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  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , top picks   

    The Best New History Books of April 2018 

    The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, by Timothy Snyder
    Snyder offers a sobering look at the rise of authoritarian leaders abroad as well as in our own country, tracing the origins of Vladimir Putin’s political philosophy to an early-20th century Russian political thinker who predicted fascism as the future of government all over the world and then tracing the parallels between Putin’s rise to power and Donald Trump’s. Snyder takes the reader through recent events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet and shows how they presaged the election meddling in the 2016 election and the actions of the current president. Alarming and insightful, Snyder’s analysis of how “alternative facts” and fake news have helped Putin solidify his hold on power will be chilling.

    Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation, by John Sedgwick
    The story of Native Americans in this country is as varied as the number of different tribes and nations, each with its own history and cast of characters as varied and complex as any country. Sedgwick explores the story of the Cherokee, once one of the most stable and advanced of all the tribes, and the two men who defined it in its final years. He Who Walks on Mountains, a.k.a. The Ridge, and John Ross, half-Cherokee, half-Scottish, were once united in their leadership of the Cherokee Nation. But when gold was discovered in Georgia and the Cherokee were ordered to evacuate (leading to the Trail of Tears) the two men fell on opposite sides of the issue, with Ross determined to fight and The Ridge determined to get the best deal out of what he viewed as the inevitable. The two men found themselves fighting on opposite sides during the Civil War, and Sedgwick finds the humanity behind the history in this dramatic tale.

    Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling, by Amy Chozick
    For many, Hillary Clinton is divisive—but for many women she’s also a symbol, and never more so then when she failed to crack the glass ceiling and become the first woman president. Chozick smartly interpolates her journalism with her own personal story, offering a bracingly intimate view of Hillary’s campaign from the view of someone who was in the room each step of the way, combined with her own response to Hillary’s near-miss. Chozick faces the decisions that only women have to face—decisions regarding starting a family, freezing her eggs, and how any number of personal decisions will affect her career in ways men simply don’t have to consider—and explores how Clinton handled similar dilemmas as she rose to the top tier of politicians in this country. There’s little doubt that the 2016 campaign will be one of the most-analyzed in history, and Chozick gets out in front with a perspective that’s sorely needed in today’s world.

    God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State, by Lawrence Wright
    Wright, a Texas resident for many years, explores the fascinating contradictions and complexities of the Lone Star state in this complex and challenging book. Texas has had a huge influence on the rest of the country, providing several modern presidents, and remains a state that values smaller government and individual freedoms. The result is a part of the country often considered a conservative bastion while also being a place where the weirdness of Austin can thrive, a state that is often surprisingly liberal despite its deep red reputation. As someone who live sin and has clear affection for Texas, Wright doesn’t shy away from what he sees as its flaws, but the book serves to make the appeal and importance of this state clear.

    President Carter: The White House Years, by Stuart E. Eizenstat
    Elected in the wake of Watergate, Jimmy Carter was a fascinating choice for president, a man who disdained politics and who refused to play the game as he saw it. His administration will be one of the most-studied in years to come as he’s reassessed, his surprising number of positive accomplishments separated from the unmitigated failures of the Iran hostage crisis and his economic policies. Eizenstat, who served as one of Carter’s chief advisors, doesn’t simply rely on his own memory to offer this detailed accounting of the Carter presidency. He also conducts detailed interviews, deep research, and offers an honest assessment of the mistakes Carter made and his failings as a leader. Carter may never be known as one of the most successful presidents, but Eizenstat makes the argument that he was more effective than many remember, and that his time in the White House was more influential than suspected.

    Rocket Men, by Robert Kurson

    In 1961, President Kennedy pledged that America would send astronauts to the moon, kicking off the Space Race of the 1960s. By 1968, however, America was seen to be lagging far behind the Soviet Union, which announced a moon flyby that year. NASA quickly altered the mission for Apollo 8 and declared it would orbit the moon by end of the year, sending the agency into overdrive as it prepared. Kurson does more than just recount then facts of the remarkable effort that resulted in Apollo 8’s journey, he also manages to convey the giddy excitement and unsettling social change that surrounded and in part fueled the mission. As a reminder that this country once looked to the stars with excitement and a sense of infinite possibility, the book is a jolt of excitement that doubles as a detailed history of one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

    Hunting El Chapo, by Andrew Hogan and Douglas Century
    Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán-Loera—better known as El Chapo—was one of the richest and most dangerous criminals in the world. Andrew Hogan was a green DEA agent assigned to Arizona. What unfolds between them is like a classic western, paralleling classic stories of dogged law enforcement like Eliot Ness and Wyatt Earp, as Hogan spends years of his life tracking and building a case against El Chapo, culminating in an ambitious plot to infiltrate the criminal’s empire and apprehend him despite his money, power, and the myth that surrounded him. The end result is the story of one of the most complicated and thrilling takedowns in the history of law enforcement.

    Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
    Considering how important they were in shaping the modern age, the Osage Indian murders of the 1920s are remarkably little-known today. When the Nation became incredibly wealthy after oil was discovered on their land, more than 20 of its members of were murdered between 1921 and 1926. As public outrage grew, the federal government was pressured into putting the obscure Bureau of Investigation, led by a young Herbert Hoover, in charge of the case. Hoover used the notoriety of these awful crimes to establish what would soon be known as the FBI as the nation’s preeminent investigative body, and himself as its all-powerful chief. Grann, of The Lost City of Z fame, does a marvelous job catching you up on vital history that’s been nearly forgotten.

    The American Spirit, by David McCullough
    McCullough is one of the most celebrated historians in American history. He has written absorbing accounts of the Wright Brothers, John Adams, and the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge—winning two Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards along the way. A thinker like that naturally makes a lot of speeches in front of a lot of audiences, and he compiles here some of his best—speeches made before Congress, before academic audiences, before groups of fellow historians. This is stirring stuff, the sort of of clear-eyed, patriotic, smart rhetoric we need more of in these divisive and confusing times. McCullough brings a calm authority to his words, equal parts comforting and energizing. It is an ideal book to read if your faith in our institutions is fading.

    The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior, by Robert O’Neill
    History by scholars is one thing, but history written by the people who make is something else—something more visceral and exciting. O’Neill, who served as a Navy SEAL for 16 years, tells his stories, including his participation in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. O’Neill offers a glimpse of his childhood, details the difficult training he underwent for the SEALS, and let’s you follow along as he and his fellow soldiers clear buildings one door at a time in Afghanistan. O’Neill doesn’t sugarcoat or bend the facts, and he tackles the backlash he received when he was seen by his peers as profiting from his service. In the end, though, we need books like this so we know the truth behind the headlines.

    The post The Best New History Books of April 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
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    The Best New Thrillers of April 2018 

    The Fallen, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci’s fourth Amos Decker novel heads to the small rust-belt town of Baronville, where Decker and FBI agent Alex Jamison are visiting with Alex’s family. Baronville’s a town in decline afflicted by an opioid crisis, and dealing with a series of brutal murders marked by mysterious clues that have the local cops stymied. It’s not long before Decker, who has a perfect memory since a head injury he suffered while a pro football player, stumbles onto the next grisly homicide scene—and with his special mental abilities, begins to see a pattern that goes far beyond Baronville. When the pattern touches on people Decker cares about, the mystery becomes a personal one—just as Decker discovers reasons to doubt his perfect memory.

    The 17th Suspect, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
    Patterson and Paetro return to the Women’s Murder Club for the 17th go-round in a book that focuses on Sergeant Lindsay Boxer and ADA Yuki Castellano. Boxer is approached by a homeless woman who tells her the city’s homeless population is being hunted by a killer and the police are slow-walking the investigation. When Lindsay’s initial inquiries seem to confirm this, she’s outraged and goes on the warpath—with unexpected consequences that are serious enough for her friends in the Club to urge her to step back. Meanwhile, Yuki catches a rape case involving a man accusing his female superior of assault, and she thinks she can make the charges stick. But as she moves forward, the case seems to dissolve under her, and her opponent in the courtroom finds ways of getting under her skin. As Yuki struggles, Lindsay finds herself targeted by the killer she was hunting, as both women deal with personal problems that complicate their professional lives to the breaking point.

    Twisted Prey, by John Sandford
    The 28th Lucas Davenport novel opens with the car carrying former U.S. Senator Porter Smalls being driven off the road, killing the driver. Smalls is convinced this was an attempted assassination orchestrated by now-Senator Taryn Grant, who narrowly defeated him in a recent election—and also planted faked child pornography on his computer during the campaign. Smalls asks Davenport to help him, and Davenport, who knows Grant to be a sociopath and  guilty of three murders he can’t prove, is more than happy to do so. In Grant, though, Davenport has found an able adversary—a connected, calculating villain who doesn’t leave a trail and has plenty of friends in high places.

