Medal of Honor: Profiles of America's Military Heroes from the Civil War to the Present


Allen Mikaelian - 2002
    military decoration, from the Civil War through the Vietnam War, and examines what drove them to go so far above and beyond the call of duty. Among the stories is an account of the life of the only woman ever to receive the medal; of an officer who staged a daring escape from a German POW camp in WWI; and of a soldier from the legendary WWII Japanese-American 442nd, who went on to earn the medal in the Korean War. The book tells not only of astonishing military actions but also, significantly, of the recipients' lives before and after their wartime experiences.In his moving commentary, acclaimed 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace places these actions in historical context and relates his own personal experiences in WWII and as a journalist covering recent wars. He also meditates on the meaning of courage and shows what we can all learn from these extraordinary individuals."The President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a medal of honor of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who, while a member of the Army, Navy, or Air Force distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." --The United States Congress

Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor


Adrian Fort - 2012
    Far from a virago who had suffered for the cause of female suffrage, Lady Astor was already near the center of the ruling society that had for so long resisted the political upheavals of the early twentieth century, having married into one of the richest families in the world. She wasn't even British, but the daughter of a famous Virginian family, and fiercely proud of her expatriate ancestry. But her moral drive was strong, and she would utilize her position of privilege and influence to blow a bracing American wind into what she regarded as the stuffy corners of British politics.This account charts Nancy Astor's incredible story, from relative penury in the American South to a world of enormous countryside estates and townhouses, and the most lavish entertainments, peopled by the great figures of the day—Churchill, Chamberlain, FDR, Charlie Chapin, J. M. Barrie, and Lawrence of Arabia were all part of her social circle. But hers was not to be an easy life of power and pure glamour; it was also defined by principles and bravery, war and sacrifice, love, and the most embittered disputes.With glorious, page-turning brio, Adrian Fort brings to life this restless, controversial American dynamo, an unforgettable woman who left a deep and lasting imprint on the political life of a nation.

The Afghan Wars In An Hour


Rupert Colley - 2011
    American, British and coalition forces have been fighting in Afghanistan since October 2001, a month following the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. By the end of the year the war seemed won. But a decade on the ongoing conflict seems far from over.Today's conflict has historical parallels - in the nineteenth century Great Britain twice invaded Afghanistan, in 1839 and 1878. Both times they had seemingly defeated the Afghan forces only to find that the Afghan soldier, not knowing the meaning of defeat, fought back inflicting on the mighty British Empire humiliating retreats. A century later, the Soviet Union, technologically and militarily superior, also discovered to its cost that the Afghan was a tenacious foe and impossible to defeat. After a decade of conflict the Soviet Union withdrew, its military reputation in tatters. Today, Afghanistan has been in a state of constant conflict for almost four decades. When not fighting external enemies its people have fought against each other. The Civil War of 1990 to 1996, during which the Taliban emerged, was ferocious in its intensity.The coalition forces of today are embroiled in an equally unending war. But why are we still fighting in Afghanistan? What are the lessons of history? Who are the Taliban; who are the Mujahedeen, and why was Osama bin Laden so significant? These, in an hour, are the Afghan Wars.

A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today


David A. Andelman - 2007
    The Balkans, the Middle East, Iraq, Turkey, and parts of Africa all owe their present-day problems, in part, to these negotiations. David Andelman brings it all back to life--the lofty ideals, the ugly compromises, the larger-than-life personalities who came to Paris in 1919. And he links that far-away diplomatic dance to present-day problems to illuminate our troubled times. A tremendous addition to this vitally important subject."--Ambassador Richard Holbrooke"The peace conference in Paris at the end of World War I was the first and last moment of pure hope for peace in the history of world affairs. Our president Woodrow Wilson was the sorcerer for this hope, and he kindled great expectations in people everywhere. David Andelman, a classic reporter and storyteller, tells this fascinating tale of hope falling finally and forever on the shoals of naivete and hard-headed cynicism."--Leslie H. Gelb, former columnist for the New York Times and President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations"The failed peace settlement following the Great War of 1914-1918 has been the subject of many fine books. In many respects, David Andelman's A Shattered Peace is the best of these. It is compact and compellingly written. Moreover, it explains more clearly than any other work how the failure of peacemaking in 1919 shaped later history and, indeed, shapes our own era."--Ernest R. May, Charles Warren Professor of American History, Harvard University"It is the power and fascination of David Andelman's new book, A Shattered Peace, that he shows us--with the clarity of a first-rate reporter and the drama and detail at the command of a first-rate novelist--that we are all still enmeshed in the loose ends of the Treaty of Versailles. Andelman brings us to Korea, to Vietnam, to the Persian Gulf, and to Iraq in our own vexed era. His story is alive with color, conflict, and interesting people. We could not find a better guide to this time."--Richard Snow, Editor in Chief, American Heritage

