history

  Eternity Street tells the story of a violent place in a violent time: the rise of Los Angeles from its origins as a small Mexican pueblo. In his narrative, John Mack Faragher relates a dramatic history of conquest and ethnic suppression, of collective disorder and interpersonal conflict. Eternity Street recounts the struggle to achieve justice amid the turmoil of a loosely governed frontier, and it delivers a piercing look at the birth of this quintessentially American city. 

John Mack Faragher is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of many books on the American frontier, including Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, which received a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and, most recently, A Great and Noble Scheme.

  More than a century has passed since Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House, but he still continues to fascinate. Never has a more exuberant man been our nation's leader. He became a war hero, reformed the NYPD, busted the largest railroad and oil trusts, passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, created national parks and forests, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and built the Panama Canal―to name just a few.

Yet it was the cause he championed the hardest―America's entry in to WWI―that would ultimately divide and destroy him. His youngest son, Quentin, his favorite, would die in an air fight. How does looking at Theodore's relationship with his son, and understanding him as a father, tell us something new about this larger-than-life-man?

Eric Burns explores the story and relationship in his book, The Golden Lad: The Haunting Story of Quentin and Theodore Roosevelt.

 In his new book The Year Of Lear: Shakespeare In 1606, James Shapiro offers a portrait of one of the most inspired moments in William Shakespeare's career, the extraordinary year he completed King Lear and then went on to write the two other great tragedies Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. Shapiro, a preeminent Shakespeare scholar and author of the previous books, A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599 and Contested Will sheds new light on these plays by placing them in the context of their time.

  In The Black Calhouns, Gail Lumet Buckley—daughter of actress Lena Horne—delves deep into her family history, detailing the experiences of an extraordinary African-American family from Civil War to Civil Rights.

Beginning with her great-great grandfather Moses Calhoun, a house slave who used the rare advantage of his education to become a successful businessman in post-war Atlanta, Buckley follows her family’s two branches: one that stayed in the South, and the other that settled in Brooklyn. 

A child of wealth and privilege possessing unlimited will and ambition, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, seemed destined for the presidency. The nation he lead was large in population, rich in resources, committed to a universal ideology of liberal democracy, and destined for grand geopolitical power. A man and a nation were each poised on the brink of greatness. FDR's twelve years in The White House culminated in what can justly be called an 'American century'. This convergence of individual and national destinies created a large and complex story that remains essential to our understanding the world in which we live in today. 

  In June 1983 Margaret Thatcher won the biggest increase in a government’s parliamentary majority in British electoral history. Over the next four years, as Charles Moore relates in this central volume of his uniquely authoritative biography, Britain’s first woman prime minister changed the course of her country’s history and that of the world, often by sheer force of will.

Charles Moore has had unprecedented access to all of Mrs. Thatcher’s private and government papers. Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow is his second volume on the first - and so far only - female PM of Great Britain.

For more than 2,000 years, the death of Julius Caesar has fascinated us. Most of us only know only what we learned from the high school staple, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: a story of amateur politicians who banded together, however clumsily, to assassinate a tyrant. Since then, countless movies and series have referenced the historical event, but what actually happened on March 15, 44 B.C. is more gripping than any fictional account.

In the new book The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination, Barry Strauss presents a historic account of the real death of Julius Caesar, and an examination of the key players' motives. 

  Can a football game affect the outcome of an election? What about shark attacks? Or a drought? In a rational world the answer, of course, would be no.

But as bestselling historian Rick Shenkman explains in Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics, our world is anything but rational. Drawing on science, politics, and history, Shenkman explores the hidden forces behind our often illogical choices.

  Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words.

His story is told in the latest book in Brad Meltzer's New York Times Bestselling "Ordinary People Change the World" series, I am Martin Luther King Jr.

  The devastation of Pearl Harbor and the American victory at Midway were prelude to a greater challenge: rolling back the vast Japanese Pacific Empire, island by island.

Historian Ian Toll’s new book, The Conquering Tide, encompasses the heart of the Pacific War—the period between mid-1942 and mid-1944.

  In eighteenth-century America, information about a woman’s life and accomplishments was very difficult to discover, but some woman were avid letter writers or devoted journal keepers, and thankfully some of those letters and journals were saved.

