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May 2014

History Books Roundup: Reliving the Past

May 2014

May’s roundup of History titles includes THE LION'S GATE by Steven Pressfield, which tells the story of the Six Day War in the voices of the young men and women who battled not only for their lives, but also for the survival of a Jewish state and for the dreams of their ancestors; JAMES MADISION: A Life Reconsidered, Lynne Cheney's new biography of James Madison that explores the astonishing story of a man of vaunted modesty who audaciously changed the world; SUPREME CITY, Donald L. Miller’s account of Manhattan’s growth and transformation in the 1920s and the brilliant people behind it; THE PHANTOM OF FIFTH AVENUE by Meryl Gordon, which, as the subtitle states, details "the mysterious life and scandalous death of heiress Huguette Clark,” a vivacious, young socialite who became a recluse; and an illustrated edition of Stephen E. Ambrose's D-DAY: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, featuring an extraordinary collection of over 125 photos.

American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms by Chris Kyle with William Doyle - History

May 27, 2014

At the time of his tragic death in February 2013, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the top sniper in U.S. military history, was finishing one of the most exciting missions of his life: a remarkable book that retold American history through the lens of a hand-selected list of firearms. Kyle masterfully shows how guns have played a fascinating, indispensable, and often underappreciated role in our national story.

American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution by Walter R. Borneman - History

April 14, 2015

AMERICAN SPRING follows a fledgling nation from Paul Revere's little-known ride of December 1774 and the first shots fired on Lexington Green through the catastrophic Battle of Bunker Hill, culminating with George Washington taking command of colonial forces on July 3, 1775. Focusing on well-known heroes and the ordinary Americans caught up in the revolution, Walter Borneman tells the story of how a decade of discontent erupted into an armed rebellion that forged our nation.

Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone - History

April 21, 2015

Wilbur and Orville Wright are two of the greatest innovators in history, and together they solved the centuries-old riddle of powered, heavier-than-air flight. Glenn Hammond Curtiss was the most talented machinist of his day --- tackling first the motorcycle and later turning his eyes toward the skies to become the fastest man aloft. But between the Wrights and Curtiss bloomed a poisonous rivalry and patent war so powerful that it shaped aviation in its early years and drove one of the three men to his grave.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown - Sports History

May 27, 2014

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal. The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, a teenager who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by an eccentric boat builder, but it’s their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team.

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings - History

May 13, 2014

From acclaimed military historian Max Hastings comes a new history of the outbreak of World War I: the dramatic stretch from the breakdown of diplomacy to the battles that marked the frenzied first year before the war bogged down in the trenches.

D-Day Illustrated Edition: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose - History

May 6, 2014

Now illustrated with an extraordinary collection of over 125 photos, Stephen E. Ambrose’s D-DAY is the definitive history of World War II’s most pivotal battle, June 6, 1944, the day that changed the course of history. Drawing on more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French and German veterans, Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion had to be abandoned, and how enlisted men and junior officers acted on their own initiative when they realized that nothing was as they were told it would be.

Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed by John F. Ross - Biography/History

May 5, 2015

ENDURING COURAGE is the electrifying story of the beginning of America’s love affair with speed --- and how one man above all the rest showed a nation the way forward. Eddie Rickenbacker was an innovator on the racetrack, a skilled aerial dualist and squadron commander, and founder of Eastern Air Lines. He showed a war-weary nation what it took to survive against nearly insurmountable odds when he and seven others endured a harrowing three-week ordeal adrift without food or water in the Pacific during World War II.

The Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys: The True Story by Dean King - History

May 27, 2014

For more than a century, the enduring feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys has been American shorthand for passionate, unyielding, and even violent confrontation. Yet nobody has ever told the in-depth true story of this legendarily fierce and far-reaching clash in the heart of Appalachia. Drawing upon years of original research, Dean King finally gives us the complete tale, one vastly more enthralling than the myth.

The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World by George Prochnik - Biography/History

May 6, 2014

By the 1930s, Stefan Zweig had become the most widely translated living author in the world. Yet, after Hitler’s rise to power, this celebrated writer plummeted into an increasingly isolated exile, where, in 1942, he killed himself. THE IMPOSSIBLE EXILE tells the tragic story of Zweig’s extraordinary rise and fall while also depicting the gulf between the world of ideas in Europe and in America, and the consuming struggle of those forced to forsake one for the other.

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney - Biography

May 5, 2015

Lynne Cheney's biography of James Madison explores the astonishing story of a man of vaunted modesty who audaciously changed the world. Outwardly reserved, Madison was the intellectual driving force behind the Constitution and crucial to its ratification. His visionary political philosophy and rationale for the union of states --- so eloquently presented in The Federalist papers --- helped shape the country Americans live in today.

John Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred Kaplan - Biography

June 9, 2015

Fred Kaplan brings into focus the dramatic life of John Quincy Adams --- the little known and much misunderstood sixth president of the United States and the first son of John and Abigail Adams --- and persuasively demonstrates how Adams's inspiring, progressive vision guided his life and helped shape the course of America.

The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard Rubin - History

May 6, 2014

In 2003, 85 years after the end of World War I, Richard Rubin set out to see if he could still find and talk to someone who had actually served in the American Expeditionary Forces during that colossal conflict. Ultimately, he found dozens, aged 101 to 113, from Cape Cod to Carson City, who shared with him at the last possible moment their stories of America’s Great War.

