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By Mark Dawidziak. 2023
A Mystery of Mysteries is a brilliant biography of Edgar Allan Poe that examines the renowned author’s life through the…prism of his mysterious death and its many possible causes.It is a moment shrouded in horror and mystery. Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849, at just forty, in a painful, utterly bizarre manner that would not have been out of place in one of his own tales of terror. What was the cause of his untimely death, and what happened to him during the three missing days before he was found, delirious and “in great distress” on the streets of Baltimore, wearing ill-fitting clothes that were not his own?Mystery and horror. Poe, who remains one of the most iconic of American writers, died under haunting circumstances that reflect the two literary genres he took to new heights. Over the years, there has been a staggering amount of speculation about the cause of death, from rabies and syphilis to suicide, alcoholism, and even murder. But many of these theories are formed on the basis of the caricature we have come to associate with Poe: the gloomy-eyed grandfather of Goth, hunched over a writing desk with a raven perched on one shoulder, drunkenly scribbling his chilling masterpieces. By debunking the myths of how he lived, we come closer to understanding the real Poe—and uncovering the truth behind his mysterious death, as a new theory emerges that could prove the cause of Poe’s death was haunting him all his life.In a compelling dual-timeline narrative alternating between Poe’s increasingly desperate last months and his brief but impactful life, Mark Dawidziak sheds new light on the enigmatic master of macabre.
By Gore Vidal. 2003
This New York Times bestseller offers &“an unblinking view of our national heroes by one who cherishes them, warts and…all&” (New York Review of Books). In Inventing a Nation, National Book Award winner Gore Vidal transports the reader into the minds, the living rooms (and bedrooms), the convention halls, and the salons of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and others. We come to know these men, through Vidal&’s splendid prose, in ways we have not up to now—their opinions of each other, their worries about money, their concerns about creating a viable democracy. Vidal brings them to life at the key moments of decision in the birthing of our nation. He also illuminates the force and weight of the documents they wrote, the speeches they delivered, and the institutions of government by which we still live. More than two centuries later, America is still largely governed by the ideas championed by this triumvirate. The author of Burr and Lincoln, one of the master stylists of American literature and most acute observers of American life, turns his immense literary and historiographic talent to a portrait of these formidable men
By Robert Kanigel. 1991
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING JEREMY IRONS AND DEV PATEL!A moving and enlightening look at the unbelievable true story…of how gifted prodigy Ramanujan stunned the scholars of Cambridge University and revolutionized mathematics.In 1913, a young unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the preeminent English mathematician's opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. Realizing the letter was the work of a genius, Hardy arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England.Thus began one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled. With a passion for rich and evocative detail, Robert Kanigel takes us from the temples and slums of Madras to the courts and chapels of Cambridge University, where the devout Hindu Ramanujan, "the Prince of Intuition," tested his brilliant theories alongside the sophisticated and eccentric Hardy, "the Apostle of Proof."In time, Ramanujan's creative intensity took its toll: he died at the age of thirty-two, but left behind a magical and inspired legacy that is still being plumbed for its secrets today.
By Nicola Tallis. 2023
The first definitive biography of the young Elizabeth I in over twenty years—drawing on a rich variety of primary sources—tracing…her tumultuous path to the crown.Queen Elizabeth I is renowned for her hugely successful reign that makes her, perhaps, the most celebrated monarch in English history. But what of the trials she faced in her challenging early life? Her status as a princess didn&’t last long—when she was less than three years old, her mother—the infamous Anne Boleyn—was brutally beheaded and Elizabeth was relegated to the title of bastard. After losing several stepmothers, she then faced predatory attentions and illicit flirtations from her stepfather, Thomas Seymour, which ultimately forced Elizabeth to leave her home. But these were only the beginning of Elizabeth&’s problems. Later, she became implicated in a plot to overthrow her half-sister, Mary, and faced interrogation and imprisonment in the very tower in which her mother died. Adamantly protesting her innocence, Elizabeth endured the interrogation and was eventually released. Her popularity as a royal increased from that point on, and she finally became queen at the age of twenty-five. Expert historian Nicola Tallis draws on a variety of primary sources—from the queen herself as well as those closest to her—to provide an extensive and thorough study of the Virgin Queen&’s perilous journey to the crown. Looking at Elizabeth as a human being rather than a political chess piece, her narrative explores the dangers and tragedies that plagued Elizabeth's early life, revealing the queen to be a young women who drew strength from her various plights as she navigated one of the most thrilling paths to the throne in the history of the monarchy.