    I’ve Got My Eyes on You, by Mary Higgins Clark
    Eighteen-year-old Kerry Dowling does what kids do when their parents leave them on their own: she throws a party. After it’s over, she’s found dead at the bottom of her pool, fully dressed. Her grief-stricken family immediately blames Kerry’s boyfriend, who she’d been seen arguing with at the party. Suspects are numerous, however, including the neighbor boy who was loudly upset that Kerry hadn’t invited him. Kerry’s older sister Aline gets involved with the investigation, determined to help the police and the prosecutor get to the bottom of her sister’s murder—but she doesn’t realize she’s also putting herself in harm’s way.

    Shoot First, by Stuart Woods
    Woods’ 45th Stone Barrington novel reminds us that it’s very good to be Stone Barrington. In Key West, Barrington meets Meg Harmon, whose Silicon Valley company is developing a self-driving car—a project her former business partner Gino Bellini believes she stole from him. Gino hires a pair of professional—and determined—assassins to take Meg out in revenge, and Stone gets involved in more ways than one. As he and Meg conduct a passionate affair, he uses all of his wealth, resources, and smarts to protect her from an assassin’s bullet, calling in his friends to help him outsmart and out-maneuver the bitter villain without once losing his sense of humor or his appreciation of the finer things.

    The Cutting Edge, by Jeffery Deaver
    Lincoln Rhyme is back to investigate the murder of a happily engaged couple who are gunned down in a Manhattan jewelry store while picking up their custom rings. The owner of the store is also tortured and killed, and an employee arriving in the midst of the carnage is shot, but escapes. As Lincoln and his team assess the crime, search for the hiding employee, and pull clues from the scene, more engaged couples are murdered. The killer, known as the Promisor, sends notes to the media vowing to keep killing—while hunting for the witness he let get away.

    Shattered Mirror, by Iris Johansen
    A charred, burned skull is found in a car parked outside Eve Duncan’s house in the 22nd book in Johansen’s series. As she works to reconstruct the victim’s face, Eva’s ward Cara is attacked in her New York City apartment and comes home under the watchful eye of Eve’s husband, Joe. Eve is suddenly struck by a strong resemblance between Cara’s roommate Darcy and the face she’s reconstructing. Darcy admits that she has a secret twin sister named Sylvia, mentally and physically disabled and never spoken of to protect Darcy’s burgeoning acting career. The investigation leads them to former IRA soldier Rory Norwalk, a man good with a bomb and seething with hatred for Eve’s whole family. Eve must form an alliance against her better instincts in order to protect those she loves.

    Warning Light, by David Ricciardi
    Zac Miller looks like just another passenger on a commercial flight that suffers engine failure over Iran and is forced to land at a small airport near the city of Sirjan—but he’s actually a strategic weapons analyst for the CIA. Normally a desk-bound agent, Zac volunteered to take over for a field agent when his cover was blown, assuming it would be easy to snap a few photos of the airport and surroundings—where a secret nuclear facility has been established—under cover of being a confused accidental tourist. He miscalculates, however, and is arrested and tortured. Escaping, Zac embarks on a thrilling escape on foot, and begins to think he might have what it takes to be a field agent after all.

    Our Little Secret, by Roz Nay
    Angela Petitjean was 15 when her family moved to Cove, Vermont. Miserable, she found solace in a friendship with the handsome, charming Hamish Parker—a relationship that evolved into passionate love. Then Angela’s parents forced her to accept a chance to study abroad for a year; when Hamish visits he meets Saskia. After Hamish and Angela fight, Hamish goes home with Saskia—and later marries her, turning Angela’s world upside down. Angela becomes the daughter who never lived up to her potential, living with her parents until they pass away—and only then accepting an ill-omened invitation to live with Hamish and Saskia. And that’s just the backstory—the book opens with Saskia missing, the police convinced she’s dead, and Angela in an interrogation room, confessing everything to the police—but is it all part of a larger scheme?

