Chronicle of the Russian Tsars: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial Russia


David Warnes - 1999
    Here too are the less familiar but equally intriguing personalities who occupied Russia's imperial throne: the pious but feeble Feodor I, the warm-hearted and irascible Alexei Mikhailovich, and the Empress Anna, with her taste for cruel practical jokes. Chronicle of the Russian Tsars also introduces the key debates of Russian history. How did a small principality centered on Moscow develop into a vast empire stretching from the Baltic to the Pacific? What part did the Orthodox Church play in the rise of tsarism? Why did Russia develop political and social institutions so different from those of the West? With its comprehensive timelines, data files, quotations, and stunning illustrations, Chronicle of the Russian Tsars is at once an absorbing narrative history and an essential work of reference that brings to life a powerful empire and distinctive civilization whose impact on the history of Europe and the world is immeasurable.

North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life


Bob Buck - 2002
    Buck first flew in the 1920s, inspired by the exploits of Charles Lindbergh. In 1930, at age sixteen, he flew solo from coast to coast, breaking the junior transcontinental speed record. In 1936 he flew nonstop from Burbank, California, to Columbus, Ohio, in a 90-horsepower Monocoupe to establish a world distance record for light airplanes. He joined Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA) as a copilot in 1937; when he retired thirty-seven years later, he had made more than 2,000 Atlantic crossings -- and his role had progressed from such tasks as retracting a DC-2's landing gear with a cockpit-based hand pump to command of a wide-body 747. Buck's experiences go back to a time when flying was something glamorous. He flew with and learned from some true pioneers of aviation -- the courageous pilots who created the airmail service during flying's infancy. At the behest of his employer Howard Hughes, Buck spent three months flying with Tyrone Power on a trip to South America, Africa, and Europe. He flew the New York-Paris-Cairo route in the days when flight plans called for lengthy stopovers, and enjoyed all that those romantic places had to offer. He took part in a flight that circled the globe "sideways" (from pole to pole). He advised TWA's president on the shift to jet planes; a world expert on weather and flight, Buck used a B-17G to chase thunderstorms worldwide as part of a TWA-Air Force research project during World War II, for which he was awarded the Air Medal (as a civilian) by President Truman.In "North Starover My Shoulder," Bob Buck tells of a life spent up and over the clouds, and of the wonderful places and marvelous people who have been a part of that life. He captures the feel, taste, and smell of flying's greatest era -- how the people lived, what they did and felt, and what it was really like to be a part of the world as it grew smaller and smaller. He relates stories from his innumerable visits to Paris, the city he loves more than any other -- echoing Gertrude Stein's view that "America is my country, and Paris is my home town" -- and from his trips to the Middle East, including flights to Israel before and after it became a state. A terrific storyteller and a fascinating man, Bob Buck has turned his well-lived life into a delightful memoir for anyone who remembers when there really was something special in the air.

Catherine the Great


Ian Grey - 1975
    New York Times bestselling historian Ian Grey paints an illuminating portrait of an enigmatic woman of compelling charm and elegance. She had a prodigious appetite for work, great curiosity, and boundless ambition and vanity, and she was notorious for the number of her lovers. Her prodigal expenditures and patronage of the arts made her reign an era of splendor while her foreign policy and conquests carried Russian power and prestige to new heights. She cast a spell over most of her contemporaries in Russia and in Western Europe, and the spell has lingered. Here, in this book, is the dramatic story of an obscure German princess, without beauty or special advantage, but with courage, charisma, and determination, who became one of the arbiters of the affairs of Europe and renowned in history.

The Duchess Of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson


Greg King - 1999
    In December 1936, King Edward VIII renounced the throne to "marry the woman I love, " Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced American. His wife soon became one of the century's most famous women. She was a woman of incredible style and dazzling wit but, until her death in 1986, she remained a figure of intrigue and mystery, and was both admired and reviled.The first sympathetic portrait of this exceptional woman, The Duchess of Windsor dispels the decades of rumor and accusation to reveal the woman behind the legend. Author Greg King explores the myths and the facts about this fascinating couple, including: their life in exile in France as the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor; the Duchess's hold over her husband; her alleged sexual secrets and experiences; the couple's bitter relationship with the British Royal Family; and their involvement with Hitler and the Third Reich. From her birth in Pennsylvania in 1896 during the Gilded Age, to her death in 1986, Wallis Simpson traveled in a world of privilege, palaces, titles, high society, and love, and lived a life surrounded by hatreds, feuds, conspiracies, and lies. And she consorted with some of the most renowned and infamous figures of her day, including Lady Diana Cooper; Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville West; Nancy Astor, Noel Coward; Cecil Beaton, The Mountbattens, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, and hundreds of other politicians and presidents, dictators and socialites.From the abdication crisis, for which the Duchess was wrongly blamed, to her life in exile with the Duke, this fascinating book not only explores the life of the Duke and Duchess, butof the glittering glamorous world they inhabited with such humor, joie de vivre, humor and compassion for others. Here readers are privy to the real Edward and Wallis, a couple who devoted enormous amounts of personal time and money to helping those less fortunate than themselves, including their years spent in the Bahamas, when Wallis devoted her time to improving the lives of native Bahamians.At once a captivating love story and a revealing portrait, The Duchess of Windsor finally pays homage to an incomparable yet misunderstood woman.

Daisy Bates in the Desert: A Woman's Life Among the Aborigines


Julia Blackburn - 1994
    Brilliantly reviewed, astonishingly original, this "eloquent and illuminating portrait of an extraordinary woman" (New York Times Book Review) tells a fascinating, true story in the tradition of Isak Dinesen and Barry Lopez.

