Nonfiction Previews, Jan. 2014, Pt. 5: History from the Tudors to Ariel Sharon

Chappell, David L. Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Random. Jan. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781400065462. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780812994667. SOCIAL SCIENCE/AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, this revisionist work has a double-edged title. It examines not only the Civil Rights struggle but the struggle of many—activists, scholars, and more—to control King’s legacy and image. By leading Civil Rights authority Chappell, who wrote the highly regarded A Stone of Hope; pushed back from August 2013.

Landau, David. Arik: The Life of Ariel Sharon. Knopf. Jan. 2014. 640p. ISBN 9781400042418. $35. BIOGRAPHY
As a commander in the Israeli army since its creation, Ariel Sharon participated in the 1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Suez War, the Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. He subsequently served in the government, controversially as defense minister during the 1983 Lebanon War and triumphantly as Israel’s 11th prime minister. So this biography by Landau, founder of Haaretz’s English edition and currently Israel correspondent for the Economist, will also serve as a summation of Israel’s history. Note that after a stroke, Sharon has been in a vegetative state since 2006.

Mackrell, Judith. Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation. Farrar. Jun. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9780374156084. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781429942942. BIOGRAPHY
Among the flappers who simply danced the night away in slinky dresses were women who daringly defined themselves on their own terms, thus changing how women lived their lives—and foreshadowing the feminist movement of the Sixties. British dance critic Mackrell examines six key and relentlessly fascinating women from the era: Lady Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Tamara de Lempicka. Entertaining.

Orfalea, Gregory. Journey to the Sun: Junipero Serra’s Dream and the Founding of California. Scribner. Jan. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781451642728. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781451642759. HISTORY
Though little known, Franciscan priest Junipero Serra had a huge impact on this country’s development, having led efforts to establish Catholic mission churches throughout California. Orfalea, winner of an Arab American Book Award and a PEN finalist, did research in multiple languages on two continents to tell Serra’s story. This year marks the 300th anniversary of Serra’s birth. Pushed back from November 2013.

Rizzo, John. Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA. Scribner. Jan. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781451673937. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781451673951. HISTORY
This is not your standard company memoir, since Rizzo, a lawyer recently retired from the CIA after 34 years, was responsible for helping to create and implement aggressive counterterrorist operations against Al Qaeda, including the so-called enhanced interrogation program. That has made him a controversial public figure, but his memoir embraces his entire career, running through 11 CIA directors and seven Presidents.

Skidmore, Chris. The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History. St. Martin’s Jan. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780312541392. $27.99. HISTORY
When Richard III was slain on August 22, 1485, at the Battle of Bosworth Field, 28-year-old Welshman Henry Tudor claimed the throne of England. We’re well aware of the drama that followed, leading up to the reign of Henry VIII and finally of Elizabeth I. But British historian Skidmore—currently a member of Parliament—gives us all the bloody infighting that preceded that Henry Tudor’s ascension, starting 60 years previously with Owen Tudor’s affair with Henry V’s widow, Katherine of Valois.

Shakespeare, Nicholas. Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France. Harper: HarperCollins. Jan. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780062297037. $27.99. HISTORY
Respected British journalist and novelist Shakespeare (e.g., The Vision of Elena Silves, a Somerset Maugham Award winner) always thought that his elegant blonde aunt Priscilla, who lived in France during World War II, was a member of the Resistance. When he uncovered a trunk filled with her personal possessions and began following down clues, he realized that her life at the time was considerably more complex and shadowy. Eye-opening for him and for us, too; the personal clarifying the larger picture.

Zeitz, Joshua. Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image. Viking. Jan. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780670025664. $29.95. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. HISTORY
Official secretaries to President Abraham Lincoln, John Hay and John Nicolay talked war strategy with him, served as his guests at the theater, and were present at such earthshaking events as the Gettysburg Address; their postwar biography has contributed largely to our understanding of Lincoln the man and the politician. Zeitz, who has taught American history and politics at Cambridge and Princeton, draws on diaries, memoirs, and letters to tell the story of this three-way friendship and the efforts of Hay and Nicolay to shape Lincoln’s legacy. Hang onto your hats; this might change our view of the humbly born man turned glorious leader. Pushed back from October.

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.