October 2013 Archives

New Graphic Novels

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What was once a niche has now become a popular and amazing genre. Greenwich Library loves Graphic Novels and now there are more than ever to choose from. Below is a sample of our new additions.


Click for availability and more information Best American Comics 2013,edited and with an introduction by Jeff Smith
 
The latest installment of this annual collection showcases the work of both established and up-and-coming contributors. Editor Jeff Smith, creator of the classic comic Bone, has culled the best stories from graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and web comics to create this collection. A review in Paste Magazine states that "Remember, nerds, that this book is an introduction to comics as much as a recognition of the best in the field. It's as if the Grammys were a mixtape you give to a friend who'd never heard music. That's a tough job, and, as ever, it's unsurprising that some worthy folks were missed." It is a tough job but Smith knows his stuff and, at the very least, this serves as an excellent introduction for folks that are just getting acquainted with the world of Graphic Novels. 


Click for availability and more information The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: a graphic novel, adapted from the original novel by H.P. Lovecraft; text adapted and illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard
 
With creepy, spooky art, and sinister, suspenseful text, I. N. J. Culbard brings new life and death to H. P. Lovecraft's psychological mystery of forbidden knowledge and pursuits. Young Charles Dexter Ward is fascinated by the history of Joseph Curwen, his wizard ancestor of the 17th century. Curwen was notorious for haunting graveyards, practicing alchemy, and never aging. Ward can't help his fixation: He himself looks just like Curwen. In an attempt to duplicate his ancestor's cabbalistic feats, he resurrects the fearsome Curwen . . . and then the true horror begins!

This review from The Comic Journal is insightful and provides some history behind Lovecraft's novel that this graphic work is based upon. 


Click for availability and more information Co-Mix: a retrospective of comics, graphics, and scraps, by Art Spiegelman
 
In an art career that now spans six decades, Art Spiegelman has been a groundbreaking and influential figure with a global impact. His Pulitzer Prize-winning holocaust memoir Maus established the graphic novel as a legitimate form and inspired countless cartoonists while his shorter works have enormously expanded the expressive range of comics. Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps is a comprehensive career overview of the output of this legendary cartoonist, showing for the first time the full range of a half-century of relentless experimentation. Starting from Spiegelman's earliest self-published comics and lavishly reproducing graphics from a host of publications both obscure and famous, Co-Mix provides a guided tour of an artist who has continually reinvented not just comics but also made a mark in book and magazine design, bubble gum cards, lithography, modern dance, and most recently stained glass. By showing all facets of Spiegelman's career, the book demonstrates how he has persistently cross-pollinated the worlds of comics, commercial design, and fine arts. Essays by acclaimed film critic J. Hoberman and MoMA curator and Dean of the Yale University School of Art Robert Storr bookend Co-Mix, offering eloquent meditations on an artist whose work has been genre-defining. 


Click for availability and more information The Graphic Canon, volume 3: from Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest, edited by Russ Kick
 
Volume 3 of this series brings to life the literature of the end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st, including a Sherlock Holmes mystery, an H.G. Wells story, an illustrated guide to the Beat writers, a one-act play from Zora Neale Hurston, a disturbing meditation on Naked Lunch, Rilke's soul-stirring Letters to a Young Poet, Anaïs Nin's diaries, the visions of Black Elk, the heroin classic The Man With the Golden Arm (published four years before William Burroughs' Junky), and the postmodernism of Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Kathy Acker, Raymond Carver, and Donald Barthelme. The towering works of modernism are here--T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Waste Land," Yeats's "The Second Coming" done as a magazine spread, Heart of Darkness, stories from Kafka, The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, and his short story "Araby" from Dubliners, rare early work from Faulkner and Hemingway (by artists who have drawn for Marvel), and poems by Gertrude Stein and Edna St. Vincent Millay. You'll also find original comic versions of short stories by W. Somerset Maugham, Flannery O'Connor, and Saki (manga style), plus adaptations of Lolita (and everyone said it couldn't be done!), The Age of Innocence, Siddhartha and Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Last Exit to Brooklyn, J.G. Ballard's Crash, and photo-dioramas for Animal Farm and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Feast your eyes on new full-page illustrations for 1984, Brave New World, Waiting for Godot, One Hundred Years of Solitude,The Bell Jar, On the Road, Lord of the Flies, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and three Borges stories. Robert Crumb's rarely seen adaptation of Nausea captures Sartre's existential dread. Dame Darcy illustrates Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece, Blood Meridian, universally considered one of the most brutal novels ever written and long regarded as unfilmable by Hollywood. Tara Seibel, the only female artist involved with the Harvey Pekar Project, turns in a series of illustrations for The Great Gatsby. And then there's the moment we've been waiting for: the first graphic adaptation from Kurt Vonnegut's masterwork, Slaughterhouse-Five.

