Cod by Mark Kurlansky

Cod by Mark Kurlansky

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

by Mark Kurlansky

The Cod. Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been triggered by it, national diets have been based on it, economies and livelihoods have depended on it. To the millions it has sustained, it has been a treasure more precious that gold. This book spans 1,000 years and four continents. From the Vikings to Clarence Birdseye, Mark Kurlansky introduces the explorers, merchants, writers, chefs and fisherman, whose lives have been interwoven with this prolific fish. He chronicles the cod wars of the 16th and 20th centuries. He blends in recipes and lore from the Middle Ages to the present. In a story that brings world history and human passions into captivating focus, he shows how the most profitable fish in history is today faced with extinction.

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue

by Piu Marie Eatwell

The extraordinary story of the Druce-Portland affair, one of the most notorious, tangled and bizarre legal cases of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

In 1897 an elderly widow, Anna Maria Druce, made a strange request of the London Ecclesiastical Court: it was for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, T.C. Druce.

Behind her application lay a sensational claim: that Druce had been none other than the eccentric and massively wealthy 5th Duke of Portland, and that the—now dead—Duke had faked the death of his alter ego. When opened, Anna Maria contended, Druce’s coffin would be found to be empty. And her children, therefore, were heirs to the Portland millions.

The extraordinary legal case that followed would last for ten years. Its eventual outcome revealed a dark underbelly of lies lurking beneath the genteel facade of late Victorian England.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Bekka rated it ★★★★★ and said, “What a completely fascinating book! The writing style is good—for most of the book it reads like a novel. But any novel with this plot would be dismissed as “too unrealistic!” The twists and turns of this strange story are beyond prediction, and very interesting. Very much in the style of Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, it’s a compelling look at both the people and mores of the Victorian era. If you enjoy true historical crime / mystery stories, you’ll love this book. A Must Read!”

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

by Sarah Vowell

From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous and insightful account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette—the one Frenchman we could all agree on—and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism and its reality.

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.

Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

by Candice Millard

James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.

But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.

Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★★ and said, “You wouldn’t think that a book about a largely forgotten incident in the life of a largely forgotten president would be a mind-blowing, page-turning, leave-you-breathless experience. It was. I wish I could encourage everyone, and I do mean everyone, to read this book. It’s that good.”

Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

by Antonio Mendez & Matt Baglio

The true account of the 1979 rescue of six American hostages from Iran.

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics that still reverberates today. Beneath this crisis another shocking story was known by only a select few: six Americans escaped the embassy and hid within a city roiling with suspicion and fear. A top-level CIA officer named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them before they were detected. Disguising himself as a Hollywood producer, and supported by a cast of expert forgers, deep-cover CIA operatives, foreign agents, and Hollywood special-effects artists, Mendez traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called “Argo.” While pretending to find the ideal film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees and eventually smuggled them out of Iran.

After more than three decades, Antonio Mendez finally details the extraordinarily complex and dangerous operation he led. A riveting story of secret identities, international intrigue, and good old-fashioned American ingenuity, Argo is the pulse-pounding account of the history-making collusion between Hollywood and high-stakes espionage.

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

by Tom Reiss

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo—a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.

Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

by Erik Larson

From the bestselling author and master of narrative non-fiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania.

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★★ and said, “I’m amazed at how compellingly Larson gives the nuances of this tragedy to life. He gives in depth information from all sides of the story and delivers it in a novel-like feel that kept me turning pages. Highly recommended.”

The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara W. Tuchman

The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara W. Tuchman

The Zimmerman Telegram

by Barbara W. Tuchman

The Proud Tower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Guns of August,and The Zimmermann Telegram comprise Barbara W. Tuchman’s classic histories of the First World War era .
 
In January 1917, the war in Europe was, at best, a tragic standoff. Britain knew that all was lost unless the United States joined the war, but President Wilson was unshakable in his neutrality. At just this moment, a crack team of British decoders in a quiet office known as Room 40 intercepted a document that would change history. The Zimmermann telegram was a top-secret message to the president of Mexico, inviting him to join Germany and Japan in an invasion of the United States. How Britain managed to inform the American government without revealing that the German codes had been broken makes for an incredible story of espionage and intrigue as only Barbara W. Tuchman could tell it.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★ and said, “4 1/2 stars. A mind-bobbling, page-turning spy thriller—and it’s true!”

Into the Silence by Wade Davis

Into the Silence by Wade Davis

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

by Wade Davis

A magnificent work of history, biography, and adventure.

If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expeditions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly died of disease at the Front, one was hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead.

In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day. His answer lies in a single phrase uttered by one of the survivors as they retreated from the mountain: “The price of life is death.” Mallory walked on because for him, as for all of his generation, death was but “a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day.” As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. They were not cavalier, but death was no stranger. They had seen so much of it that it had no hold on them. What mattered was how one lived, the moments of being alive.

For all of them Everest had become an exalted radiance, a sentinel in the sky, a symbol of hope in a world gone mad.

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