Making History | Nonfiction Previews, May 2017, Pt. 2

Allison, Graham. Destined for War: America, China, and Thucydides’s Trap. Houghton Harcourt. May 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780544935273. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544935334. POLITICAL SCIENCE/HISTORY
Founding dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who has served in both the allisonReagan and the Clinton administrations and twice won the Pentagon’s highest civilian award, Allison coined the term the Thucydides Trap, referencing the Greek historian’s idea that war comes when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling one. He cites numerous examples throughout history, then unsettles us by showing how that trap applies to the United States and China today. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Blumenthal, Sidney. The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln. Vol. 2: Wrestling With His Angel, 1849–1856. S. & S. May 2017. 576p. ISBN 9781501153785. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781501153808. BIOGRAPHY
A former Washington Post reporter and adviser to both Clintons, Blumenthal here focuses on Lincoln’s emergence as a leader of the new Republican Party, thus laying the groundwork for his rise to national leadership at a time when the slavery issue was coming to a boil. Following last May’s A Self-Made Man, 1809–1849, the first volume in a trilogy limning Abraham Lincoln’s political career.

Dillon, Eva. Spies in the Family: An American Spymaster, His Russian Crown Jewel, and the Friendship That Helped End the Cold War. Harper. May 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780062385888. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062385918. HISTORY
In 1975, while a teenage Dillon was living in New Delhi, her father was exposed as a CIA spy. Moreover, he was handling the CIA’s highest-ranking double agent, Soviet general Dmitri Fedorovich Polyakov. The friendship between the two men dated from the mid-1960s, and this book recounts a eisnerrelationship between the two families that lasted over five decades, as the Cold War chilled, thawed, and threatened to chill again. With a 35,000-copy first printing; giveaways at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual.

Eisner, Peter. MacArthur’s Spies: The Soldier, the Singer, and the Spymaster Who Defied the Japanese in World War II. Viking. May 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780525429654. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698407527. lrg. prnt. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. HISTORY
As the Japanese descended on Manila on January 2, 1942, eventually sending thousands of Filipino and U.S. soldiers on the Bataan Death March, many others resisted surrender and hid out in the Luzon hills. Among them were Col. John Boone, torch singer Claire Phillips, and “Chick” Parsons, a naval intelligence officer who became Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s spymaster, directing sabotage against the Japanese and efforts to facilitate MacArthur’s return to the Philippines. From veteran foreign correspondent Eisner (The Freedom Line).

Fisher, David. Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Civil War. Holt. May 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781250109842. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781250109859. CD: Macmillan Audio. HISTORY
Here’s the newest volume in the top-selling companion series to Fox’s historical docudrama, which has its own take on the stories behind the big story of American history. Despite the appearance of Bill O’Reilly’s name in the title, the work comes from Fisher, author or coauthor of numerous New York Times best sellers, who’s worked with George Burns, Johnnie Cochran, and more.freeman

Freeman, Sally Mott. The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest To Bring Him Home. S. & S. May 2017. 592p. ISBN 9781501104145. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501104176. HISTORY
One Jersey brother was personally chosen by Roosevelt to run his first Map Room; another served as gunnery and anti-aircraft officer on the USS Enterprise, by late 1942 the last ship left in the Pacific to counter the Japanese. And the third brother, in the Navy Supply Corps to satisfy his mother’s wish that he be kept safe, ended up missing in action after the Philippines fell. Freeman, a media and public relations executive, spent ten years researching this tale of two men trying to rescue their lost sibling. An in-house favorite.

Graff, Garrett M. Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan To Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die. S. & S. May 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781476735405. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476735450. HISTORY
In the event of nuclear or terrorist attack on Washington, plans are to have the 1st Helicopter Squadron sweep high-ranking officials to secret bunkers out the city, including the 650-acre compound referenced in the title. These plans, in development over 60 years, at one time included a subsequent roundup of foreigners and dissidents and the nationalizing of industries. Okay, so the government continues to function, but Graff, the former editor of Politico, is concerned about the rest of us.

Hogeland, William. Autumn of the Black Snake: The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Conquest That Opened the West. Farrar. May 2017. 496p. ISBN 9780374107345. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780374711580. HISTORY
Even as the American Revolution was fought and won, the new country was fighting a battle on its western borders, with the native peoples of the Ohio valley resisting American expansion and in 1792 dealing the country’s motley militiamen a huge blow to the tune of 1,000 casualties. That’s when commander in chief George Washington decided that the United States needed a regular army. A lead title for Farrar; Hogeland’s three previous books on the founding of the nation include The Whiskey hollandRebellion.

