 vol.
Description: Offers in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents and historic events that make up the story of a century marked by scientific discovery, codification of laws, the development of religious doctrine, civil war, colonization, and the expansion of trade on a global level. … The forty-nine articles in this volume are organized into the following seven sections: (1) Europe: Science, Religion and Law; (2) England: Civil War and Revolution; (3) Christianity and Society in the East; (4) The Muslim World: Trade and Toleration; (5) European Colonies in the Americas: The English Mid-Atlantic; (6) European Colonies in the Americas: New England; & (7) European Colonies in the Americas: Other Colonies. (publ.) Holdings Note: NICC/Peosta library also has other series volumes: The Middle Ages (909.07 Mid) & The Ancient World (920 Anc). See also this list: Renaissance & Early Modern Era (1308-1600) [on order].
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2017. xiii, 367 p.
Description: These volumes highlight important historical documents–speeches, letters, manifestos and more–from influential figures during this pivotal century. (publ.) Holdings Note: NICC/Peosta library also has other series volumes: The Middle Ages (909.07 Mid) & The Ancient World (920 Anc). See also other series titles in this list [on order].
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2018. 2 vols.
Description: The 19th century was an era of rapidly accelerating scientific discovery and invention that laid the groundwork for the technological advances of the 20th century as well as important social and political reforms. This set offers in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents, including legal codes, letters, speeches, constitutions, reports, and books that impacted the world throughout the nineteenth century, from the Napoleonic code to Darwin’s Descent of Man. It offers in-depth analysis of a broad range of historical documents and historic events that make up the story of a century during which slavery is abolished and the Industrial Revolution gives rise to the middle class. The fervor of the early days of the French Revolution has begun to wane, and Napoleon works to strike an accord with Pope Pius VII. England continues its program of empire building in Asia, while unrest and the potato famine bring on calls for Irish Home Rule. Revolutions and rebellions in China change the global balance of power away from that nation for more than a century. Communism and Marxism are on the rise, and in the United States, nation-building continues with the Louisiana and Alaska purchases. (publ.) Holdings Note: NICC/Peosta library also has other series volumes: The Middle Ages (909.07 Mid) & The Ancient World (920 Anc). See also other series titles in this list [on order].
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2017. xvii, 312 p.
Reviewed: LRB 30 Nov. 2017 p. 11. Description: An account of all the new and surprising evidence now available for the beginnings of the earliest civilizations that contradict the standard narrative. Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, and governed by precursors of today’s states? Most people believe that plant and animal domestication allowed humans, finally, to settle down and form agricultural villages, towns, and states, which made possible civilization, law, public order, and a presumably secure way of living. But archaeological and historical evidence challenges this narrative. The first agrarian states, says James C. Scott, were born of accumulations of domestications: first fire, then plants, livestock, subjects of the state, captives, and finally women in the patriarchal family–all of which can be viewed as a way of gaining control over reproduction. Scott explores why we avoided sedentism and plow agriculture, the advantages of mobile subsistence, the unforeseeable disease epidemics arising from crowding plants, animals, and grain, and why all early states are based on millets and cereal grains and unfree labor. He also discusses the “barbarians” who long evaded state control, as a way of understanding continuing tension between states and nonsubject peoples. (publ.)
Publication Date: Madison: U. Wisconsin Pr., 2016. xxxlv, 171 p.
Reviewed: TLS 21 July 2017 p. 27 Description: In the Great Terror of 1937-38 more than a million Soviet citizens were arrested or killed for political crimes they didn’t commit. What kind of people carried out this violent purge, and what motivated them? This book opens up the world of the Soviet perpetrator for the first time. (publ.) “” Note: Originally published as: Terror Raĭonnogo Masshtaba: “Massovye Operat︠s︡ii” NKVD v Kunt︠s︡evskom Raĭone Moskovskoĭ Oblasti 1937-1938 gg. = Террор Районного Масштаба: “Массовые Операции” НКВД в Кунцевском Районе Московской Области 1937-1938 гг. (Moscow: Rosspen, 2004).
Publication Date: Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2017. xiii, 270 p.
Reviewed: Choice Jun. 2018 vol. 55 no. 10 (Highly Recommended; recommended for community college libraries) Description: Drawing from decades of publications by American and British writers, Huston reveals the rhetorical strategies contemporary observers employed in defending or rejecting the organization of a society around broader notions of human equality. [The book] informs the modern debate over equality and inequality, not by theorizing and philosophizing, but by offering a glimpse into the practical applications of a functioning egalitarian society as compared to one that extolled monarchy and institutionalized inequality. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. xiii, 398 p.
Reviewed: FA 97(3) May/June 2018 p. 202. Description: A fascinating and timely examination of how genocide can take root at the local level–turning neighbors, friends and even family members against one another–as seen through the little-known story of the Eastern European border town Buczacz during World War II. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Routledge, 2014. xi, 161 p.
Description: Surveys the history of the ancient Middle East from the invention of writing to Alexander the Great's conquest. The book introduces both the physical and intellectual environment of those times, the struggles of state-building and empire construction, and the dissent from those efforts. Topics covered include: what do we mean when we talk about the Ancient Near East?; the rise and fall of powerful states and monarchs; daily life both in the cities and out in the fields; [and] the legacy of the Ancient Near East: religion, science and writing systems. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Profile Books, 2017. 502 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: LR 2/2018 Description: In 1945, the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and warfare was never the same again. Armageddon and Paranoia relates how the power of the atom was harnessed to produce weapons capable of destroying human civilization and considers what this has done to the world. There are few villains in this story: on both sides of the Iron Curtain, dedicated scientists cracked the secrets of nature, dutiful military men planned out possible maneuvers and politicians wrestled with potentially intolerable decisions. Patriotic citizens acquiesced to the idea that their country needed the ultimate means of defense. Some tried to grapple with the unanswerable question: what end could possibly be served by such fearsome means? Those who protested went unheard. None of them wanted to start a nuclear war, but all of them were paranoid about what the other side might do. The danger of annihilation by accident or misjudgment has not been entirely absent since. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Amistad/HarperCollins, 2018. xxviii, 171 p.