By Carlos Eire. 2010
Continuing the personal saga begun in the National Book Award-winning Waiting for Snow in Havana, the inspiring, sad, funny, bafflingly…beautiful story of a boy uprooted by the Cuban Revolution and transplanted to Miami during the years of the Kennedy administration.In his 2003 National Book Award–winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana, Carlos Eire narrated his coming of age in Cuba just before and during the Castro revolution. That book literally ends in midair as eleven-year-old Carlos and his older brother leave Havana on an airplane—along with thousands of other children—to begin their new life in Miami in 1962. It would be years before he would see his mother again. He would never again see his beloved father.Learning to Die in Miami opens as the plane lands and Carlos faces, with trepidation and excitement, his new life. He quickly realizes that in order for his new American self to emerge, his Cuban self must &“die.&” And so, with great enterprise and purpose, he begins his journey. We follow Carlos as he adjusts to life in his new home. Faced with learning English, attending American schools, and an uncertain future, young Carlos confronts the age-old immigrant&’s plight: being surrounded by American bounty, but not able to partake right away. The abundance America has to offer excites him and, regardless of how grim his living situation becomes, he eagerly forges ahead with his own personal assimilation program, shedding the vestiges of his old life almost immediately, even changing his name to Charles. Cuba becomes a remote and vague idea in the back of his mind, something he used to know well, but now it &“had ceased to be part of the world.&” But as Carlos comes to grips with his strange surroundings, he must also struggle with everyday issues of growing up. His constant movement between foster homes and the eventual realization that his parents are far away in Cuba bring on an acute awareness that his life has irrevocably changed. Flashing back and forth between past and future, we watch as Carlos balances the divide between his past and present homes and finds his way in this strange new world, one that seems to hold the exhilarating promise of infinite possibilities and one that he will eventually claim as his own. An exorcism and an ode, Learning to Die in Miami is a celebration of renewal—of those times when we&’re certain we have died and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.
By Gregory Crouch. 1873
&“A monumentally researched biography of one of the nineteenth century&’s wealthiest self-made Americans…Well-written and worthwhile&” (The Wall Street Journal) it&’s…the rags-to-riches frontier tale of an Irish immigrant who outwits, outworks, and outmaneuvers thousands of rivals to take control of Nevada&’s Comstock Lode.Born in 1831, John W. Mackay was a penniless Irish immigrant who came of age in New York City, went to California during the Gold Rush, and mined without much luck for eight years. When he heard of riches found on the other side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1859, Mackay abandoned his claim and walked a hundred miles to the Comstock Lode in Nevada.Over the course of the next dozen years, Mackay worked his way up from nothing, thwarting the pernicious &“Bank Ring&” monopoly to seize control of the most concentrated cache of precious metals ever found on earth, the legendary &“Big Bonanza,&” a stupendously rich body of gold and silver ore discovered 1,500 feet beneath the streets of Virginia City, the ultimate Old West boomtown. But for the ore to be worth anything it had to be found, claimed, and successfully extracted, each step requiring enormous risk and the creation of an entirely new industry.Now Gregory Crouch tells Mackay&’s amazing story—how he extracted the ore from deep underground and used his vast mining fortune to crush the transatlantic telegraph monopoly of the notorious Jay Gould. &“No one does a better job than Crouch when he explores the subject of mining, and no one does a better job than he when he describes the hardscrabble lives of miners&” (San Francisco Chronicle). Featuring great period photographs and maps, The Bonanza King is a dazzling tour de force, a riveting history of Virginia City, Nevada, the Comstock Lode, and America itself.
