March 2013 Best History Books

Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O’Connor

Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court

Out of Order

Book Description
Release date: March 5, 2013
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“I called this book Out of Order because it reflects my goal, which is to share a different side of the Supreme Court. Most people know the Court only as it exists between bangs of the gavel, when the Court comes to order to hear arguments or give opinions. But the stories of the Court and the Justices that come from the ‘out of order’ moments add to the richness of the Court as both a branch of our government and a human institution.”—Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

From Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court, comes this fascinating book about the history and evolution of the highest court in the land.

Out of Order sheds light on the centuries of change and upheaval that transformed the Supreme Court from its uncertain beginnings into the remarkable institution that thrives and endures today. From the early days of circuit-riding, when justices who also served as trial judges traveled thousands of miles per year on horseback to hear cases, to the changes in civil rights ushered in by Earl Warren and Thurgood Marshall; from foundational decisions such as Marbury vs. Madison to modern-day cases such as Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld, Justice O’Connor weaves together stories and lessons from the history of the Court, charting turning points and pivotal moments that have helped define our nation’s progress.

With unparalleled insight and her unique perspective as a history-making figure, Justice O’Connor takes us on a personal exploration, painting vivid pictures of Justices in history, including Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., one of the greatest jurists of all time; Thurgood Marshall, whose understated and succinct style would come to transform oral argument; William O. Douglas, called “The Lone Ranger” because of his impassioned and frequent dissents; and John Roberts, whom Justice O’Connor considers to be the finest practitioner of oral argument she has ever witnessed in Court. We get a rare glimpse into the Supreme Court’s inner workings: how cases are chosen for hearing; the personal relationships that exist among the Justices; and the customs and traditions, both public and private, that bind one generation of jurists to the next—from the seating arrangements at Court lunches to the fiercely competitive basketball games played in the Court Building’s top-floor gymnasium, the so-called “highest court in the land.”

 

The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power by Kim Ghattas

The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power

The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton

Book Description
Release date: March 5, 2013
The first inside account to be published about Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, anchored by Ghattas’s own perspective and her quest to understand America’s place in the world

In November 2008, Hillary Clinton agreed to work for her former rival. As President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, she set out to repair America’s image around the world—and her own. For the following four years, BBC foreign correspondent Kim Ghattas had unparalleled access to Clinton and her entourage, and she weaves a fast-paced, gripping account of life on the road with Clinton in The Secretary.

With the perspective of one who is both an insider and an outsider, Ghattas draws on extensive interviews with Clinton, administration officials, and players in Washington as well as overseas, to paint an intimate and candid portrait of one of the most powerful global politicians. Filled with fresh insights, The Secretary provides a captivating analysis of Clinton’s brand of diplomacy and the Obama administration’s efforts to redefine American power in the twenty-first century.

Populated with a cast of real-life characters, The Secretary tells the story of Clinton’s transformation from popular but polarizing politician to America’s envoy to the world in compelling detail and with all the tension of high stakes diplomacy. From her evolving relationship with President Obama to the drama of WikiLeaks and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, we see Clinton cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 a.m. after no sleep, reading the riot act to the Chinese, and going through her diplomatic checklist before signing on to war in Libya—all the while trying to restore American leadership in a rapidly changing world.

Viewed through Ghattas’s vantage point as a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese citizen who grew up in the crossfire of the Lebanese civil war, The Secretary is also the author’s own journey as she seeks to answer the questions that haunted her childhood. How powerful is America really? And, if it is in decline, who or what will replace it and what will it mean for America and the world?

 

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland

Book Description
Release date: February 26, 2013
On November 14, 1889, Nellie Bly, the crusading young female reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s World newspaper, left New York City by steamship on a quest to break the record for the fastest trip around the world. Also departing from New York that day—and heading in the opposite direction by train—was a young journalist from The Cosmopolitan magazine, Elizabeth Bisland. Each woman was determined to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in less than eighty days. The dramatic race that ensued would span twenty-eight thousand miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors’ lives forever.

