Asbridge, Thomas. The Greatest Knight. Ecco. Dec. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780062262059. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780060787295. HISTORY
A medieval scholar noted for writing and presenting the BBC Two series The Crusades, Asbridge tells the story of William Marshal, who lived in such harsh times (12th-century England) that he was condemned to the gallows at age five by his father. He went on to become one of the greatest knights in British history, serving four kings, among them Richard the Lionheart. Yes, another BBC documentary is in the offing.
Bishop, Patrick. The Reckoning: Death and Intrigue in the Promised Land—A True Detective Story. Harper. Dec. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780062267825. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062267849. HISTORY
Military historian Bishop chronicles the murder of militant Zionist Avraham Stern, leader of the notorious Stern Gang—more appropriately known as Lehi, a Hebrew acronym for Fighters for the Freedom of Israel—in 1942 Palestine. He was killed (some witnesses say in cold blood) by the British colonial policeman charged with capturing him owing to his group’s terrorist activities. Bishop looks for the truth while showing that the murder ended the possibility of British, Arab, and Jewish reconciliation in the area. Rumored: a film on this subject, directed by Michael Winterbottom, with Colin Firth, Matthew Macfayden, and Jim Sturgess attached.
Cooke, Rachel. Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties. Harper. Dec. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780062333865. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780062333889. HISTORY
A hit in Britain, where it reached Amazon UK’s Top 100, this book profiles ten professional women from the 1950s who broke ground for the working women of the Sixties onward as feminism hit its stride. Among those featured: journalism/broadcaster Nancy Spain and Academy Award–winning director and screenwriter Muriel Box. The accent is English, but the stories should be fascinating, and there’s special in-house love for this book.
Laurino, Maria. The Italian Americans: A History . Norton. Dec. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780393241297. $35. HISTORY
Companion book to a PBS series, this book aims to go beyond the stereotypes to show the breadth of the Italian American experience, ranging from sugar-cane workers in Louisiana to a San Francisco banker who helped rebuilt the city after the earthquake to leading singers and politicians today.
Maciariello, Joseph A. A Year with Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness. HarperBusiness. Dec. 2014. ISBN 9780062315670. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062315694. BUSINESS
A longtime collaborator of Peter Drucker, Maciariello draws on Drucker’s personal coaching program, including unpublished material, to offer a 52-week course in leadership. Key ideas: management is a human activity, and you’ve got to focus on the important, not the urgent. (But what about my deadline?)
Zuckerman, Phil. Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions. Penguin Pr. Dec. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781594205088. $25.95. SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION
Zuckerman, a sociology professor at Pitzer College and founder of the country’s first Department of Secular Studies, considers the demographic shift toward those declaring no religious affiliation and shows that, contrary to certain assumptions, nonbelievers have their own strict moral code. What results is a guidebook, grounded in empirical research, for living a moral life without God.