Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine by Anne ApplebaumAccording to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin deliberately created famine conditions in Ukraine as an act of genocide from 1931-34. Making effective use of previously published and newly available sources, Red Famine documents the effects of collectivization, removal of food to other regions, and other oppressive measures that resulted in the deaths of four million Ukrainians. Applebaum concludes that Stalin aimed to replace ethnic Ukrainians with Russians to achieve a more compliant populace. Though her analysis may be controversial, it sheds light on current tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Christmas: A Biography by Judith FlandersIn most Western countries, Christmas is celebrated even by people for whom it's not a religious observance, and this isn't a recent development. In this accessible, richly detailed study, social historian Judith Flanders chronicles a "biography" of the holiday from the fourth century to the present day. She highlights secular Christmas celebrations as well as the evolution of religious observances. For another recent look at secularism and Christmas, pick up Canadian historian G.Q. Bowler's Christmas in the Crosshairs.
A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons... by Caroline MooreheadAcclaimed historian Caroline Moorehead has already published two books, focused on France, about anti-fascist resistance in Europe. Now, she relates a compelling and vividly descriptive account of a wealthy and prominent Florentine family whose members openly resisted Benito Mussolini and his fascist movement in the 1920s. The Italian movement is much less well known than the resistance in other parts of Europe, and this moving and well-documented portrait of courage brings it to life.
Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza MundyIn this "sleek, compelling narrative" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), journalist Liza Mundy details women's secret and essential contributions to American military intelligence during the 1940s. Drawing on voluminous government records and interviews with some of the women, Code Girls describes their code-breaking work and its significance. For a close-up of one woman's contributions to cryptography, pick up Jason Fagone's The Woman Who Smashed Codes.
Blood Brothers: The Story of the Strange Friendship Between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill by Deanne StillmanLakota chief Sitting Bull's and William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's names have become emblematic of the "Wild West." In Blood Brothers, award-winning author Deanne Stillman focuses on the friendship between the two while illuminating the broader history of the 1870s, '80s, and '90s in the U.S. West. This complex and engaging narrative vividly depicts Cody's and Sitting Bull's lives amid the tragic consequences of social and political change that accompanied U.S. westward expansion.
The 20th Century Through the Years
Provence, 1970: M. F. K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and... by Luke BarrThe winter of 1970 was a pivotal year for the evolution of American cuisine, even though the key events took place in Provence, France. During that time, several influential American culinary experts were staying near each other and frequently dining together. Pulling information from diaries and letters, especially M.F.K. Fisher's diary, her great-nephew Luke Barr concocts a mouth-watering chronicle of their conversations, their opinions, and what they ate. Later, Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and their colleagues came into their own as leaders of the American culinary scene.
The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and... by John F. KassonIn 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was determined to restore Americans' spirits and the American economy, but he needed a way to restore consumer confidence. Cue the entrance of Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, with her irresistible smile and impressive talents. In this absorbing cultural history, historian John Kasson shows how her 1930s films raised spirits, incidentally leading Americans to spend millions on movie tickets and memorabilia. Her partnership with co-star Bill "Bojangles" Robinson also gave hope to African Americans while significantly breaking a racial barrier.
1924: The Year That Made Hitler by Peter Ross RangeAdolf Hitler spent 1924 in prison after his conviction in the failed Beer Hall Putsch -- a major setback to his political ambitions. This is when he wrote his manifesto, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). In this detailed analysis, distinguished journalist Peter Range chronicles Hitler's turning point, observing how he got a light sentence and early release and how his courtroom rants became the basis for his writing. This eye-opening account of Hitler's evolution into a successful tyrant sheds new light on the man many consider the greatest monster in history.
The End of the Cold War 1985-1991 by Robert ServiceIn 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev realized that if the Soviet Union didn't negotiate with the U.S. leadership to end the arms race, the Soviet economy was doomed. As the new General Secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee, he sent feelers about detente to President Reagan and Secretary of State George Schultz. Though the U.S. at first rebuffed these overtures, Reagan's fear of a potential nuclear holocaust induced him to negotiate. In this deeply researched, insightful narrative, historian Robert Service documents some key plays in ending the Cold War.
Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America by Calvin TrillinAward-winning New Yorker contributor Calvin Trillin's Jackson, 1964 reports on American race relations in the last third of the 20th century. Reprinting richly descriptive, journalistic essays, Trillin depicts Jackson, Mississippi in the summer of 1964, relates the history of New Orleans' African American Krewe of Zulu (a Mardi Gras organization), recounts a 1976 controversy over restaurant desegregation in Boston, and describes other racially charged events around the U.S. Readers interested in U.S. race relations will find this a thought-provoking window into both the past and the present.
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