Reviewed: NPR (“Fresh Air” 5/8/2018; & 2 other on air reviews); LJ 1 May 2018 p. 78. Description: In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the mil-lions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation's history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo's past–memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War. Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon master-fully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. (publ.) Note: Previously unpublished work by Hurston (1891-1960) now postumously released.
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. 512 p.
Reviewed: PW 5 Mar. 2018 p. 59 Description: This sweeping American epic reveals the story of the century-long blood feud between two rival Cherokee chiefs from the early years of the United States. Dramatic, far-reaching, and unforgettable, this book paints a portrait of these two inspirational leaders who worked together to lift their people to the height of culture and learning as the most civilized tribe in the nation, and then drop them to the depths of ruin and despair as they turned against each other. Theirs is a story of land, pride, honor, and loss that forms much of the country's mythic past today. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. xv, 193 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Nov. 2018 vol. 56 no. 3) Highly recommended for community college libraries. Description: Introduces readers to the life and literary importance of Boudica through juxtaposing her different literary characterizations with those of other women and rebel leaders. This study focuses on our earliest literary evidence, the accounts of Tacitus and Cassius Dio, and investigates their narratives alongside material evidence of late Iron Age and early Roman Britain. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Henry Holt, 2018. xix, 280 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: PW 5 Mar. 2018 p. 60; NYT/BR 17 June 2018 p. 18. Description: Why did democracy fall apart so quickly and completely in Germany in the 1930s? How did a democratic government allow Adolf Hitler to seize power? To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany’s leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett lays bare the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler’s hands. They had willingly given him the tools to turn Germany into a vicious dictatorship. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2017. xi, 252 p.
Reviewed: Choice Oct. 2017 vol. 55 no. 2 (Highly Recommended; Top 75 Titles Recommended for community college libraries); FA 96(5) Sept./Oct. 2017 p. 196 Description: The end of colonial rule in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean was one of the most important and dramatic developments of the twentieth century. In the decades after World War II, dozens of new states emerged as actors in global politics. Long-established imperial regimes collapsed, some more or less peacefully, others amid mass violence. This book takes an incisive look at decolonization and its long-term consequences, revealing it to be a coherent yet multidimensional process at the heart of modern history. (publ.) Note: Originally published as: Dekolonisation: das Ende der Imperien (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2013).
Publication Date: Yardley, Pa.: Westholme, 2017. xviii, 393 p.
Reviewed: WSJ 10 July 2017 p. A15 Description: “Dunmore’s War quieted the American frontier for the two critical years in which the colonies united to fight a national war for independence.” (WSJ) The 1774 campaign against a Shawnee-led Indian confederacy in the Ohio Country marked the final time an American colonial militia took to the field in His Majesty’s service and under royal command. Led by John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore and royal governor of Virginia, a force of colonials including George Rogers Clark, Daniel Morgan, Michael Cresap, Adam Stephen, and Andrew Lewis successfully enforced the western border established by treaties in parts of present-day West Virginia and Kentucky. The campaign is often neglected in histories, despite its major influence on the conduct of the Revolutionary War that followed. … As an immediate result of Dunmore’s War, the frontier remained quiet for two years, giving the colonies the critical time to debate and declare independence before Britain convinced its Indian allies to resume attacks on American settlements. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2017. 314 p.. 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Choice May 2018 vol. 55 no. 9 (Recommended for community college libraries) Description: During the course of the seventeenth century nearly 400,000 people left Britain for the Americas, most of them from England. Crossing the Atlantic was a major undertaking, the voyage long and treacherous. There was little hope of returning to see the friends and family who stayed behind. Why did so many go? A significant number went for religious reasons, either on the Mayflower or as part of the mass migration to New England; some sought their fortunes in gold, fish or fur; some went to farm tobacco in Virginia, a booming trade which would enmesh Europe in a new addiction. Some went because they were loyal to the deposed Stuart king, while others yearned for an entirely new ambition–the freedom to think as they chose. Then there were the desperate: starving and impoverished people who went because things had not worked out in the Old World and there was little to lose from trying again in the New. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2017. x, 755 p.
Reviewed: FA vol. 97 (1) Jan./Feb. 2018 p. 151; LR 2/2018 p. 26 Description: Reminds us that the American Revolution was an astonishingly radical event–and that it didn't end with the transformation and in-dependence of America. Rather, the revolution continued to reverberate in Europe and the Americas for the next three-quarters of a century. This comprehensive history of the revolution’s international influence traces how American efforts to implement Radical Enlightenment ideas–including the destruction of the old regime and the promotion of democratic republicanism, self-government, and liberty–helped drive revolutions abroad, as foreign leaders explicitly followed the American example and espoused American democratic values. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2008. xvi, 1035 p., 32 p. of plates.
Description: Uses foreign relations as the lens through which to tell the story of America’s rise from thirteen disparate colonies along the Atlantic coast to the world’s greatest superpower. Documents America’s interaction with other peoples and nations, a story of stunning successes and some-times tragic failures, captured in a fast-paced narrative that illuminates the central importance of foreign relations to the existence and survival of the nation, and highlights its ongoing impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. (publ.) Library Holdings: NICC/Peosta has previous vols. in series: (1) The Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Years (973.73 McP). – (2) Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (973 Ken). – (3) The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (on order). – (4) Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore (973.92 Pat). – (5) What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (973.5 How). – (6) The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (on order). – (7) Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (973.4 Woo). – (8) Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (973.92 Pat).
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2005. xiv, 736 p.
Description: The book features a description of the eight-year-long war, with accounts of battles and campaigns, ranging from Bunker Hill and Washington’s crossing of the Delaware to the brilliant victory at Hannah’s Cowpens and the final triumph at Yorktown, paying particular attention to what made men fight in these bloody encounters. The book concludes with a look at the making of the Constitution in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 and the struggle over ratification. Through it all, the author gives the reader a vivid sense of how the colonists saw these events and the importance they gave to them. (publ.) Library Holdings: NICC/Peosta has previous vols. in series: (1) The Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Years (973.73 McP). – (2) Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (973 Ken). – (3) The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (on order). – (4) Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore (973.92 Pat). – (5) What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (973.5 How). – (6) From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (on order). – (7) Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (973.4 Woo). – (8) Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (973.92 Pat).
Publication Date: Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2017. 233 p.
