History Book Reviews

THE HOUSE OF TWENTY THOUSAND BOOKS by Sasha Abramsky
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"If you finish this brilliant, realized book thinking you need to own more books, you're to be forgiven. A wonderful celebration of the mind, history, and love."
Memoir of Jewish intellectual life and universal history alike, told through a houseful of books, their eccentric collectors, and the rooms in which they dwelled. Read full book review >
THE MAKING OF ASIAN AMERICA by Erika Lee
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"A powerful, timely story told with method and dignity."
A sweeping study of the fastest growing group in the United States that underscores the shameful racist regard white Americans have long held for Asian immigrants. Read full book review >

HISTORY
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"An incisive sociological lens on a religion in flux, which, though centuries distant, continues to hold relevance for the present day."
How evangelical missionaries, dispatched from New England to the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, failed spectacularly to convert the Muslim masses but had a lasting impact on the face of American Christianity. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"Well-written and scholarly without being pedantic—an enlightening history of the broad influence the Vikings exerted in a very short period."
The investigation into the origins of the 92 ivory chessmen discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the early 1800s provides a good avenue for Brown (Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths, 2012, etc.) to explore the rich tapestry of Icelandic and Viking history.Read full book review >
SELF AND SOUL by Mark Edmundson
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"Though Shakespeare fans may feel defensive, Edmundson delivers a welcome championing of humanistic ways of thinking and living."
What happens in the rush to gain the world? We lose our souls, of course—and, Edmundson (English/Univ. of Virginia; Why Football Matters, 2014, etc.) adds, our ideals to boot. Read full book review >

JACK LONDON by Cecelia Tichi
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"A fruitful, well-written blend of cultural history, literary criticism, and biography. Now the only question is, where's the Jack London of today?"
Jack London—socialist agitator, rancher, and, oh yes, writer: an illuminating study of a literary figure long receded into stereotype. Read full book review >
IRAQ by John Robertson
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"The making of modern Iraq is just one small slice in this monumental, well-told story."
In an engaging history of the enormous contributions of the "land between two rivers," Robertson (Ancient and Middle Eastern Studies/Central Michigan Univ.) is an energetic, positive booster for a remarkable people who have suffered through countless outsider incursions, especially in recent decades. Read full book review >
KISSINGER'S SHADOW by Greg Grandin
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"A trenchant and succinct depiction of the ongoing artful dodging of the nonagenarian statesman."
A focused examination of Henry Kissinger's foreign policy as the normalization of "secrecy and spectacle," from Southeast Asia to Chile to Iran to Iraq. Read full book review >
ZERO NIGHT by Mark Felton
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"In this exciting book, Felton has captivatingly captured the bravery of the prisoners."
Military historian Felton (China Station: The British Military in the Middle Kingdom, 2013, etc.) delivers a page-turner about one particularly daring escape from a Nazi POW camp during World War II.Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 18, 2015

"An illuminating voyage into the heart of Frost's poem and the American spirit."
Unraveling the mystery of a famous poem. Read full book review >
THE END OF TSARIST RUSSIA by Dominic Lieven
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 18, 2015

"A Russian scholar opens up new, even startling historical connections."
Fresh research at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow (since closed) yields an insightful new look at Russia's pivotal role in the making of World War I. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 17, 2015

"A consistently fine appreciation of the medical maverick who, as much as any other, helped make the Space Age possible."
An author specializing in aviation tells the remarkable, almost-forgotten story of an aerospace pioneer. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
September 1, 2015

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is the New York Timesbestselling author of The Language of Flowers; her new novel, We Never Asked for Wings, is about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds. For 14 years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now 15, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life. “Diffenbaugh’s latest confirms her gift for creating shrewd, sympathetic charmers,” our reviewer writes. View video >