New Books Network

Matthew Algeo, “Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip” (Chicago Review Press, 2009)
Memorial day is coming up, and maybe you are going to take a little car trip. It might even be a “road trip,” one of the great American enterprises (which isn’t to say other folks don’t take them, but Americans can rightly say they invented this genre of fun). In... Read More
James Mann, “The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War” (Viking, 2009)
Ronald Reagan was a odd fellow. Nobody seems to know what to make of him. He started as a Democrat and then became a Republican. Then he broke ranks with his party by running for president against a sitting Republican. As a leader, he appeared to be affably naive; yet... Read More
Kees Boterbloem, “The Fiction and Reality of Jan Struys: A Seventeenth-Century Dutch Globetrotter” (Palgrave-McMillan, 2008)
When we speak of the “Age of Discovery,” we usually mean the later fifteenth and sixteenth century. You know, Columbus, Magellan and all that. But the “Age of Discovery” continued well into the seventeenth century as Europeans continued to travel the globe in search of riches, fame and adventure. And... Read More
Simon Morrison, “The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years” (Oxford UP, 2009)
In the Soviet Union, artists lived lives that were at once charmed and cursed. Though relatively poor, the USSR poured resources into the arts. The Party created a large, well-funded cultural elite of which only two things were expected. First, that they practice their art. Second–and here’s the rub–that they... Read More
Donald Worster, “A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir” (Oxford UP, 2008)
If you study pre-modern history in any depth, one of the most startling things you will discover is that “traditional” societies usually had an adversarial relationship with “nature.” They fought the wild tooth and nail in a never-ending effort to bring it under human control. It never really occurred to... Read More
Joyce Tyldesley, “Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt” (Basic Books, 2008)
“Swords and Sandals” movies always amaze me. You know the ones I’m talking about: “Spartacus,” “Ben-Hur,” “Gladiator,” and the rest. These movies are so rich in detail–both narrative and physical–that you feel like you are “there.” But the fact is that we don’t and really can’t know much about “there”... Read More