Reviewed: LR July 2017 p. 32; TLS 22 Sept. 2017 p. 11. Description: The tragedies of World War II are well known. But at least one has been forgotten: in September 1939, four hundred thousand cats and dogs were massacred in Britain. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: The Overlook Pr., 2018. 591 p.
Reviewed: LJ 1 Apr. 2018 p. 82. Description: Comprising personal accounts from an intensely consequential chapter in our country's history, [this book] tells the story of American slavery from its origins in Africa to its abolition with the end of the Civil War. In this new work, Noel Rae integrates firsthand accounts into a narrative history that brings the reader face to face with slavery's everyday reality, expertly weaving together narratives that span hundreds of years. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017. 304 p.
Reviewed: PW 26 June 2017 p. 108 Description: Ed Asner, a self-proclaimed dauntless Democrat from the old days, figured that if the right-wing wackos are wrong about voter fraud, Obama’s death panels, and climate change, they are probably just as wrong about what the Constitution says. There’s no way that two hundred-plus years later, the right-wing ideologues know how to interpret the Constitution. On their way home from Philadelphia the people who wrote it couldn’t agree on what it meant. … (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2017. xvi, 380 p.
Reviewed: Choice Oct. 2017 vol. 55 no. 2 (Highly Recommended; Recommended for community college libraries) Description: Examines the history that Muslims, Christians, and Jews once shared against the shifting backdrop of state policies. Focusing on the Ottoman Middle East before World War I, Sharkey offers a vivid and lively analysis of everyday social contacts, dress, music, food, bathing, and more, as they brought people together or pushed them apart. Historically, Islamic traditions of statecraft and law, which the Ottoman Empire maintained and adapted, treated Christians and Jews as protected subordinates to Muslims while prescribing limits to social mixing. Sharkey shows how, amid the pivotal changes of the modern era, efforts to simultaneously preserve and dismantle these hierarchies heightened tensions along religious lines and set the stage for the twentieth-century Middle East. (publ.)
Publication Date: Lincoln: U. Nebraska Pr., 2017. xii, 253 p.
Reviewed: CHE 15 Sept. 2017 (new books) Description: Offers a bold new look at the history of homesteading, overturning what for decades has been the orthodox scholarly view. The authors begin by noting the striking disparity between the public’s perception of homesteading as a cherished part of our national narrative and most scholars’ harshly negative and dismissive treatment. Homesteading the Plains reexamines old data and draws from newly available digitized records to reassess the current interpretation’s four principal tenets: homesteading was a minor factor in farm formation, with most Western farmers purchasing their land; most homesteaders failed to prove up their claims; the homesteading process was rife with corruption and fraud; and homesteading caused Indian land dispossession. Using data instead of anecdotes and focusing mainly on the nineteenth century, Homesteading the Plains demonstrates that the first three tenets are wrong and the fourth only partially true. In short, the public’s perception of homesteading is perhaps more accurate than the one scholars have constructed. Homesteading the Plains provides the basis for an understanding of homesteading that is startlingly different from current scholarly orthodoxy. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: St. Martin’s Pr., 2017. viii, 359 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: FA 97(1) Jan./Feb. 2018 p. 160. Description: Shows that without France, there might not be a United States of America. To the rebelling colonies, French assistance made the difference between looming defeat and eventual triumph. Even before the Declaration of Independence was issued, King Louis XVI and French foreign minister Vergennes were aiding the rebels. After the Declaration, that assistance broadened to include wages for our troops; guns, cannon, and ammunition; engineering expertise that enabled victories and prevented defeats; diplomatic recognition; safe havens for privateers; battlefield leadership by veteran officers; and the army and fleet that made possible the Franco-American victory at Yorktown. Nearly ten percent of those who fought and died for the American cause were French. Those who fought and survived, in addition to the well-known Lafayette and Rochambeau, include Franois de Fleury, who won a Congressional Medal for valor, Louis Duportail, who founded the Army Corps of Engineers, and Admiral de Grasse, whose sea victory sealed the fate of Yorktown. (publ.)
Publication Date: Oxford, England: Oxford UP, 2017. xiv, 330 p.
Reviewed: WSJ 19 July 2017 p. A15; CHE 11 Aug. 2017 (new books). Description: Under fire for its failure to speak out against the Holocaust or to extend substantial assistance to Jews trapped in Nazi camps across Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was desperate to salvage its reputation. ... The organization emerged from the world war with a new commitment to protecting civilians caught in the crossfire of conflict. But it did so while defending former Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials and issuing travel papers to many of Hitler’s former henchmen. (publ.)
Reviewed: LR 4/2018 Description: For forty years, Barnaby Rogerson has traveled across North Africa, making sense of the regions complex and fascinating history as both a writer and a guide. Throughout that time there have always been a handful of stories he could not pin into neat, tidy narratives; stories that were not distinctly good or bad, tragic or pathetic, selfish or heroic, malicious or noble. This book, neither a work of history nor travel writing, is a journey into the ruins of a landscape in an attempt to make sense of those stories through the lives of six historical figures, five men and one woman: A sacrificial refugee (Queen Dido); a prisoner of war who became a compliant tool of the Roman Empire (King Juba II); an unpromising provincial who, as Emperor, brought the Roman Empire to its dazzling apogee (Septimius Severus); an intellectual careerist who became a bishop and a saint (St Augustine); the greatest general the world has ever known (Hannibal); and the Berber Cavalry General who eventually defeated him (Masinissa). All six of these lives are surrounded with as much myth as fact, but the destinies of these North African figures remain highly relevant today. Their descendants are faced with many of the same choices: Should you stay pure to your own culture and fight against the power of the West, or should you study and assimilate to this other culture, and utilize its skills? Will it greet you as an ally only to own you as a slave? (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2017. xiii, 979 p., 32 p. of plates.
Reviewed: LR 2/2018 p. 31 Description: This history of modern Iran is not a survey in the conventional sense but an ambitious exploration of the story of a nation. It offers a revealing look at how events, people, and institutions are shaped by currents that sometimes reach back hundreds of years. The book covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic. Abbas Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2018. xv, 361 p.