Holland, James. The War in the West. Vol. 2: The Allies Strike Back, 1941–1943. Atlantic Monthly. May 2017. 720p. ISBN 9780802125606. $30. HISTORY
First in a trilogy and a Military History Book Club Main Selection, The Rise of Germany, 1939–1941 blended political, economic, and military history with the individual stories of soldiers and civilians to offer a fresh look at the start of World War II. This second volume has Germany invading the Soviet Union, the Soviets pushing back, the Americans leaping into battle, North Africa falling to the Allies, and bombs falling harder and harder on the Third Reich.

Hoock, Holger. Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth. Crown. May 2017. 576p. ISBN 9780804137287. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780804137294. Downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY
We tend to view the American Revolution through a golden haze of idealism, but as scholars are wont to point out, it was no tea party. Hoock, J. Carroll Amundson Chair of British History at the University of Pittsburgh, graphically details the violence: American Patriots tortured Loyalists, redcoats massacred Colonial soldiers and raped Colonial women, both sides forced African American conscripts to the front line, and Washington’s army aimed to wipe out the Iroquois. With a four-city (Colonial) tour to New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Boston.

Levingston, Steven. Kennedy and King: The President, the Pastor, and the Battle over Civil Rights. Hachette. May 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780316267397. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316267403. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316267373. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. BIOGRAPHY/POLITICAL
Nonfiction book editor of the Washington Post and author of Little Demon in the City of Light, levingstonLevingston offers a dual portrait of two great American leaders, showing how each influenced the other. In particular, we see how Kennedy’s initial caution on civil rights spurred King to greater effort. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Ohler, Norman. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich. Houghton Harcourt. May 2017. 304p. tr. from German by Shaun Whiteside. ISBN 9781328663795. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781328664099. HISTORY
Nazi Germany blissed out on drugs? It sounds like a bad pulp movie, but this serious study, researched over five years by veteran German journalist Ohler, argues that during World War II huge German pharmaceuticals like Merck and Bayer fed the populace cocaine, opiates, and especially methamphetamines, which kept soldiers moving briskly during blitzkrieg campaigns. Even Hitler was addicted to special injections. With a 50,000-copy first printing; a German best seller, sold to 14 countries, that has already drawn news coverage here.

Oliphant, Thomas & Curtis Wilkie. The Road to Camelot: Inside the Kennedy Campaign. S. & S. May 2017. 432p. ISBN 9781501105562. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501105586. HISTORY
Washington columnist for the Boston Globe, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Oliphant joins with Globe national reporter Wilkie to show how John F. Kennedy and his support staff invented the modern presidential campaign. Ignore the received wisdom that a Catholic couldn’t be elected president? oliphantCheck. Hire Louis Harris to become the first presidential pollster? Check. Use the debates to glamorous effect? Check. Resources include over 1,600 oral histories at the John F. Kennedy Library.

Ricks, Thomas E. Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom. Penguin Pr. May 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781594206139. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698164543. HISTORY
Here’s an inspired idea from Ricks, author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling Fiasco, veteran journalist of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, and currently adviser on national security at the New America Foundation. Ranging from the mid-1930s through the 1940s, his dual portrait of Winston Churchill and George Orwell shows how both emerged from professional backwaters to become (each in his own way) significant figures in the fight against fascism.

Smith, Stephen Kennedy & Douglas Brinkley. Poetry and Power: John F. Kennedy’s Vision for America. Harper. May 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780062668844. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062668851. CD: HarperAudio. BIOGRAPHY
Just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth, this compendium of Kennedy’s boldest speeches, together with commentary by international figures ranging from President Barack Obama to the Dalai Lama, was compiled by Kennedy’s nephew Smith and popular historian Brinkley. A centennial celebration launching in May 2017 will include a traveling exhibition of which this book will be a part. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Stanton, Doug. The Odyssey of Echo Company: The Tet Offensive and the Epic Battle of Echo Company To Survive the Vietnam War. Scribner. May 2017. 416p. ISBN 9781476761916. $30; stantonebk. ISBN 9781476761930. CD: S. & S. Audio. HISTORY
On January 31, 1968, the North Vietnamese army attacked 36 cities throughout South Vietnam, intent on bringing down the government and its American allies. That left the 12 soldiers of the recon platoon of the 101st Airborne Division fighting hand to hand for their survival. The New York Times best-selling author of In Harm’s Way tells their story. With an eight-city tour to Dallas, Kansas City, New York, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco, Seattle, Traverse City, and Washington, DC.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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