New Books Network

Steven Usitalo, “The Invention of Mikhail Lomonosov: A Russian National Myth” (Academic Studies Press, 2013)
Mikhail Lomonosov is a well known Russian figure. As poet, geographer, and physicist, Lomonosov enjoyed access to the best resources that 18th century Russia had to offer. As a result, his contributions to Russian arts and sciences were immeasurable. The source and shape of his celebrity, however, is as interesting... Read More
Sarah Churchwell, “Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby” (Virago, 2013)
One phenomenon of movies made of classic novels is that the movie often says a lot more about the time of its making than about the time of the novel. And so Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is more a depiction of a 2012 idea of the 1920s than a... Read More
Kees Boterbloem, “Moderniser of Russia: Andrei Vinius, 1641-1716” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
As you can read in any Russian history textbook, a series of seventeenth-century tsars culminating in Peter the Great attempted to “modernize” Russia. This is not false: the Romanovs did initiate a great wave of “Europeanizing” reforms. But it’s not exactly true either in the sense that they–the tsars themselves–didn’t... Read More
Reza Aslan, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” (Random House, 2013)
Christians in the United States and around the world have varying images of Jesus, from one who turns the other cheek to one who brings the sword. Reza Aslan, in his highly popular and beautifully written new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, 2013),... Read More
Charlene M. Boyer Lewis, “Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)
What is a celebrity? And how has the definition of celebrity changed over the course of American history? Those questions are central to Charlene M. Boyer Lewis‘s book Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: An American Aristocrat in the Early Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). Patterson, a beautiful and brilliant young woman from Baltimore, married... Read More
Gayle K. Brunelle and Annette Finley-Croswhite, “Murder in the Metro: Laetitia Toureaux and the Cagoule in 1930s France” (LSU Press, 2013)
The stories of individual lives are endlessly complex, weaving together the contemporary events, the surrounding culture, and incorporating random factual odds and ends. This is one of the challenges of writing biography- one must become expert on so many things- and also one of the pleasures of reading it: the... Read More
Robert Gerwarth, “Hitler’s Hangman: The Life of Heydrich” (Yale UP, 2012)
Few history books sell better than biographies of Nazi leaders. They attract anyone even tangentially interested in World War Two or Nazi Germany.  It’s not surprising, then, that there are dozens of biographies of Himmler, Goering, and Hitler himself. Oddly, though, Reinhard Heydrich is relatively understudied.  Robert Gerwarth’s wonderful new biography of Heydrich,... Read More