The two women were a study in contrasts. Nellie Bly was a scrappy, hard-driving, ambitious reporter from Pennsylvania coal country who sought out the most sensational news stories, often going undercover to expose social injustice. Genteel and elegant, Elizabeth Bisland had been born into an aristocratic Southern family, preferred novels and poetry to newspapers, and was widely referred to as the most beautiful woman in metropolitan journalism. Both women, though, were talented writers who had carved out successful careers in the hypercompetitive, male-dominated world of big-city newspapers. Eighty Days brings these trailblazing women to life as they race against time and each other, unaided and alone, ever aware that the slightest delay could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

A vivid real-life re-creation of the race and its aftermath, from its frenzied start to the nail-biting dash at its finish, Eighty Days is history with the heart of a great adventure novel. Here’s the journey that takes us behind the walls of Jules Verne’s Amiens estate, into the back alleys of Hong Kong, onto the grounds of a Ceylon tea plantation, through storm-tossed ocean crossings and mountains blocked by snowdrifts twenty feet deep, and to many more unexpected and exotic locales from London to Yokohama. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating glimpses of everyday life in the late nineteenth century—an era of unprecedented technological advances, newly remade in the image of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. For Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland—two women ahead of their time in every sense of the word—were not only racing around the world. They were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age.

 

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

The Girls of Atomic City

Book Description
Release date: March 5, 2013
Now a New York Times Bestseller!

THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY

AT THE HEIGHT OF WORLD WAR II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians–many of them young women from small towns across the South–were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war–when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed.

Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it–women who are now in their eighties and nineties– The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country’s history.

 

Grand Ambition: An Extraordinary Yacht, the People Who Built It, and the Millionaire Who Can’t Really Afford It by G. Bruce Knecht

Grand Ambition: An Extraordinary Yacht, the People Who Built It, and the Millionaire Who Can't Really Afford It

Grand Ambition: An Extraordinary Yacht

Book Description
Release date: March 5, 2013
DOUG VON ALLMEN, a self-made man who grew up in a landlocked state dreaming of the ocean, was poised to build a 187-foot yacht that would cost $40 million. Lady Linda would not be among the very largest of the burgeoning fleet of oceangoing palaces, but Von Allmen vowed that it would be the best one ever made in the United States. Nothing would be ordinary. The interior walls would be made from rare species of burl wood, the floors paved with onyx and exotic types of marble, the furniture custom made, and the art specially commissioned.
But the 2008 economic crisis changed everything. Von Allmen’s lifestyle suddenly became unaffordable. Then it got worse: desperate to reverse his losses, he fell for an audacious Ponzi scheme. Would Von Allmen be able to complete Lady Linda? Would the shipyard and its one thousand employees survive the financial meltdown?

The divide between the very rich and everyone else had never been greater, yet the livelihoods of the workers, some of them illegal immigrants, and the yacht owners were inextricably intertwined. In a sweeping, high-stakes narrative, the critically acclaimed author of The Proving Ground and Hooked weaves Von Allmen’s story together with those of the men and women who are building his yacht. As the pursuit of opulence collides with the reality of economic decline, everyone involved in the massive project is forced to rethink the meaning of the American Dream.

 

Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel

Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm

Between Man and Beast

Book Description
Release date: March 12, 2013
The unbelievably riveting adventure of an unlikely young explorer who emerged from the jungles of Africa with evidence of a mysterious, still mythical beast—the gorilla—only to stumble straight into the center of the biggest debate of the day: Darwin’s theory of evolution

In 1856 Paul Du Chaillu marched into the equatorial wilderness of West Africa determined to bag an animal that, according to legend, was nothing short of a monster. When he emerged three years later, the summation of his efforts only hinted at what he’d experienced in one of the most dangerous regions on earth. Armed with an astonishing collection of zoological specimens, Du Chaillu leapt from the physical challenges of the jungle straight into the center of the biggest issues of the time—the evolution debate, racial discourse, the growth of Christian fundamentalism—and helped push each to unprecedented intensities. He experienced instant celebrity, but with that fame came whispers—about his past, his credibility, and his very identity—which would haunt the young man. Grand in scope, immediate in detail, and propulsively readable, Between Man and Beast brilliantly combines Du Chaillu’s personal journey with the epic tale of a world hovering on the sharp edge of transformation.

