Before Tom Cruise started divorcing wives, Henry VIII had the biggest “celebrity” divorce around! This month’s history books include a new account of this famous divorce. We also have some great new New Zealand histories, along with looks at the Kings of Scotland and the twelve Caesars. Enjoy!
The divorce of Henry VIII : the untold story from inside the Vatican / Catherine Fletcher.
“Given the amount of material available on the Tudors, it’s difficult to think that anyone even remotely interested in this era is unfamiliar with the particulars of Henry VIII’s attempts to seek a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the resulting political and religious fallout. Fortunately, in her first book, Fletcher (history, Univ. of Durham, England) has found a new angle by focusing on a little-known figure: Gregorio Casali, England’s Italian-born ambassador to Rome. As one of the diplomats charged with securing the Pope’s approval for the divorce, Casali played a central role in the dealings at the papal court. Though some biographical gaps remain, the information Fletcher has uncovered about Casali’s life-full of clashing politics, professional rivalries, and deep family loyalties-provides a fresh perspective on the proceedings of the divorce attempt as well as an in-depth look at the complex world of 16th-century diplomacy. ” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)
The meeting place : Māori and Pākehā encounters, 1642-1840 / Vincent O’Malley.
“The Meeting Place is an examination of relationships between Maori and Pakeha focusing predominantly on the period between 1814 and 1840 when, O’Malley argues, both peoples lived/inhabited a ‘middle ground’- in the historian’s Richard White’s phrase – in which neither could dictate the political, economic or cultural rules. Vincent O’Malley begins by introducing readers to pre-1814 encounters between Maori and European from, Tasman and Cook to sealers and whalers. He then provides a thematic analysis of the 1814 to 1840 period, looking at economic, religious, political and sexual encounters as Maori and Pakeha sorted through the meanings of land, money, gods, leaders and sex. Finally, O’Malley looks at why and how the middle ground gave way to a world in which Pakeha had enough power to dictate terms. The Meeting Place draws on an impressive range of sources to offer a welcome addition to works concerning Maori-Pakeha interaction in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries including those by Anne Salmond, James Belich, Judith Binney, Hazel Petrie, and others. It will appeal to the every general reader interested in New Zealand history but will also be useful for teaching. Its coverage of several major historical debates is likely to serve existing university courses throughout New Zealand as well as the senior secondary school curriculum.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)
Once were Pacific : Māori connections to Oceania / Alice Te Punga Somerville.
“Native identity is usually associated with a particular place. But what if that place is the ocean? Once Were Pacific explores this question as it considers how Maori and other Pacific peoples frame their connection to the ocean, to New Zealand, and to each other through various creative works. Maori scholar Alice Te Punga Somerville shows how and when Maori and other Pacific peoples articulate their ancestral history as migratory seafarers, drawing their identity not only from land but also from water. Although Maori are ethnically Polynesian, and Aotearoa New Zealand is clearly a part of the Pacific region, in New Zealand the terms “Maori” and “Pacific” are colloquially applied to two distinct communities: Maori are Indigenous, and “Pacific” refers to migrant communities from elsewhere in the region. Asking how this distinction might blur historical and contemporary connections, Te Punga Somerville interrogates the relationship between indigeneity, migration, and diaspora, focusing on texts: poetry, fiction, theater, film, and music, viewed alongside historical instances of performance, journalism, and scholarship. In this sustained treatment of the Maori diaspora, Te Punga Somerville provides the first critical analysis of relationships between Indigenous and migrant communities in New Zealand.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)
The faded map : lost kingdoms of Scotland / Alistair Moffat.
“This book brings to vivid life the half-forgotten kings and kingdoms of two thousand years ago, of the time of the Romans, the Dark Ages and into the early medieval period. Though recent politics and logistics have established borders and jurisdictions which now seem permanent and impervious, The Faded Map looks beyond these to remember a land that was once quiet and green. In this fascinating account, Alistair Moffat describes the landscape these men and women moved through and talks of a Celtic society which spoke to itself in Old Welsh, where the Sons of Prophesy ruled, and the time when the English kings of Bernicia held sway over vast swathes of what is now Scotland. Heroes rode out of the mists to challenge them and then join with them. The faint echo of the din of ancient battles can be heard as Alistair Moffat takes the reader on a remarkable journey around a lost Scotland.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)
The twelve Caesars / Matthew Dennison.
“One of them was a military genius; one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned; another earned the nickname ‘sphincter artist’. Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide – and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the ‘twelve Caesars’ – Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colourful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, licence, brutality and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an era of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, 500-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)