History Book Reviews

TROUBLED REFUGE by Chandra Manning
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 16, 2016

"Manning conveys in gritty detail the fraught alliance between refugees and their military protectors."
A history of slaves who took refuge with the Union Army on their journey to freedom. Read full book review >
SEVEN SKELETONS by Lydia Pyne
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 16, 2016

"Ian Tattersall's The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack (2015) remains the best popular modern history of human evolution, but Pyne casts her net more widely, adding captivating accounts of how each discovery fascinated the mass media and entered literature and popular culture."
Describing human evolution through accounts of fossils that became media events might seem a publicity ploy, but science journalist Pyne (Institute for Historical Studies/Univ. of Texas; Bookshelf, 2016, etc.) pulls it off. Read full book review >

ALTAMONT by Joel Selvin
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Aug. 16, 2016

"The detailing of the actual concert reads like old news, and the sourcing could be clearer, but this is a compelling analysis of an event that hadn't seemed like it needed anything more written about it."
An incisive account of the most infamous concert debacle in rock history. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF EGYPT by Joann Fletcher
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 15, 2016

"The authoritative author imparts her vast knowledge in an orderly chronology and lively, intimate history. A perfect choice for budding Egyptologists."
A sweeping look at this epic history emphasizing the role of women rulers. Read full book review >
HOW EVERYTHING BECAME WAR AND THE MILITARY BECAME EVERYTHING by Rosa Brooks
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

"Legal theorists and policymakers will approve the scholarship and close analysis; general readers will appreciate the sensitive storytelling, the wit, and the uncommon good sense."
A former senior Defense Department adviser explores the military's expanded role in a time when the lines between war and peace are dangerously blurred. Read full book review >

THE GLAMOUR OF STRANGENESS by Jamie James
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

"Abundant primary sources inform James' sharply drawn, sympathetic portraits."
Six artists in quest of the exotic. Read full book review >
MARKED FOR DEATH by James Hamilton-Paterson
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

"Best of all, the author—who has a solid body of fiction to his credit—is a consummate storyteller; not only does the book tell a fascinating story, it is nearly impossible to put down."
World War I was a time of vast changes, notably the development of aerial combat. Here's a look at how it came to be. Read full book review >
THE FALL OF HEAVEN by Andrew Scott Cooper
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

"A thorough new appraisal of an enigmatic ruler who died believing his people still loved him."
A sympathetic account of the imperial couple of the Peacock Throne portrayed as so blindly benevolent that they did not see the Iranian Revolution coming. Read full book review >
THE GAMES by David Goldblatt
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: July 26, 2016

"Gracefully written and compellingly argued, this is one of the best books of the year and one of the best sports books ever written."
A tour de force history of the Olympics in romanticized myth and politicized reality. Read full book review >
AND SOON I HEARD A ROARING WIND by Bill Streever
HISTORY
Released: July 26, 2016

"Streever has a knack for blending his research and personal experience into an easy-to-read account that is hard to put down. Recommended for general readers curious about the natural world as well as budding scientists."
Science, history, and personal adventure come together in a wild and witty exploration of wind. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: July 5, 2016

"Anyone with the slightest curiosity about ancient classics will love this book. Shelve next to the work of Mary Beard."
A grand "traverse of classical civilization." Read full book review >
ANGELA MERKEL by Matthew Qvortrup
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 1, 2016

"This eye-opening biography, drawing from rich behind-the-scenes knowledge, is necessary reading for anyone who wants to broaden his or her perspective on the world today."
A biography of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (b. 1954) that provides insight and clarity into Germany's often underreported role in shaping the European political landscape. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
author of SEINFELDIA
August 22, 2016

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s new bestseller Seinfeldia is the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld —the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world. Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly 40 million Americans were tuning in weekly. In Seinfeldia, TV historian and entertainment writer Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!” “Armstrong’s intimate, breezy history is full of gossipy details, show trivia, and insights into how famous episodes came to be,” our reviewer writes. “Perfect for Seinfeldians and newcomers alike.” View video >