In her new book, Remarkable Women of New England: Daughters, Wives, Sisters, and Mothers: The War Years 1754 to 1787, Carole Owens tells the story of Mary Gray Bidwell, Elizabeth Edwards Burr; Lavinia Deane Fisk, Abigail Williams Sergeant Dwight and others.

The war years changed the lives of each of these women and their lives changed our new country.

We hear all the time about weight gain, weight loss, how Americans are the heaviest we have ever been, and myriad plans for remedying our egregious fatness. Yet, what if much of what we are told, and what we believe, simply is not true?

Writer Harriet Brown set out to explore our relentless obsession with weight and thinness in the new book Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do about It.

Serhii Plhoky is Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University, the director of Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute, and one of the foremost experts on Ukrainian history. As he explains in his new book we must look back to Ukraine's past to understand its present and future. 

  Reeling from the Great Depression, the United States and Germany elected two new leaders of diametrically opposing ideologies. In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt won the presidency and Adolf Hitler became chancellor.

Author and historian David Pietrusza will discuss his new book - 1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR–Two Tales of Politics, Betrayal, and Unlikely Destiny.

  License to Quill is a James Bond-esque spy thriller starring William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe during history's real life Gunpowder Plot.

The story follows the fascinating golden age of English espionage, the tumultuous cold war gripping post-Reformation Europe, and the cloak-and-dagger politics of Renaissance England. Readers will frequent the same taverns as Shakespeare, test their wits against the infamous Guy Fawkes, witness the miracles of the scientific revolution, and delight in the mysterious origins of the Bard's most haunting play: Macbeth.

'Trace' By Lauret Savoy

Dec 14, 2015

  While many geologists focus their inquiry on the Earth, probing contours of the land to reveal how past developments have come to shape the present, Lauret Savoy’s new book, Trace, takes a more personal journey.

Lauret Edith Savoy is a woman of mixed heritage, and a professor of environmental studies and geology at Mount Holyoke College, where she explores the intertwinings of natural and cultural histories. She is a self-described “Earth historian” and in the new book traces her Native, African-, Euro-American ancestry across the United States in the hope of learning what her extended family experienced.

Following his acclaimed Atlantic and The Men Who United the States, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester offers an enthralling biography of the Pacific Ocean and its role in the modern world, exploring our relationship with this imposing force of nature. Simon Winchester discusses his new book, Pacific, on this week’s Book Show.

Listener Essay - Legacy

Dec 8, 2015

  Carole Owens is an author and historian. 

Legacy

Sunday morning, “December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy.”

My grandfather was at Pearl Harbor. Sometime between 7:53 and 9:55 a.m., he was hit by shrapnel – nasty chunks of metal packed into bombs.

There are a number of iconic elements that make up New York City, The Empire State Building, Time Square, Rockefeller Center, The Statue of Liberty, but long before these landmarks could come to define "The Big City" its very structure had to be developed. The new book City on a Grid: How New York Became New York, tells just that story. How New York City's streets came to form its rectilinear grid that millions of people now walk through everyday.

In his new book The Age of Clinton: America In The 1990s, historian Gil Troy, asks us to look past our prejudices about William Jefferson Clinton's Presidency and instead focus on the way in which his time in office shaped the culture of the 1990's. The book also of course sheds light on Hillary Clinton's Political career as we approach the 2016 Presidential Election.

Ron Livingston plays John Carver in a new miniseries about the Pilgrims.
National Geographic Channcel

You might not immediately recognize Ron Livingston in the new miniseries Saints & Strangers, the two-night story of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth that debuts Sunday at 9 on the National Geographic Channel.

The actor known to a generation of fans from movies like Swingers and Office Space and series like Sex and the City and Band of Brothers appears under a matted mane as John Carver, the first governor of Plymouth Colony whose struggles began on the Mayflower and only got worse in the new world.

  Even with last week's terror attack, Paris is still the City of Light. Luc Sante wants us to remember that Paris has a history of the city of the poor, the eccentric, the outcast, the willfully nonconforming. In his book The Other Paris, gives us a panoramic view of that second metropolis, which has nearly vanished but whose remains in the bricks and stones of the contemporary city, in the culture of the city itself, and by extension, around the world. 

  Sarah Vowell is the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Her latest look at history is an insightful and unconventional account of George Washington’s trusted officer and friend, that swashbuckling teenage French aristocrat the Marquis de Lafayette.

