U.S. Presidents, English Merchants, & a Heroic Bee Keeper | History Previews, Mar. 2018

Bartlett, Karen. Architects of Death: The Family Who Engineered the Death Camps. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250117700. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250117717. HISTORY
It’s wasn’t ideology, just business, but it sure was hell: journalist Bartlett tells the story of Topf and Sons, the small, respected family firm of German engineers that designed and built the crematoria at the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Belzec, Dachau, Mauthausen, and Gusen.

Butman, John & Simon Targett. New World, Inc.: The Making of America by England’s Merchant Adventurers. Little, Brown. Mar. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9780316307888. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316307871. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316510127. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. HISTORY
Back in the mid-1500s, when England was a minor country seeking to expand its trade, some merchants got together to form the “The Mysterie, Company, and Fellowship of Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Regions, Dominions, Islands, and Places Unknown,” the world’s first joint stock company. The rest was empire building. From Butman, author of the best-selling Trading Up, and award-winning journalist Targett; with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Castner, Brian. Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage. Doubleday. Mar. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780385541626. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385541633. lrg. prnt. Downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY
In 1789, Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie went in search of everyone’s dream, the Northwest Passage, traveling 1,125 miles along the huge Canadian river now bearing his name before hitting a wall of ice. Now, celebrated memoirist Castner (The Long Walk) repeats Mackenzie’s journey and ends at an open Arctic Sea where oil barges ply their trade.

Eizenstat, Stuart E. President Carter: The White House Years. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2018. 528p. ISBN 9781250104557. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781250104571. HISTORY
Chief Domestic Policy Adviser for President Jimmy Carter and subsequently U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and Deputy Secretary of both Treasury and State., Eizenstat (Imperfect Justice) draws on more than 7,500 pages of notes (he was known for his diligent note taking at every meeting) and 350 interviews to tell the story of the Carter Administration.

Hitchcock, William I. The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s. S. & S. Mar. 2018. 672p. ISBN 9781439175668. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781451698435. HISTORY
Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Bitter Road to Freedom: The Human Cost of Allied Victory in World War II Europe, University of Virginia history professor Hitchcock clarifies why Dwight Eisenhower ranked fifth on a 2017 survey of great presidents, highlighting his keeping the peace abroad (e.g., defusing the Korean War and tensions with the Soviet Union and China) and acting progressive at home (e.g., countering Sen. Eugene McCarthy, embracing Social Security).

Hoffman, Carl. The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure. Morrow. Mar. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780062439024. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062439048. lrg. prnt. HISTORY
In 1983, Swiss environmentalist Bruno Manser began living with Borneo’s Penan tribe, helping them battle multinational logging conglomerates intent on deforestation. He was declared an enemy of the state and vanished near a sacred Penan mountain peak in 2000. Meanwhile, American Michael Palmieri was getting rich by buying Borneo artworks for pennies and selling them for a fortune. From the author of the New York Times best-selling Savage Harvest; with a 100,000-copy first printing.

Kalder, Daniel. The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy. Holt. Mar. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9781627793421. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781627793438. HISTORY
We think of literature as a force for good, but not always. Journalist Kalder (Strange Telescopes) here chronicles what might be called “dictator literature”—the manifestos, memoirs, poetry, and spiritual tracts written by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Khomeini, who often began as writers. What were the consequences of this literature for readers who eventually couldn’t say no?

Mikhail, Dunya. The Beekeeper: Saving the Stolen Women of Iraq. New Directions. Mar. 2018. 240p. tr. from Arabic by Max Weiss. ISBN 9780811226127. pap. $16.95. HISTORY
A celebrated Iraqi poet/journalist exiled by Saddam Hussein’s government for her reputedly subversive writing, Mikhail tells a heartrending story that begins with the enslavement and abuse of Yazidi women and girls by ISIS. Mikhail interviewed several women who managed to escape, highlighting their savior: a beekeeper who relies on a network of supporters (e.g., former cigarette smugglers) and his grasp of the local terrain to bring these women to safety, one by one. With a major tour to include Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and San Francisco, plus NPR promotion and more.

Rosen, Jeffrey. William Howard Taft: The American Presidents Series: The 27th President, 1909–1913. Times Books: Holt. Mar. 2018. 224p. ISBN 9780805069549. $26. HISTORY
President and CEO of the National Constitution Center and previously legal affairs editor of the New Republic, Rosen (Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet) looks at the only man to serve as both president and chief justice of the United States. William Howard Taft’s lawyerly turn of mind shaped his administration; he remained a strict constructionist of the Constitution, countering what he saw as the dangers of populism. Next in the publisher’s popular “American Presidents” series.

Weiss, Elaine. The Woman’s Hour: The Last Furious Fight To Win the Vote. Viking. Mar. 2018. 416p. ISBN 9780525429722. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698407831. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. HISTORY
Women’s battle to secure the right to vote began in Seneca Falls in 1948 and ended decades later when Tennessee approved the 19th Amendment, the last state whose assent was needed, with 35 states having voted yes and 12 voting no or sustaining. Award-winning journalist tells the story of the final fight, pitting suffragists against conservative politicians, business magnates, racists who feared black women’s vote, and the “Antis”—women wearing red roses who feared the vote would undermine the country’s moral fiber.

Zipperstein, Steven J. Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History. Liveright: Norton. Mar. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781631492693. $27.95. HISTORY
The April 1903 pogrom in Kishinev, in imperial Russia, left 49 Jews dead, 600 wounded, and more than 1,000 Jewish homes looted or destroyed. It was also a turning point in history, serving as the prototype of what became known as pogroms, spurring the emigration of Russian Jews, and foreshadowing the Holocaust. Zipperstein, the Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University, tells the story.

 

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