This is a  seriously ambitious undertaking and Publisher's Weekly has called this collection "the most beautiful book of 2013."  This is definitely worth taking a look at.


Click for availability and more information The Great War: July 1, 1916 : the first day of the Battle of the Somme: an illustrated panorama, by Joe Sacco
 
A 24-foot-long black-and-white drawing printed on heavyweight accordian-fold paper and packaged in a deluxe hardcover slipcase that describes the battle on the first day of World War I, which saw 20,000 British soldiers killed and another 40,000 injured, on the banks of the French river as they mounted a joint offensive against the German army. This is insanely detailed and a wonder to behold.

Read a Guardian (UK) interview with Sacco where he talks about the book here


Click for availability and more information Hand Drying in America, by Ben Katchor
 
Katchor, a master at twisting mundane commodities into surreal objects of social significance, now takes on the many ways our property influences and reflects cultural values. Here are window-ledge pillows designed expressly for people-watching and a forest of artificial trees for sufferers of hay fever. The Brotherhood of Immaculate Consumption deals with the matter of products that outlive their owners; a school of dance is based upon the choreographic motion of paying with cash; high-visibility construction vests are marketed to lonely people as a method of getting noticed. Katchor reveals a world similar to our own,lives are defined by possessions, consumerism is a kind of spirituality, but also slightly, fabulously askew. Frequently bizarre, Hand-Drying in America ensures that you will never look at a building, a bar of soap, or an ATM the same way.

NPR Review

Los Angeles Review of Books Review 


Click for availability and more information Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos, Story and art by Harlan Ellison & Paul Chadwick
 
In a distant future, Earth is in grave danger: The fabric of reality itself in unraveling, leading to catastrophic natural disasters, displaced souls appearing from bygone eras, and sudden, shocking cases of spontaneous combustion. The only hope for Earth's survival is a force of seven warriors, each with his or her special abilities. But can these alien Seven Samurai learn to get along in time to find the source of the gathering chaos and save all of reality?

Ellison is a well regarded and prolific science fiction writer and known ans one of the pioneers of "new wave sci-fi".  Chadwick is best known for his comic book series "Concrete". The Geeks of Doom blog calls this collaboration "a match made in the cosmos" and describes this book as "Difficult to classify, hopeless to process in a single reading, and impossible to put down."


Click for availability and more information Red Handed: the fine art of strange crimes , by Matt Kindt
 
Welcome to the city of Red Wheelbarrow, where the world's greatest detective has yet to meet the crime he can't solve--every criminal in Red Wheelbarrow is caught and convicted thanks to Detective Gould's brilliant mind and cutting-edge spy technology. But lately there has been a rash of crimes so eccentric and random that even Detective Gould is stumped. Will he discover the connection between the compulsive chair thief, the novelist who uses purloined street signs to write her magnum opus, and the photographer who secretly documents peoples' most anguished personal moments? Or will Detective Gould finally meet his match?

NPR Review 


Click for availability and more information The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction , by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
 
This collection spans more than 20 years, beginning with the first stories Joe Simon and Jack Kirby ever produced together (beginning in June 1940)--their ten-issue run of Blue Bolt adventures. Then the Cold War years will be represented by Race For the Moon, featuring pencils by Kirby and inked artwork by comic book legends Reed Crandall, Angelo Torres, and Al Williamson. This includes an introduction by Dave Gibbons, the award-winning co-creator and illustrator of Watchmen. Read more about the history of Simon and Kirby in this post from the Los Angeles Times "Hero Complex" blog. Also, here is an informative review from the Pop Matters blog.

National Book Award Finalists

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In this special edition of "This Just In" we bring you the first ever National Book Award Short Lists.