Reviewed: LR 4/2018 p. 17. Description: 1968 was an unprecedented year in terms of upheaval on numerous scales: political, military, economic, social, cultural. In the United States, perhaps no one was more undone by the events of 1968 than President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Kyle Longley leads his readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of what Johnson characterized as the “year of a continuous nightmare.” Longley explores how LBJ perceived the most significant events of 1968, including the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy, and the violent Democratic National Convention in Chicago. His responses to the crises were sometimes effective but often tragic, and LBJ’s refusal to seek re-election underscores his recognition of the challenges facing the country in 1968. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2017. xiii, 398 p., 12 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Literary Review Dec. 2017/Jan. 2018 p. 26 Description: In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea and attempted to seize a portion of Ukraine. While the world watched in outrage, this blatant violation of national sovereignty was only the latest iteration of a centuries-long effort to expand Russian boundaries and create a pan-Russian nation. In Lost Kingdom, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues that we can only understand the confluence of Russian imperialism and nationalism to-day by delving into the nation’s history. Spanning over 500 years, from the end of the Mongol rule to the present day, Plokhy shows how leaders from Ivan the Terrible to Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin exploited existing forms of identity, warfare, and territorial expansion to achieve imperial supremacy. (publ.)
Publication Date: Urbana: U. Illinois Pr., 2017. 264 p.
Reviewed: Choice Apr. 2018 vol. 55 no. 8 (top 75 books recommended for community college libraries). Description: Peck meticulously traces the conflict over slavery in Illinois from the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 to Lincoln’s defeat of his archrival Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 election. Douglas’s attempt in 1854 to persuade Northerners that slavery and freedom had equal national standing stirred a political earthquake that brought Lincoln to the White House. Yet Lincoln’s framing of the antislavery movement as a conservative return to the country’s founding principles masked what was in fact a radical and unprecedented antislavery nationalism. It justified slavery’s destruction but triggered the Civil War. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. 624 p.
Reviewed: PW 18 Dec. 2017 p. 120; LJ 1 Feb. 2018 p. 112; NYT/BR 15 Apr. 2018 p. 10; LR March 2018 p. 25; NYRB 24 May 2018 p. 53; FA 97(4) July/Aug 2018 p. 170; LRB 6 Dec. 2018 p. 23. Description: In the wake of World War II, with Britain’s empire collapsing and Stalin's on the rise, US officials under new secretary of state George C. Marshall set out to reconstruct western Europe as a bulwark against communist authoritarianism. Their massive, costly, and ambitious undertaking would confront Europeans and Americans alike with a vision at odds with their history and self-conceptions. In the process, they would drive the creation of NATO, the European Union, and a Western identity that continues to shape world events. … Given current echoes of the Cold War, as Putin’s Russia rattles the world order, the tenuous balance of power and uncertain order of the late 1940s is as relevant as ever. The Marshall Plan provides critical context into understanding today’s international landscape. (publ.)
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2018. 2 vols.
Description: The Middle East is the site of the first great civilizations in history. Today, it remains one of the most significant regions of the world for a variety of political, economic, and religious reasons. This new set spans the recorded history of the region and includes a variety of documents from several eras. The material is organized under four historical groupings: (1) Early Medieval, and Early Modern History; (2) Ottoman Endurance and Collapse; (3) Twentieth-Century Troubles; & (4) Recent Realities. These documents provide a compelling view of many important aspects of Middle Eastern history, including religion, conflicts, politics, empires, and ethnic identities by drawing on religious tracts, political speeches and treaties, travel writing, first-hand reports, correspondence, and more. (publ.) Holdings Note: See elsewhere in this listing for other volumes of this series also on order.
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2017. x, 313 p.
Reviewed: LRB 29 June 2017 p. 21 Description: A unique and extraordinary historical narrative of generations of a Black family with roots in slavery and in the South. This family won their freedom with emancipation but, instead of fleeing the poverty and oppression of the White plantation, decided to stay on the homeland of their White masters and then to purchase it for themselves within a decade. In a true counterpoint to the predominant tale of the Black exodus north in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, these African Americans chose to hold onto the land that they had rightfully inherited and to risk all to keep it in the ensuing decades. Sydney Nathans, in his deep research into family and plantation papers and archives, as well as in invaluable oral interviews, has uncovered a slice of history that would otherwise have remained unknown. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. xxvi, 475 p., 32 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 10 Nov. 2017 p. 31; LRB 25 Jan. 2018 p. 19 Description: Howard Jones reopens the case of My Lai by examining individual accounts of both victims and soldiers through extensive archival and original research. Jones evokes the horror of the event itself, the attempt to suppress it, as well as the response to [William Laws] Calley’s sentence and the seemingly unanswerable question of whether he had merely been following orders. My Lai also surveys how news of the slaughter intensified opposition to the Vietnam War by undermining any pretense of American moral superiority. (publ.)
Publication Date: Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2017. x, 276 p.
Reviewed: CHE 9 Feb. 2018 (new books) Description: Most of those who study and write about the Vietnam War now agree that the Tet Offensive was militarily a defeat for the Communist forces, since those forces failed to take the cities but suffered very heavy casualties in the attempt. Yet it was a victory for them politically, because it undermined support for the war in the United States. So stated, the conventional wisdom is well founded. Edwin Moïse takes the controversies surrounding Tet head on, exposing the errors and misrepresentations in some of the Tet accounts and demonstrating that much of the conventional wisdom is astonishingly inaccurate. (publ.) Edwin E. Moïse is a professor of history at Clemson University.
Publication Date: Chapel Hill: U. NC Pr., 2017. xiii, 382 p.
Reviewed: Choice Oct. 2017 vol. 55 no. 2 (Highly Recommended; Top 75 Titles Recommended for community college libraries) Description: In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a major transformation was occurring in many spheres of society: people with every sort of disability were increasingly being marginalized, excluded, and incarcerated. Disabled but still productive factory workers were being fired, and developmentally disabled individuals who had previously contributed domestic or agricultural labor in homes or on farms were being sent to institutions and poorhouses. [The author] …explores the ways that public policy removed the disabled from the category of “deserving” recipients of public assistance, transforming them into a group requiring rehabilitation in order to achieve “self-care” and “self-support.” (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Simon & Schuster, 2017. xii, 419 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 11 Aug. 2017 p. 12. Description: Between January and August 1947 the conflicting political, religious and social tensions in India culminated in independence from Britain and the creation of Pakistan. Those months saw the end of ninety years of the British Raj, and the effective power of the Maharajahs, as the Congress Party established itself commanding a democratic government in Delhi. They also witnessed the rushed creation of Pakistan as a country in two halves whose capitals were two thousand kilometers apart. From September to December 1947 the euphoria surrounding the realization of the dream of independence dissipated into shame and incrimination; nearly 1 million people died and countless more lost their homes and their livelihoods as partition was realized. The events of those months would dictate the history of South Asia for the next seventy years, leading to three wars, countless acts of terrorism, polarization around the Cold War powers and to two nations with millions living in poverty spending disproportionate amounts on their military. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Liveright, 2018. xx, 261 p.
