New Books Network

Claudia Verhoeven, “The Odd Man Karakozov: Imperial Russia, Modernity, and the Birth of Terrorism (Cornell UP, 2009)
Scan the historical literature of the Russian revolutionary movement and you’ll find that Dmitrii Vladimirovich Karakozov occupies no more than a footnote. After all, Karakozov was no great theorist. He led no political organization. He hardly fit the image of the iron willed, revolutionary aesthetic who preached the maxim ‘The... Read More
Gregory J. W. Urwin, “Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity” (Naval Institute Press, 2010)
Gregory J. W. Urwin’s Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity (Naval Institute Press, 2010) tells the story of the Americans captured on Wake Island in December 1945. The Wake Island garrison’s defeat of the initial Japanese landing attempt was one of the few bright spots for Americans... Read More
J. Arch Getty, “Ezhov: The Rise of Stalin’s Iron Fist” (Yale UP, 2008)
When you think of the Great Terror, Stalin immediately comes to mind, and rightly so.But what of Nikolai Ezhov, the man who as head of the NKVD prosecuted Stalin reign of terror? We’ve learned a lot about Ezhov’s involvement in the Terror since the opening of Soviet archives in 1991.... Read More
J. E. Lendon, “Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins” (Basic, 2010)
Reading J. E. Lendon’s writerly Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins (Basic Books, 2010) took me back to the eventful days of my youth at Price Elementary School, or rather to the large yardon which we had recess. We called it a “playground.” But we did not play on... Read More
Virginia Scharff, “The Women Jefferson Loved” (HarperCollins, 2010)
Most Americans could tell you who George Washington’s wife was. (Martha, right?) Most Americans probably couldn’t tell you who Thomas Jefferson’s wife was. (It was also Martha, but a different one of course). They might be able to tell you, however, who Thomas Jefferson’s alleged concubine was, as she has... Read More
Joyce Appleby, “The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism” (Norton, 2010)
Today everybody wants to be a capitalist, even Chinese communists. It would be easy to think, then, that capitalism is “natural,” that there is a little profit-seeker in each one of us just waiting to pop out. There is some truth to this notion: humans are the most cooperative species... Read More
Catherine Epstein, “Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland” (Oxford UP, 2010)
The term “totalitarian” is useful as it well describes the aspirations of polities such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (at least under Stalin). Yet it can also be misleading, for it suggests that totalitarian ambitions were in fact achieved. But they were not, as we can see in... Read More