New Books Network

Benjamin Binstock, “Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice” (Routledge, 2009)
Ben Binstock‘s Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice (Routledge, 2009) is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. It does what all good history books should do–tell you something you thought you knew but in fact don’t–but it does it ON EVERY PAGE. I... Read More
Lesley Hazleton, “After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split” (Doubleday, 2009)
Sometimes a shallow explanation, the kind you read in newspapers and hear on television, is enough. “The home team was beaten at the buzzer” is probably all you need to know. Sometimes, however, it’s not. The intermittent conflict between the Shias and Sunnis in Iraq (and elsewhere) provides a good... Read More
Louis Hyman, “Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink” (Princeton UP, 2011)
I remember clearly the day I was offered my first credit card. It was in Berkeley, CA in 1985. I was walking on Sproul Plaza and I saw a booth manned by two students. They were giving out all kinds of swag, so I walked over to see what was... Read More
Noah Feldman, “Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices” (Twelve, 2010)
Franklin D. Roosevelt promised the country “bold, persistent experimentation” to address the Great Depression – but for quite a while his ideas were a little too bold for the justices of the Supreme Court, who struck down many New Deal laws as unconstitutional. FDR had his day: over the years... Read More
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