New Books Network

William B. McCormick, “Lenin’s Harem” (Knox Robinson, 2012)
One night in the Russian imperial province of Courland, an eleven-year-old boy more than a little drunk on his parents’ champagne slips away from his aristocratic manor and heads for the village that houses his family’s Latvian farmhands. It is Christmas 1905, two months after Emperor Nicholas II of Russia’s... Read More
Douglas R. Skopp, “Shadows Walking” (CreateSpace, 2010)
“First do no harm.” Every doctor in the Western medical tradition swears to observe this basic principle of the Hippocratic oath before he or she receives a license to practice. Yet in Nazi Germany, doctors who had sworn to heal participated in grotesque medical experiments on concentration-camp prisoners, conducted sterilization... Read More
Tasha Alexander, “Death in the Floating City” (Minotaur Books, 2012)
Well-brought-up Victorian ladies don’t expect their childhood nemeses to write from out of the blue, pleading for help because, as the nemesis so tactfully puts it, “what lady of my rank would associate with persons who investigate crimes?” In this case, the crime is murder, and the summons brings Lady... Read More
Julius Wachtel, “Stalin’s Witnesses” (Knox Robinson Publishing, 2012)
When does history become performance art? In 1936, Joseph Stalin set out to eliminate any communist leader with sufficient prestige to threaten his monopoly on power. In what became known as the Great Terror, he instigated a series of show trials, with scripts written by his political police and entirely... Read More
Karen Engelmann, “The Stockholm Octavo” (Ecco Books, 2012)
It’s 1789, and despite the troubles in France, Emil Larsson, a sekretaire in the Customs Office in Stockholm, has life pretty much where he wants it. His job brings him lucrative under-the-table deals with pirates, smugglers, and innkeepers–not to mention a dashing red cape that appeals to the ladies–and he... Read More
Julian Berengaut, “The Estate of Wormwood and Honey” (Russian Estate Books, 2012)
Illegitimacy doesn’t mean much in today’s Europe and North America. In an age when we celebrate many different kinds of families, “bastard” has become an epithet thrown, most often inaccurately, at someone who upsets you. But that was not always true. In early 19th-century Russia, for example, you could marry... Read More
Francis Spufford, “Red Plenty: Industry! Progress! Abundance! Inside the Fifties Soviet Dream” (Greywolf Press, 2012)
Historians are not supposed to make stuff up. If it happened, and can be proved to have happened, then it’s in; if it didn’t, or can’t be documented, then it’s out. This way of going about writing history is fine as far as it goes. It does, however, have a... Read More