Histories of Paris & World War II, Biographies of Begin & Chavez | Nonfiction Previews, Mar. 2014, Pt. 1

DeJean, Joan. How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City. Bloomsbury USA. Mar. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781608195916. $28. HISTORY
Everyone thinks of Paris as being remade in the 19th century under the direction of Baron Haussmann, but DeJean argues that its real rebirth occurred as it emerged from the medieval past in the 1600s, knocked down its fortifications (the first European city to do so), and built areas for urban entertainment and shopping. From a University of Pennsylvania French scholar; some lovely illustrations.

Gordis, Daniel. Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul. Schocken. Mar. 2014.  2014. 320p. ISBN 9780805243123. $26.95. BIOGRAPHY
National Jewish Book Award winner Gordis arcs through the entire life of Menachem Begin, from his service in the Free Polish Army and the terrorist paramilitary Irgun in Palestine, to his rivalry with David Ben-Gurion and emergence as Israel’s sixth prime minister, which netted him the Nobel prize for his rapprochement with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Not a lot out there, though you can compare with last year’s Menachem Begin: A Life by Avi Shilon.

Hampton, Dan. Lords of the Sky: How Fighter Pilots Changed War Forever, From the Red Baron to the F-16. Morrow. Mar. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062262011. $27.99. lrg. prnt. HISTORY
Winner of four Distinguished Flying Crosses during 20 years’ service with the U.S. Air Force, as recounted in his New York Times best-selling Viper Pilot, Hampton starts with the Red Baron’s World War I triplane to clarify the history of famous fighting planes and how they changed warfare. Expect flash; with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Kulish, Nicholas & Souad Mekhennet. The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim. Doubleday. Mar. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780385532433. $27.95. CD: Random Audio. HISTORY
Having performed horrific experiments at the Mauthausen concentration camp, physician Aribert Heim settled comfortably in postwar Baden-Baden, then fled to Cairo and was eventually subject to a massive manhunt that extended beyond his death. New York Times reporters Kulish and Mekhennet made the front page when they broke the story of Heim’s having hidden himself away in Egypt. The larger story is Germany’s reckoning with its past.

Nelson, Craig. The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era. Scribner. Mar. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9781451660432. $29.99. HISTORY
Having breached the New York Times best sellers list with Rocket Boys, former publishing exec Nelson here works through the portraiture of significant figures from Marie and Pierre Curie and Robert Oppenheimer to Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan to chronicle the atomic age. Certainly relevant; with a five-city tour to Denver, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Pawel, Miriam. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2014. 512p. ISBN 9781608197101. $35. BIOGRAPHY
A Pulitzer Prize–winning editor who has worked for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times and author of a book about Cesar Chavez’s movement, The Union of Their Dreams, Southern California–based Pawel offers what’s billed as analysis rather than hero worship. Big West Coast promotion.

Stark, Peter. Astoria: Astor and Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival. Ecco. Mar. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780062218292. $26.99. HISTORY
A journalist and author who likes a good adventure in the wilderness, Stark drew on papers housed at the Harvard Business School, including those of financier John Jacob Astor, to reconstruct the 1810 Astor Expedition. That key expedition established the first U.S. settlement on the West Coast—the Columbia River trading post at Fort Astoria—and opened up the Oregon Trail. With a a tour to Denver, Los Angeles, Montana, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Tarnoff, Ben. The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781594204739. $27.95. LITERATURE/HISTORY
In the 19th century, it wasn’t just East Coast imagination shaping and reshaping American literature. San Francisco–born author/journalist Tarnoff (A Counterfeiter’s Paradise) starts in the 1860s in his hometown, introducing us to the so-called Bohemians: Mark Twain (out west as a draft dodger), the admired Bret Harte, gay writer Charles Warren Stoddard, and poet Ina Coolbrith. Trailblazing.

Townsend, Tim. Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis. Morrow. Mar. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780061997198. $28.99. lrg. prnt. HISTORY
Just when you think there could be nothing new to say about the Nazis, here’s a unique account that raises pressing moral and spiritual issues. After serving as a U.S. Army chaplain Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke was asked to minister to 21 Nazi leaders standing trial at Nuremberg, among them Hermann Göring and Joachim von Ribbentrop. Townsend was thrice named Reporter of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association; with a 50,000-copy first printing.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @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.