A month after releasing long-lists of 10 titles in each of the four competitive categories, the National Book Foundation announced the five remaining writers for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.

Winners will be announced on Nov. 20th and will receive $10,000 and a significant career boost.

Here are the titles:

Fiction

Click for availability and more information Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon
 
New York City, 2001. Fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO and discovers there's no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what's left of the tech bubble. 

The notoriously reclusive Pynchon was awarded a National Book award in 1974 for his novel Gravity's Rainbow.

Here's a review of Bleeding Edge from the New York Times.


Click for availability and more information The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner

 
Arriving in New York to pursue a creative career in the raucous 1970s art scene, Reno joins a group of dreamers and raconteurs before falling in love with the estranged son of an Italian motorcycle scion and succumbing to a radical social movement in 1977 Italy.

Kushner's debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. 

New York Times review.


Click for availability and more information The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride
 
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town--with Brown, who believes he's a girl. Over the ensuing months, Henry--whom Brown nicknames Little Onion--conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859--one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination. 

James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the American classic The Color of Water. 

New York Times review.


Click for availability and more information The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri
 
orn just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960's, and Udayan--charismatic and impulsive--finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty; he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America. But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind--including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife.

Lahiri is a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, a PEN/Hemingway Award, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012.

New York Times review


Click for availability and more information Tenth of December: stories, by George Saunders
 
A collection of stories includes "Home," a wryly whimsical account of a soldier's return from war; "Victory Lap," a tale about an inventive abduction attempt; and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit. These stories are sarcastic and insightful but also hilarious. Saunders is a recent recipient of a MacArthur genius grant and won the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story and was also named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. 

New York Times review and here's a profile of Saunder's published in the New York Times Magazine earlier this year. 



Young People's Literature

Click for availability and more information Boxers/Saints, by Gene Luen Yang
 
n two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful. But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

This is the first graphic novel to ever be nominated for a National Book Award.

New York Times review. 


Click for availability and more information Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal
 
eremy Johnson Johnson's life has begun to feel like a cruel fairy tale. He hears voices - "strange whisperings" - so the citizens of the small town of Never Better treat him like an oddity and an outcast. Meanwhile, his mother takes a bite of a cake so delicious it's rumored to be bewitched and runs away with another man. Jeremy's heartsick father goes into his room and stays there unhappily ever after. Then the town's coltish, copper-haired beauty takes a bite of the cake herself and falls in love with the first person she sees: Jeremy. In any other place, this would be a turn for the better for Jeremy, but not in Never Better, where the Finder of Occasions--whose identity and evil intentions nobody knows--is watching and waiting, waiting and watching. . .

McNeal is also the author, with his wife, Laura, of four young adult novels.

Horn Book review


Click for availability and more information Picture Me Gone, by Meg Rosoff
 
Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room--sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father's best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past--slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she's closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best.

Rosoff's debut novel, How I Live Now, won the Michael L. Printz Award and was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Guardian (UK) review. 


Click for availability and more information The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata
 
Summer knows that kouun means "good luck" in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it. Just when she thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan--right before harvest season. Summer and her little brother, Jaz, are left in the care of their grandparents, who come out of retirement in order to harvest wheat and help pay the bills. The thing about Obaachan and Jiichan is that they are old-fashioned and demanding, and between helping Obaachan cook for the workers, covering for her when her back pain worsens, and worrying about her lonely little brother, Summer just barely has time to notice the attentions of their boss's cute son. But notice she does, and what begins as a welcome distraction from the hard work soon turns into a mess of its own. Having thoroughly disappointed her grandmother, Summer figures the bad luck must be finished--but then it gets worse. And when that happens, Summer has to figure out how to change it herself, even if it means further displeasing Obaachan. Because it might be the only way to save her family.

Kadohata is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning book Kira-Kira.

New York Times review


Click for availability and more information The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, by Kathi Appelt
 
Raccoon brothers Bingo and J'miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. The opportunity to serve the Sugar Man--the massive creature who delights in delicious sugar cane and magnanimously rules over the swamp--is an honor, and also a big responsibility, since the rest of the swamp critters rely heavily on the intel of these hardworking Scouts. Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn is not a member of any such organization. But he loves the swamp something fierce, and he'll do anything to help protect it. And help is surely needed, because world-class alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn Sugar Man swamp into an Alligator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, and the troubles don't end there. There is also a gang of wild feral hogs on the march, headed straight toward them all.

Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath.

New York Times review


Non-Fiction


Click for availability and more information Book of Ages: the life and opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore
 
Benjamin Franklin, who wrote more letters to his sister than he wrote to anyone else, was the original American self-made man; his sister spent her life caring for her children. They left very different traces behind. Making use of an amazing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore brings Jane Franklin to life in a way that illuminates not only this one woman but an entire world--a world usually lost to history. Lepore's life of Jane Franklin, with its strikingly original vantage on her remarkable brother, is at once a wholly different account of the founding of the United States and one of the great untold stories of American history and letters: a life unknown.

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her books include New York Burning, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

New York Times review


Click for availability and more information Going Clear: Scientology, hollywood, and the prison of belief, by Lawrence Wright
 
A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists--both famous and less well known--and years of archival research, Wright uses his investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

New York Times review


Click for availability and more information Hitler's Furies: German women in the Nazi killing fields, by Wendy Lower
 
Hitler's Furies builds a fascinating and convincing picture of a morally "lost generation" of young women, born into a defeated, tumultuous post-World War I Germany, and then swept up in the nationalistic fervor of the Nazi movement--a twisted political awakening that turned to genocide. These young women--nurses, teachers, secretaries, wives, and mistresses--saw the emerging Nazi empire as a kind of "wild east" of career and matrimonial opportunity, and yet could not have imagined what they would witness and do there. Lower, drawing on twenty years of archival and field work on the Holocaust, access to post-Soviet documents, and interviews with German witnesses, presents overwhelming evidence that these women were more than "desk murderers" or comforters of murderous German men: that they went on "shopping sprees" for Jewish-owned goods and also brutalized Jews in the ghettos of Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus; that they were present at killing-field picnics, not only providing refreshment but also taking their turn at the mass shooting. And Lower uncovers the stories, perhaps most horrific, of SS wives with children of their own, whose female brutality is as chilling as any in history.

Ms. Lower is a college professor and a historical consultant for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

New York Times review. Also, here is a recent interview with the author, also from the New York Times.


Click for availability and more information The Internal Enemy: slavery and war in Virginia, 1772-1832 , by Alan Taylor
 
Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as "freedom's swift-winged angels." In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Over many nights, hundreds of slaves paddled out to the warships seeking protection for their families from the ravages of slavery. The runaways pressured the British admirals into becoming liberators. As guides, pilots, sailors, and marines, the former slaves used their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war. They enabled the British to escalate their onshore attacks and to capture and burn Washington, D.C. Tidewater masters had long dreaded their slaves as "an internal enemy." By mobilizing that enemy, the war ignited the deepest fears of Chesapeake slaveholders. It also alienated Virginians from a national government that had neglected their defense. Instead they turned south, their interests aligning more and more with their section. In 1820 Thomas Jefferson observed of sectionalism: "Like a firebell in the night it awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once the knell of the union." The notes of alarm in Jefferson's comment speak of the fear aroused by the recent crisis over slavery in his home state. His vision of a cataclysm to come proved prescient. Jefferson's startling observation registered a turn in the nation's course, a pivot from the national purpose of the founding toward the threat of disunion. Drawn from new sources, Taylor's narrative re-creates the events that inspired black Virginians, haunted slaveholders, and set the nation on a new and dangerous course.

Alan Taylor has won the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes for his histories of early America. He is the Thomas Jefferson Professor of History at the University of Virginia.

Wall Street Journal review.


Click for availability and more information The Unwinding: an inner history of the new America , by George Packer
 
American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers, allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract, driving the political system to the verge of breakdown, and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward. In The Unwinding, George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way, with his characteristically sharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives. The book portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation.

New York Times review. Packer also blogs for The New Yorker.


Poetry


Click for availability and more information The Big Smoke, by Adrian Matejka
 
The legendary Jack Johnson (1878-1946) was a true American creation. The child of emancipated slaves, he overcame the violent segregationism of Jim Crow, challenging white boxers--and white America--to become the first African-American heavyweight world champion. The Big Smoke, Adrian Matejka's third work of poetry, follows the fighter's journey from poverty to the most coveted title in sports through the multi-layered voices of Johnson and the white women he brazenly loved. Matejka's book is part historic reclamation and part interrogation of Johnson's complicated legacy, one that often misremembers the magnetic man behind the myth.