John Prine: In Spite of Himself


Eddie Huffman - 2015
    Across five decades, Prine has created critically acclaimed albums--John Prine (one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time), Bruised Orange, and The Missing Years--and earned many honors, including two Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association, and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His songs have been covered by scores of artists, from Johnny Cash and Miranda Lambert to Bette Midler and 10,000 Maniacs, and have influenced everyone from Roger McGuinn to Kacey Musgraves. Hailed in his early years as the "new Dylan," Prine still counts Bob Dylan among his most enthusiastic fans. In John Prine, Eddie Huffman traces the long arc of Prine's musical career, beginning with his early, seemingly effortless successes, which led paradoxically not to stardom but to a rich and varied career writing songs that other people have made famous. He recounts the stories, many of them humorous, behind Prine's best-known songs and discusses all of Prine's albums as he explores the brilliant records and the ill-advised side trips, the underappreciated gems and the hard-earned comebacks that led Prine to found his own successful record label, Oh Boy Records. This thorough, entertaining treatment gives John Prine his due as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation.

An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor


Michael Smith - 2000
    He spent more time in the unexplored Antarctic than Scott or Shackleton, and outlived both. Among the last to see Scott alive, Crean was in the search party that found the frozen body. An unforgettable story of triumph over unparalleled hardship and deprivation.

Sapper Martin: The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin


Richard van Emden - 2009
    These diaries, written in secret, hidden from his colleagues and only discovered by his family after his return home, present the Great War with heartbreaking clarity.

Frida Kahlo And Diego Rivera


Isabel Alcantara - 1999
    Late twentieth-century perceptions of Mexican art are now dominated by Kahlo, whose work has gained enormous popularity. Her stormy relationship with the painter Diego Rivera is mirrored in many of her stunning paintings, which also combine motifs of folk art with deeply personal self-portraits.

Fifty Russian Winters: An American Woman's Life in the Soviet Union


Margaret Wettlin - 1992
    Packed with details of everyday life from giving birth in a Soviet hospital to living in a Moscow communal apartment. Forced to give up her American citizenship during Stalin's reign, Wettlin was coerced into becoming an informant for the KGB. She describes what Russia was like during and after World War II, her travels from the Baltic states to Siberia, Outer Mongolia, Leningrad, Uzbekistan and Georgia. Her mesmerizing book offers a background for understanding Soviet events that molded the Russian mind--from revolutionary enthusiasm to a complete repudiation of communism.

The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family


Thomas Maier - 2003
    Beginning with Patrick Kennedy's arrival in the Brahmin world of Boston in 1848, Maier delves into the deeper currents of the often spectacular Kennedy story, and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values-and in turn twentieth-century America-for over five generations. As the first and only Roman Catholic ever elected to high national office in this country, JFK's pioneering campaign for president rested on a tradition of navigating a cultural divide that began when Joseph Kennedy shed the brogues of the old country in order to get ahead on Wall Street. Whether studied exercise in cultural self-denial or sheer pragmatism, their movements mirror that of countless of other, albeit less storied, American families. But as much as the Kennedys distanced themselves from their religion and ethnic heritage on the public stage, Maier shows how Irish Catholicism informed many of their most well-known political decisions and stances. From their support of civil rights, to Joe Kennedy's tight relationship with Pope Pius XII and FDR, the impact of their personal family history on the national scene is without question-and makes for an immensely compelling narrative. Bringing together extensive new research in both Ireland and the United States, several exclusive interviews, as well as his own perspective as an Irish-American, Maier's original approach to the Kennedy era brilliantly illustrates the defining role of the immigrant experience for the country's foremost political dynasty.

Spymaster: My Thirty-two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West


Oleg Kalugin - 1994
    Even so, he grew increasingly disillusioned with the Soviet system. In 1990, he went public, exposing the intelligence agency's shadowy methods. Revised and updated in the light of the KGB's enduring presence in Russian politics, Spymaster is Kalugin's impressively illuminating memoir of the final years of the Soviet Union.

My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself


Kelly Kathleen Ferguson - 2011
    Kelly donned a prairie dress and retraced the pioneer journey of Laura Ingalls Wilder. From Wisconsin to Minnesota, South Dakota to Missouri, she explored Laura's past and her own. Part travelogue, part memoir and part social commentary, My Life as Laura shows how a relationship with a pioneer girl who lived in little houses long ago can give a sense of purpose for today. Judy Blunt, author of the national best seller Breaking Clean, says My Life as Laura is "Hilarious, perceptive and true, a homespun story as genuine as the ones that inspired it." -

Comrades and Strangers: Behind the Closed Doors of North Korea


Michael Harrold - 2004
    For seven years he lived in Pyongyang enjoying privileged access to the ruling classes and enjoying the confidence of the country's young elite. In this fascinating insight into the culture of North Korea he describes the hospitality of his hosts, how they were shaken by the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and many of the fascinating characters he met from South Korean and American GI defectors to his Korean minder and socialite friends. After seven years and having been caught passing South Korean music tapes to friends and going out without his minder to places forbidden to foreigners, he was asked to leave the country.

Dancing With Cuba


Alma Guillermoprieto - 2004
    For six months, she worked in mirrorless studios (it was considered more revolutionary); her poorly trained but ardent students worked without them but dreamt of greatness. Yet in the midst of chronic shortages and revolutionary upheaval, Guillermoprieto found in Cuba a people whose sense of purpose touched her forever. In this electrifying memoir, Guillermoprieto–now an award-winning journalist and arguably one of our finest writers on Latin America– resurrects a time when dancers and revolutionaries seemed to occupy the same historical stage and even a floor exercise could be a profoundly political act. Exuberant and elegiac, tender and unsparing, Dancing with Cuba is a triumph of memory and feeling.