G E O R G E H OW E C O L T ’ S The Big House is, as…the New Yorker said, “full of surprises and contains more than seems possible: a family memoir, a brief history of the Cape, an investigation of nostalgia, a study of class, and a meditation on the privileges and burdens of the past.” Colt’s new book, Brothers, is an equally idiosyncratic and masterful blend of memoir and history featuring both the author’s three brothers and iconic brothers in history—the Booths, the Van Goghs, the Kelloggs, the Marx Brothers, and the Thoreaus. Colt believes he would be a different man had he not grown up in a family of four brothers. He movingly recounts the adoration, envy, affection, resentment, and compassion in their shifting relationships from childhood through middle age, also rendering a volatile decade in American life: the 1960s. Some of the Colt men now have children; all have found their own paths; all now consider their brothers to be their closest friends. In alternate chapters, Colt parallels his quest to understand how his own brothers shaped his life with an examination of the rich and complex relationships between iconic brothers in history. He explores how Edwin Booth grew up to become the greatest actor on the nineteenth-century American stage while his younger brother John grew up to assassinate a president. How Will Kellogg worked for his overbearing older brother John Harvey as a subservient yes-man for two decades until he finally broke free and launched the cereal empire that outlasted all his brother’s enterprises. How Vincent van Gogh would never have survived without the financial and emotional support of his younger brother, Theo, in a claustrophobic relationship that both defined and confined them. How Henry David Thoreau’s life was shadowed by the early death of his older brother, John, who haunted and inspired his writing. And how the Marx Brothers collaborated on the screen but competed offstage for women, money, and fame. Illuminating and affecting, this book will be revelatory for any parent of sons, any sibling, anyone curious about how a man’s life can be molded by his brothers. Colt’s magnificent book is a testament to the abiding power of fraternal love.
By Roman Sandgruber. 2022
The bundle of 31 letters, the pages of which had long yellowed with age, had lain hidden in the attic…where they were found for over a century. Only when the razor-sharp script was examined further did historians discover just who had written them – and that person, Alois, was Adolf Hitler’s father. Born Alois Schicklgruber on 7 June 1837, the identity of his biological father still undisclosed, Alois eventually became a civil servant in the Austrian customs service. At around the age of 40, Alois changed his family name from Schicklgruber to Hitler – his infamous son being born some eleven years later. The contents of the re-discovered letters have allowed the renowned historian and author Roman Sandgruber to reassess the image that we have of Alois, offering the world a completely new and authentic impression of the man. In Hitler’s Father, Sandgruber re-examines Alois’ personality and how he significantly shaped the young Adolf. The letters also shed further light onto the everyday life of the Hitler family as whole, a story which is often characterized by myths, inventions and assumptions. They have given the author the opportunity to recount the childhood and youth of the future dictator, painting a dramatic picture of the ‘Führer’ growing up. These letters also help answer the question that is so often asked: How could a child from an Upper Austrian province, seemingly a failure and self-taught, rise to a position of such power? Indeed, Adolf Hitler’s father and ‘the province’ seemingly lay heavily on him until his suicide in the Führerbunker in 1945. The author examines how the young Hitler’s lowly upbringing may have affected him in the years that followed – years which shaped the history of the whole world.
By Joanna L. Stratton. 1981
From a rediscovered collection of autobiographical accounts written by hundreds of Kansas pioneer women in the early twentieth century, Joanna…Stratton has created a collection hailed by Newsweek as “uncommonly interesting” and “a remarkable distillation of primary sources.”Never before has there been such a detailed record of women’s courage, such a living portrait of the women who civilized the American frontier. Here are their stories: wilderness mothers, schoolmarms, Indian squaws, immigrants, homesteaders, and circuit riders. Their personal recollections of prairie fires, locust plagues, cowboy shootouts, Indian raids, and blizzards on the plains vividly reveal the drama, danger and excitement of the pioneer experience. These were women of relentless determination, whose tenacity helped them to conquer loneliness and privation. Their work was the work of survival, it demanded as much from them as from their men—and at last that partnership has been recognized. “These voices are haunting” (The New York Times Book Review), and they reveal the special heroism and industriousness of pioneer women as never before.
