Unbroken

UnbrokenUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Appearing in paperback for the first time – with twenty arresting new photos and an extensive Q&A with the author – Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand.

 

A Spy Among Friends

SpyAmongFriendsA Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre’s most ambitious work to date offers a powerful new angle on the 20th century’s greatest spy story Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War – while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s best friend and fellow officer in MI6. The two men had gone to the same schools, belonged to the same exclusive clubs, grown close through the crucible of wartime intelligence work and long nights of drink and revelry. It was madness for one to think the other might be a communist spy, bent on subverting Western values and the power of the free world.

But Philby was secretly betraying his friend. Every word Elliott breathed to Philby was transmitted back to Moscow – and not just Elliott’s words, for Philby had made another powerful friend in America: James Jesus Angleton, the crafty, paranoid head of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton and Elliott’s unwitting disclosures helped Philby sink almost every important Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years, leading countless operatives to their doom. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies to protect his cover, his two friends never abandoned him – until it was too late. The stunning truth of his betrayal would have devastating consequences on the two men who thought they knew him best, and on the intelligence services he left crippled in his wake.

Told with heart-pounding suspense and keen psychological insight, and based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, A Spy Among Friends is Ben Macintyre’s best book yet, a high-water mark in Cold War history telling.

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972

NixonTapesBy Douglas  Brinkley & Luke A. Nichter

The famous – and infamous – Nixon White House tapes that reveal President Richard Nixon uncensored, unfiltered, and in his own words

President Nixon’s voice-activated taping system captured every word spoken in the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and other key locations in the White House, and at Camp David – 3,700 hours of recordings between 1971 and 1973. Yet less than 5 percent of those conversations have ever been transcribed and published. Now, thanks to professor Luke Nichter’s massive effort to digitize and transcribe the tapes, the world can finally read an unprecedented account of one of the most important and controversial presidencies in U.S. history.

The Nixon Tapes, with annotations and commentary by Nichter and Professor Douglas Brinkley, offers a selection of fascinating scenes from the year Nixon opened relations with China, negotiated the SALT I arms agreement with the Soviet Union, and won a landslide reelection victory. All the while, the growing shadow of Watergate and Nixon’s political downfall crept ever closer. The Nixon Tapes provides a unique glimpse into a flawed president’s hubris, paranoia, and political genius.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia

FamilyRomanovBy Candace Fleming

“[A] superb history… In these thrilling, highly readable pages, we meet Rasputin, the shaggy, lecherous mystic…; we visit the gilded ballrooms of the doomed aristocracy; and we pause in the sickroom of little Alexei, the hemophiliac heir who, with his parents and four sisters, would be murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.” —The Wall Street Journal

Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs – at once an intimate portrait of Russia’s last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia’s poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

“An exhilarating narrative history of a doomed and clueless family and empire.” —Jim Murphy, author of Newbery Honor Books An American Plague and The Great Fire

“For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming’s extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience.” —Booklist, Starred

“Marrying the intimate family portrait of Heiligman’s Charles and Emma with the politics and intrigue of Sheinkin’s Bomb, Fleming has outdone herself with this riveting work of narrative nonfiction that appeals to the imagination as much as the intellect.” –The Horn Book, Starred

War of the Whales

WarWhalesWar of the Whales: A True Story by Joshua Horwitz

Two men face off against an all-powerful navy – and the fate of the ocean’s most majestic creatures hangs in the balance.

“A gripping, brilliantly told tale of the secret and deadly struggle between American national security and the kings of the oceans.” –Bob Woodward

War of the Whales is the gripping tale of a crusading attorney who stumbles on one of the US Navy’s best-kept secrets: a submarine detection system that floods entire ocean basins with high-intensity sound – and drives whales onto beaches. As Joel Reynolds launches a legal fight to expose and challenge the Navy program, marine biologist Ken Balcomb witnesses a mysterious mass stranding of whales near his research station in the Bahamas. Investigating this calamity, Balcomb is forced to choose between his conscience and an oath of secrecy he swore to the Navy in his youth.

When Balcomb and Reynolds team up to expose the truth behind an epidemic of mass strandings, the stage is set for an epic battle that pits admirals against activists, rogue submarines against weaponized dolphins, and national security against the need to safeguard the ocean environment. Waged in secret military labs and the nation’s highest court, War of the Whales is a real-life thriller that combines the best of legal drama, natural history, and military intrigue.

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.

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