History from Fred Kaplan, Michael Korda, David Reynolds, & More | Nonfiction Previews, May 2014, Pt. 1

Borneman, Walter R. American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution. Little, Brown. May. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9780316221023. $33. ebk. ISBN 9780316221016. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316365185. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. HISTORY
Borneman, author of the best-selling The Admirals, recapitulates the few crucial months of the American Revolution, from Paul Revere’s December 1774 ride to Portsmouth, NH, to report (false) rumors of a British invasion to George Washington’s assumption of command of the colonial forces in July 19775. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Duffy, Peter. Double Agent: The First Hero of World War II and How the FBI Outwitted and Destroyed a Nazi Spy Ring. Scribner. May 2014. ISBN 9781451667950. $28. HISTORY
Duffy’s study should be both thrilling and sobering, as it tells the story of the first double agent in the FBI’s history. When World War II broke out, naturalized German American William G. Sebold was recruited by the Nazis but approached the FBI, feeding it information that eventually led to the arrest of 33 enemy agents in America.

Goldstone, Lawrence. Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle To Control the Skies. Ballantine. May 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780345538031. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780345538048. HISTORY
We all know about the Wright Brothers and their fabulous flight at Kitty Hawk, but fewer people know about Glenn Hammond Curtiss, a talented machinist (his motorcycle design made him the fastest man on Earth) who eventually became an aviation pioneer. He won the world’s first international air meet in France with a plane of his own design and formed his own company, but apparently his patent battles with the Wright Brothers got really ugly.

Hamilton, Nigel. The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941–1942. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. 560p. ISBN 9780393088632. $32.50. HISTORY
A noteworthy biography and first president of the Biographers International Organization (BIO), Hamilton has racked up big sales and lots of awards (e.g., the Whitbred, the Templer Medal for Military History) for studies of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton and Gen. Bernard “Monty” Montgomery. Here he digs through the archives and interviews the last remaining aides to assess President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s military management during World War II. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Kaplan, Fred. John Quincy Adams: American Visionary. Harper. May 2014. 672p. ISBN 9780061915413 $29.99. BIOGRAPHY
The author of Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, which received multiple best book honors, as well as a study of Thomas Carlyle that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Kaplan is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. So it’s no surprise that his current book brings out sixth President John Quincy Adams’s linguistic gifts, both written and spoken, along with his political accomplishments. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Korda, Michael. Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee. Harper. May 2014. 640p. ISBN 9780062116291. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780062116314. lrg. prnt. BIOGRAPHY
This new book from Korda, the former editor in chief of Simon & Schuster and author of New York Times best sellers like Ike and Hero, is billed as an excellent companion to his Ulysses S. Grant. He focuses on analyzing Lee’s military command during the Civil War, particularly the reasons why his strategies failed, and the overall qualities of a man who’s highly regarded by the North as well as the South. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

O’Connell, Robert L. Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman. Random. May 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781400069729. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780679604693. BIOGRAPHY
In time for the 150th anniversary of G. William Tecumseh Sherman’s iconic and inexorable march through the South, nationally best-selling author O’Connell (The Ghosts of Cannae) offers a biography that presents Sherman as implacable military strategist, revered leader of the Army of the West (he made the transcontinental railroad possible postwar), and family man facing a contentious wife.

Pressman, Steven. 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany. Harper. May 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062237477. $26.99. HISTORY
America’s strict immigration laws and reflexive anti-Semitism made rescuing Europe’s Jews almost impossible, but in 1939, Philadelphia lawyer Gilbert Kraus and his wife, Eleanor, traveled to German-controlled Vienna and Berlin to save 50 Jewish children. (Fewer than 1,200 unaccompanied children were permitted entry to America throughout the Holocaust.) Based on an HBO documentary; former publishing exec Pressman is married to a granddaughter of the Krauses. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Reynolds, David. The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century. Norton. May 2014. ISBN 9780393088632. $32.50. HISTORY
Reynolds, a professor of international history at Cambridge University and Wolfson Prize winner, aims to show us not only how World War I shaped the 20th century but how keys events like World War II, the Cold War, and the collapse of Communism have shaped our attitudes about that  war.

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.