By Anne Lawrence-Mathers. 2012
A medieval historian examines what we really know about the man who was &“Merlin the Magician&” and his impact on…Britain. Merlin has remained an enthralling and curious individual since he was first introduced in the twelfth century in Geoffrey of Monmouth&’s Historia Regum Britanniae. But although the Merlin of literature and Arthurian myth is well known, his &“historical&” figure and his relation to medieval magic are less familiar. In this book Anne Lawrence-Mathers explores just who he was and what he has meant to Britain.The historical Merlin was no rough magician: he was a learned figure from the cutting edge of medieval science and adept in astrology, cosmology, prophecy, and natural magic, as well as being a seer and a proto-alchemist. His powers were convincingly real—and useful, for they helped to add credibility to the &“long-lost&” history of Britain which first revealed them to a European public. Merlin&’s prophecies reassuringly foretold Britain&’s path, establishing an ancient ancestral line and linking biblical prophecy with more recent times. Merlin helped to put British history into world history.Lawrence-Mathers also explores the meaning of Merlin&’s magic across the centuries, arguing that he embodied ancient Christian and pagan magical traditions, recreated for a medieval court and shaped to fit a new moral framework. Linking Merlin&’s reality and power with the culture of the Middle Ages, this remarkable book reveals the true impact of the most famous magician of all time.&“The story of how the image of Merlin as political prophet, magician and half-demon evolved in the Middle Ages is as fascinating as any romance.&”—Euan Cameron
By Paula Byrne. 2016
The acclaimed biography of the unconventional, nearly forgotten Kennedy sister who charmed the world and broke with her family for love.Rose…and Joe Kennedy’s children were the embodiment of ambitious, wholesome Americanism. Yet even within this group of overachievers, the irrepressible Kathleen stood out. Lively, charismatic, and blessed with graceful athleticism, the alluring socialite known as Kick effortlessly made friends and stole hearts.When her father became ambassador to Great Britain in 1938, Kick charmed the nation with her unconventional attitude and easygoing humor. She would also shock and alienate her devout family by marrying the scion of a virulently anti-Catholic family— William Cavendish, the heir apparent of the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth. But the marriage would last only a few months; Billy was killed in combat in 1944, just four years before Kick’s own unexpected death in an airplane crash at twenty-eight.Paula Byrne recounts this remarkable young woman’s life as never before, from her work at the Washington Times-Herald to her volunteering with the Red Cross in wartime England; and from her deep love of politics to her decision to renounce her faith for the man she loved. Sympathetic and compelling, Kick shines a spotlight on this feisty and unique Kennedy long relegated to the shadows of her legendary family’s history.
By Patrick N Hunt. 2017
Hannibal is &“an exciting biography of one of history&’s greatest commanders…a thrilling page-turner&” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) about the brilliant…general who successfully crossed the Alps with his war elephants and brought Rome to its knees, and who is still regarded today as one of the greatest military strategists in history.Hannibal Barca of Carthage, born 247 BC, was one of the great generals of the ancient world. His father, Hamilcar, imposed Carthaginian rule over much of present-day Spain. After Hamilcar led the Carthaginian forces against Rome in the First Punic War, Hannibal followed in his father&’s footsteps. From the time he was a teenager, Hannibal fought against Rome. He is famed for leading Carthage&’s army across North Africa, into Spain, along the Mediterranean coast, and then crossing the Alps with his army and war elephants. Hannibal won victories in northern Italy by outmaneuvering his Roman adversaries and defeated a larger Roman army at the battle of Cannae in 216 BC. Unable to force Rome to capitulate, however, he was eventually forced to leave Italy and return to Carthage when a savvy Roman general named Scipio invaded North Africa. Hannibal and Scipio fought an epic battle at Zama, which Hannibal lost. Many Carthaginians blamed Hannibal, who was exiled until his death. Hannibal is still regarded as a military genius. Napoleon, George Patton, and Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. are only some of the generals who studied and admired him. His strategy and tactics are still taught in military academies. &“With wonderful energy…archeologist and historian Patrick Hunt distills his survey of literature about the Second Punic War into a brightly dramatic story that covers virtually every anecdote connected with Hannibal&” (The Christian Science Monitor). &“Hunt&’s story of the doomed general, whose exploits are more celebrated than those of his vanquishers, will appeal to any reader interested in military history or strategy&” (Publishers Weekly).