Reviewed: LJ 1 March 2018 p. 92; LR June 2018 p. 31; NYT/BR 29 July 2018 p. 17; TLS 1 Mar 2019 p. 11; NYRB 23 May 2019 p. 34. Description: In three days of violence, 49 Jews were killed and 600 raped or wounded, while more than 1,000 Jewish-owned houses and stores were ransacked and destroyed. Recounted in lurid detail by newspapers throughout the Western world, and covered sensationally by America’s Hearst press, the pre-Easter attacks seized the imagination of an international public, quickly becoming the prototype for what would become known as a “pogrom,” and providing the impetus for efforts as varied as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the NAACP. Using new evidence culled from Russia, Israel, and Europe, distinguished historian Steven J. Zipperstein’s wide-ranging book brings historical insight and clarity to a much-misunderstood event that would do so much to transform twentieth-century Jewish life and beyond. (publ.)
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2015. xix, 308 p.
Description: Contains 40 primary source documents that provide a compelling view of documents produced from 1945-1950, following the close of World War II. This unique era in American history is one characterized by increased economic prosperity and a great expansion of the role played by the United States in world affairs. The establishment of the United Nations in 1945 brought hope that a new and better world would emerge from the ashes of World War II. The end of the war was followed by a rapid demobilization of the armed forces, but it also brought shortages in housing, an inflationary trend in the economy, conflicts between labor and management, and the emergence of a new “red scare” wherein innocent citizens and government officials alike were persecuted for their alleged ties to communist organizations. (publ.) Holdings Note: See elsewhere on this list for addition titles from this series on order.
Henry Stuart's life is the last great forgotten Jacobean tale. Shadowed by the gravity of the Thirty Years' War and the huge changes taking place across Europe in seventeenth-century society, economy, politics and empire, his life was visually and verbally gorgeous. NOW THE SUBJECT OF BBC2 DOCUMENTARY The Best King We Never Had Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales was once the hope of Britain. Eldest son to James VI of Scotland, James I of England, Henry was the epitome of heroic Renaissance princely virtue, his life set against a period about as rich and momentous as any. Educated to rule, Henry was interested in everything. His court was awash with leading artists, musicians, writers and composers such as Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones. He founded a royal art collection of European breadth, amassed a vast collection of priceless books, led grand renovations of royal palaces and mounted operatic, highly politicised masques. But his ambitions were even greater. He embraced cutting-edge science, funded telescopes and automata, was patron of the North West Passage Company and wanted to sail through the barriers of the known world to explore new continents. He reviewed and modernised Britain's naval and military capacity and in his advocacy for the colonisation of North America he helped to transform the world. At his death aged only eighteen, and considering himself to be as much a European as British, he was preparing to stake his claim to be the next leader of Protestant Christendom in the struggle to resist a resurgent militant Catholicism. In this rich and lively book, Sarah Fraser seeks to restore Henry to his place in history. Set against the bloody traumas of the Thirty Years' War, the writing of the King James Bible, the Gunpowder Plot and the dark tragedies pouring from Shakespeare's quill, Henry's life is the last great forgotten Jacobean tale: the story of a man who, had he lived, might have saved Britain from King Charles I, his spaniels and the Civil War with its appalling loss of life his misrule engendered.
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2014. xiii, 270 p.
Description: This collection allows readers to gain new insights into the reconstruction era and the development of the industrial United States. Provides in-depth analysis of over twenty primary source documents to deliver a thorough examination of this important time in American history. (publ.) Holdings Note: See elsewhere on this list for addition titles from this series on order.
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2017. xiii, 272 p.
Reviewed: Choice Feb 2018 vol. 55 no. 6 (Recommended; Top 75 Titles recommended for community college libraries) Description: Articles begin by introducing readers to the historical context surrounding the document, followed by a description of the author's life and circumstances in which the document was written. Next, a detailed analysis of the document provides an in-depth examination of the issues surrounding the document and its historical significance. An historical timeline and bibliography of supplemental readings will support readers in understanding the broader historical events and subjects in the period. The thirty articles in this volume are organized into five sections: (1) The Black Death; (2) Europe in War and Peace; (3) Renaissance Arts and Letters; (4) New World Encounters and Conflicts; & (5) The Protestant Reformation. (publ.) Holdings Note: NICC/Peosta library also has other series volumes: The Middle Ages (909.07 Mid) & The Ancient World (920 Anc).
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. xx, 941 p., 32 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Economist 26 Aug. 2017 p. 67; CHE 25 Aug. 2017 (new books); NYT/BR 24 Sept. 2017 p. 21; TLS 26 Jan. 2018 p. 3; FA 97(2) March/Apr. 2018 p. 175. Description: During Reconstruction Northerners attempted to remake the United States in their own image. They would make incarnate the new world Republicans imagined at the end of the Civil War. That new world seemed possible because the Republican Party controlled the Union in 1865 as fully as any political party would ever control the country. Reconstruction would produce a nation built around free labor with a homogeneous citizenry whose rights would be guaranteed by a newly empowered federal government. Black as well as white citizens would inhabit a largely Protestant country of independent producers. They never realized that dream. The government’s attempts to implement this vision confronted significant obstacles. (publ.) Library Holdings: NICC/Peosta has previous vols. in series: (1) The Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Years (973.73 McP). – (2) Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (973 Ken). – (3) The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (on order). – (4) Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore (973.92 Pat). – (5) What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (973.5 How). – (6) From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (on order). – (7) Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (973.4 Woo). – (8) Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (973.92 Pat).
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. xxvii, 823 p., 12 p. of plates.
