The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History... by Will BardenwerperDuring the last five months of 2006, 12 U.S. Army Military Police personnel drew the unusual assignment of guarding Saddam Hussein in Iraq from the beginning of his trial through his execution. Drawing on first-person accounts by the MPs and other officials, journalist Will Bardenwerper relates their impressions of Saddam as a man with two distinct personalities: passionately raving against the U.S. in court, and gentlemanly and kind to his guards in the prison quarters. The Prisoner in His Palace offers an unusual perspective on the dictator's character, as well as a compelling account of the guards' experiences.
The Trial of Adolf Hitler: The Beer Hall Putsch and the Rise of Nazi Germany by David KingIn The Trial of Adolf Hitler, historian David King recounts the trial for treason that followed the November 8, 1923 "Beer Hall Putsch," in which Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders attempted to seize power in Bavaria. Making passionate speeches during the court proceedings, Hitler used national publicity about the trial to attract popular support for the Nazi party. To follow up on this absorbing narrative, check out Peter Ross Range's 1924, detailing the subsequent imprisonment during which Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
Cattle Kingdom: The Hidden History of the Cowboy West by Christopher KnowltonThe California Gold Rush started in 1848, but the 1870s saw an even more impressive path to riches -- raising beef to feed the appetites of the East Coast cities. In Cattle Kingdom, business journalist and investment manager Christopher Knowlton paints the financial landscape of cattle ranching enterprises, creating a complex picture of the 19th-century West while bringing to life some of its more colorful characters. Whether you're fascinated by unusual business history or generally enjoy reading about the period, you'll be intrigued by this "vastly informative" (Library Journal) book.
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLeanIn this well-researched biographical study, acclaimed historian Nancy MacLean offers a sobering analysis of the radical Libertarians' rise to political power in the U.S. Focusing on the late James Buchanan, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, she explores his plan to inject his views into the operations of every branch of government. Funded in part by multibillionaire Charles Koch, Buchanan's ideas have been carried out by like-minded political operatives. In a starred review, Booklist calls Democracy in Chains the "best explanation to date" of the origins of America's current political rift.
We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy PearlmanIn the Syrian civil war following the 2011 Arab Spring democracy movement protests, millions of ordinary people were displaced and became refugees. In We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled, political science professor Wendy Pearlman provides an oral history of the refugees' experiences. The book presents these accounts thematically in order to show how the Syrian regime's actions affected Syrian citizens. For additional personal insights into the Syrian civil war, pick up Janine Di Giovanni's The Morning They Came for Us or Alia Malek's The Home That Was Our Country.
Meet Me in Atlantis: Across Three Continents in Search of the Legendary Sunken City by Mark AdamsWas Atlantis a real place? Examining this question, bestselling author Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, visited several countries to examine sites that could be the location of the island that sank beneath the waves. Traveling to Greece, Spain, Malta, Morocco, and other places, he documents his investigations, surveys the research of scientists and amateur explorers, and studies the clues left by the Greek philosopher Plato (who told us all that we know about Atlantis). Though Adams may not come up with a definitive answer, curious readers will enjoy this "fun, enthusiastic exploration" (Kirkus Reviews).
Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans by David BarrieIn Sextant, British scholar David Barrie recounts his experience as a young man who learned to use a sextant (a navigational aid invented in the 18th century) as he sailed across the Atlantic. Relating the history of the sextant along with his personal reminiscences, he also provides an engaging chronicle of the exploration and early mapping of the world. Relating the exploits of James Cook, George Vancouver, William Bligh, Ernest Shackleton, and others, Barrie fills his book with the challenges -- and romance -- of the sea.
Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean“What does it mean that we have been going to space for 50 years and have decided to stop?” In Leaving Orbit, Margaret Lazarus Dean, an English professor and lifelong fan of space flight, details the final three missions of NASA's space shuttle in 2011. Emphasizing the human elements of the program, she recounts her trips to Cape Kennedy to witness these launches, drawing on the poetic as well as the technical to characterize NASA's culture and politics. Dean's compelling elegy to American space exploration is a must-read for those fascinated by the final frontier.
Jefferson's America: The President, the Purchase, and the Explorers... by Julie M. FensterWhile Lewis and Clark's expedition to the northwestern parts of the U.S. territories is better known, the explorers President Thomas Jefferson sent to survey the southerly territories of the Louisiana Purchase are equally fascinating. In Jefferson's America, author Julie Fenster provides colorful accounts of Jefferson's strategic thinking, the men (including William Dunbar, George Hunter, and Zebulon Pike) whom he chose for these missions, and the rivers and lands they explored. She also explains the historic significance of establishing U.S. boundaries where the previous claimants had been British, French, and/or Spanish. Here's an enthralling read for history buffs!
Marco Polo: The Journey That Changed the World by John ManThe 13th-century Venetian explorer Marco Polo reported details of his amazing journeys to a fellow prisoner in Genoa, and some have wondered about his narrative's veracity. In this history (originally titled Xanadu but renamed Marco Polo to accompany the 2014 Netflix series by that name), historian John Man relates how he retraced Marco's steps and adds materials from his research to depict the Italian in the summer court of Kublai Khan. Man's conclusion: Marco may have embroidered his accounts, as some believe, but he really did go to China.
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