Princesesses Behaving Badly

Princesses Behaving BadlyPrincesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings

By Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different. Sure, many were graceful and benevolent leaders – but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elizabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev murdered thousands of men, and Princess Rani Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back. Princesses Behaving Badly offers minibiographies of all these princesses and dozens more. It’s a fascinating read for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.

The Brothers

BrothersThe Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

By Stephen Kinzer

A joint biography of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who led the United States into an unseen war that decisively shaped today’s world

During the 1950s, when the Cold War was at its peak, two immensely powerful brothers led the United States into a series of foreign adventures whose effects are still shaking the world.

John Foster Dulles was secretary of state while his brother, Allen Dulles, was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this book, Stephen Kinzer places their extraordinary lives against the background of American culture and history. He uses the framework of biography to ask: Why does the United States behave as it does in the world?

The Brothers explores hidden forces that shape the national psyche, from religious piety to Western movies – many of which are about a noble gunman who cleans up a lawless town by killing bad guys. This is how the Dulles brothers saw themselves, and how many Americans still see their country’s role in the world.

Propelled by a quintessentially American set of fears and delusions, the Dulles brothers launched violent campaigns against foreign leaders they saw as threats to the United States. These campaigns helped push countries from Guatemala to the Congo into long spirals of violence, led the United States into the Vietnam War, and laid the foundation for decades of hostility between the United States and countries from Cuba to Iran.

The story of the Dulles brothers is the story of America. It illuminates and helps explain the modern history of the United States and the world.

The Heart of Everything That Is

Heart of EverythingThe Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

An astonishing untold story of the American West.

The great Sioux warrior-statesman Red Cloud was the only American Indian in history to defeat the United States Army in a war, forcing the government to sue for peace on his terms. At the peak of Red Cloud’s powers the Sioux could claim control of one-fifth of the contiguous United States and the loyalty of thousands of fierce fighters. But the fog of history has left Red Cloud strangely obscured. Now, thanks to the rediscovery of a lost autobiography, and painstaking research by two award-winning authors, the story of our nation’s most powerful and successful Indian warrior can finally be told.

Born in 1821 near the Platte River in modern-day Nebraska, Red Cloud lived an epic life of courage, wisdom, and fortitude in the face of a relentless enemy – the soldiers and settlers who represented the “manifest destiny” of an expanding America. He grew up an orphan and had to overcome numerous social disadvantages to advance in Sioux culture. Red Cloud did that by being the best fighter, strategist, and leader of his fellow warriors. As the white man pushed farther and farther west, they stole the Indians’ land, slaughtered the venerated buffalo, and murdered with impunity anyone who resisted their intrusions. The final straw for Red Cloud and his warriors was the U.S. government’s frenzied spate of fort building throughout the pristine Powder River Country that abutted the Sioux’s sacred Black Hills – Paha Sapa to the Sioux, or “The Heart of Everything That Is.”

The result was a gathering of angry tribes under one powerful leader. “The white man lies and steals,” Red Cloud told his thousands of braves at council fire. “My lodges were many, now they are few. The white man wants all. They must fight for it.” What came to be known as Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868) culminated in a massacre of American cavalry troops that presaged the Little Bighorn and served warning to Washington that the Plains Indians would fight, and die, for their land and traditions. But many more American soldiers would die first.

In The Heart of Everything That Is, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, the New York Times bestselling authors of Halsey’s Typhoon and The Last Stand of Fox Company, restore Red Cloud to his rightful place in American history in a sweeping and dramatic narrative based on years of primary research. As they trace the events leading to Red Cloud’s War they provide intimate portraits of the many and various men and women whose lives Red Cloud touched – mountain men such as the larger-than-life Jim Bridger; U.S. generals like William Tecumseh Sherman who were charged with annihilating the Sioux; fearless explorers such as the dashing John Bozeman; and the warriors whom Red Cloud groomed, the legendary Crazy Horse in particular. And residing at the heart of the story is Red Cloud, fighting for the very existence of the Indian way of life.

This fiery narrative, fueled by contemporary diaries and journals, newspaper reports, eyewitness accounts, and meticulous firsthand sourcing, is a stirring chronicle of the conflict between an expanding white civilization and the Plains Indians who stood in its way. The Heart of Everything That Is not only places the reader at the center of this remarkable epoch, but finally gives Red Cloud the modern-day recognition he deserves.

The Bully Pulpit

Bully PulpitThe Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The gap between rich and poor has never been wider…legislative stalemate paralyzes the country…corporations resist federal regulations…spectacular mergers produce giant companies…the influence of money in politics deepens…bombs explode in crowded streets…small wars proliferate far from our shores…a dizzying array of inventions speeds the pace of daily life.

These unnervingly familiar headlines serve as the backdrop for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s highly anticipated The Bully Pulpit – a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air.

The story is told through the intense friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft – a close relationship that strengthens both men before it ruptures in 1912, when they engage in a brutal fight for the presidential nomination that divides their wives, their children, and their closest friends, while crippling the progressive wing of the Republican Party, causing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to be elected, and changing the country’s history.