    All the Beautiful Lies, by Peter Swanson
    Just as he’s about to graduate college, Harry Ackerson learns his father has committed suicide. Heading home to Maine, Harry finds his stepmother Alice alluring and seductive—and is suddenly convinced his dad was murdered, with no shortage of theories on the killer’s identity. Another beautiful woman from his father’s life, Grace, arrives from New York asking questions about Alice’s role in the death, and Harry finds himself caught between two women each hiding more than they reveal—and each clearly interested in him in ways a stepmother or a friend of the family shouldn’t be. Harry knows neither can be trusted, but he finds wrapped ever-tighter in their webs as he tries to discover the truth about his father’s death.

    The post The Best New Thrillers of April 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
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    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 

    The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, by Rick Bragg
    Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg combines a love of cooking with the history of his family and of a region for this memoir/cookbook. Focusing on his mother’s recipes, never before recorded, he tells the stories behind each dish and of the family traditions that accompanied meals passed down in his family since before the Civil War. Alabama and family history aside, the book contains recipes for southern classics like corn pudding, redeye gravy, pinto beans and hambone, stewed cabbage, short ribs, and more.

    My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
    Celebrity chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author Bastianich grew up in Pula under Tito’s regime in Yugoslavia. Lidia’s family ultimately was forced to flee to a refugee camp in Italy before being granted visas to to the United States.  The beloved TV star tells the story of her life, from learning Italian cooking at her grandmother’s knee, to the family’s the flight to America, to her teenage years spent working in restaurants, and the great success that she’s achieved in the years since.

    The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery, by Barbara K. Lipska and Elaine McArdle
    Barbara Lipska found herself at the beginning of a harrowing, but remarkable journey in early 2015: the renowned expert on the neuroscience of mental illness was herself diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Short months later, she developed symptoms of dementia and schizophrenia that resulted from the shutdown of parts of her frontal lobe. She found herself descending into madness—but fortunately, a course of immunotherapy worked, and restored her physical and mental health. Not only that, but the neuroscientist remembers every detail of her ordeal. Her memoir of the experience provides extraordinary insight into the working of the human brain, told as it is by an expert who came back from the brink.

    Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World, by Eileen McNamara
    While the Kennedy boys were being groomed for political power, Joe Kennedy’s daughter Eunice was pursuing a Stanford education as a preliminary to a lifetime of work with the disabled. For this thoroughly researched biography, Pulitzer Prize-winner Eileen McNamara gained access to never-before-seen private documents from the life of the formidable, cigar-smoking founder of what became the Special Olympics. She makes a very convincing case that it’s wasn’t just the Kennedy men who changed America.

    The Geraldo Show: A Memoir, by Geraldo Rivera
    Whatever your feelings about this news personality and talk show host, there’s no question his long career in the public eye has been quite the wild trip, from his early days as a lawyer and promising young reporter, to the guy who opened Al Capone’s vault, to talk show host and Fox News commentator. He’s been on the scene for some of the biggest news moments of the past five decades and has met many of modern history’s heavy hitters. He’s got plenty of stories to tell in his first memoir since 1992.

    Every Day I’m Hustling, by Vivica A. Fox
    During her 30 years in showbiz, Fox has learned plenty, and she’s ready to share. According to the actress, you never wait for the call. You go out and make life happen. Including stories and anecdotes from her own life and career in movies like Kill Bill and shows like Empire, Fox ‘s memoir offers success strategies for business and love, and even tips about looking good after 50.

    True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age, by Christine Lahti
    She’s won almost every major showbiz award over the course of her decades in the business, and has been an activist and blogger. This collection of personal essays focus on three periods in her life: her childhood, her early days as an actress, and the realities of life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. The stories range from funny and self-deprecating to personally painful, but she’s always honest about her achievements and tragedies.

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
    At the age of 15, Clementine and her sister fled the Rwandan massacre. Over the next six years, they moved through seven different countries before gaining refugee status in the United States. The two sisters came to live very different lives as their paths diverged in Chicago: one a struggling single mother, the other taken in by a generous and loving family who supported her through Yale. Still, both carried the scars of years of inhumanity. Clementine Wamariya tells a story that’s heartbreaking but, ultimately, one of hope and of the power to transcend even the most horrific events.

    Hang Time: My Life in Basketball, by Elgin Baylor and Alan Eisenstock
    Baylor’s long career spans years of incredible change for the NBA and America itself. In 1958 he became one of the very first black superstars of the game, and receives credit for saving the (then) Minneapolis Lakers from extinction while simultaneously serving as an Army Reservist. Fourteen exceptional years later, he retired from playing and went onto a decades-long career as a coach and executive. Throughout, he was a witness to and agent of change, fighting to break down color barriers as a player and manager.