Once Upon a Distant War: David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett--Young War Correspondents and Their Early Vietnam Battles


William Prochnau - 1995
    "Prochnau . . . tells a Vietnam story we haven't heard before. . . . Complex, witty, and humane."--Tobias Wolff. of photos.

The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War


Fred Kaplan - 2013
    Their aim was to build a new Army that could fight the new kind of war in the post-Cold War age: not massive wars on vast battlefields, but small wars - in cities and villages, against insurgents and terrorists. These would be wars not only of fighting but of "nation building" -often not of necessity but of choice.Based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters, including Petraeus, the tale unfolds against the backdrop of the wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main insurgency is the one mounted at home by ambitious, self-consciously intellectual officers - Petraeus, John Nagl, H. R. McMaster, and others - many of them classmates or colleagues in West Point's Social Science Department who rose through the ranks, seized with an idea of how to fight these wars better. Amid the crisis, they forged a community (some of them called it a cabal or mafia) and adapted their enemies'techniques to overhaul the culture and institutions of their own Army.Fred Kaplan describes how these men and women maneuvered the idea through the bureaucracy and made it official policy. This is a story of power, politics, ideas, and personalities - ;and how they converged to reshape the twenty-first-century American military. But it is also a cautionary tale about how creative doctrine can harden into dogma, how smart strategists today can win the battles at home but not the wars abroad. Petraeus and his fellow insurgents made the US military more adaptive to the conflicts of the modern era, but they also created the tools, and made it more tempting, for political leaders to wade into wars that they would be wise to avoid.

The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace


David B. Woolner - 2017
    Yet as historian David B. Woolner reveals, the end of FDR’s presidency might very well surpass it in drama and consequence.Drawing on new evidence, Woolner shows how FDR used every ounce of his diminishing energy to pursue the things that mattered most to him: the establishment of the United Nations, the reinvigoration of the New Deal, the possibility of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and some quiet moments with his closest companions. We see a president shorn of the usual distractions of office, a man whose sense of duty and personal responsibility for the fate of the American people, and the world, bore heavily upon him. From his final Christmas at Hyde Park to his death on April 12, 1945, FDR strove to finish the work he had started twelve long years before.

The Gilded Age


Milton Rugoff - 2018
    Treasury. And Alva Vanderbilt squandered tens of thousands on one evening to crack the closed social circle of the Mrs. Astor. And when Jay Gould, of Black Friday fame, sent his card to one of the Rothschilds, it was returned with the comment, "Europe is not for sale." It was this climate of mid- and late-nineteenth-century excess that fostered the most rapid period of growth in the history of the United States, replacing the unyielding Puritanism of Cotton Mather with the flexible creed of Henry Ward Beecher. National Book Award nominee Milton Rugoff gives his uniquely revealing view of the Gilded Age in this collective biography of Americans from 1850 to 1890. Writing on the political spoilsmen, money kings, parvenus, forty-niners, lords of the press, sexual transgressors, and women's rights leaders, Rugoff focuses on thirty-six men and women from almost every walk of life. His exponents include U.S. Grant, John Charles Frémont, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jim Fisk, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Horatio Alger, free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull, first female surgeon Bethenia Owens-Adair, Brigham Young's rebellious nineteenth wife Anna Eliza Young, Boston Brahmin Charles Eliot Norton, Gold Rush pioneer Sarah Royce, black visionary Sojourner Truth, and to critique American society, Walt Whitman. In examining the Gilded Age, Milton Rugoff offers fresh glimpses into the lives of the celebrities of the era, as well as some lesser-known Americans, while at the same time revealing the roots of problems that still plague us today.