Author website.


Click for availability and more information Black Aperture: poems , by Matt Rasmussen.
 
In this debut collection, Matt Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother's suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor. Destructive and redemptive, Black Aperture opens to the complicated entanglements of mourning: damage and healing, sorrow and laughter, and torment balanced with moments of relief.

Author website


Click for availability and more information Incarnadine: poems, by Mary Szybist
 
ary Szybist's richly imagined encounters offer intimate spaces and stagings for experiences that are exploratory and sometimes explosive. Through the lens of an iconic moment, the Annunciation of an unsettling angel to a bodily young woman, Szybist describes the confusion and even terror of moments in which our longing for the spiritual may also be a longing for what is most fundamentally alien to us. In a world where we are so often asked to choose sides, to believe or not believe, to embrace or reject, Incarnadine offers lyrical and brilliantly inventive alternatives.

Slate.com review


Click for availability and more information Metaphysical Dog , by Frank Bidart
 
This "ancient work" reflects what the poet sees as fundamental in human feeling, what psychologists and mystics have called the "hunger for the Absolute"--a hunger as fundamental as any physical hunger. This hunger must confront the elusiveness of the Absolute, our self-deluding, failed glimpses of it. The third section of the book is titled "History is a series of failed revelations." The result is one of the most fascinating and ambitious books of poetry in many years.

He was a Poetry Finalist in 1997 for "Desire", in 2005 for "Star Dust: poems" and in 2008 for "Watching the Spring Festival."

New York Times review.


Click for availability and more information Stay, Illusion: poems, by Lucie Brock-Broido
 
Stay, Illusion, illuminates the broken but beautiful world she inhabits. Her poems are lit with magic and stark with truth: whether they speak from the imagined dwelling of her "Abandonarium," or from habitats where animals are farmed and harmed "humanely," or even from the surreal confines of death row, they find a voice like no other--dazzling, intimate, startling, heartbreaking.

Publisher's Weekly review.

New History Books

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School's back in session, we might as well all hit the books. Why not start with some history. Here are some titles that have recently hit our shelves.


Click for availability and more information Big Week: six days that changed the course of World War II , by Bill Yenne
 
In just six days, the United States Strategic Air Forces changed the course of military offense in World War II. During those six days, they launched the largest bombing campaign of the war, dropping roughly 10,000 tons of bombs in a rain of destruction that would take the skies back from the Nazis...

It later came to be known as the Big Week  and became of the most important episodes of World War II, and coincidentally, one of the most overlooked.


Click for availability and more information The Borgias: the hidden history, by G.J. Meyer
 
The Borgias burst out of obscurity in Spain not only to capture the great prize of the papacy, but to do so twice. Throughout a tumultuous half-century--as popes, statesmen, warriors, lovers, and breathtakingly ambitious political adventurers--they held center stage in the glorious and blood-drenched pageant known to us as the Italian Renaissance, standing at the epicenter of the power games in which Europe's kings and Italy's warlords gambled for life-and-death stakes. Five centuries after their fall--a fall even more sudden than their rise to the heights of power--they remain immutable symbols of the depths to which humanity can descend: Rodrigo Borgia, who bought the papal crown and prostituted the Roman Church; Cesare Borgia, who became first a teenage cardinal and then the most treacherous cutthroat of a violent time; Lucrezia Borgia, who was as shockingly immoral as she was beautiful. These have long been stock figures in the dark chronicle of European villainy, their name synonymous with unspeakable evil. But did these Borgias of legend actually exist? Grounding his narrative in exhaustive research and drawing from rarely examined key sources, Meyer brings fascinating new insight to the real people within the age-encrusted myth. Equally illuminating is the light he shines on the brilliant circles in which the Borgias moved and the thrilling era they helped to shape, a time of wars and political convulsions that reverberate to the present day, when Western civilization simultaneously wallowed in appalling brutality and soared to extraordinary heights. 


