Readers’ Choice – May

The Assault that Helped Ignite the Civil War

On May 22, 1856 ardent pro-slavery Congressman Preston Brooks of SC savagely attacked and critically injured anti-slavery Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the U.S. Senate with a gold tipped walking stick. Stephen Puleo's "The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War", paints a vivid picture of the vitriolic climate of the times and  chronicles the major events of the decade leading to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Top Recommendation for May

The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War, by Stephen Puleo
(2012, Oct - 374pp)

Superb, easy-to-read, highly informative narrative that explains and links the key events in the years leading to the election of 1860 and the Civil War.

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Readers’ Choice – April

Benjamin Franklin - America's Most Endearing Statesman

On April 14, 1790, Benjamin Franklin died at the age of 86 after an extraordinary life that began as a 15 year old runaway apprentice and culminated as America's most revered and accomplished elder statesman. Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" chronicles Ben's adventurous life and and the qualities that made him so appealing.

Top Recommendation for April

Benjamin Franklin, by Walter Isaacson (2004 – 608pp)

A lively, casual and engaging panorama of Ben as a man of amazing depth and breadth who wore many hats and continued to reinvent himself.


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March Readers’ Choice

Theodore Roosevelt's Greatest Journey - Survival on the Amazon

In March of 1912,after losing his bid for the presidency, Theodore Roosevelt set off on the adventure of his life, exploring the Amazon...and nearly died in the process. Adventure writer Candace Millard's acclaimed "River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey is rich, lush and filled with beautiful scenic descriptions and grisly depictions  of man-eating catfish, ferocious piranhas, white water rapids and the prospect of starvation.

Top Recommendation for March

Thoroughly enjoyable yarn about an ex-President's fervent desire for adventure and acceptance after his humiliating defeat for reelection in 1909. Candice Millard (2006 - 432pp)


One Response to March Readers’ Choice

  1. “The River of Doubt” is a terrific account of a hazardous trip in terra incognita undertaken by TR with his son years after his Presidency. The Roosevelts encountered hazards human and natural and endured them, albeit with an entourage befitting the times. Candice Millard engages the reader adroitly, especially with an ongoing subplot which may have endangered the expedition.
    I have read another of Millard’s books, this about the remarkable James Garfield, a Williams alum and exemplary citizen in Ohio, nominated for president on the unpteenth ballot at the Republican convention of 1880. What resonates is his pathetic death months after his assassination at Union Station, from consequences which would be no big deal today.
    These books ably recount the times and illuminate their subjects. Five stars each.

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February Readers’ Choice

The Revolution at Sea - Global Conflict and the Fate of the Americas

An extraordinary, behind-the scenes perspective on the American Revolution. Yes, there were great land battles - Brandywine, Saratoga, Yorktown. But, the war at sea was global, fought at huge expense by England, France and Spain. Sam Willis's recent (Feb, 2016) "The Struggle for Sea Power: A Naval History of the American Revolution" paints great fleets in constant battle across vast oceans and an American Navy, mostly privateers struggling to survive.


Top Recommendation for February

A remarkably informative, entertaining and often humorous look at the global forces at work during the Revolution and the critical role and vast expense of sea power. (2016 - 608pp)

One Response to February Readers’ Choice

  1. Super interesting and fun book, and quite humorous with a very tounge-in-cheek style. Learned a lot I didn’t know about the politics in England offinancing a massive fleet. The Colonies were indignant at being taxed, which the Brits desperately needed to do to finance and win a global world war. The French barely were scraping by…a miracle they were able to cobble together a fleet for Yorktown.

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December Readers’ Choice

Pearl Harbor and The End of the Japanese Empire

December 7, 1941 was, as FDR famously said, "A Day that will Live In Infamy". The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed the course of history and in 1945  issued in The Atomic Age. Naval historian James D. Hornfischer's new (Oct, 2016) "The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific"  recounts the savage battles of the last year of the war with an in-depth look at the defense plans for the Japanese invasion nightmare.