    American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, by Leslie Carroll
    Carroll has an extensive bibliography when it comes to works of historical non-fiction (and fiction, as well) centered around the loves, marriages, and affairs of European royals. With the story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and a relationship that would have been scandalous not so long ago, she’s taking on a rather more contemporary courtship. Grounding the story in the history of royal marriages that broke rules, Carroll dives into the story of the couple, as well as into the impressive background of Markle herself.

    Whose story intrigues and inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2018/03/30 Permalink
    Tags: after anna, , , , , cave of bones, , , , , , , new and mysterious, richard jury series, the good pilot peter woodhouse, the knowledge, the sixth day, top picks, twenty-one days   

    The Best New Mysteries of March 2018 

    Greetings, gumshoes! March may have gone out like a lamb, but April’s new crop of mysteries is roaring in. From a gritty retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by the peerless Jo Nesbø, to the story of a long-lost daughter whose sudden reappearance brings nothing but trouble, this month’s crop of whodunits is ready to surprise you with twists and turns you didn’t see coming.

    After Anna, by Lisa Scottoline
    In this tense family drama, Noah Alderman, a widower with a young son, gets a second chance at love when he marries Maggie Ippolitti, who is wonderful with his child and gives him the happy family he has longed for. When Maggie’s teenage daughter Anna, whom she hasn’t seen since she was an infant, reappears in her life, Maggie is also overjoyed that she gets a second chance at being the parent to Anna that she has always longed to be. But Anna’s reappearance upsets all of their lives, as she manipulates Noah and Maggie and pits them against each other, destabilizing their happy marriage. When Anna is murdered, Noah stands accused of the crime. Maggie doesn’t want to believe it, but the evidence against him is overwhelming…until she begins to dig deeper into Anna’s past, and uncovers darker secrets than she could have imagined.

    The Sixth Day (A Brit in the FBI Series #5), by Catherine Coulter and J. T. Ellison
    Things are heating up in the A Brit in the FBI Series—the fifth installment opens with a number of deaths of well-known politicians, which authorities are trying to claim are merely coincidental—until a drone is spotted near the steps of 10 Downing street when the German Vice-Chancellor is murdered. It’s clear there’s a hidden agenda behind these killings, and special agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine must track down a descendant of Vlad the Impaler, whom they believe is hell-bent on attacking London.

    The Knowledge (Richard Jury Series #24), by Martha Grimes
    When Richard Jury learns that a gambler-slash-astrophysics professor at Columbia he’s become friendly with was murdered in front of a casino-slash-gallery called the Artemis Club, he’s furious. When he learns that the murderer jumped into a cab directly after committing the crime, Jury follows that lead and finds himself in an investigation that leads from Tanzanian gem mines to a cabbies-only pub so secretive that not even the police can get the location out of anyone. Grimes’s funny, offbeat Richard Jury series crackles with wit and is packed with bizarro characters.

    The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse, by Alexander McCall Smith
    A moving story of love and friendship set against the tumultuous backdrop of World War II, this standalone novel is by the bestselling author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, and features his charming, deftly-drawn characters and intricate plotting. A young woman named Val is working on an English farm when she crosses paths with a U. S. Air Force pilot named Mike. When Val rescues a dog from an abusive owner, she finds him a home on Mike’s air force base, and she and Mike fall in love. The dog, Peter Woodhouse, becomes a fixture on the air force base, but disaster strikes as the war drags on, and when Mike and Peter Woodhouse draw a German corporal into their lives, it sets off a series of events that challenges their notions of friendship, loyalty, and love.

    Macbeth, by Jo Nesbø
    Brilliant thriller writer Jo Nesbø (author of the Harry Hole series) has written a fascinating entry in the inventive Hogarth Shakespeare series, in which modern authors update classic Shakespeare plays. Nesbo sets Macbeth in a dilapidated town in Scotland in the 1970s that is plagued by drugs and corruption. Duncan, the chief of police, is working to stem the tide of both and is assisted by SWAT team head Macbeth. But vicious local drug lord Hecate has his own agenda, and uses pressure and manipulation to push Macbeth, already unstable and paranoid, into serving his own terrible ends.

