New Books Network

Philip Oltermann, “Keeping Up With the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters” (Faber and Faber, 2012)
Few people are in a better position to assess different countries and cultures than those caught between them. So it is with Philip Oltermann: a German journalist who came to England while a teenager, and who has lived here and worked here ever since (even managing to marry an English... Read More
Karen Abbott, “American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee” (Random House, 2012)
As a whole, the genre of biography trends towards linear narratives–wherein the events of a subject’s life are tracked in the order that they occurred. This makes sense, as it’s how we live our lives, but there are advantages that come with non-linear structure. In the case of Karen Abbott‘s... Read More
Marshall Poe, “A History of Communications: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet” (Cambridge UP, 2011)
It is not every historian who would offer readers an attempt to explain human nature. In A History of Communications: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Marshall Poe does just that. At the same time, Poe guides readers through the history... Read More
David Edgerton, “Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War” (Oxford UP, 2011)
My grandfather joined up when the Second World War broke out, but he was soon returned to civvy street as he was much more valuable employing his mechanic’s skills to fight the Nazis from a factory in Newcastle. He ended up making the parts of the spot lights that were... Read More
Jan Plamper, “The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power” (Yale UP, 2012)
Jan Plamper begins in his book, The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power (Yale University Press, 2012), with two illuminating anecdotes that demonstrate the power and scope of Stalin’s personality cult. The first comes from Sergei Kavtaradze, an Old Bolshevik and longtime friend of Stalin. Upon his... Read More
William Kuhn, “Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books” (Anchor Books, 2011)
Nearly twenty years after the death of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, biographers are not only continuing to tell her story but finding provocative new ways to do so. In particular, a big bravo to William Kuhn for considering the former First Lady in a context that (a) has nothing to with... Read More
Nabil Matar and Gerald MacLean, “Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1713” (Oxford UP, 2011)
Nineteenth-century observers would say that the British Empire was an Islamic one; be that as it may, before Empire there was trade- and lots of it. Nabil Matar and Gerald MacLean‘s book, Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1713 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), though, goes beyond trade- there was also... Read More