 

Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage by Michael R. Veach

Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage by Michael R. Veach

Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage

Book Description
Release date: February 18, 2013
On May 4, 1964, Congress designated bourbon as a distinctive product of the United States, and it remains the only spirit produced in this country to enjoy such protection. Its history stretches back almost to the founding of the nation and includes many colorful characters, both well known and obscure, from the hatchet-wielding prohibitionist Carry Nation to George Garvin Brown, who in 1872 created Old Forester, the first bourbon to be sold only by the bottle. Although obscured by myth, the history of bourbon reflects the history of our nation. Historian Michael R. Veach reveals the true story of bourbon in Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. Starting with the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, he traces the history of this unique beverage through the Industrial Revolution, the Civil War, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and up to the present. Veach explores aspects of bourbon that have been ignored by others, including the technology behind its production, the effects of the Pure Food and Drug Act, and how Prohibition contributed to the Great Depression. The myths surrounding bourbon are legion, but Veach separates fact from legend. While the true origin of the spirit may never be known for certain, he proposes a compelling new theory. With the explosion of super-premium bourbons and craft distilleries and the establishment of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, interest in bourbon has never been higher. Veach shines a light on its pivotal place in our national heritage, presenting the most complete and wide-ranging history of bourbon available.

 

Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier by Bob Thompson

Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier

Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett

Book Description
Release date: March 5, 2013
Combining the stories of the real hero and his Disney-enhanced afterlife, Born on a Mountaintop delves deep into our love for an American icon.

Pioneer. Congressman. Martyr of the Alamo. King of the Wild Frontier. As with all great legends, Davy Crockett’s has been retold many times. Over the years, he has been repeatedly reinvented by historians and popular storytellers. In fact, one could argue that there are three distinct Crocketts: the real David as he was before he became famous; the celebrity politician whose backwoods image Crockett himself created, then lost control of; and the mythic Davy we know today.
In the road-trip tradition of Sarah Vowell and Tony Horwitz, Bob Thompson follows Crockett’s footsteps from the Tennessee river valley where he was born, to Washington, where he served three terms in Congress, and on to Texas and the gates of the Alamo, seeking out those who know, love and are still willing to fight over Davy’s life and legacy.
Born on a Mountaintop will be more than just a bold new biography of one of the great American heroes. Thompson’s rich mix of scholarship, reportage, humor, and exploration of modern Crockett landscapes will bring Davy Crockett’s impact on the American imagination vividly to life.

 

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War

Book Description
Release date: March 19, 2013
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 is historian Christopher Clark’s riveting account of the explosive beginnings of World War I.

Drawing on new scholarship, Clark offers a fresh look at World War I, focusing not on the battles and atrocities of the war itself, but on the complex events and relationships that led a group of well-meaning leaders into brutal conflict.

Clark traces the paths to war in a minute-by-minute, action-packed narrative that cuts between the key decision centers in Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris, London, and Belgrade, and examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914 and details the mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals that drove the crisis forward in a few short weeks.

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers is a dramatic and authoritative chronicle of Europe’s descent into a war that tore the world apart.

 

The Black Russian by Vladimir Alexandrov

The Black Russian by Vladimir Alexandrov

The Black Russian by Vladimir Alexandrov

Book Description
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
The Black Russian is the incredible story of Frederick Bruce Thomas, born in 1872 to former slaves who became prosperous farmers in Mississippi. A rich white planter’s attempt to steal their land forced them to flee to Memphis, where Frederick’s father was brutally murdered. After leaving the South and working as a waiter and valet in Chicago and Brooklyn, Frederick sought greater freedom in London, then crisscrossed Europe, and—in a highly unusual choice for a black American at the time—went to Russia in 1899. Because he found no color line there, Frederick made Moscow his home. He renamed himself Fyodor Fyodorovich Tomas, married twice, acquired a mistress, and took Russian citizenship. Through his hard work, charm, and guile he became one of the city’s richest and most famous owners of variety theaters and restaurants. The Bolshevik Revolution ruined him, and he barely escaped with his life and family to Constantinople in 1919. Starting from scratch, he made a second fortune by opening celebrated nightclubs that introduced jazz to Turkey. However, the long arm of American racism, the xenophobia of the new Turkish Republic, and Frederick’s own extravagance landed him in debtor’s prison. He died in Constantinople in 1928.

 

 

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