Top Recommendation for December

A master WW II historian's engaging look at the barbaric last year of the war in the Pacific from both the Japanese and American sides and why the A-Bomb was a necessity (2016, Oct - 640pp)

One Response to December Readers’ Choice

  1. Detailed to a fault. However, many great stories of individuals on both sides who determined the course of the war…and who were affected by it…

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November Readers’ Choice

The Mayflower - The Pilgrims' Epic Struggle for Survival

On November 27, 1620 the first passengers on the the Mayflower stepped from an open 21' h-500-rc-nov-16-1shallop onto the wintery shores of Plymouth, MA and began their great experiment in democracy and religious freedom. Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War" is a timely, readable account of their terrifying trans-Atlantic voyage and desperate attempts to survive against nearly insurmountable odds.


Top Recommendation for November

Engaging, highly readable account of the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower and trials of the first settlers in an oft frightening, life threatening new world. Nathaniel Philbrick (2007 – 480pp)

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October Readers’ Choice

MacArthur's Greatest Triumph - The War at the End of the World

Douglas MacArthur was controversial by any measure, but the campaign that cemented his greatness was the 2 year battle to drive the Japanese from h-500-rc-oct-16-4 New Guinea and prevent the loss of Australia. James Duffy's, "The War at the End of the World: Douglas MacArthur and the Forgotten Fight for New Guinea 1942-1945" provides a superb historical backdrop and riveting detail of the savage fighting that occurred across 1500 miles of Pacific jungle.


Top Recommendation for October

A dramatic, forgotten narrative of the MacArthur's grinding, systematic campaign to reconquer New Guinea. A brilliant military achievement  with MacArthur at his finest (2016 - 448pp)


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September Readers’ Choice

The Cold War is Alive And Well - A Mesmerizing Spy Novel

Dominika Egorova is a brilliant young SVR (KGB) officer sent to "Sparrow School" by her Kremlin handlers. Young CIA operative h-500-rc-sep-16-6Nate Nash runs the CIA's top Russian mole in Moscow. This spell-binding, modern day spy novel is the first in Jason Mathews' riveting  "Red Sparrow" trilogy (1742 **** reviews on Amazon). 34-year CIA vet Mathews paints a fascinating picture of Russian cold war intrigue, trade-craft and culture (food recipes included) with a cast of characters in the best traditions of Le Caree and Flemming

Top Recommendation for September

The Cold War is not dead in this cliffhanger spy trilogy that introduces beautiful Russian ballerina turned spy, Dominika Egorova, and her brash CIA counterpart Nate Nash (2013 - 448pp)


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August Reader’s Choice

The Building of the Berlin Wall - The Cold War Escalates to New Heights

On August 13, 1961 the world awoke to the reality of the Berlin Wall and a shocking  escalation of the Cold War initiated h 500 - rc aug '16 (1)by the USSR's Nikita Krushchev. Frederick Kempe's "Berlin 1961: The Most Dangerous Place On Earth" provides a nail-biting, hour-by-hour narrative of the cold war chess game between Krushchev and a young, untested JFK that began with the Bay of Pigs and led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and one of the most perilous moments in world history.

Top Recommendations for August

A brilliant, fascinating look at the U.S. foreign policy moves that perpetuated the Cold War and led to the ill-fated building of the Berlin Wall. Frederick Kempe (2012, Jan - 608pp)


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July Readers’ Choice

Braddock's Defeat - The Spark that Ignited an Anglo-French World War

July 9, 1755 marks the anniversary of British General Braddock's historic defeat by the French and their Indian allies at the Battle of Monongahela, igniting H 500 - rc jul '16 (3) an Anglo- French global conflict that persisted till Waterloo. Young George Washington organized a successful retreat becoming the "Hero of Monangahela".   Noted historian David Preston's  "Braddock's Defeat: The Battle of Monongahela and the Road to Revolution" provides vivid detail for this historic event.

Top Recommendations for July

Excellent historical context for this world-shaking event. A force of 1400 British troops was decimated by the French and 22 year-old Col George Washington came of age (2015 - 480pp).


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