The Bully Pulpit is also the story of the muckraking press, which arouses the spirit of reform that helps Roosevelt push the government to shed its laissez-faire attitude toward robber barons, corrupt politicians, and corporate exploiters of our natural resources. The muckrakers are portrayed through the greatest group of journalists ever assembled at one magazine – Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens, and William Allen White – teamed under the mercurial genius of publisher S. S. McClure.

Goodwin’s narrative is founded upon a wealth of primary materials. The correspondence of more than four hundred letters between Roosevelt and Taft begins in their early thirties and ends only months before Roosevelt’s death. Edith Roosevelt and Nellie Taft kept diaries. The muckrakers wrote hundreds of letters to one another, kept journals, and wrote their memoirs. The letters of Captain Archie Butt, who served as a personal aide to both Roosevelt and Taft, provide an intimate view of both men.

The Bully Pulpit, like Goodwin’s brilliant chronicles of the Civil War and World War II, exquisitely demonstrates her distinctive ability to combine scholarly rigor with accessibility. It is a major work of history – an examination of leadership in a rare moment of activism and reform that brought the country closer to its founding ideals.

A Soldier’s Sketchbook

By Joseph FarrisA Soldier's Sketchbook cover

An illustrated memoir from a World War II soldier is drawn from the letters, sketches, snapshots, and mementos of Pvt. Farris, who left his home of Danbury, Connecticut, and set off to war aboard the U.S.S. “General Gordon” in October 1944, bound for France as part of Company M, 398th Infantry.

 

 

This watercolor shows one of the most dangerous moments in our battle for the Maginot Line. The Germans had bracketed our position, and we anxiously feared the next shell would zero in on us. p. 120

This is an illustration by Joseph Farris from his powerful memoir A Soldier’s Sketchbook.

PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of the “A SOLDIER’S SKETCHBOOK” dated 2011 and exclusively in conjunction thereof. No copying, distribution or archiving permitted. Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited.

REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption which makes reference to the “A SOLDIER’S SKETCHBOOK.” Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing the “A SOLDIER’S SKETCHBOOK” are subject to paid licensing.

 

The Men Who United the States

MenWhoUnitedThe Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible by Simon Winchester

For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum–”Out of many, one”–has been featured on America’s official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become “one nation, indivisible”? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses these questions, bringing together the breathtaking achievements of those American pioneers who helped to forge and unify the new nation, and who toiled fearlessly to bond the citizens and geography of the United States from its very beginnings. This sweeping narrative details how these daring men, some famous, some forgotten, left their mark on America’s natural landscapes, through courage, ingenuity, and hard work.

Winchester follows the footsteps of America’s most crucial innovators, thinkers, and explorers, from Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys of the West to the builders of the first transcontinental railroad and the curmudgeonly civil engineer who oversaw the creation of more than three million miles of highway. Winchester travels across vast swaths of the American landscape, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Seattle to Anchorage, Truckee to Laramie, using the five classical elements–Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal–to chart the contributions these adventurous leaders made to connect the diverse communities within the United States and ensure the future of the American project begun in 1776.

The Men Who United the States is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope across time and open spaces, providing a new lens through which to view American history, led by one of our most gifted writers.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

By Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, Jr. Empty Mansions

When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. “Empty Mansions” is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money?
Dedman has collaborated with Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. Dedman and Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter, born into a family of extreme wealth and privilege, who secrets herself away from the outside world. (New Canaan, history, non-fiction)

July 1914

July 1914By Sean McMeekin

When a Serbian-backed assassin gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June 1914, the world seemed unmoved. Even Ferdinand’s own uncle, Franz Josef I, was notably ambivalent about the death of the Hapsburg heir, saying simply, “It is God’s will.” Certainly, there was nothing to suggest that the episode would lead to conflict – much less a world war of such massive and horrific proportions that it would fundamentally reshape the course of human events.

As acclaimed historian Sean McMeekin reveals in July 1914, World War I might have been avoided entirely had it not been for a small group of statesmen who, in the month after the assassination, plotted to use Ferdinand’s murder as the trigger for a long-awaited showdown in Europe. The primary culprits, moreover, have long escaped blame. While most accounts of the war’s outbreak place the bulk of responsibility on German and Austro-Hungarian militarism, McMeekin draws on surprising new evidence from archives across Europe to show that the worst offenders were actually to be found in Russia and France, whose belligerence and duplicity ensured that war was inevitable.

Whether they plotted for war or rode the whirlwind nearly blind, each of the men involved – from Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold and German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov and French president Raymond Poincare – sought to capitalize on the fallout from Ferdinand’s murder, unwittingly leading Europe toward the greatest cataclysm it had ever seen.

A revolutionary account of the genesis of World War I, July 1914 tells the gripping story of Europe’s countdown to war from the bloody opening act on June 28th to Britain’s final plunge on August 4th, showing how a single month – and a handful of men – changed the course of the twentieth century.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

Telling RoomBy Michael Paterniti

In the picturesque village of Guzman, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets–usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine.

It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong…

By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzman in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale-like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta.

What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing.

Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Boys in the Boat

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

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, 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 a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together–a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times–the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

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