Individuals make history through their choices and actions, but together those individual actions add up to forces that change our world. This fall presents a range of stories from the personal to the epic that make history so endlessly fascinating—and one century looks pivotal.
To begin with individuals: just four months after JFK's assassination, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. interviewed Jackie Kennedy in previously sealed sessions. Now her daughter offers Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, with fresh insights into JFK's political life, campaigns, and presidency, and Jackie's views on political figures of the time and more personal matters. Will there be revelations? Look for the ABC Prime Time special.
Race relations are considered the United States' original sin by many, including radical abolitionist John Brown, whose actions Tony Horwitz vividly details in Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War. A hundred years later, race still convulsed the U.S., and in Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, David Margolick takes an emblematic photograph of school desegregation in 1957—a black high school student walks through a gauntlet toward Little Rock High School as a white student screams with hatred at her—and recounts those two women's growing friendship, and its ultimate collapse, to trace how race still plays out in America.
Tom Brokaw focuses on his South Dakota family and other families, over four generations in The Time of Our Lives: Past, Present, Promise to highlight changes in the American dream and American values and to question what the future could be in all of our lives. War often interrupts the time of our lives, and Karl Marlantes, the award-winning author of Matterhorn, in trying to make sense of his own wartime experiences, analyzes war's psychological and spiritual toll on soldiers in What It Is Like to Go to War. Even without overt war, nations can go astray, as historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg shows in The Unmaking of Israel, as he carefully explains how Israel's policies have changed over time to undercut democracy and the country's existence as a Jewish state. Individual behavior can even be responsible for what look like natural calamities, as Thomas Keneally shows in Three Famines: Starvation and Politics; he examines the famines in 1840s Ireland, 1943 Bengal, and 1970s and '80s Ethiopia and demonstrates how greed, government incompetence, and ideology played a greater role than blight or crop failure.
Even so broad-ranging a change as the Renaissance may have begun with one man's discovery and translation, in the 15th century, of an ancient manuscript by Lucretius; so says Stephen Greenblatt in The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. The author of Will in the World describes how this act inspired artists, philosophers, and writers. Niall Ferguson takes the broad view, considering, in Civilization: The West and the Rest, how the West rose to dominate the rest of the world, highlighting the concepts, beginning in the 15th century, that made it happen, including science, the rule of law, consumerism, and competition. The 15th century proved crucial in many ways, and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann shows it's not humans alone that make history. The spread of plants and animals to and from the Americas after Columbus's journeys affected all aspects of culture. Tomatoes, corn, and horses are just a few among that momentous exchange.
PW's Top 10 History & Military History
Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy
Edited by Caroline Kennedy, with annotations by Michael Beschloss. Hyperion, Sept.
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War
Tony Horwitz. Henry Holt, Oct.
Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock
David Margolick. Yale Univ. Press, Sept.
The Time of Our Lives: Past, Present, Promise
Tom Brokaw. Random House, Nov.
What It Is Like to Go to War
Karl Marlantes. Grove/Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press, Sept.
The Unmaking of Israel
Gershom Gorenberg. HarperCollins, Nov.
Three Famines: Starvation and Politics
Thomas Keneally. PublicAffairs, Aug.
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Stephen Greenblatt. W.W. Norton, Sept.
Civilization: The West and the Rest
Niall Ferguson. Penguin Press, Nov.
1493: Uncovering the New World
Charles C. Mann. Knopf, Aug.
History & Military History
Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation by Deborah Davis (Dec., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4391-6981-0). When President Roosevelt invited educator Washington to dinner at the White House, Southern editorialists were outraged.
Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir (Oct., hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-345-52133-0). After the novel and the movie The Other Boleyn Girl comes this reconstruction of Mary Boleyn's life by a noted historian.
A History of the World Since 9/11: Disaster, Deception, and Destruction in the War on Terror by Dominic Streatfeild (Aug., hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-60819-270-0). Journalist Streatfeild chronicles the course of this 10-year (and counting) war, which has cost trillions and killed almost a million—and declares it not winnable.
The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right by Sally Denton (Jan., hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-60819-089-8). A failed right-wing plot to overthrow FDR at the beginning of his first term reveals right-left polarization that sheds light on today's political schisms, in journalist Denton's account.
Brookings Institution Press
The Arab Awakening: America and the Transformation of the Middle East by Kenneth Pollack (Nov., paper, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-8157-2226-7). Author of A Path Out of the Desert, the former NSC and CIA official dissects the revolutions of the "Arab spring" in an attempt to understand their causes and future developments.
Awakening Victory: How Iraqi Tribes and American Troops Reclaimed al Anbar and Defeated al Qaeda in Iraq by Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael E. Silverman (Sept., hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-61200-062-6) relates the inside story of how the controversial "surge" of 2007 was successful in the city of Ramadi, forging alliances with the population instead of a purely military response.
