After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet


Julie Dobrow - 2018
    Utilizing letters, diaries, and journals long relegated to the archives, Julie Dobrow reveals the intrigue of Dickinson’s literary beginnings, including a tumultuous affair, controversial editorial decisions, and a battle over the right to define the “Belle of Amherst.”“Dobrow’s intimate account reveals how decisively [Mabel and Millicent’s] efforts shaped perceptions of the white- clad recluse and her visionary poems. Scandal and pathos abound.” — The New Yorker“Long overdue. . . . At the end of her book, Ms. Dobrow wonders what Mabel and Millicent would think of her good work. Doubtless, they’d be very pleased.” — Brenda Wineapple, Wall Street Journal“[Dobrow] serves as a kind of fiercely clever detective in stitching together Todd’s remarkable influence and all the other little intrigues behind the marketing of Dickinson and her legacy.” — American Scholar

Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles


Fran Leadon - 2018
    As the street grew longer, houses and taverns began to spring up alongside it. What was once New Amsterdam became New York, and farmlands gradually gave way to department stores, theaters, hotels, and, finally, the perpetual traffic of the twentieth century’s Great White Way. From Bowling Green all the way up to Marble Hill, Broadway takes us on a mile-by-mile journey up America’s most vibrant and complex thoroughfare, through the history at the heart of Manhattan.Today, Broadway almost feels inevitable, but over the past four hundred years there have been thousands who have tried to draw and erase its path. Following their footsteps, we learn why one side of the street was once considered more fashionable than the other; witness the construction of Trinity Church, the Flatiron Building, and the Ansonia Hotel; the burning of P. T. Barnum’s American Museum; and discover that Columbia University was built on the site of an insane asylum. Along the way we meet Alexander Hamilton, Emma Goldman, Edgar Allan Poe, John James Audubon, "Bill the Butcher" Poole, and the assorted real-estate speculators, impresarios, and politicians who helped turn Broadway into New York’s commercial and cultural spine.Broadway traces the physical and social transformation of an avenue that has been both the "Path of Progress" and a "street of broken dreams," home to both parades and riots, startling wealth and appalling destitution. Glamorous, complex, and sometimes troubling, the evolution of an oft-flooded dead end to a canyon of steel and glass is the story of American progress.

Secret Formula: The Inside Story of How Coca-Cola Became the Best-Known Brand in the World


Frederick Allen - 1994
    Award-winning reporter Frederick Allen’s engaging account begins with Asa Candler, a nineteenth-century pharmacist in Atlanta who secured the rights to the original Coca-Cola formula and then struggled to get the cocaine out of the recipe. After many tweaks, he finally succeeded in turning a backroom belly-wash into a thriving enterprise.   In 1919, an aggressive banker named Ernest Woodruff leveraged a high-risk buyout of the Candlers and installed his son at the helm of the company. Robert Woodruff spent the next six decades guiding Coca-Cola with a single-minded determination that turned the soft drink into a part of the landscape and social fabric of America. Written with unprecedented access to Coca-Cola’s archives, as well as the inner circle and private papers of Woodruff, Allen’s captivating business biography stands as the definitive account of what it took to build America’s most iconic company and one of the world’s greatest business success stories.

The Few: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain


Alex Kershaw - 2006
    Hitler was triumphant and planning an invasion of England. But the United States was still a neutral country and, as Winston Churchill later observed, "the British people held the fort alone." A few Americans, however, did not remain neutral. They joined Britain's Royal Air Force to fight Hitler's air aces and help save Britain in its darkest hour. The Few is the never-before-told story of these thrill-seeking Americans who defied their country's neutrality laws to fly side-by-side with England's finest pilots. They flew the lethal and elegant Spitfire, and became "knights of the air." With minimal training and plenty of guts they dueled the skilled pilots of Germany's Luftwaffe in the blue skies over England. They shot down several of Germany's fearsome aces, and were feted as national heroes in Britain. By October 1940, they had helped England win the greatest air battle in the history of aviation. At war's end, just one of the "Few" would be alive. The others died flying, wearing the RAF's dark blue uniform-each with a shoulder patch depicting an American eagle. As Winston Churchill said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Titanic: A Survivor's Story the Sinking of the S.S. Titanic