By Chun Yu. 2015
I was born in a small city near the East Sea,when the Great Cultural Revolution began.My name is Little Green,my…country Zhong Guo, the Middle Kingdom.When I was ten years old,our leader had died and the revolution ended.And this is how I remember it.When Chun Yu was born in a small city in China, she was born into a country in revolution. The streets were filled with roaming Red Guards, the walls were covered with slogans, and reeducation meetings were held in all workplaces. Every family faced danger and humiliation, even the youngest children.Shortly after Chun’s birth, her beloved father was sent to a peasant village in the countryside to be reeducated in the ways of Chairman Mao. Chun and her brother stayed behind with their mother, who taught in a country middle school where Mao’s Little Red Book was a part of every child’s education. Chun Yu’s young life was witness to a country in turmoil, struggle, and revolution—the only life she knew.This first-person memoir of a child’s view of the Chinese Cultural Revolution is a stunning account of a country in crisis and a testimony to the spirit of the individual—no matter how young or how innocent.
By Herman J. Selderhuis. 2009
There are many biographies of John Calvin, the theologian--some villifying him and others extolling his virtues--but few that reveal John…Calvin, the man. Professor and renowned Reformation historian Herman Selderhuis has written this book to bring Calvin near to the reader, showing him as a man who had an impressive impact on the development of the Western world, but who was first of all a believer struggling with God and with the way God governed both the world and his own life. Selderhuis draws on Calvin's own publications and commentary on the biblical figures with whom he strongly identified to describe his theology in the context of his personal development. Throughout we see a person who found himself alone at many of the decisive moments of his life--a fact that echoed through Calvin's subsequent sermons and commentaries. Selderhuis's unique and compelling look at John Calvin, with all of his merits and foibles, ultimately discloses a man who could not find himself at home in the world in which he lived.
By David Colbert. 2008
Discover ten crucial days in the life of activist and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in this installment…of the 10 Days series.Martin Luther King, Jr., lived 14,325 days, but then of them changed his world—and ours. Follow Dr. King&’s journey from his teenage refusal to give up his bus seat to his famous &“I Have a Dream&” speech that inspired the world. This essential book includes historical black-and-white photographs, a selected bibliography, and an important introduction to the Civil Rights Movement—including the Montgomery bus boycott, the Freedom Rides, and Dr. King&’s time in a Birmingham jail cell.
By Bob Greene. 2000
When Bob Greene went home to central Ohio to be with his dying father, it set off a chain of…events that led him to knowing his dad in a way he never had before—thanks to a quiet man who lived just a few miles away, a man who had changed the history of the world.Greene's father—a soldier with an infantry division in World War II—often spoke of seeing the man around town. All but anonymous even in his own city, carefully maintaining his privacy, this man, Greene's father would point out to him, had "won the war." He was Paul Tibbets. At the age of twenty-nine, at the request of his country, Tibbets assembled a secret team of 1,800 American soldiers to carry out the single most violent act in the history of mankind. In 1945 Tibbets piloted a plane—which he called Enola Gay, after his mother—to the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where he dropped the atomic bomb.On the morning after the last meal he ever ate with his father, Greene went to meet Tibbets. What developed was an unlikely friendship that allowed Greene to discover things about his father, and his father's generation of soldiers, that he never fully understood before. Duty is the story of three lives connected by history, proximity, and blood; indeed, it is many stories, intimate and achingly personal as well as deeply historic. In one soldier's memory of a mission that transformed the world—and in a son's last attempt to grasp his father's ingrained sense of honor and duty—lies a powerful tribute to the ordinary heroes of an extraordinary time in American life.What Greene came away with is found history and found poetry—a profoundly moving work that offers a vividly new perspective on responsibility, empathy, and love. It is an exploration of and response to the concept of duty as it once was and always should be: quiet and from the heart. On every page you can hear the whisper of a generation and its children bidding each other farewell.
