The War that Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War by Fred Anderson
British and French competition for North American colonial supremacy escalated in 1753, when the French increased military control in British-claimed territory near Virginia. Britain and France declared war in 1756 after early efforts in defense of British interests did not go well (a young George Washington was accused of killing a French diplomat, for example). The War that Made America is an "outstanding account" (Booklist) of the French and Indian War that followed. The role of Native Americans (often overlooked in other accounts) is given full treatment here. The author's trademark impeccable research and accessible prose make this a delightful introduction for those new to the topic.
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin
In 1927, Henry Ford wanted to secure a rubber supply for tire production, and decided to establish his own rubber plantation with a model factory town for his workers--in the heart of an unsettled Amazonian rainforest. Author Greg Grandin tells the bizarre true story of Ford's high-minded, utterly wrong-headed efforts to establish small-town America in a hostile jungle environment. From his failure to consult botanists (the land wasn't even viable for rubber cultivation) to his expectations that indigenous peoples would welcome American living (they didn't), this compelling narrative proves Ford's visionary ambition and arrogant folly were two sides of the same coin.
[Well, no shit, Sherlock! - Writer]
Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
Dunkirk stands in WWII history as a terrible Allied defeat--but also an unforgettable testament to the valiant British Expeditionary Forces who defended an escape corridor with their lives, allowing 288,000 Allied troops to escape the Germans' onslaught. Many BEF soldiers knew they would die holding positions for the few precious hours their comrades needed to escape; the journalistic style of this narrative brings their plights vividly to life. Author Hugh Sebag-Montefiore marshals new primary sources (personal interviews, official reports, and previously unpublished soldiers' accounts) to add meaningful depth to the story of Dunkirk.
The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir
Mining "thickets of evidence, hearsay and apocrypha” (Kirkus Review) from primary sources and later histories, author Alison Weir vindicates Henry VIII's second wife from popular negative perceptions. She offers a full account of Anne Boleyn's life but focuses on her final four months locked in the Tower of London. Weir contends that it was not Henry VIII who first tired of the young woman, but instead royal advisor Thomas Cromwell who saw her as a dangerous rival to his influence with the king. This "judicious, thorough and absorbing popular history" (Publishers Weekly) will appeal to fans of Tudor histories--and, of course, will be a hit among Weir's fiction fans who also like nonfiction.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
July NextReads: History...
...or, That Could Have Gone Better.