Friday, November 13, 2009

Off the Beat and Track: History Reads

New and Different Takes
If you're a fan of history -- or are looking for at least one book that will finally prove to you that history isn't boring -- give up a little time for any one of the following.

K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist -- Peter Carlson. Going back to the summer of 1959 when the Soviet leader toured America (he never made it to Disneyland) the author takes the reader on a hilarious, wild ride.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, & the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History -- Robert Edsel. Edsel uncovers the story of the allied division whose task it was to locate art works stolen by the Nazis -- everything from great art, to church bells and insect collections. A very compelling story about saving culture from war.

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression -- Morris Dickstein. Noted as an era of collective failures, poverty, and community response, the Great Depression was also a time for escapism. This well written history offers an inside look at cultural attempts to buck up and cheer up and may have a familiar feel, given our own contemporary tough times.

The Poison King: The Life & legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy -- Adrienne Mayor. Readable biography at its best, this one offers an inside look at the controversial, fearsome, shrewd, and legendary King of Pontus, (132-63 B.C). Little known in the Western world, he's a supposed relation of Alexander the Great and still a national hero in Kurdistan and Armenia.

Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, & The Worst Maritime Disaster in American History -- Alan Huffman. The riverboat, Sultana, was wrecked in 1865 and left dead 1,700 Union soldiers. This POW story, and its back story, comes alive through diaries, action reports, and impressions of survivors.

The Sisters Who Would be Queen: Mary, Katherine, & Lady Jane Grey -- Leanda de Lisle. Politics and family come together in this grim tragedy about power in Tudor England. This story of the Grey sisters, all heirs to the throne and all victims of extended family infighting, reads like historical fiction.

Post by Bev Simmons