Reviewed: TLS 22/29 Dec. 2017 p. 4; FA 97(2) March/April 2018 p. 183; Choice May 2018 vol. 55 no. 9 (essential; recommended for community college libraries.) Description: In 1913, the Romanov dynasty celebrated its tercentenary–three centuries of autocratic rule over one of the world’s mightiest and most expansive empires. Four years later, the monarchy lay in ruins and a brutal struggle had begun to fill the vacuum of power. The Russian Revolution utterly re-shaped the landscape of the twentieth century. To mark the centennial of this epochal event, distinguished scholar Laura Engelstein offers a full history of not just the February and October Revolutions but the critical period surrounding and giving rise to them, beginning with the outbreak of World War One and following through until the end of the civil strife–seven years of violence and chaos that finally left the Bolsheviks in command of the field. (publ.)
Publication Date: Oxford, England: Oxford UP, 2017. vii, 455 p.
Reviewed: FA 96(5) Sept./Oct. 2017 p. 187; Choice Jun. 2018 vol. 55 no. 10 (Essential; recommended for community college libraries). Description: The Russian Revolution of 1917 transformed the face of the Russian empire, politically, economically, socially, and culturally, and also profoundly affected the course of world history for the rest of the twentieth century. Now, to mark the centenary of this epochal event, historian Steve Smith presents a panoramic account of the history of the Russian empire, from the last years of the nineteenth century, through the First World War and the revolutions of 1917 and the establishment of the Bolshevik regime, to the end of the 1920s, when Stalin simultaneously unleashed violent collectivization of agriculture and crash industrialization upon Russian society. (publ.) “…Were readers to look for one book to read on the subject, this should be it.” (FA)
Publication Date: New York: Harper, 2017. viii, 286 p.
Reviewed: FA 97(3) May/June 2018 p. 195. Description: A scion of one of the most storied families in France, Robert de La Rochefoucald was raised in magnificent chateaux and educated in Europe’s finest schools. When the Nazis invaded and imprisoned his father, La Rochefoucald escaped to England and learned the dark arts of anarchy and combat–cracking safes and planting bombs and killing with his bare hands–from the officers of Special Operations Executive, the collection of British spies, beloved by Winston Churchill, who altered the war in Europe with tactics that earned it notoriety as the “ministry of ungentlemanly warfare.” With his newfound skills, La Rochefoucauld returned to France and organized resistance cells, blew up fortified compounds and munitions factories, interfered with Germans’ war-time missions, and executed Nazi officers. Caught by the Germans, La Rochefoucald withstood months of torture without cracking, and escaped his own death sentence, not once but twice. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Crown, 2017. xiv, 559 p.
Reviewed: Economist 1 July 2017 p. 28 Description: The American Revolution is often portrayed as an orderly, restrained rebellion, with brave patriots defending their noble ideals against an oppressive empire. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched account of America’s founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent civil war--one that shaped the nation, and the British Empire, in ways we have only begun to understand. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Liveright, 2017. 256 p.
Reviewed: PW 28 Aug. 2017 p. 119; PW 11 Sept. 2017 p. 54; NYT/BR 10 Dec. 2017 p. 18. Description: By legitimizing bigotry and redefining so-called American values, a revived Klan in the 1920s left a toxic legacy that demands reexamination today. A new Ku Klux Klan arose in the early 1920s, a less violent but equally virulent descendant of the relatively small, terrorist Klan of the 1870s. Unknown to most Americans today, this “second Klan” largely flourished above the Mason-Dixon Line—its army of four-to-six-million members spanning the continent from New Jersey to Oregon, its ideology of intolerance shaping the course of mainstream national politics throughout the twentieth century. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2017. x, 368 p.
Reviewed: TLS 2 June 2017 p. 13 Description: “ …Based on extensive archival research, and sustained by an impressive effort to adhere to a consistent, clear and dispassionate viewpoint, this alternative narrative eschews the view of the 1967 war as a confrontation between the few and the many, the besieged and the besiegers, David and Goliath. For Laron, …it was first and foremost between ‘trigger-happy generals’ (in Syria, Egypt and Israel) and ‘weak civilian leaderships’ (in Egypt and Israel) that could not withstand the pressure exerted by their headstrong officers…” (TLS)
Publication Date: Yardley, Penn.: Westholme, 2017. xviii, 229 p.
Reviewed: Choice May 2018 vol. 55 no. 9 (Highly recommended; recommended for community college libraries) Description: The Reconstruction Era–the years immediately following the Civil War when Congress directed the reintegration of the former Confederate states into the Union–remains, as historian Eric Foner suggests, Americas unfinished revolution. But Reconstruction is more than a story of great racial injustice; it has left a complex legacy involving both blacks and whites, Southerners and Northerners, that is reflected today by the fact that many of the states with the highest rates of poverty were part of the former Confederacy. In Southern Reconstruction, Philip Leigh examines Federal wartime legislation in order to broaden our understanding of Reconstruction, revealing how it led to African Americans being used as political pawns, first to ensure continued Republican rule, and finally to be blamed for the Souths hardships in order to draw poor whites away from Populism and back to the aristocratic white Democratic banner. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2015. 277 p.
Description: Theodora’s is a tale of a woman of exceptional talent who overcame immense obstacles to achieve incredible power, which she exercised without ever forgetting where she had come from. … David Potter penetrates the highly biased accounts of her found in the writings of her contemporaries and takes advantage of the latest research on early Byzantium to craft a modern, well-rounded, and engaging narrative of Theodora’s life. (publ.)
Publication Date: Amenia, NY: Grey House, 2015. x, 608 p.
Holdings Note: Library already has vols. for 1910-1919, 1920-1929, & 1930-1939. 3 additional vols. ordered. Description: From the post-Civil War era thru to the 21st Century, this series provides historical essays of each era covered, including profiles of individuals, the economy, cultural life, census data, and historical snapshots.
Publication Date: Amenia, NY: Grey House, 2017. x, 566 p.
Holdings Note: Library already has vols. for 1910-1919, 1920-1929, & 1930-1939. 3 additional vols. ordered. Description: Collecting information from government surveys, social worker histories, economic data, family diaries, letters, newspapers, and magazine features. (publ.)
Publication Date: Amenia, NY: Grey House, 2015. xii, 579 p.