    Cave of Bones (Leaphorn, Chee and Manualito Series #4), by Anne Hillerman
    When a young participant in a character-building program returns from an outdoor trek shaken and upset, Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manualito, who happens to be visiting the program, questions her and discovers that she came across a body in the rugged wilderness of New Mexico. Even more disturbing is the possibility that the body may belong to a missing program instructor. When Bernie investigates further, she discovers that this missing persons case may be connected to a very old one in which Joe Leaphorn was involved. In the meantime, her husband Jim Chee is dealing with a nightmare scenario of his own: a violent man he sent to prison on domestic violence charges is out—and he’s taken up with Bernie’s sister, Darleen. Navigating this extremely tricky emotional territory is going to push Jim to his limits.

    Twenty-One Days (Daniel Pitt Series #1), by Anne Perry
    It’s 1910, and young lawyer Daniel Pitt has some rather large shoes to fill, as the son of the esteemed Thomas and Charlotte Pitt (stars of Perry’s long-running series by the same name). Hungry to make a name for himself, junior barrister Daniel takes on the case of one Russell Graves, a biographer who has been found guilty of his wife’s murder. Unless Daniel can find the real killer, Graves will hang in only three weeks. But as Daniel digs deeper into the case, his investigations bring him closer to a colleague of his father’s, and his loyalty to the law is soon pitted against his duty to his own family—and to an innocent man whose life is on the line.

    What mysteries are you excited to read in April?

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  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2018/03/01 Permalink
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    THe Best History Books of March 2018 

    History moves pretty fast, and it’s impossible to pay attention to everything at once. History books open windows onto a frozen period of the past, allowing us to take our time and dig deep into the fine grain of events. This month’s crop of new history books bringboth modern-day events like the 2016 election and those more distant past, like the 18th century siege of Gilbraltar, into focus, giving us the room to understand how they affected the world speeding along around us.

    Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn
    Americans on both sides are still trying to figure out precisely what happened in the 2016 presidential election, and sometimes it seems like the more information we glean about Russian hacking and propaganda programs, the more confusing it becomes. Veteran journalists Isikoff and Corn take a systematic approach to tracing the course of events, starting with the souring of Russia-U.S. relations, tracing the Trump organization’s close ties to Russia, then outlining the incredibly complex system of espionage that the Russians employed to influence the election.

    Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History, by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins
    At the height of the Revolutionary War, Great Britain was distracted and weakened by war with France and Spain, and the strain contributed to the American victory that birthed a nation. Roy and Lesley Adkins take a thrilling close look at one of the most strategically important events of the time: the nearly-four year siege of Gilbraltar. Incredibly important to Britain’s empire, the story of the soldiers, sailors, and officers who held the rock against all odds deserves all the attention it can get, as it’s easily one of the most thrilling episodes of the period. Fighting not just bullets and sabers but disease and starvation as the French and Spanish worked tirelessly to intercept all resupply attempts, the longest siege in Britain’s history is one of those real-life events that seems like it came out of a fantastic thriller.

    Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage, by Brian Castner
    In 1789, Alexander Mackenzie set off into Canada’s Northwest Territories in search of the Northwest Passage. Navigating a river he named Disappointment (today known as the Mackenzie River) he pushed his team further north than any European had ever been, ultimately failing in his quest. In 2016 Castner set off to follow the same route and to experience some of the same nightmarish conditions suffered by Mackenzie more than two centuries earlier. The world Castner finds is much changed, and yet the indigenous people of the area are still struggling in similar fashion—just against different forces. Mackenzie’s incredible journey combined with Castner’s modern-day memoir bring the area and its history to vibrant life.

    To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration, by Edward Larson
    Larson offers a snapshot of a bygone age where the idle rich wished to be not quite so idle, and lavished their resources on exploration that brought fame and status. In 1909, three incredible expeditions were mounted: Shackleton’s attempt to reach the South Pole, Peary’s eighth attempt to reach the North Pole, and Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy’s attempt to climb to the “Pole of Altitude” in the Himalayas. Armed with equipment that broke down or was easily lost along the way, Larson details the thrillingly dangerous conditions these men endured as they pursued their goals—the last frontiers of exploration on a planet that was rapidly being settled and modernized. Mutinies, lost appendages, and other incredible setbacks make each attempt a gripping story of adventure, detailed with fine-point accuracy by Larson’s research and access to original sources.