Lincoln's Bishop: A President, A Priest, and the Fate of 300 Dakota Sioux Warriors by Gustav Niebuhr - History

May 27, 2014

LINCOLN'S BISHOP is Gustav Niebuhr's compelling history of Abraham Lincoln's decision in 1862 to spare the lives of 265 condemned Sioux men, and the Episcopal bishop who was his moral compass, helping guide the president's conscience. Bringing to life this little known event and this extraordinary man, Niebuhr pays tribute to the once amazing moral force of mainline Protestant churches and the practitioners who guarded America's conscience.

The Lion's Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War by Steven Pressfield - History

May 26, 2015

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans of the war --- fighter and helicopter pilots, tank commanders and Recon soldiers, paratroopers, as well as women soldiers, wives and others --- Steven Pressfield tells the story of the Six Day War as you’ve never experienced it before: in the voices of the young men and women who battled not only for their lives but for the survival of a Jewish state, and for the dreams of their ancestors.

The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century by David Reynolds - History

June 8, 2015

One of the most violent conflicts in the history of civilization, World War I has been strangely forgotten in American culture. It has become a ghostly war fought in a haze of memory, often seen merely as a distant preamble to World War II. In THE LONG SHADOW, historian David Reynolds seeks to broaden our vision by assessing the impact of the Great War across the 20th century.

The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942 by Nigel Hamilton - History

May 19, 2015

Based on years of archival research and interviews with the last surviving aides and Roosevelt family members, Nigel Hamilton offers a definitive account of FDR’s masterful --- and underappreciated --- command of the Allied war effort. Hamilton takes readers inside FDR’s White House Oval Study --- his personal command center --- and into the meetings where he battled with Churchill about strategy and tactics and overrode the near mutinies of his own generals and secretary of war.

Paris Reborn: Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City by Stephane Kirkland - History

May 27, 2014

In the mid-19th century, the Paris we know today was born, the vision of two extraordinary men: the endlessly ambitious Emperor Napoléon III and his unstoppable accomplice, Baron Haussmann. PARIS REBORN is the vivid and engrossing account of the greatest transformation of a major city in modern history. It's a must-read for anyone who ever wondered how Paris, the city universally admired as a standard of urban beauty, became what it is.

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon - Biography

May 12, 2015

Born in 1906, Huguette Clark grew up in her family's 121-room Beaux Arts mansion in New York and was one of the leading celebrities of her day. All her money and all her real estate could not protect her in her later life from being manipulated by shady hangers-on and hospitals that were only too happy to admit (and bill) a healthy woman. But what happened to Huguette that turned a vivacious, young socialite into a recluse? And what was her life like inside that gilded, copper cage?

Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War by Ken Adelman - History

May 6, 2014

REAGAN AT REYKJAVIK is the dramatic, first-hand account of the historic 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Iceland --- the definitive weekend that was the key turning point in the Cold War --- by President Reagan’s arms control director, Ken Adelman. Scrupulously researched and based on now-declassified information, Adelman's book tells the gripping tale of this weekend that changed the world.

The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - From Ancient Greece to Iraq by Victor Davis Hanson - History

May 13, 2014

THE SAVIOR GENERALS is a set of pocket biographies of five generals (Themistocles, Belisarius, William Tecumseh Sherman, Matthew Ridgway and David Petraeus) who single-handedly saved their nations from defeat in war. Their dramatic feats of leadership are vital slices of history --- not merely as stirring military narrative, but as lessons on the dynamic nature of consensus, leadership and destiny.

The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley - Biography

May 27, 2014


In June 1952, Christine Granville was murdered by an obsessed colleague. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising; that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable. The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, Granville would become one of Britain’s most daring and highly decorated special agents. In THE SPY WHO LOVED, Clare Mulley tells the extraordinary history of this charismatic, difficult, fearless, and altogether extraordinary woman.

Supreme City: How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth to Modern America by Donald L. Miller - History

May 19, 2015

SUPREME CITY is the story of Manhattan's growth and transformation in the 1920s and the brilliant people behind it. In less than 10 years, Manhattan became the social, cultural and commercial hub of the country, transformed by its night clubs, radio, skyscrapers, movies and ferocious energy. The 1920s was the Age of Jazz and the Age of Ambition.

Through the Perilous Fight: From the Burning of Washington to the Star-Spangled Banner: The Six Weeks that Saved the Nation by Steve Vogel - History

May 27, 2014

Like Pearl Harbor or 9/11, the burning of Washington was a devastating national tragedy that ultimately united America and renewed its sense of purpose. THROUGH THE PERILOUS FIGHT recreates the thrilling six-week period when Americans rallied from the ashes to overcome their oldest adversary --- and win themselves a new birth of freedom.

Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's Downfall by Elizabeth Drew - History

May 15, 2014

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the White House, and no book has captured the extraordinary upheaval of America during the Watergate years better than Elizabeth Drew’s WASHINGTON JOURNAL. The book that established Drew’s reputation as one of the shrewdest and sharpest writers on American politics, WASHINGTON JOURNAL took in the emerging scandal with tremendous clarity and force.