Click for availability and more information The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the roots of modern U.S.-Iranian relations, by Ervand Abrahamian
 
In August 1953, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated the swift overthrow of Iran's democratically elected leader and installed Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in his place. Over the next twenty-six years, the United States backed the unpopular, authoritarian shah and his secret police; in exchange, it reaped a share of Iran's oil wealth and became a key player in this volatile region. The blowback was almost inevitable, as this new and revealing history of the coup and its consequences shows. When the 1979 Iranian Revolution deposed the shah and replaced his puppet government with a radical Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the shift reverberated throughout the Middle East and the world, casting a long, dark shadow over U.S.-Iran relations that extends to the present day. In this new history of the coup and its aftermath, Iran scholar Ervand Abrahamian uncovers little-known documents that challenge conventional interpretations and also sheds new light on how the American role in the coup influenced U.S.-Iranian relations, both past and present. Drawing from the hitherto closed archives of British Petroleum, the Foreign Office, and the U.S. State Department, as well as from Iranian memoirs and published interviews, Abrahamian's account of this key historical event will change America's understanding of a crucial turning point in modern U.S.-Iranian relations. 


Click for availability and more information Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 : Henry VIII, James IV and the battle for Renaissance Britain, by George Goodwin
 
On September 9, 1513, the vicious rivalry between the young Henry VIII of England and his charismatic brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland, ended in violence at Flodden Field in the north of England. It was the inevitable climax to years of mounting personal and political tension through which James bravely asserted Scotland's independence and Henry demanded its obedience. This book captures the vibrant Renaissance splendor of the royal courts of England and Scotland, with their unprecedented wealth, innovation, and artistic expression. It shows how the wily Henry VII, far from the miser king of tradition, spent vast sums to secure his throne and elevate the monarchy to a new standard of magnificence among the courts of Europe. It also demonstrates how James IV competed with the elder Henry, even claiming that Arthurian legend supported a separate Scottish identity. Such rivalry served as a substitute for war--until Henry VIII's belligerence forced the real thing.

As England and Scotland scheme toward their biggest-ever battle, the author deploys a fascinating and treacherous cast of characters: maneuvering ministers, cynical foreign allies, conspiring cardinals, and contrasting queens in Katherine of Aragon and Margaret Tudor.

Finally, at Flodden on September 9, 1513, King James seems poised for the crushing victory that will confirm him as Scotland's greatest king and--if an old military foe proves unable to stop him--put all of Britain in his grasp. 


Click for availability and more information JFK's Last Hundred Days: the transformation of a man and the emergence of a great president , by Thurston Clarke
 
Kennedy's last hundred days began just after the death of two-day-old Patrick Kennedy, and during this time, the president made strides in the Cold War, civil rights, Vietnam, and his personal life. While Jackie was recuperating, the premature infant and his father were flown to Boston for Patrick's treatment. Kennedy was holding his son's hand when Patrick died on August 9, 1963. The loss of his son convinced Kennedy to work harder as a husband and father, and there is ample evidence that he suspended his notorious philandering during these last months of his life. Also in these months Kennedy finally came to view civil rights as a moral as well as a political issue, and after the March on Washington, he appreciated the power of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., for the first time. Though he is often depicted as a devout cold warrior, Kennedy pushed through his proudest legislative achievement in this period, the Limited Test Ban Treaty. This success, combined with his warming relations with Nikita Khrushchev in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis, led to a détente that British foreign secretary Sir Alec Douglas- Home hailed as the "beginning of the end of the Cold War." Throughout his presidency, Kennedy challenged demands from his advisers and the Pentagon to escalate America's involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy began a reappraisal in the last hundred days that would have led to the withdrawal of all sixteen thousand U.S. military advisers by 1965.

Some historian's feel aren't buying Clarke's hypothesis, citing it as too improbable. You can watch watch the author discuss the book here and decide for yourselves. 


Click for availability and more information Lady at the OK Corral: The true story of Josephine Marcus Earp, by Ann Kirschnerr
 
For nearly fifty years, she was the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp: hero of the O.K. Corral and the most famous lawman of the Old West. Yet Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp has nearly been erased from Western lore. In this biography, Ann Kirschner brings Josephine out of the shadows of history to tell her tale: a spirited and colorful tale of ambition, adventure, self-invention, and devotion. Reflective of America itself, her story brings us from the post-Civil War years to World War II, and from New York to the Arizona Territory to old Hollywood. Read more about it in the New York Times review of the book. This is a nice companion to Andrew Isenberg's biography of Wyatt Earp listed below.