Holdings Note: Library already has vols. for 1910-1919, 1920-1929, & 1930-1939. 3 additional vols. ordered. Description: Provides the reader with a deeper understanding of what life was like in America in 1940 and how it compares statistically to life today. Collecting information from government surveys, social worker histories, economic data, family diaries, letters, newspapers, and magazine features, this volume assembles a remarkable personal and realistic look into America’s past. (publ.)
Publication Date: Albany: SUNY Pr., 2017. xxvi, 337 p.
Reviewed: CHE 16 June 2017 (new books) Description: An eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath, newly translated into English. Major General Konstantin Ivanovich Globachev was chief of the Okhrana, the Tsarist secret police, in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) in the two years preceding the 1917 Russian Revolution. This book presents his memoirs–translated into English for the first time–interposed with those of his wife, Sofia Nikolaevna Globacheva. The general's writings, which he titled The Truth of the Russian Revolution, provide a front-row view of Tsar Nicholas II’s final years, the revolution, and its tumultuous aftermath. (publ.)
Publication Date: Los Angeles, Calif.: DoppelHouse Pr., 2017. xiv, 146 p.
Description: Beginning in the early morning hours of July 16, 1942, and lasting for two days, the French police went beyond Nazi ordinances and took it upon themselves to arrest and imprison more than 13,000 Jews at a Paris sporting arena, the Vélodrome d'Hiver. For most of the Jews, this detention without water, food, or sleep was the first horrific step toward death in the concentration camps. This uniquely detailed study of the roundup offers the only contemporary analysis of both the precursors and the aftermath of the events of those two days. Using recently opened police files, Maurice Rajsfus details the internal organization of the police, showing the mechanisms of this raid in particular and of raids in general, making the book an indispensable micro-history of the Holocaust. A companion piece to Rajsfus's Operation Yellow Star / Black Thursday (DoppelHouse Press, 2017),The Vél d'Hiv Raid includes witness and police reports, shocking excerpts from the collaborationist press, and speeches by contemporary French politicians whose official apology is still not complete and terribly overdue. With a foreword by Israeli activist and author Michel Warschawski. Maurice Rajsfus (b. 1928), a former investigative journalist for Le Monde, survived the Vél d'Hiv roundup. He has written thirty books, including many examining the Vichy regime and its legacy in French police culture. Several of his books about his World War II experiences are the basis of a YA comic published by Tartamudo editions, as well as a theatrical production and a film. He lives in Paris with his family. Note: Originally published as: La rafle du Vel d'Hiv (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2002).
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2017. xviii, 337 p., 18 p. of plates.
Reviewed: NYRB 18 Jan. 2018 p. 43 Description: Drawing on 125 unpublished diaries written by individuals from all walks of Soviet life, Alexis Peri tells the tragic story of how citizens struggled to make sense of a world collapsing around them. Residents recorded in intimate detail the toll taken on minds and bodies by starvation, bombardment, and disease. For many, diary writing became instrumental to survival–a tangible reminder of their humanity. The journals also reveal that Leningraders began to reexamine Soviet life and ideology from new, often critical perspectives. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. xvii, 364 p.
Reviewed: FA 96(4) Sept./Oct. 2017 p. 187 Description: Former British Ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton has gathered essays by leading historians to trace the events that led to the overthrow of the Tsarist regime and to pinpoint moments when those events could have unfolded in a drastically different way. (publ.)
Publication Date: Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse UP, 2017. ix, 253 p.
Reviewed: Choice Aug. 2018 vol. 55 no. 12 (Essential; Recommended for Community College Libraries) Description: Offers a powerful and deeply affecting examination of the complex memories of Jewish survivors returning to their homes in Poland after the Holocaust. These survivors left unparalleled testimonies of their first impressions with the Jewish historical commissions from 1944 to 1950. As many survivors found they were no longer welcome by their Polish neighbors, they chose to settle in the new state of Israel. Again, these surviving Jews left testimonies describing their postwar returns. In this book, Rice investigates the transformation of survivors’ memories from the first account after their initial return to Poland and later accounts, recorded at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem between 1955 and 1970. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Ecco Pr., 2018. 560 p.
Reviewed: PW 13 Nov. 2017 p. 51; NYRB 24 May 2018 p. 43. Description: On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the cap-ital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction—the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas—has long been the symbol of Cortés’s bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere. But is this really what happened? (publ.)
Publication Date: Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2014. xix, 308 p.
Description: Offers a broad range of historical documents on important authors and subjects in World War I research. Written by historians and experts in the field, this resource examines a wide array of primary source documents with an in-depth critical analysis. Articles begin by introducing readers to its historical context, followed by a description of the author’s life and circumstances in which the document is written. A document analysis guides readers in understanding key elements of language, rhetoric, and social and political meaning that define the significance of the author and document in American history. (publ.) Holdings Note: See this listing for other documents in this series on order.
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2016. xvi, 411 p., 16 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Arion 24:3 Winter 2017 p. 193 (books rec’d.) Description: Twenty-five-hundred years ago, civilizations around the world entered a revolutionary new era that overturned old order and laid the foundation for our world today. In the face of massive social changes across three continents, radical new forms of government emerged; mighty wars were fought over trade, religion, and ideology; and new faiths were ruthlessly employed to unify vast empires. The histories of Rome and China, Greece and India—the stories of Constantine and Confucius, Qin Shi Huangdi and Hannibal—are here revealed to be interconnected incidents in the midst of a greater drama.
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2002. 259 p.
Description: Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Munster from 1933 until his death in 1946, is renowned for his opposition to Nazism, most notably for his public preaching in 1941 against Hitler’s euthanasia project to rid the country of sick, elderly, mentally retarded, and disabled Germans. Contents: Introduction -- Von Galen’s early life -- The legacy of the Kulturkampf -- Von Galen and church-state relations -- Von Galen, eugenics, and the Nazis -- Von Galen and the Jews -- The construction of an image: Von Galen in retrospect -- Conclusion -- Appendix: three sermons in dark times. Note: See editorial, “The Bishop Who Took on the Führer” (WSJ 19 May 2017 p. A15).
