History Picks for October

We have some great new history books this month: 150-year-old letters by a young German settler give exciting look at Wellington’s past; the “sexy” lives of the Tudors; American Empire looks at the United States in the last half of the 20th century; and more. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverAn indescribable beauty : letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand, 1859 & 1862 / Friedrich August Krull.
“The translated letters of Friedrich Krull from Wellington back home to Germany in 1859, at the behest of German naturalist and historian Ernst Boll. Krull details people, landscapes and birds of early Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti and surrounds. Included are reports on meetings with Te Rauparaha’s son and nephew as well as other prominent Māori leaders. The book is illustrated with paintings and photographs from the time”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverIn bed with the Tudors : the sex lives of a dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I / Amy Licence.
“Illegitimate children, adulterous queens, impotent kings, and a whole dynasty resting on their shoulders. Sex and childbirth were quite literally a matter of life or death for the Tudors – Elizabeth of York died in childbirth, two of Henry VIII’s queens were beheaded for infidelity, and Elizabeth I’s elective virginity signalled the demise of a dynasty. Amy Licence guides the reader through the births of Elizabeth of York’s two sons, Arthur and Henry, Catherine of Aragon’s subsequent marriages to both of these men, Henry VIII’s other five wives and his mistresses, and the sex lives of his daughters. This book details the experiences of all these women, from fertility, conception and pregnancy through to the delivery chamber, on to maternal and infant mortality. Each woman’s story is a blend of specific personal circumstances, set against their historical moment. For some the joys were brief, for others it was a question that ultimately determined their fates”–Cover.

Syndetics book coverBombers and mash : the domestic front, 1939-45 / Raynes Minns.
Women of Britain, your country needs you! Bombers and Mash tells the story of the Second World War on the domestic front. It takes us from the kitchen to the nursery showing how women managed without almost everything from potato peelers, cosmetics and prams to food, fuel, transport – and men. These women coped with rationing, evacuation, separation from families, long hours of work in factories, hospitals and on the land. Through it all they kept the nation fed on ingeniously nutritious and economical meals – hundreds of the best, and some of the worst, are included here. In print for over thirty years, Bombers and Mash is moving, fascinating and full of posters and images from the Second World War. It is both an illustrated social history and a cookery book offering a remarkable picture of the deprivation and drama of the womens war. (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe Queen’s agent : Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I / John Cooper.
Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth’s Secretary, Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect her. He ran a network of agents in England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots. He recruited likely young men and ‘turned’ others. He encouraged Elizabeth to make war against the Catholic Irish rebels, with extreme brutality and oversaw the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.The Queen’s Agent is a story of secret agents, cryptic codes and ingenious plots, set in a turbulent period of England’s history. It is also the story of a man devoted to his queen, sacrificing his every waking hour to save the threatened English state. (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe road not taken : how Britain narrowly missed a revolution / Frank McLynn.
Britain has not been successfully invaded since 1066; nor, in nearly 1,000 years, has it known a true revolution – one that brings radical, systemic and enduring change. The contrast with her European neighbours – with France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece and Russia – is dramatic. All have been convulsed by external warfare, revolution and civil war – all have experienced fundamental change to their ruling elites or their social and economic structures. In “The Road Not Taken” Frank McLynn investigates the seven occasions when England came closest to revolution: the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, the Jack Cade rising of 1450, the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, the English Civil War of the 1640s, the Jacobite Rising of 1745-6, the Chartist Movement of 1838-48 and the General Strike of 1926. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAmerican empire : the rise of a global power, the democratic revolution at home, 1945-2000 / Joshua B. Freeman.
“Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center history professor Freeman examines a postwar dominant America, and it couldn’t come at a better moment, when its citizens are rethinking its global influence. Covering the glory years of 1945-2000, Freeman is at his best when he turns his critical eye on America’s turbulent internal affairs, delving into Truman’s contested Fair Deal reforms, the McCarthy communist witch-hunts, Eisenhower’s cautious civil rights record, LBJ’s ambitious Great Society programs, Nixon’s Watergate disgrace, the return of “corporate capitalism” and Reagan conservatism. Freeman deals with the Clinton administration’s economic policies, which, he says, gave many Americans a higher standard of living, and global conflicts, followed by the Republican victory in 2000. Though at its peak, America’s power exceeded that of the Roman and British empires in cultural, economic, military, and political terms, the nation’s postwar dreams were never completely fulfilled, says Freeman. “And the 21st century’s “prolonged warfare, fearfulness, and economic troubles… owe more than a little to decisions made in the earlier epoch.” Freeman’s epic survey provides a fuller understanding of America’s postwar achievements and challenges, without the bias, drama, or despair of other books on these important issues. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)