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History

Fifth Act

Fifth Act

Ackerman, Elliot
$27.00
"The American betrayal of Afghanistan took twenty years. Elliot Ackerman, a participant and witness, tells the story with unsparing honesty in this intensely personal chronicle." --George Packer

A powerful and revelatory eyewitness account of the American collapse in Afghanistan, its desperate endgame, and the war's echoing legacy

Elliot Ackerman left the American military ten years ago, but his time in Afghanistan and Iraq with the Marines and later as a CIA paramilitary officer marked him indelibly. When the Taliban began to close in on Kabul in August 2021 and the Afghan regime began its death spiral, he found himself pulled back into the conflict. Afghan nationals who had worked closely with the American military and intelligence communities for years now faced brutal reprisal and sought frantically to flee the country with their families. The official US government evacuation effort was a bureaucratic failure that led to a humanitarian catastrophe. With former colleagues and friends protecting the airport in Kabul, Ackerman joined an impromptu effort by a group of journalists and other veterans to arrange flights and negotiate with both Taliban and American forces to secure the safe evacuation of hundreds. These were desperate measures taken during a desperate end to America's longest war. For Ackerman, it also became a chance to reconcile his past with his present.

The Fifth Act is an astonishing human document that brings the weight of twenty years of war to bear on a single week, the week the war ended. Using the dramatic rescue efforts in Kabul as his lattice, Ackerman weaves a personal history of the war's long progression, beginning with the initial invasion in the months after 9/11. It is a play in five acts, the fifth act being the story's tragic denouement, a prelude to Afghanistan's dark future. Any reader who wants to understand what went wrong with the war's trajectory will find a trenchant account here. But The Fifth Act also brings readers into close contact with a remarkable group of characters, American and Afghan, who fought the war with courage and dedication, and at great personal cost. Ackerman's story is a first draft of history that feels like a timeless classic.

Innovation

Innovation

Ackroyd, Peter
$21.99

Innovation brings Peter Ackroyd's History of England to a triumphant close. Ackroyd takes readers from the end of the Boer War and the accession of Edward VII to the end of the twentieth century, when his great-granddaughter Elizabeth II had been on the throne for almost five decades.

It was a century of enormous change, encompassing two world wars, four monarchs (Edward VII, George V, George VI and the Queen), the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the Labour Party, women's suffrage, the birth of the NHS, the march of suburbia and the clearance of the slums. It was a period that saw the work of the Bloomsbury Group and T.S. Eliot, of Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, from the end of the post-war slump to the technicolor explosion of the 1960s, to free love and punk rock, and from Thatcher to Blair.

A vividly readable, richly peopled tour de force, Innovation is Peter Ackroyd writing at the height of his powers.

War By Other Means

War By Other Means

Akst, Daniel
$28.99
"Akst argues that the modern progressive movement, wide-ranging in its causes and narratives today, has origins in the pacifist response to American involvement in World War II... At its best, one gets the sense of generative force born from such intense intellectual, moral and religious pressure." -- The Washington Post

Pacifists who fought against the Second World War faced insurmountable odds--but their resistance, philosophy, and strategies fostered a tradition of activism that shaped America right up to the present day.

In this provocative and deeply researched work of history, Akst takes readers into the wild, heady, and uncertain times of America on the brink of a world war, following four fascinating resisters -- four figures who would subsequently become famous political thinkers and activists -- and their daring exploits: David Dellinger, Dorothy Day, Dwight MacDonald, and Bayard Rustin. The lives of these diverse anti-war advocates--a principled and passionate seminary student, a Catholic anarchist, a high-brow intellectual leftist, and an African-American pacifist and agitator--create the perfect prism through which to see World War II from a new angle, that of the opposition, as well as to show how great and lasting their achievements were.

The resisters did not stop the war, of course, but their impact would be felt for decades. Many of them went on to lead the civil-rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the two most important social stands of the second half of the twentieth century. The various World War II resisters pioneered non-violent protest in America, popularized Gandhian principles, and desegregated the first prison mess halls. Theirs is a story that has never been told.

Zinky Boys

Zinky Boys

Alexievich, Svetlana
$16.95

Before the United States' invasion, a million Soviet troops fought a devastating war in Afghanistan that claimed 50,000 casualties--and the youth and humanity of many tens of thousands more. The Soviet Union talked about a "peacekeeping" mission, while the dead were shipped back in zinc-lined coffins. In this new translation, Zinky Boys weaves together the candid and affecting testimony of the officers and grunts, doctors and nurses, mothers, sons, and daughters who describe the war and its lasting effects. A "masterpiece of reportage" (Timothy Snyder, New York Review of Books) emerges of harrowing and unforgettable insight into war.

In the Houses of Their Dead

In the Houses of Their Dead

Alford, Terry
$18.95

In the 1820s, two families, unknown to each other, worked on farms in the American wilderness. It seemed unlikely that the families would ever meet--and yet, they did. The son of one family, the famed actor John Wilkes Booth, killed the son of the other, President Abraham Lincoln, in the most significant assassination in American history. The murder, however, did not come without warning--in fact, it had been foretold.

In the Houses of Their Dead is the first book of the many thousands written about Lincoln to focus on the president's fascination with Spiritualism, and to demonstrate how it linked him, uncannily, to the man who would kill him. Abraham Lincoln is usually seen as a rational, empirically-minded man, yet as acclaimed scholar and biographer Terry Alford reveals, he was also deeply superstitious and drawn to the irrational. Like millions of other Americans, including the Booths, Lincoln and his wife, Mary, suffered repeated personal tragedies, and turned for solace to Spiritualism, a new practice sweeping the nation that held that the dead were nearby and could be contacted by the living. Remarkably, the Lincolns and the Booths even used the same mediums, including Charles Colchester, a specialist in "blood writing" whom Mary first brought to her husband, and who warned the president after listening to the ravings of another of his clients, John Wilkes Booth.

Alford's expansive, richly-textured chronicle follows the two families across the nineteenth century, uncovering new facts and stories about Abraham and Mary while drawing indelible portraits of the Booths--from patriarch Julius, a famous actor in his own right, to brother Edwin, the most talented member of the family and a man who feared peacock feathers, to their confidant Adam Badeau, who would become, strangely, the ghostwriter for President Ulysses S. Grant. At every turn, Alford shows that despite the progress of the age--the glass hypodermic syringe, electromagnetic induction, and much more--death remained ever-present, and thus it was only rational for millions of Americans, from the president on down, to cling to beliefs that seem anything but. A novelistic narrative of two exceptional American families set against the convulsions their times, In the Houses of Their Dead ultimately leads us to consider how ghost stories helped shape the nation.

American Visions

American Visions

Ayers, Edward L.
$32.50

With so many of our histories falling into dour critique or blatant celebration, here is a welcome departure: a book that offers hope as well as honesty about the American past. The early decades of the nineteenth century saw the expansion of slavery, Native dispossession, and wars with Canada and Mexico. Mass immigration and powerful religious movements sent tremors through American society. But even as the powerful defended the status quo, others defied it: voices from the margins moved the center; eccentric visions altered the accepted wisdom, and acts of empathy questioned self-interest. Edward L. Ayers's rich history examines the visions that moved Frederick Douglass, Margaret Fuller, the Native American activist William Apess, and others to challenge entrenched practices and beliefs. So, Lydia Maria Child condemned the racism of her fellow northerners at great personal cost. Melville and Thoreau, Joseph Smith and Samuel Morse all charted new paths for America in the realms of art, nature, belief, and technology. It was Henry David Thoreau who, speaking of John Brown, challenged a hostile crowd "Is it not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong?"

Through decades of award-winning scholarship on the Civil War, Edward L. Ayers has himself ventured beyond the interpretative status quo to recover the range of possibilities embedded in the past as it was lived. Here he turns that distinctive historical sensibility to a period when bold visionaries and critics built vigorous traditions of dissent and innovation into the foundation of the nation. Those traditions remain alive for us today.

To Rescue the Constitution

To Rescue the Constitution

Baier, Bret
$32.50

Instant New York Times Bestseller

#1 New York Times bestselling author Bret Baier reveals how George Washington saved the Constitution-and the American experiment

"To Rescue The Constitution is a masterful exploration of the electrifying struggle to unite a young United States." --Jay Winik

A sweeping narrative ranging from the unsettled early American frontier and the battlefields of the Revolution to the history-making clashes within Philadelphia's Independence Hall, Bret Baier's To Rescue the Constitution dramatically illuminates the life of George Washington, the Founder who did more than perhaps any other individual to secure the future of the United States.

George Washington rescued the nation three times: first by leading the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War, second by presiding over the Constitutional Convention that set the blueprint for the United States and ushering the Constitution through a fractious ratification process, and third by leading the nation as its first president. There is no doubt that the struggling new nation needed to be rescued--and that Washington was the only American who could bring them together.

After the victorious War of Independence, when a spirit of unity and patriotism might have been expected, instead the nation fractured. The states were no more than a loosely knit and contentious confederation, with no strong central union. It was an urgent matter that led to the calling of a Constitutional Convention to meet in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787.

Setting aside his plan to retire to Mount Vernon, Washington agreed to be a delegate at Philadelphia. There he was unanimously elected president of the convention. After successfully bringing the Constitution into being, Washington then sacrificed any hope of returning to private life by accepting the unanimous election to be the nation's first president. Washington was not known for brilliant oratory or prose, but his quiet, steady leadership gave life to the Constitution by showing how it should be enacted.

In this vivid and moving portrait of America's early struggles, Baier captures the critical moments when Washington's leadership brought the nation from the brink of collapse. Baier exposes an early America that is grittier and far more divided than is often portrayed--one we can see reflected in today's conflicts.

