Beyond Lincoln, Darwin and Poe: Some Other Anniversary Books This Year

Now that the exact bicentennial birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin and Edgar Allan Poe (older than the other two by 24 days) are over, we can take a breath and turn to other books being published this year because their subject in some way  relates to a previous year with the number 9 at the end. 

In  order of their pub dates, here are some of the other ’09 anniversary books that have come to the bookroom.  

Skyhorse (dist. by Norton) started the year off by having Rob Kirkpatrick remind us that it’s the 40th anniversary of 1969: The Year Everything Changed. Which in no way diminishes Fred Kaplan’s forthcoming pronouncement (see June, below, that Everything had Changed ten years before that.

IVP Academic has brought out John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life, by Herman J. Selderhuis, in recognition of John Calvin’s 500th birthday this summer.

Farrar has published David Andress’s 1789: The Threshold of the Modern Age. Now that’s a year with staying power, regardless of anniversaries. ("Highly recommended" in our November 15, 2008 issue.)

On April 9, 1939 Marian Anderson gave a historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial, after the DAR would not let her sing at Constitution Hall. Raymond Arsenault’s The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert that Awakened America comes this month from Bloomsbury. 

Henry VIII was crowned King of England on June 23, 1509. In The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries (Bluebridge, dist. by IPG in April), Geoffrey Moorhouse focuses on Henry’s dissolution of the Benedictine Durham Priory in 1539, as a lens into the English Reformation. 

The Eiffel Tower opened on May 6, 1889 as part of the Paris Exposition. Readers can learn about the tower, the exposition, and the related personalities in Jill Jonnes’s Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became A Count, coming from Viking.  

Yale University Press is bringing out Calvin, by Bruce Gordon for Calvin’s 500th birthday honors. It’s review will be in the May 15th issue. 

Fred Kaplan — not the Lincoln bicentennial Fred Kaplan (Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, pub’d by Harper last year), but the Slate columnist — brings us 1959: The Year Everything Changed. Coming from Wiley, review coming too. 

On September 12, 1609, sailing for the Dutch, Henry Hudson started navigating a certain river that he named for himself. Five hundred years later, Bloomsbury is bringing out Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World, by Douglas Hunter. 

And Scribner brings out The Year That Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall in anticipation of its 20th anniversary in November. 

Here’s hoping that a future book, titled 2009: The Year Everything Changed, will be an inspiring read for all of us!

Margaret Heilbrun About Margaret Heilbrun

Margaret Heilbrun is a former Senior Editor, Library Journal Book Review.