1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War by Robert L. Tonsetic (Sept., hardcover, $32.95, ISBN 978-1-61200-063-3). During this crucial year, the British, with their Southern strategy, almost defeated the Patriots, but French assistance helped the Continental Army capture the largest army at Yorktown.
Ghosts of Afghanistan: Hard Truths and Foreign Myths by Jonathan Steele (Oct., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-58243-787-3). Steele began reporting from Afghanistan 30 years ago and brings deep knowledge to this history of that country.
What It Means to Be Human: Historical Reflections from the 1800s to the Present by Joanna Bourke (Dec., hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-58243-608-1). Historian Bourke delineates the shifting line between humans and animals over the past 200 years and what that means for personhood and human rights.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Sept., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-385-52626-5). The author of the bestselling River of Doubt narrates the 1881 assassination of James Garfield, the shock to the still fragile national psyche, and the almost three-month-long effort to save Garfield's life.
(dist. by ACC)
Drawing the Curtain: Cold-War Cartoons by Tim Benson and Polly Jones (Aug., hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-906257-06-4). An expert on cartoon history and a cultural historian provide context and analysis of Soviet political cartoons, many unpublished from a private collection, juxtaposed with Western ones, revealing the cold war era through humor and propaganda.
Books: A Living History by Martyn Lyons (Sept., $34.95, ISBN 978-1-60606-083-4). The book as we know it seems under attack, but Australian professor Lyons's account shows how written works have changed dramatically throughout history, from papyrus to the iPad.
Globe Pequot Press
Pirates: The Complete History from 1300 B.C. to the Present Day by Angus Konstam (Sept., paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-7627-7395-4) separates myth from fact and reveals the brutality of pirate endeavors, from ancient Cretans and Vikings through the French and British corsairs up to the Somali pirates of today.
Atlantic Monthly Press
What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (Sept., hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-8021-1992-6). The award-winning author of Matterhorn analyzes the psychological and spiritual toll of war on soldiers in order to make sense of his own experiences.
The Unmaking of Israel by Gershom Gorenberg (Nov., hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-198508-9) carefully explains the development of Israel's policies today that undercut democracy and the country's existence as a Jewish state.
A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead (Nov., hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-165070-3) tells the story, through archives and personal interviews, of 230 Frenchwomen who resisted the Nazis, were arrested, and deported to Auschwitz—only 49 survived.
Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra F. Vogel (Sept., hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-674-05544-5) offers a comprehensive biography of the man who, in the past 30 years, destroyed much of the economic system he had helped to create over the previous 30 years.
Hill and Wang
Guantánamo: An American History by Jonathan Hansen (Oct., hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-8090-5341-4). Guantánamo Bay has played a role in American life since before the Revolution because of its strategic position for transatlantic trade in the 18th century up through the army base as model U.S. town.
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz (Oct., hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8050-9153-3) details the 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry, led by the radical abolitionist and a small band, and its impact on a nation on the verge of conflict.
Killing Lincoln: The Assassination That Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard (Sept., hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8050-9307-0). The Fox TV host turns his attention to historical narrative, relating the exciting and terrifying events leading up to and following Lincoln's assassination.
God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World by Cullen Murphy (Jan., hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-618-09156-0) unfolds the development of the Inquisition, founded in 1231 but continuing to exist into the 20th century, as a pioneer of censorship and surveillance.
Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, edited by Caroline Kennedy, with annotations by Michael Beschloss (Sept., hardcover, $60, ISBN 978-1-4013-2425-4), offers seven never-before-heard interviews conducted in 1964 with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., with fresh insights into JFK's political life and presidency, and Jackie's views on political figures of the time as well as more personal matters. Includes seven CDs.
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann (Aug., hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-307-26572-2) traces the spread of plants and animals to and from the Americas after Columbus's journeys and the effects of that dispersal on all aspects of culture.
Inferno: The World at War, 1939–1945 by Max Hastings (Nov., hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-307-27359-8) offers a closeup view of how WWII affected ordinary people trying to live their lives near and far from the front lines.
American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation by Michael Kazin (Aug., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-307-26628-6) offers a vivid portrait of the abolitionists, labor organizers, feminists, and civil rights activists who inspired social equality, artistic freedom, sexual liberation, and antiauthoritarianism in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War by Margaret E. Wagner, intro. by Gary W. Gallagher (Oct., hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-316-12068-5) offers a comprehensive chronology of the Civil War in pictures, documents, and firsthand accounts.
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (Sept., hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-06447-6). The author of Will in the World describes how the discovery and translation in the 15th century of an ancient manuscript changed how Europeans thought, inspiring artists, philosophers, and writers.
Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition by Marni Davis (Jan., hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-0-8147-2028-8). Making and selling alcohol was a Jewish immigrant commercial activity, and Prohibition mixed with anti-Semitism led Jews to revise their sense of American identity.
