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.

The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate


Eliza Poor Donner Houghton - 1911
    Beyond Fort Bridger, Captain Donner led a large party through a much-advertised shortcut. Delays and difficulties caused them to be snowbound in the High Sierras, facing the grim specter of starvation and extreme suffering. Though only four years old at the time of the expedition, the captain’s youngest daughter, Eliza Donner, would never forget the excitement of crossing the prairies—or the horror of that winter. Details impressed on her young mind were later substantiated by the recollections of her older sisters and other survivors. Her book, originally published in 1911, is an intimate and authoritative account of the Donner disaster. George and Tamsen Donner and those who shared their fate are fully humanized in the telling. Eliza also relates what happened to her and a sister after being rescued and what it was like to grow up in a world that turned the Donners into a grisly legend.

The Story of the Titanic As Told by Its Survivors


Jack Winocour - 1960
    Titanic," by Lawrence Beesley, and "The Truth about the Titanic," by Col. Archibald Gracie. Both are full-length books published soon after the disaster. Each has become extremely rare today. The third story in this volume, "Titanic," was written by one of the only officers to survive the catastrophe, Commander Lightoller. It includes the story of the "white-washing" inquiries into the Titanic's safety measures. The last section is a dramatic tale by the Titanic's surviving wireless operator, Harold Bride.

Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution's Lost Hero


Christian Di Spigna - 2018
    Joseph Warren, an architect of the colonial rebellion, and a man who might have led the country as Washington or Jefferson did had he not been martyred at Bunker Hill in 1775. Warren was involved in almost every major insurrectionary act in the Boston area for a decade, from the Stamp Act protests to the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party, and his incendiary writings included the famous Suffolk Resolves, which helped unite the colonies against Britain and inspired the Declaration of Independence. Yet after his death, his life and legend faded, leaving his contemporaries to rise to fame in his place and obscuring his essential role in bringing America to independence.Christian Di Spigna's definitive new biography of Warren is a loving work of historical excavation, the product of two decades of research and scores of newly unearthed primary-source documents that have given us this forgotten Founding Father anew. Following Warren from his farming childhood and years at Harvard through his professional success and political radicalization to his role in sparking the rebellion, Di Spigna's thoughtful, judicious retelling not only restores Warren to his rightful place in the pantheon of Revolutionary greats, it deepens our understanding of the nation's dramatic beginnings.

Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford


Donald Spoto - 2010
    In Possessed, his subject is the inimitable Joan Crawford, one of the most electrifying divas of the Golden Age of American film. A more thorough, revealing, and sympathetic portrait of the often maligned movie star—most notably lambasted, perhaps, in the scandalous bestseller, Mommy Dearest—Possessed is a fascinating study of the real Joan Crawford, a remarkable actress, businesswoman, mother, and lover.

The Glitter and the Gold


Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan - 1952
    She was the real American heiress who lived long before Downton Abbey’s Lady Grantham arrived.Mme. Balsan is an unsnobbish and amused observer of the intricate hierarchy both upstairs and downstairs and a revealing witness to the glittering balls, huge weekend parties, and major state occasions she attended or hosted chronicling her encounters with every important figure of the day—from Queen Victoria, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas and the young Winston Churchill. This richly enjoyable memoir is a revealing portrait of a golden age now being celebrated every week behind the doors of Downton Abbey.

Across The Plains In 1844


Catherine Sager Pringle - 1989
    This enhanced version of her original manuscript adds explanatory notes, photos, maps, drawings, and 3d visualizations. The bonus material adds a layer of context to make Sager’s fascinating account even more vivid.Catherine Sager faced almost unimaginable hardship: both her parents died on the journey west on the Oregon Trail; a few years later her adoptive parents were brutally murdered before her eyes. She was even kidnapped and held for ransom. Yet Catherine was a survivor, and she lived a long life in Oregon. Her accounts of life on the Oregon Trail and the Whitman Massacre remain important historical documents. At the same time, she is an excellent writer who knows how to engage the reader.

Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance


Margaret Powell - 1979
    In Servants' Hall, another true slice of life from a time when armies of servants lived below stairs simply to support the lives of those above, Powell tells the true story of Rose, the under-parlourmaid to the Wardham Family at Redlands, who took a shocking step: She eloped with the family's only son, Mr. Gerald.Going from rags to riches, Rose finds herself caught up in a maelstrom of gossip, incredulity and envy among her fellow servants. The reaction from upstairs was no better: Mr. Wardham, the master of the house, disdained the match so completely that he refused ever to have contact with the young couple again. Gerald and Rose marry, leave Redlands and Powell looks on with envy, even as the marriage hits on bumpy times: "To us in the servants' hall, it was just like a fairy tale . . . How I wished I was in her shoes."Once again bringing that lost world to life, Margaret Powell trains her pen and her gimlet eye on her "betters" in this next chapter from a life spent in service. Servants' Hall is Margaret Powell at her best—a warm, funny and sometimes hilarious memoir of life at a time when wealthy families like ruled England.

Davy Crockett: His Own Story


David Crockett - 1834
    Written in 1834, this autobiography is like a tall tale of the life of a frontiersman, and established Davy Crockett as a larger-than-life American hero.