By Peter Hessler. 2013
Full of unforgettable figures and an unrelenting spirit of adventure, Strange Stones is a far-ranging, thought-provoking collection of Peter Hessler’s…best reportage—a dazzling display of the powerful storytelling, shrewd cultural insight, and warm sense of humor that are the trademarks of his work.Over the last decade, as a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three books, Peter Hessler has lived in Asia and the United States, writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider in these two very different regions. This unusual perspective distinguishes Strange Stones, which showcases Hessler’s unmatched range as a storyteller. “Wild Flavor” invites readers along on a taste test between two rat restaurants in South China. One story profiles Yao Ming, basketball star and China’s most beloved export, another David Spindler, an obsessive and passionate historian of the Great Wall. In “Dr. Don,” Hessler writes movingly about a small-town pharmacist and his relationship with the people he serves.While Hessler’s subjects and locations vary, subtle but deeply important thematic links bind these pieces—the strength of local traditions, the surprising overlap between apparently opposing cultures, and the powerful lessons drawn from individuals who straddle different worlds.
Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family's Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice
By Alisa Statman, Brie Tate. 2012
Restless Souls is the true, bone-chilling chronicle of the Manson Family murders and its aftermath, from the point of view…of the victims’ families.When actress Sharon Tate and four others were brutally murdered by Charles Manson and his followers, the world was shocked. More than forty years later, the gruesome barbarity of the “Manson Family” still fascinates and horrifies.This true crime memoir by Alisa Statman, a 20-year Tate family friend, and Brie Tate, the daughter of Sharon Tate’s niece, includes interviews with the Tate family, accounts from personal letters, tape recordings, home movies, and private diaries.Complete with color photographs and personal insights, Restless Souls is the most revealing, riveting, and emotionally raw account of the gruesome slayings, the hunt and capture of the killers, and the behind-the-scenes drama of their trials, as well as a touching view of the torment that the victims families’ have endured for years after such tragedy.
By Steven V. Roberts. 2005
From Steven V. Roberts comes My Fathers' Houses, a memoir of growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, an immigrant community…in the shadow of the Statue if Liberty, and the story of how his father and his grandfather's dreams–and their own passion for writing and ideas–influenced Steven's future, and inspired him to seek his fortune in New York City, the media capital of the world. This is a story of a town and a time and a boy who grew up there, a boy who became a New York Times correspondent, TV and radio personality, and best–selling author. The town was Bayonne, New Jersey, a European village so close to New York that Steve could see the Statue of Liberty from his bedroom window. The time was the forties and fifties, when children of immigrants were striving to become American and find a place in a booming post–war world. The core of Steve's world was one block, where he lived in a house his grandfather, Harry Schanbam, had built with his own hands. But the story starts back in Russia, where the family business of writing and ideas began. Steve's other grandfather, Abraham Rogowsky, stole money to become a Zionist pioneer in Palestine before moving to America. The tale continues through the Depression, when Steve's parents lived one block apart in Bayonne, wrote letters to each other and married in secret. During the war years, Steve's father wrote children's books and based one of his best sellers on outings he took with his twin sons to the local train station. As his byline, he used his boys' middle names–Jeffrey Victor–so Steve got his first writing credit before he was two. The story concludes with the boy leaving Bayonne, going on to Harvard, meeting the Catholic girl who became his wife, and starting work at the New York Times–across the river, and worlds away, from where he began. Now a grandfather of five, Steve Roberts looks in the mirror and sees his own father and grandfather looking back at him–a family chain that started in 19th century Russia and thrives today in 21st century America.
By Edward Dolnick. 2011
New York Times bestselling author Edward Dolnick brings to light the true story of one of the most pivotal moments…in modern intellectual history—when a group of strange, tormented geniuses invented science as we know it, and remade our understanding of the world. Dolnick’s earth-changing story of Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the birth of modern science is at once an entertaining romp through the annals of academic history, in the vein of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, and a captivating exploration of a defining time for scientific progress, in the tradition of Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder.