Those looking for a present for a history or political junkie this holiday season have plenty of options, with a variety of new books debunking romantic legends and providing insight into several presidencies.
American History • For those who want to read about history through the eyes of those who lived it, “The New York Times: The Complete Civil War” ($40) provides hundreds of articles written about the conflict from 1861 to 1865. More than 600 articles describe events ranging from the shots fired at South Carolina’s Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor to the surrender at Appomattox, Va. Hundreds of thousands more articles can be found on the DVD-ROM that comes with the book. • Edmund Morris completes his trilogy on the 26th president with the release of “Colonel Roosevelt” ($35). The final book covers the life of Theodore Roosevelt from the time he left office in 1909 to his death in 1919. Those who missed the first two (“The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” and “Theodore Rex”) can buy all of Morris’ books in a bundle ($108). • David McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for two of his biographies, is at it again with “In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Eve Story” ($20). After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the White House as the Christmas holidays approached.
World History • “Bloodlands” by Timothy Snyder ($30) combines the regimes of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler into one history. Snyder’s revisionist history describes how about 14 million people died in the lands between Germany and the Soviet Union, giving a fresh take on the tragedies that occurred during World War II. • The life of T.E. Lawrence resulted in a movie that has remained on movie buffs’ lists since its release. Now, Michael Korda takes on the task of telling Lawrence’s story in his new book, “Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia” ($36). Lawrence, a British Army officer, united the Arab tribes to defeat Ottoman Turkish rule.
Their Own Words • During his presidency, Jimmy Carter recorded his thoughts in a private diary. With the publishing of “White House Diary” ($30), the insights of his presidency are available to the public for the first time. The book includes his impressions on nuclear containment and sustainable energy as well as his struggle during the 1980 Democratic nomination and the Iranian hostage crisis. • With his years in the Oval Office behind him, President George W. Bush writes “Decision Points” ($35). The memoir describes the critical moments of his presidency, including his takes on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. • Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars” ($30) provides an intimate portrait of President Barack Obama as he makes decisions on Afghanistan, Pakistan and the fight against terrorism. The book draws on internal memos, classified documents and interviews with several of the key players in the administration. • In “America by Heart: Reflection on Family, Faith and Flag” ($26), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tackles the topics of feminism and “mama grizzlies,” criticizes Obama and his wife, and continues to describe the ideals that were first presented in her 2009 memoir, “Going Rogue.”
For the Kids • “Cappy Tail’s Capitol Tales” by Peter Barnes ($17) provides an entertaining and educational tour with Cappy Tail, a squirrel who calls the Capitol home. He introduces the Capitol Visitor Center and makes his way through famous rooms that include the Rotunda and each of the chambers, sharing fun tidbits about history and the government.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.