    In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, by Mitch Landrieu
    If anyone needed a reminder that we are far from living in any sort of “post-racial” society, the events surrounding the removal of various confederate statues in the southern United States in 2017 served as a grim lesson. Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans, ordered the removal of four Confederate statues, and here writes movingly—and disturbingly—of the segregationist and supremacist forces that opposed him. While some argue about the erasing of history, Landrieu doesn’t flinch away from categorizing those who fight to protect the symbols of slavery as racists, or from outlining the ways these forces still control the mechanisms of the law and politics in the southern states.

    New World, Inc.: The Making of America by England’s Merchant Adventurers, by John Butman and Simon Targett
    The story of capitalism and its influence on the world didn’t begin with the USA, and Butman and Targett serve up a fascinating reminder that the New World was, in fact, discovered and mapped largely by for-profit adventurers representing corporations. Beginning with the three ships of the Mysterie Company in 1533 that set off—unsuccessfully—to find a northern passage to China. The authors further argue that the contributions of such money-minded entrepreneurs was erased in favor of the religious, pious Pilgrims who offered America a better pedigree. They also underscore the link between commerce and the desperate need for new trade routes and the advancement of seafaring technology and knowledge, making a successful argument that to find a new world more than simple adventure and curiosity was needed—profits also had to be in the cards.

    The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, by Elaine Weiss
    It might be difficult to believe that less than a century ago women did not have the right to vote in the United States. As the #MeToo movement puts women’s rights and equality back in the spotlight, it’s the ideal time to revisit the surprisingly thrilling and tense battle for women’s suffrage—a battle that looked to be lost just a short time before the vote. Weiss recounts the surprisingly dirty politics of the struggle, defined by the threats, bribes, and tricks of the anti-suffrage movement, countered at every turn by the passionate, fearless work of Carrie Catt, Sue White, and dozens of others. Readers will see plenty of parallels to modern times in the corporate influences, disinformation campaigns, and outright sexism and racism that marked a struggle for something that seems like simple common sense today—and which many assume was a simple procedural matter, when the reality was much more violent and exciting.

    The Age of Eisenhower, by William I. Hitchcock
    Dwight D. Eisenhower was so successful and fundamentally important to 20th century American—and world—history it’s almost unavoidable that people would work to undermine his legacy, complaining that he was a figurehead during World War II and that he was a lightweight, inconsequential President who floated along on a warm wave of postwar prosperity. Hitchcock takes a much-needed second look at Ike’s presidency, offering compelling evidence that Eisenhower was much more subtle and intelligent a political operative than has been assumed. Eisenhower in fact followed smart, even-handed economic policies that balanced the needs of citizens with budgetary restraint, and was more important to the Civil Rights movement than most grade school history books give him credit for. At a time when presidential performance is on every American’s mind in some sense, this is an ideal book for those seeking historical objectivity.

    The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure, by Carl Hoffman
    Hoffman tells the parallel tales of Bruno Manser, a Swiss environmentalist, and Michael Palmieri, and art dealer from America, who both found adventure and purpose on the wild and untamed island of Borneo int he 1970s and 1980s. Palmieri collected artifacts and tribal art, becoming a notable dealer while Manser lived with the primitive Penan tribe and worked tirelessly to protect the island from corporate forces seeking to denude it of natural resources. Remarkably, the men never met in person, and Hoffman turns their true life stories into the stuff of adventure fiction, filled with battles against nature and tense smuggling adventures that would make as excellent a Hollywood movie as they do a book of modern-day history.

    China’s Great Wall of Debt, by Dinny McMahon
    China seems to be on an inevitable economic ascent, and it’s easy to assume their “miracle” was accomplished through diligent manipulation of market forces and a wave of exported goods. McMahon traces the true engine of China’s economic expansion—debt, and plenty of it, to the tune of $12 trillion that may never be paid back. This puts not just China’s future but the future of the entire world at risk, as the collapse of this wall of debt would set off a chain reaction the world’s economies have never experienced. McMahon doesn’t settle for academic research and number-crunching, traveling to China to visit idle factories and empty ghost cities and meeting with businesspeople who operate their Chinese companies outside of China because it’s easier to get the basics they need in countries like the United States. All in all an eye-opening book that will change views on the world’s economy and future, and not necessarily for the better.

    The post THe Best History Books of March 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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