The northeastern quarter of the continent of Africa is drained and watered by the Nile. Among and about the headstreams and tributaries of this mighty river lie the wide and fertile provinces of the Egyptian Soudan. Situated in the very centre of the land, these remote regions are on every side divided from the seas by 500 miles of mountain, swamp, or desert. The great river is their only means of growth, their only channel of progress.
Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream. Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy.
"Philippa back on track"
Richard Peck is a master of stories about people in transition, but perhaps never before has he told a tale of such dramatic change as this one, set during the first year of the Civil War. The whole country is changing in 1861, even the folks from a muddy little Illinois settlement on the banks of the Mississippi. Here, 15-year-old Tilly Pruitt frets over the fact that her brother is dreaming of being a soldier and that her sister is prone to supernatural visions.
"Love Peck's way of writing about history!"
The astounding memoir of a World War II veteran who spent three and a half years in the slave-labor camps made famous by The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Loet Velmans was 17 when the Germans invaded Holland. He and his family fled to London on the Dutch Coast Guard cutter Seaman’s Hope and then sailed to the Dutch East Indies - now Indonesia - where he joined the Dutch army. In March 1942, the Japanese invaded the archipelago and made prisoners of the Dutch soldiers. For the next three and a half years Velmans and his fellow POWs toiled in slave-labor camps.
Cloak and dagger adventure, with daring commandos parachuted deep behind enemy lines to kill a sinister mastermind, belongs chiefly to the realm of thriller novels or films.
"good but way too short."
At 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, the advanced base of the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet, was ablaze. It had been smashed by aircraft launched by the carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. All eight battleships had been sunk or badly damaged, 350 aircraft had been knocked out, and over 2,000 Americans lay dead.
Although it ended over 550 years ago, the Hundred Years' War still looms large in the historical consciousness of England and France, even if the name of the famous war is a misnomer. Actually a series of separate conflicts between the English and French monarchies, interspersed with periods of peace, its historical image is an odd one, in part because its origins were based on royal claims that dated back centuries.
Sandwiched between the Revolution and the Civil War, the War of 1812 is one of America's forgotten conflicts, and the stalemated nature of the war (which resolved virtually none of either side's war aims) has also ensured that it is often given merely a cursory overview. One of the battles of the war inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the Star-Spangled Banner, which ultimately became America's national anthem. While the British horrified many Americans with the ease in which they sacked the capital at Washington, they faced stiff resistance around Baltimore.
Americans have long been fascinated by the Civil War and its biggest battles, particularly Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shiloh, all of which involved Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant. But one of the six biggest battles of the war, and the one that took the heaviest toll by percent on both armies was fought at the end of 1862 in Tennessee, and it involved neither of those generals.
The Peloponnesian War, as the great historian Thucydides wrote in the introduction to his eponymous book, which has become one of the greatest historical treatises of antiquity, was an event of such calamitous magnitude that Greece had never witnessed its like in all of recorded history. Not the Trojan War, not the Dorian Invasion, not even the recent Persian invasions could compare to the scale of the devastation that engulfed all of Greece for almost three decades, causing the deaths of tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands.
The European continent was devastated in the wake of World War II, and the conflict left the Soviet Union and the United States as uncontested superpowers. This ushered in over 45 years of the Cold War, and a political alignment of Western democracies against the Communist Soviet bloc that produced conflicts pitting allies on each sides fighting, even as the American and Soviet militaries never engaged each other.
"Short but very interesting"
The Civil War was the deadliest conflict in American history, and had the two sides realized it would last four years and inflict over a million casualties, it might not have been fought. Since it was, however, historians and history buffs alike have been studying and analyzing the biggest battles ever since. Americans have long been fascinated by the Civil War, marveling at the size of the battles, the leadership of the generals, and the courage of the soldiers.
"Lots of info, lots of redundancy"
Set in Venice at the close of World War II, Across the River and into the Trees is the bittersweet story of a middle-aged American colonel, scarred by war and in failing health, who finds love with a young Italian countess at the very moment when his life is becoming a physical hardship to him.
Of course,Paris was not destroyed before the Allies liberated it, but it would take more than four years for them to wrest control of France from Nazi Germany after they took the country by storm in about a month in 1940. That said, it's widely overlooked today given how history played out that as the power of Nazi Germany grew alarmingly during the 1930s, the French sought means to defend their territory against the rising menace of the Thousand-Year Reich.
"Great overview, strong but not perfect narration."
On September 13, 1759, a battle was fought on the Plains of Abraham outside the old city of Québec. It was one of the turning-point battles in world history. Thanks to the British victory and the events that followed, Canada went from being a colony of France (New France) to being a colony of Great Britain. This permanently changed Canadian history.
With Germany resurgent and rearmed after the disasters inflicted on it by the Treaty of Versailles following World War I, the Munich Agreement held out hope of a quick end to German ambitions and the return of stable, normal international relations across Europe. Of course, the Munich agreement is now notorious because its promise proved barren within a very short period of time. Chamberlain's actions either failed to avert, or actually hastened, the very cataclysm he wished to avoid at all costs.
On November 30, the Union army began digging in around Franklin, and that afternoon John Bell Hood ordered a frontal assault on the Union army, which deeply upset his own officers. Hood stressed the necessity of defeating John Schofield's forces before General George H. Thomas could arrive, though some historians believe his decision to mount a frontal attack was a rash decision made out of fury at the fact that Schofield had escaped his grasp.
"This is a good book, but…"
The events of the Arab Spring have come to be overshadowed by the civil war in the Arabic-speaking nation of Syria, which has been ruled throughout the 21st century by Bashar al-Assad. Though he had not planned on ruling Syria, several events conspired to make Bashar the successor of his father, Hafez. Though the West frequently looked for signs that Bashar might be a reformer, due in part to his formerly popular Western wife, Assad remained part of a critical alliance with Iran and the sub-state groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
The Army of the Potomac had pushed Robert E. Lee's army out of Maryland in September 1862 after the Battle of Antietam, but President Lincoln and his War Department wanted the army to continue going after the Army of Northern Virginia after it retreated back into Virginia. When George B. McClellan refused to do it, Lincoln fired him and installed Ambrose E. Burnside as the new commander.
In Old Man River, Paul Schneider tells the story of the river at the center of America's rich history - the Mississippi. Some fifteen thousand years ago, the majestic river provided Paleolithic humans with the routes by which early man began to explore the continent's interior. Since then, the river has been the site of historical significance, from the arrival of Spanish and French explorers in the 16th century to the Civil War. George Washington fought his first battle near the river, and Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman both came to President Lincoln's attention after their spectacular victories on the lower Mississippi.
"History, eloquence, and wit..."