The Race to the New World: Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and a Lost History of Discovery by Douglas Hunter (Sept., hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-230-11011-3). Another Italian, this one sailing under the English flag, made his own, less heralded discoveries.
The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin (Sept., hardcover, $37.95, ISBN 978-1-59420-283-4). Following his Pulitzer Prize–winning The Prize, Yergin continues his narrative of energy's dominant influence over geopolitical and economic change.
Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson (Nov., hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-59420-305-3) explains how the West rose to dominate the rest of the world, highlighting concepts that made it happen, including science, the rule of law, consumerism, and competition.
(dist. by IPG)
On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.S. by Sean Stewart (Nov., paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-60486-455-7). The civil rights and antiwar movements spawned hundreds of alternative newspapers; includes full-color reproductions from a broad range of publications.
Rome: Day One by Andrea Carandini (Aug., hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-691-13922-7). The University of Rome archeologist portrays the founding of Rome that established Rome's juridical, political, governmental, and constitutional institutions, based on new evidence.
Decided on the Battlefield: Grant, Sherman, Lincoln and the Election of 1864 by David Alan Johnson (Jan., hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-61614-509-5) focuses on battlefield campaigns and war strategy, and their influence on Lincoln's re-election campaign.
Three Famines: Starvation and Politics by Thomas Keneally (Aug., hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-61039-065-1) examines three disasters—the famines in 1840s Ireland, 1943 Bengal, and 1970s and '80s Ethiopia—and demonstrates how ideology, individual greed, and government incompetence played a greater role then natural blight or crop failure.
Moscow, December 25, 1991: The Last Day of the Soviet Union by Conor O'Clery (Aug., hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-58648-796-6). The Moscow correspondent for the Irish Times reports on the power struggles and intrigues between Gorbachev and Yeltsin that brought about the end of the Soviet Union.
The Time of Our Lives: Past, Present, Promise by Tom Brokaw (Nov., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4000-6458-8). The author of The Greatest Generation traces four generations of his and others' families to highlight changes in the American dream and to question what can happen next.
China in Ten Words by Yu Hua, trans. by Allan H. Barr (Nov., hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-307-37935-1). An acclaimed novelist traces China's transformation over the past 30 years through the lens of 10 key words.
Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation by Chris DeRose (Nov., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-59698-192-8). In 1789, two future presidents opposed each other in a congressional election in Virginia, the Federalist Madison versus the anti-Federalist Monroe, an election that enabled the Bill of Rights.
(dist. by ACC)
The Royal Wedding: The Official Westminster Abbey Souvenir by James Wilkinson (Aug., paper, $8, ISBN 978-1-85759-724-0). Fans of the royals will eat up this official view of William and Kate's wedding with photos never before published.
Simon & Schuster/Gallery
Oliver Stone's Untold History of America by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (Jan., hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1451613513) accompanies the filmmaker's documentary based on recently discovered archives and newly declassified material.
Simon & Schuster/
The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin, and Michael Jones (Sept., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4516-2954-5). The prolific Gregory joins forces with two historians to write biographies of three 15th-century women, revealing the factual underpinnings of Gregory's novels.
To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora, 1750–2010 by T.M. Devine (Oct., hardcover, $32.95, ISBN 978-1-58834-317-8). The Scots are among the largest emigrant populations and have influenced the world in many areas, as traders, missionaries, and soldiers.
Vanished Kingdoms: How Nations Rise and Fall by Norman Davies (Oct., hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-670-02273-1). Failed states have a poor reputation, but the author of Europe: A History shows what we can learn from 14 European kingdoms, and why they disappeared.
A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor (Oct., hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-670-02270-0). The director of the British Museum takes 100 items, from a million-year-old hand ax to today's credit card, to show us who we are through what we make. Photos.
Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941–1944 by Anna Reid (Aug., hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-8027-1594-4). Seventy years ago, the Germans began one of the longest sieges in modern history. Reid shows how the city's citizens survived despite the enemy's military might as well as the incompetence and corruption of their own government.
Yale Univ. Press
Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick (Sept., hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-300-14193-1). The 1957 photo of Hazel Bryan Massery, one of the students integrating Little Rock Central High School, and Elizabeth Eckford, a white student screaming insults, became emblematic of school desegregation in the South. Margolick uses the women's growing friendship, and its ultimate collapse, to trace the ramifications of American race relations.
It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past by David Satter (Dec., $29.95, ISBN 978-0-300-11145-3), a fellow at the Hudson Institute, sees Russia's failure to examine its Communist past in its failure to value the individual.
Fighting Patton: George S. Patton Jr. Through the Eyes of His Enemies by Harry Yeide (Sept., hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-7603-4128-5). Opposing military men provide a unique perspective on the renowned (and notorious) American general.