To Rescue the Republic

To Rescue the Republic

Baier, Bret
$18.99

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Fox News Channel's Chief Political Anchor illuminates the heroic life of Ulysses S. Grant

"To Rescue the Republic is narrative history at its absolute finest. A fast-paced, thrilling and enormously important book." --Douglas Brinkley

An epic history spanning the battlegrounds of the Civil War and the violent turmoil of Reconstruction to the forgotten electoral crisis that nearly fractured a reunited nation, Bret Baier's To Rescue the Republic dramatically reveals Ulysses S. Grant's essential yet underappreciated role in preserving the United States during an unprecedented period of division.

Born a tanner's son in rugged Ohio in 1822 and battle-tested by the Mexican American War, Grant met his destiny on the bloody fields of the Civil War. His daring and resolve as a general gained the attention of President Lincoln, then desperate for bold leadership. Lincoln appointed Grant as Lieutenant General of the Union Army in March 1864. Within a year, Grant's forces had seized Richmond and forced Robert E. Lee to surrender.

Four years later, the reunified nation faced another leadership void after Lincoln's assassination and an unworthy successor completed his term. Again, Grant answered the call. At stake once more was the future of the Union, for though the Southern states had been defeated, it remained to be seen if the former Confederacy could be reintegrated into the country--and if the Union could ensure the rights and welfare of African Americans in the South. Grant met the challenge by boldly advancing an agenda of Reconstruction and aggressively countering the Ku Klux Klan.

In his final weeks in the White House, however, Grant faced a crisis that threatened to undo his life's work. The contested presidential election of 1876 produced no clear victory for either Republican Rutherford B. Hayes or Democrat Samuel Tilden, who carried most of the former Confederacy. Soon Southern states vowed to revolt if Tilden was not declared the victor. Grant was determined to use his influence to preserve the Union, establishing an electoral commission to peaceably settle the issue. Grant brokered a grand bargain: the installation of Republican Hayes to the presidency, with concessions to the Democrats that effectively ended Reconstruction. This painful compromise saved the nation, but tragically condemned the South to another century of civil-rights oppression.

Deep with contemporary resonance and brimming with fresh detail that takes readers from the battlefields of the Civil War to the corridors of power where men decided the fate of the nation in back rooms, To Rescue the Republic reveals Grant, for all his complexity, to be among the first rank of American heroes.

Divider

Divider

Baker, Peter
$32.00
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "The most comprehensive and detailed account of the Trump presidency yet published."--The Washington Post - A Best Book of the Year: The New Yorker and Financial Times

"A sumptuous feast of astonishing tales...The more one reads, the more one wishes to read."--NPR.com

The inside story of the four years when Donald Trump went to war with Washington, from the chaotic beginning to the violent finale, told by revered journalists Peter Baker of The New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker--an ambitious and lasting history of the full Trump presidency that also contains dozens of exclusive scoops and stories from behind the scenes in the White House, from the absurd to the deadly serious.

The bestselling authors of The Man Who Ran Washington argue that Trump was not just lurching from one controversy to another; he was learning to be more like the foreign autocrats he admired.

The Divider brings us into the Oval Office for countless scenes both tense and comical, revealing how close we got to nuclear war with North Korea, which cabinet members had a resignation pact, whether Trump asked Japan's prime minister to nominate him for a Nobel Prize and much more. The book also explores the moral choices confronting those around Trump--how they justified working for a man they considered unfit for office, and where they drew their lines.

The Divider is based on unprecedented access to key players, from President Trump himself to cabinet officers, military generals, close advisers, Trump family members, congressional leaders, foreign officials and others, some of whom have never told their story until now.

Travel Guide to the Middle Ages

Travel Guide to the Middle Ages

Bale, Anthony
$29.99

Europeans of the Middle Ages were the first to use travel guides to orient their wanderings, as they moved through a world punctuated with miraculous wonders and beguiling encounters. In this vivid and alluring history, medievalist Anthony Bale invites readers on an odyssey across the medieval world, recounting the advice that circulated among those venturing to the road for pilgrimage, trade, diplomacy, and war.

Journeying alongside scholars, spies, and saints, from Western Europe to the Far East, the Antipodes and the ends of the earth, Bale provides indispensable information on the exchange rate between Bohemian ducats and Venetian groats, medieval cures for seasickness, and how to avoid extortionist tour guides and singing sirens. He takes us from the streets of Rome, more ruin than tourist spot, and tours of the Khan's court in Beijing to Mamluk-controlled Jerusalem, where we ride asses across the holy terrain, and bustling bazaars of Tabriz.

We also learn of rumored fantastical places, like ones where lambs grow on trees and giant canes grow fruit made of gems. And we are offered a glimpse of what non-European travelers thought of the West on their own travels.

Using previously untranslated contemporaneous documents from a colorful range of travelers, and from as far and wide as Turkey, Iceland, North Africa, and Russia, A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages is a witty and unforgettable exploration of how Europeans understood--and often misunderstood--the larger world.