Reviewed: WSJ 19-20 Nov. 2016 p. C8; FA Mar./Apr. 2017 p. 178; Choice Sep. 2017 vol. 55 no. 1 (Highly Recommended; Top 75 Recommended titles for community college libraries) Note: “…For those who wish to grapple with Charlemagne’s life in its entirety, without false certainties, Fried’s book is the best choice.” (FA)
Reviewed: TLS 14 Apr. 2017 p. 23; Choice Aug 2017 vol. 54 no. 12 (Essential) Note: Originally published as: Als die Soldaten Kamen: Die Vergewaltigung Deutscher Frauen am Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs (Munich: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2015).
Reviewed: Arion 24:3 Winter 2017 p. 191 (books rec’d) Description: The toga-clad statesman of ancient Greece is a familiar figure in the Western political tradition. Less well known is the administrator who ran the state but who was himself a slave. Challenging the modern belief that democracy and bondage are incompatible, Paulin Ismard directs our attention to the cradle of Western democracy, ancient Athens, where the functioning of civic government depended crucially on highly skilled experts who were literally public servants—slaves owned by the city-state rather than by private citizens. … By rendering the state’s administrators politically invisible, Athens warded off the specter of a government capable of turning against the citizens’ will. In a real sense, Ismard shows, Athenian citizens put the success of their democratic experiment in the hands of slaves. (publ.) Note: Originally published as: Démocratie Contre les Experts: Les Esclaves Publics en Grèce Ancienne (Paris: Les Éditions du Seuil, 2015).
Publication Date: Athens: published for the United States Capitol Historical Society by Ohio UP, 2016. vi, 270 p.
Reviewed: CHE 17 Mar. 2017 (new books) Description: When Lincoln took office, in March 1861, the national government had no power to touch slavery in the states where it existed. Lincoln understood this, and said as much in his first inaugural address, noting: 'I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.' " How, then, asks Paul Finkelman in the introduction to Lincoln, Congress, and Emancipation, did Lincoln–who personally hated slavery–lead the nation through the Civil War to January 1865, when Congress passed the constitutional amendment that ended slavery outright? The essays in this book examine the route Lincoln took to achieve emancipation and how it is remembered both in the United States and abroad. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2015. 227 p.
Reviewed: TLS 9 Dec. 2016 p. 3 Description: Perhaps no event in American history arouses more impassioned debate than the abolition of slavery. Answers to basic questions about who ended slavery, how, and why remain fiercely contested more than a century and a half after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Ira Berlin draws upon decades of study to offer a framework for understanding slavery's demise in the United States. Freedom was not achieved in a moment, and emancipation was not an occasion but a near-century-long process–a shifting but persistent struggle that involved thousands of men and women. Berlin teases out the distinct characteristics of emancipation, weaving them into a larger narrative of the meaning of American freedom. The most important factor was the will to survive and the enduring resistance of enslaved black people themselves. In striving for emancipation, they were also the first to raise the crucial question of their future status. If they were no longer slaves, what would they be? African Americans provided the answer, drawing on ideals articulated in the Declaration of Independence and precepts of evangelical Christianity. Freedom was their inalienable right in a post-slavery society, for nothing seemed more natural to people of color than the idea that all Americans should be equal. African Americans were not naive about the price of their idealism. Just as slavery was an institution initiated and maintained by violence, undoing slavery also required violence. Freedom could be achieved only through generations of long and brutal struggle. (publ.) Holdings: Copy at Calmar.
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2017. 480 p.
Reviewed: PW 17 Apr. 2017 p. 59; CHE 14 July 2017 (new books); Choice Nov 2017 vol. 55 no. 3 (Highly Recommended); LR July 2017 p. 6 Description: A reevaluation of the Russian Revolution on the occasion of its centennial. "...McMeekin's research is quite simply remarkable. ..." (LR)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2016. xiv, 768 p.
Reviewed: TLS 9 Dec. 2016 p. 3 Description: Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women, black and white, free and enslaved found common ground in causes ranging from feminism and utopian socialism to anti-imperialism and efforts to defend the rights of labor. Drawing on extensive archival research, including newly discovered letters and pamphlets, Sinha documents the influence of the Haitian Revolution and the centrality of slave resistance in shaping the ideology and tactics of abolition. This book is a comprehensive history of the abolition movement in a transnational context. It illustrates how the abolitionist vision ultimately linked the slave's cause to the struggle to redefine American democracy and human rights across the globe. (publ.)
Publication Date: Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed Pr., 2017. viii, 135 p.
Reviewed: NPR (9 May 2017) Description: Through 29 particularly American stories of insanity — from the superhuman Michael Malloy (whose friends tried and failed repeatedly to kill him, via booze, for insurance money) to the ethically derelict safety standards of New Jersey’s Action Park (reportedly 30 visitors a day were saved from drowning and one man died from electrocution) to the baffling idiocy of trying to make Ford Pintos fly (the “inventors” died in the attempt) — this brief survey of America’s strange past illustrates that we’ve always been a little insane, much as our current situation seems to indicate that we always will be. (NPR)
Publication Date: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017. x, 354 p.
Reviewed: NPR; FA 96(3) May/June 2017 p. 161 Description: Fearful for the country’s future, Washington pled with his countrymen to resist hyper-partisanship and foreign alliances. He called for unity among “citizens by birth or choice,” defended religious pluralism, called for national education. His message to the country was urgent. Avlon describes how it was quoted by Jackson, Webster, Clay, Calhoun, and importantly by Lincoln in defense of the Union. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson called on it for nation-building; Kennedy for Cold war; Reagan for religion. Clinton kept a copy on his Oval Office wall. In Washington’s Farewell, Avlon offers important insight into Washington’s his final public days, presenting not only a startling description of the perilous state of the new nation but a rare view of the man behind the usual face of a tranquil First Father. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2017. xvi, 412 p.
Reviewed: WSJ 15-16 Apr. 2017 p. C5; Choice Sep. 2017 vol. 55 no. 1 (Essential; recommended for community college libraries) Description: An exploration of the most commonly asked questions about the Holocaust challenges misconceptions and discusses how no single theory fully explains the tragedy, drawing on a wealth of scholarly research and experience to offer new insights. “Despite the outpouring of books, movies, museums, memorials, and courses devoted to the Holocaust, a coherent explanation of why such ghastly carnage erupted from the heart of civilized Europe in the twentieth century still seems elusive even seventy years later. …” (publ.)