Jackie's Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family


Kathy McKeon - 2017
    The next thirteen years of her life were spent in Jackie's service, during which Kathy not only played a crucial role in raising young Caroline and John Jr., but also had a front-row seat to some of the twentieth century’s most significant events. Because Kathy was always at Jackie’s side, Rose Kennedy deemed her “Jackie’s girl.” And although Kathy called Jackie “Madam,” she considered her employer more like a big sister who, in many ways, mentored her on how to be a lady. Kathy was there during Jackie and Aristotle Onassis’s courtship and marriage and Robert Kennedy’s assassination, dutifully supporting Jackie and the children during these tumultuous times in history. A rare and engrossing look at the private life of one of the most famous women of the twentieth century, Jackie’s Girl is also a moving personal story of a young woman finding her identity and footing in a new country, along with the help of the most elegant woman in America.

Over a Hot Stove


Flo Wadlow - 2007
    At the age of sixteen, Flo Wadlow left her family to begin what would become a distinguished life 'in service'. Starting as a kitchen maid in London, she soon rose through the ranks and worked at many of England's great houses including Woodhall in Hilgay where she met scullery maid Mollie Moran, author of Aprons and Silver Spoons; Hatfield House and Blicking Hall. By her early twenties, Flo was in charge of the kitchen and cooked for prime ministers and royalty. Including some of Flo's cherished recipes and photographs from her life, Over a Hot Stove is a must-read for fans of Downton Abbey.

To the Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam


Tom A. Johnson - 2006
    At age nineteen, Tom Johnson flew in the thick of it, and lived to tell his harrowing tale. Johnson piloted the UH-1 "Iroquois"-better known as the "Huey"-as part of the famous First Air Cavalry Division. His battalion was one of the most decorated units of the Vietnam War, and helped redefine modern warfare. This riveting memoir gives the pilot's perspective on key battles and rescue missions, including those for Hue and Khe Sanh. From dangerous missions to narrow escapes, Johnson's account vividly captures the adrenaline rush of flying and the horror of war, and takes readers on an unforgettable ride.

All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor's Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor


Donald Stratton - 2016
    The first memoir ever published by a USS Arizona survivor.At 8:10 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Donald Stratton was consumed by an inferno. A million pounds of explosives had detonated beneath his battle station aboard the USS Arizona, barely fifteen minutes into Japan’s surprise attack on American forces at Pearl Harbor. Near death and burned across two thirds of his body, Don, a nineteen-year-old Nebraskan who had been steeled by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, summoned the will to haul himself hand over hand across a rope tethered to a neighboring vessel. Forty-five feet below, the harbor’s flaming, oil-slick water boiled with enemy bullets; all around him the world tore itself apart.In this extraordinary, never-before-told eyewitness account of the Pearl Harbor attack—the only memoir ever written by a survivor of the USS Arizona—ninety-four-year-old veteran Donald Stratton finally shares his unforgettable personal tale of bravery and survival on December 7, 1941, his harrowing recovery, and his inspiring determination to return to the fight.Don and four other sailors made it safely across the same line that morning, a small miracle on a day that claimed the lives of 1,177 of their Arizona shipmates—approximately half the American fatalaties at Pearl Harbor. Sent to military hospitals for a year, Don refused doctors’ advice to amputate his limbs and battled to relearn how to walk. The U.S. Navy gave him a medical discharge, believing he would never again be fit for service, but Don had unfinished business. In June 1944, he sailed back into the teeth of the Pacific War on a destroyer, destined for combat in the crucial battles of Leyte Gulf, Luzon, and Okinawa, thus earning the distinction of having been present for the opening shots and the final major battle of America’s Second World War.As the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack approaches, Don, a great-grandfather of five and one of six living survivors of the Arizona, offers an unprecedentedly intimate reflection on the tragedy that drew America into the greatest armed conflict in history. All the Gallant Men is a book for the ages, one of the most remarkable—and remarkably inspiring—memoirs of any kind to appear in recent years.

A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures


Ben Bradlee - 1995
    of photos.

My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story by the Yarnell Hill Fire's Lone Survivor


Brendan McDonough - 2016
    A "unique and bracing" (Booklist) first-person account by the sole survivor of Arizona's disastrous 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, which took the lives of 19 "hotshots" -- firefighters trained specifically to battle wildfires. Brendan McDonough was on the verge of becoming a hopeless, inveterate heroin addict when he, for the sake of his young daughter, decided to turn his life around. He enlisted in the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a team of elite firefighters based in Prescott, Arizona. Their leader, Eric Marsh, was in a desperate crunch after four hotshots left the unit, and perhaps seeing a glimmer of promise in the skinny would-be recruit, he took a chance on the unlikely McDonough, and the chance paid off. Despite the crew's skepticism, and thanks in large part to Marsh's firm but loving encouragement, McDonough unlocked a latent drive and dedication, going on to successfully battle a number of blazes and eventually win the confidence of the men he came to call his brothers. Then, on June 30, 2013, while McDonough -- "Donut" as he'd been dubbed by his team--served as lookout, they confronted a freak, 3,000-degree inferno in nearby Yarnell, Arizona. The relentless firestorm ultimately trapped his hotshot brothers, tragically killing all 19 of them within minutes. Nationwide, it was the greatest loss of firefighter lives since the 9/11 attacks. Granite Mountain is a gripping memoir that traces McDonough's story of finding his way out of the dead end of drugs, finding his purpose among the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and the minute-by-minute account of the fateful day he lost the very men who had saved him. A harrowing and redemptive tale of resilience in the face of tragedy, Granite Mountain is also a powerful reminder of the heroism of the people who put themselves in harm's way to protect us every day.