Drawn to the patriots’ war out of a lust for glory, Enlightenment ideas and the traditional French hatred for the British, young Lafayette crossed the Atlantic expecting to join forces with an undivided people, encountering instead fault lines between the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, rebel and loyalist inhabitants, and a conspiracy to fire George Washington, the one man holding together the rickety, seemingly doomed patriot cause.

  Long before his finest hour as Britain's wartime leader, Winston Churchill emerged on the world stage as a brazen foreign correspondent, covering wars of empire in Cuba, India, the Sudan, and South Africa.

In those far-flung corners of the world, reporting from the front lines between 1895 and 1900, Churchill mastered his celebrated command of language and formed strong opinions about war.

Based on his private letters and war reportage, Winston Churchill Reporting by Simon Read intertwines young Winston's daring exploits in combat, adventures in distant corners of the globe, and rise as a major literary talent.

  London in April, 1940, was a place of great fear and conflict. Everyone was on edge; civilization itself seemed imperiled. The Germans are marching. They have taken Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. They now menace Britain. Should Britain negotiate with Germany?

The members of the War Cabinet bicker, yell, lose their control, and are divided. Churchill, leading the faction to fight, and Lord Halifax, cautioning that prudence is the way to survive, attempt to usurp one another by any means possible. Their country is on the line. And, in historian John Kelly’s new book: Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain's Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940, he brings us alongside these complex and imperfect men, determining the fate of the British Empire.

John Kelly specializes in narrative history. He is the author of several books including: The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People.

    When the United States government passed the Bill of Rights in 1791, its uncompromising protection of speech and of the press were unlike anything the world had ever seen before. But by 1798, the once-dazzling young republic of the United States was on the verge of collapse: partisanship gripped the weak federal government, British seizures threatened American goods and men on the high seas, and war with France seemed imminent as its own democratic revolution deteriorated into terror. Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical.

So that July, President John Adams and the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation that made criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time. In Liberty’s First Crisis, writer Charles Slack tells the story of the 1798 Sedition Act, the crucial moment when high ideals met real-world politics and the country’s future hung in the balance.

  Best-selling author Elizabeth Rosner's Electric City: A Novel, is now available in paper-back. The historical tale spans from the end of the nineteenth century, through to the mid-twenties, up to the summer of love. The year is 1892; a few years earlier Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works to upstate New York at the confluence of the mighty Hudson River and its tributary the Mohawk. It soon became the headquarters of a major manufacturing company giving the town its name Electric City. Elizabeth Rosner will be in our region to talk about her book in an event Tuesday, November 10th, for the Women's Club of Albany. 

  In his new book, A Nation Of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, veteran NPR correspondent  Tom Gjelten assesses the impact and importance of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act by interweaving the story a handful of immigrant families with the history and analysis of the immigration changes in America as a whole. The fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 act is this month and immigration continues to be a hot button issue in American politics.

Tom Gjelten is a long time NPR news correspondent, he's covered wars in Central America, the Middle East, and the former Yugoslavia, as well as major national stories in the United States. His NPR reporting has won him two Overseas Press Club Awards, a George Polk Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. 

  The history of the Catskills is pivotal in the history of our country that is described in great detail in Stephen Silverman’s, The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America.

Silverman’s book brings to life the beauty, vastness and turning points of the Catskills history, sharing stimulating stories of the region’s influential entrepreneurs, artists, gangsters, politicians, musicians and outcasts.

Vital to the development of America, the Catskills region was the birthplace of New York’s own Declaration of Independence, a central location for America’s industrial revolution, a rising resort town with hundreds of hotels and an artistic muse for the 19th century Hudson River School of Art and 20th century entertainers like Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers.

  

  Life in the Mohawk Valley today is vastly different from generations ago. Long gone are the factory whistles calling workers to their shifts in old mill towns. Fort Plain still benefits from little-known inventor William Yerdon, and Utica baseball player George Burns was so skilled that fans called left field Burnsville.

Few realize that a local artist shared a special bond with John Philip Sousa, one of the nations greatest musicians. The Tamarack Playhouse was once the venue of spectacular theatricals, and as time goes on, there are fewer alumni to remember Amsterdams Bishop Scully High School.

Local author and local broadcasting legend Bob Cudmore shows that while lost, these and other compelling stories no longer need be forgotten.

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