Click for availability and more information The Rainborowes: one family's quest to build a new England, by Adrian Tinniswood
 
The period between 1630 and 1660 was one of the most tumultuous in Western history. These three decades witnessed the birth of English America and, in the mother country, a vicious civil war that rent the very fabric of English social, political, and religious life. It was an era of death and new beginnings, and at its heart was one remarkable family: the Rainborowes. Historian Adrian Tinniswood tells the story of this all-but-forgotten clan for the very first time, showing how the family bridged two worlds as they struggled to build a godly community for themselves and their kin. The Rainborowes' patriarch, William, was a shipmaster and merchant whose taste for adventure and profit drew him into the expanding transatlantic traffic between England and its colonies in the New World. Eventually two of his daughters settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, marrying into the upper echelons of New England society. Back in England, meanwhile, William Rainborowe's sons threw themselves behind the English parliament in its rebellion against King Charles I. So, too, did many New World settlers, who returned to England to fight for the parliamentary cause. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, many of these revolutionaries quit their homeland for New England, where their dreams of liberty and equality were much closer to being realized. Following the Rainborowes from hectic London shipyards to remote Aegean islands, from the muddy streets of Boston to the battles of the English Civil War, Tinniswood reveals the indelible marks they left on America and England?and the profound and irrevocable changes these thirty years had on the family and their fellow Englishmen in Europe and America. Read the Guardian review here


Click for availability and more information Strange Rebels: 1979 and the birth of the 21st century , by Christian Caryl
 
Few moments in history have seen as many seismic transformations as 1979. That single year marked the emergence of revolutionary Islam as a political force on the world stage, the beginning of market revolutions in China and Britain that would fuel globalization and radically alter the international economy, and the first stirrings of the resistance movements in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than any other year in the latter half of the twentieth century, 1979 heralded the economic, political, and religious realities that define the twenty-first. The book interweaves these history of five pivotal events of the year 1979, arguing that in these events can be discerned the first stirrings of the world we live in today, a world of politicized religion and the retreat of the secular, combined with the supremacy of market thinking and the decline of socialist and communist thought. The Economist likes it quite a bit. Here's their review


Click for availability and more information The Village: 400 years of beats and bohemians, radicals and rogues, a history of Greenwich Village, by John Strausbaugh
 
The first complete history of Greenwich Village, the prodigiously influential and infamous New York City neighborhood. From the Dutch settlers and Washington Square patricians, to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and Prohibition-era speakeasies; from Abstract Expressionism and beatniks, to Stonewall and AIDS, this book reveals how Greenwich Village became the pinnacle of culture, politics, and social movements in America. In this video, the author describes the history he chronicled in the book.

Strasbaugh will be speaking about the book early in 2014 at the New York Historical Society. More information on that visit can be found here.


Click for availability and more information Wyatt Earp: a vigilante life, by Andrew C. Isenberg
 
In popular culture, Wyatt Earp is the hero of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, and a beacon of rough justice in the tumultuous American West. The subject of dozens of films, he has been invoked in battles against organized crime (in the 1930s), communism (in the 1950s), and al-Qaeda (after 2001). Yet as the historian Andrew C. Isenberg reveals, the Hollywood Earp is largely a fiction--one created by none other than Earp himself. The lawman played on-screen by Henry Fonda and Burt Lancaster is stubbornly duty-bound; in actuality, Earp led a life of impulsive lawbreaking and shifting identities. When he wasn't wearing a badge, he was variously a thief, a brothel bouncer, a gambler, and a confidence man. 

By 1900, Earp's misdeeds had caught up with him: his involvement as a referee in a fixed heavyweight prizefight brought him national notoriety as a scoundrel. Stung by the press, Earp set out to rebuild his reputation. He spent his last decades in Los Angeles, where he befriended Western silent film actors and directors. Having tried and failed over the course of his life to invent a better future for himself, in the end he invented a better past. Isenberg argues that even though Earp, who died in 1929, did not live to see it, Hollywood's embrace of him as a paragon of law and order was his greatest confidence game of all.

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