Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2013, Pt. 4: English History, World War I, World War II, and a Thatcher Biography

Ackroyd, Peter. Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 512p. ISBN 9781250003621. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781250037596. HISTORY
Ackroyd, who is responsible for books like London: The Biography, offers the second in his “History of England” series. His skills as a novelist will doubtless come into play as he chronicles the Tudors, starting with larger-than-life Henry VIII, but the book puts a strong emphasis on the English Reformation and the emergence of the Anglican Church. With library marketing.

Aitken, Jonathan. Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Oct. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781620403426. $30. BIOGRAPHY
Aitken entered Parliament in 1974 as a Conservative and eventually held Cabinet positions, serving for 23 years until conviction for perjury ended his political career. His numerous publications include an award-winning biography of Nixon, whose errors, says Aitken, hid his greatness. Perhaps he’ll take the same tack with the Iron Lady, controversial even in death. The biography is certainly timely.

Baker, Peter. Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. Doubleday. Oct. 2013. 688p. ISBN 9780385525183. $32.50. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Senior White House correspondent for the New York Times, Baker saw the relationship between George W. Bush and Dick Cheney up close, and he’s topped off those observations with five years of research. Even if you don’t care about politics, you’ll be interested in the personal dynamics here. I like the idea of the mini-website featuring “The Unknown Stories of Bush and Cheney,” narrated by the author

Burns, James MacGregor. Fire and Light: How the Enlightenment Transformed Our World. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781250024893. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250024909. HISTORY
Intriguingly, Burns’s history of the Enlightenment gives greater emphasis than usual to America, arguing that while Europe may have been lit up by daring new ideas regarding, liberty, equality, and the responsibilities of nations, America actually carried them out. As Burns further argues, these ideas continue to agitate the world today. The author’s skills as a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner should carry readers along.

Davis, Steven L. & Bill Minutaglio. Dallas 1963. Twelve: Hachette. Oct. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781455522095. $28. HISTORY
Texas-based authors who have written extensively about state and national issues, Davis and Minutaglio portray Dallas at the time of Kennedy’s assassination as seething with political extremists of every stripe, along with (darkly) colorful characters from strippers to billionaires. Great background reading.

Grandin, Greg. Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World. Metropolitan: Holt. Oct. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780805094534. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781429943178. HISTORY
Having triumphed with Fordlandia, a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Grandin returns with the equally eye-opening story of Capt. Amasa Delano. In 1805, Delano, a seal hunter by trade, boarded a foundering Spanish slaver and distributed food and water, initially failing to notice that the slaves had taken over the ship. When the truth dawned, his reaction was surprisingly violent for someone with abolitionist New England roots. Yes, this same incident inspired Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno.

Lower, Wendy. Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780547863382. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780547807416. HISTORY
The John K. Roth Chair of History at Claremont McKenna College and a research associate of the Ludwig Maximillians Universitat in Munich, Lower spent two decades conducting interviews and digging through archives (including key post- Soviet material) to show that during World War II German women were actively involved in killing Jews. Many, in fact, saw the bloodlands as the land of opportunity. A BEA Editors’ Buzz book that’s scarier than any thriller.

Kinzer, Stephen. The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War. Times Bks: Holt. Oct. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780805094978. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781429953528. HISTORY
Award-winning foreign correspondent Kinzer uses Wild West mythology—with the good guys gunning down the bad guys in a lawless town—to explain the foreign policy of Cold War Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles.

Langley, Philippa & Michael Jones. The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781250044105. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466842700. HISTORY
A screenwriter and producer, Langley solved one of history’s great mysteries by initiating the search for King Richard III’s remains, eventually found in Leicester beneath a parking lot. She was inspired in part by Jones, a Royal Historical Society fellow whose Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle is an important book on the controversial king. Jones’s account of Richard’s life alternates with Langley’s account of the search.

Klara, Robert. The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781250000279. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250022936. HISTORY
Massive reconstruction of the White House was needed after President Harry Truman nearly fell through the ceiling of the Blue Room in a bathtub, which would surely have disrupted the Daughters of the American Revolution meeting being held there. Journalist Klara, noted for FDR’s Funeral Train, tells the story, partly through large-scale photos.

MacMillan, Margaret. The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914. Random. Oct. 2013. 880p. ISBN 9781400068555. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780812994704. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY
This study of events leading up to World War I comes from the author of Paris 1919, which sold over 415,000 copies and won the Duff Cooper, Samuel Johnson, Hessell-Tiltman, and Governor-General’s prizes and the Silver Medal for the Arthur Ross Book Award of the Council on Foreign Relations. That MacMillan is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George, Britain’s Prime Minister during World War I, adds even greater authority to this work.

Menzies, Gavin & Ian Hudson. Who Discovered America?: The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas. Morrow. Oct. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780062236753. $28.99. HISTORY
Renegade historian Menzies, whose 1421 has sold over 400,000 copies in hardcover and paperback combined, blows off the idea of a Bering Strait land bridge and instead pulls out evidence of ancient seafaring voyages that would have connected the Americas to Asia (and Europe) before the birth of Christ. Billed as the summation of Menzies’s research; the 100,000-copy first printing is no surprise.

Roberts, Hilary & Mark Holborn. The Great War. Knopf. Oct. 2013. 504p. ISBN 9780385350709. $100. PHOTO ESSAY
Roberts, head of the photography archive at Britain’s Imperial War Museums, joins with photography books editor Holborn to present 380 duotones and seven four-color images capturing the Great War. Many of these images have never been seen; they range widely, from the British Isles to Damascus, and date from the entire war.

Schlesinger, Arthur Jr. The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Random. Oct. 2013. 642p. ed. by Andrew Schlesinger & Stephen C. Schlesinger. ISBN 9780812993097. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780679644637. AUTOBIOGRAPHY/POLITICAL
Celebrated historian and special assistant to President Kennedy, Schlesinger watched the 20th century from a ringside seat and wrote about it to perfection. These letters, most never published, promise to reveal fascinating unedited truths, with recipients ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt, George Kennan, and Bill Clinton to Rebecca West, William Styron, and Bianca Jagger.

Sacco, Joe & Adam Hochschild. The Great War: July 1, 1916; The First Day of the Battle of the Somme. Norton. Oct. 2013. 54p. ISBN 9780393088809. $35. HISTORY/GRAPHIC
An eye-opening 24-foot-long panorama by distinguished illustrator Sacco, printed on accordion-fold paper and packed into a slipcase, this graphic depiction of the opening of the bloody battle of the Somme may not fit into every library collection but will surely be of interest. Note the 16-page booklet containing an essay by two-time Lionel Gelber Prize winner Hochschild,

Shorto, Russell. Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City. Doubleday. Oct. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780385534574. $28.95. HISTORY
For his previous works, Descartes’ Bones and The Island at the Center of the World, both New York Times Notable Books, Shorto did research in Amsterdam. He liked the city so much he decided to move there. Here he celebrates the history of his new home and its tradition of liberalism—in religion, politics, and commerce.

Standage, Tom. Writing on the Wall: Social Media—The First Two Thousand Years. Bloomsbury USA, dist. by Macmillan. Oct. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781620402832. $26. HISTORY
The digital editor of the Economist has a lot to say about communications over the last two millennia, starting with papyrus and ending with Twitter. One especially intriguing insight: the rise of newspapers in the 19th century was not particularly liberating, massing the power of communications in just a few hands—something that today’s social media is challenging. Go for it, smart readers.

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.