Archibald Gracie - 2005
    The information contained in Colonel Gracie's story is available from no other source. He provides details of the final moments, including names of passengers pulled from the ocean and of those men who, in a panic, jumped into lifeboats as they were being lowered. Walter Lord, author of A Night to Remember, calls Gracie "an indefatigable detective." John Thayer was, like Gracie, one of the last to leave the ship. His account, The Sinking of the S.S. Titanic, is meticulously detailed. The sinking of the Titanic was, in his eyes, a symbol of the end of the world that he knew, and the beginning of a frightening new era.

Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita


Robert Roper - 2015
    But Vladimir Nabokov, who came to America fleeing the Nazis, came to think of his time here as the richest of his life. Indeed, Nabokov was not only happiest here, but his best work flowed from his response to this exotic land.Robert Roper fills out this period in the writer's life with charm and insight--covering Nabokov's critical friendship with Edmund Wilson, his time at Cornell, his role at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. But Nabokov in America finds its narrative heart in his serial sojourns into the wilds of the West, undertaken with his wife, Vera, and their son over more than a decade. Nabokov covered more than 200,000 miles as he indulged his other passion: butterfly collecting. Roper has mined fresh sources to bring detail to these journeys, and traces their significant influence in Nabokov's work: on two-lane highways and in late-'40s motels and cafés, we feel Lolita draw near, and understand Nabokov's seductive familiarity with the American mundane. Nabokov in America is also a love letter to U.S. literature, in Nabokov's broad embrace of it from Melville to the Beats. Reading Roper, we feel anew the mountain breezes and the miles logged, the rich learning and the Romantic mind behind some of Nabokov's most beloved books.

Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard


Jack Lynch - 2007
    Unlike later literary giants, Shakespeare created no stir when he died. Though he'd once had a string of hit plays, he had been retired in the country for six years, and only his family, friends, and business partners seemed to care that he was gone. Within a few years he was nearly forgotten. And when London's theaters were shut down in 1642, he seemed destined for oblivion.With the Restoration in 1660, though, the theaters were open once again, and Shakespeare began his long ascent: No longer merely one playwright among many, he became the transcendent genius at the heart of English culture. Fifty years after the Restoration scholars began taking him seriously. Fifty years after that he was considered England's greatest genius. And by 1800 he was practically divine.Jack Lynch vividly chronicles Shakespeare's afterlife—from the revival of his plays to the decades when his work was co-opted and "improved" by politicians and other playwrights, and culminating with the "Bardolatry" of the Stratford celebration of Shakespeare's three-hundredth birthday in 1864. Becoming Shakespeare is not only essential reading for anyone intrigued by Shakespeare, but it also offers a consideration of the vagaries of fame.

Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal


Yuval Taylor - 2019
    They traveled together in Hurston’s dilapidated car through the rural South collecting folklore, worked on the play Mule Bone, and wrote scores of loving letters to each other. They even had the same patron: Charlotte Osgood Mason, a wealthy white woman who insisted on being called “Godmother.”Paying them lavishly while trying to control their work, Mason may have been the spark for their bitter falling-out. Was the split inevitable when Hughes decided to be financially independent of their patron? Was Hurston jealous of the woman employed as their typist? Or was the rupture over the authorship of Mule Bone? Yuval Taylor answers these questions while illuminating Hurston’s and Hughes’s lives, work, competitiveness and ambition.

Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey


Janet Malcolm - 2001
    In an effort to know one of her favorite writers better. Janet Malcolm -- who has brought light to the dark and complicated corners of psychoanalysis and has exposed the treacheries inherent within journalism--traveled to Russia and the places where Chekhov lived and worked. Out of her encounters with modern-day Russians she builds bridges backward in time to Chekhov and to the characters and ideas in his unexampled short stories and plays. The chapters are like pools of thought that coalesce into a profound, unified vision of one of Western literary culture's most important figures. For example, Chekhov's self-effacement prompts a consideration of his characters' odd un-pin-down-ability and then a discussion of limitations in writing biography.One need not know Chekhov's writing to enjoy and be enlightened by Reading Chekhov (though anyone who does will find it doubly edifying). It is a work in which as we watch one outstanding mind try to understand another, we learn more about ourselves--our own ways of reading, thinking, and behaving: generally, what it means to be human.

Across America on an Emigrant Train


Jim Murphy - 1993
    An account of Robert Louis Stevenson's twelve day journey from New York to California in 1879, interwoven with a history of the building of the transcontinental railroad and the settling of the West.

The Shakespeare Miscellany


David Crystal - 2005
    In the best tradition of sound-bites and pithily entertaining witticism, the authors gather together essential facts and fascinating insights about William Shakespeare--probably the most famous writer of all time--and the world in which he lived and worked.

The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606


James Shapiro - 2015
    But that year, at age forty-two, he found his footing again, finishing a play he had begun the previous autumn—King Lear—then writing two other great tragedies, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.It was a memorable year in England as well—and a grim one, in the aftermath of a terrorist plot conceived by a small group of Catholic gentry that had been uncovered at the last hour. The foiled Gunpowder Plot would have blown up the king and royal family along with the nation’s political and religious leadership. The aborted plot renewed anti-Catholic sentiment and laid bare divisions in the kingdom.It was against this background that Shakespeare finished Lear, a play about a divided kingdom, then wrote a tragedy that turned on the murder of a Scottish king, Macbeth. He ended this astonishing year with a third masterpiece no less steeped in current events and concerns: Antony and Cleopatra.The Year of Lear sheds light on these three great tragedies by placing them in the context of their times, while also allowing us greater insight into how Shakespeare was personally touched by such events as a terrible outbreak of plague and growing religious divisions. For anyone interested in Shakespeare, this is an indispensable book.

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf


Emily Midorikawa - 2017
    But the world’s best-loved female authors are usually mythologized as solitary eccentrics or isolated geniuses. Coauthors and real-life friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney prove this wrong, thanks to their discovery of a wealth of surprising collaborations: the friendship between Jane Austen and one of the family servants, playwright Anne Sharp; the daring feminist author Mary Taylor, who shaped the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic friendship of the seemingly aloof George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, most often portrayed as bitter foes, but who, in fact, enjoyed a complex friendship fired by an underlying erotic charge. Through letters and diaries that have never been published before, A Secret Sisterhood resurrects these forgotten stories of female friendships. They were sometimes scandalous and volatile, sometimes supportive and inspiring, but always—until now—tantalizingly consigned to the shadows.

Written in History: Letters that Changed the World


Simon Sebag Montefiore - 2018
    Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore selects over one hundred letters from ancient times to the twenty-first century: some are noble and inspiring, some despicable and unsettling; some are exquisite works of literature, others brutal, coarse and frankly outrageous; many are erotic, others heartbreaking. The writers vary from Elizabeth I, Rameses the Great and Leonard Cohen to Emmeline Pankhurst, Mandela, Stalin, Michelangelo, Suleiman the Magnificent and unknown people in extraordinary circumstances - from love letters to calls for liberation, declarations of war to reflections on death. In the colourful, accessible style of a master storyteller, Montefiore shows why these letters are essential reading: how they enlighten our past, enrich the way we live now - and illuminate tomorrow.

Did Lincoln Own Slaves?: And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln


Gerald J. Prokopowicz - 2008
    Was he the great emancipator or a racist? If he were alive today, could he get elected? Did he die rich? Did scientists raise Lincoln from the dead? From the seemingly lighthearted to the most serious Gerald Prokopowicz tackles each question with balance and authority, and weaves a complete, satisfying biography that will engage young and old, scholars and armchair historians alike.From the Trade Paperback edition.