How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life


Peter M. Robinson - 2003
    Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech. He was also one of a core group of writers who became informal experts on Reagan -- watching his every move, absorbing not just his political positions, but his personality, manner, and the way he carried himself. In How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, Robinson draws on journal entries from his days at the White House, as well as interviews with those who knew the president best, to reveal ten life lessons he learned from the fortieth president -- a great yet ordinary man who touched the individuals around him as surely as he did his millions of admirers around the world.

The Road to Kalamata: A Congo Mercenary's Personal Memoir


Mike Hoare - 1931
    European mercenaries were brought into a variety of conflicts in Africa in the 60s and 70s; this is the personal account of the most famous of the mercenary leaders.

Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders


Steven F. Hayward - 2005
    Until now. In Greatness, Steven F. Hayward—who has written acclaimed studies of both Reagan and Churchill—goes beneath the superficial differences to uncover the remarkable (and remarkably important) parallels between the two statesmen. In exploring these connections, Hayward shines a light on the nature of political genius and the timeless aspects of statesmanship—critical lessons in this or any age.A swift-moving and original book, Greatness reveals:• The striking similarities between Reagan’s and Churchill’s political philosophies: the two were of the same mind on national defense, the economy, and many other critical issues• What made both Reagan and Churchill so effective in the public arena—including their shared gift for clearly communicating their messages to the people • The connecting thread of the Cold War, which was bookended by Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” address of 1946 and Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech of 1987• The odd coincidences that mark everything from their childhoods to their shifts from Left to Right to their shared sense of personal and national destinyUltimately, Hayward shows, the examples of Churchill and Reagan teach us what is most decisive about political leadership at the highest level—namely, character, insight, imagination, and will. Greatness also serves as a sharp rebuke to contemporary historians who dismiss notions of greatness and the power of individuals to shape history. Hayward demonstrates that the British historian Geoffrey Elton had it right when he wrote, “When I meet a historian who cannot think that there have been great men, great men moreover in politics, I feel myself in the presence of a bad historian.”From the Hardcover edition.

Secrets of the Secret Service: The History and Uncertain Future of the U.S. Secret Service


Gary J. Byrne - 2018
    Given this important mission, world stability rests upon the shoulders of its agents. In his new book, former Secret Service officer Gary Byrne takes readers behind the scenes to understand the agency's history and today's security failings that he believes put Americans at risk The American public knows the stories of Secret Service heroism, but they don't know about the hidden legacy of problems that have plagued the agency ever since its creation.Gary Byrne says that decades of catastrophic public failures, near misses, and bureaucratic and cultural rot threaten to erode this critical organization from the inside out.Today, as it works to protect President Trump, the Secret Service stands at a crossroads, and the time needed to choose the right course is running out. Agents and officers are leaving the Secret Service in droves, or they're being overworked to the point where they lose focus on the job. Management makes decisions based on politics, not the welfare of their employees. Byrne believes that this means danger for the men and women of the Secret Service, danger for the President they protect, and danger for the nation. In this book, he shares what he has witnessed and learned about the Secret Service with the hope that the problems of this most important agency can be fixed before it's too late.

Every Man a King: The Autobiography of Huey P. Long


Huey Long - 1932
    A product of the poor north Louisiana hills, he was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928, and proceeded to subjugate the powerful state political hierarchy after narrowly defeating an impeachment attempt. The only Southern popular leader who truly delivered on his promises, he increased the miles of paved roads and number of bridges in Louisiana tenfold and established free night schools and state hospitals, meeting the huge costs by taxing corporations and issuing bonds. Soon Long had become the absolute ruler of the state, in the process lifting Louisiana from near feudalism into the modern world almost overnight, and inspiring poor whites of the South to a vision of a better life. As Louisiana Senator and one of Roosevelt's most vociferous critics, "The Kingfish," as he called himself, gained a nationwide following, forcing Roosevelt to turn his New Deal significantly to the left. But before he could progress farther, he was assassinated in Baton Rouge in 1935. Long's ultimate ambition, of course, was the presidency, and it was doubtless with this goal in mind that he wrote this spirited and fascinating account of his life, an autobiography every bit as daring and controversial as was The Kingfish himself.

Harry S. Truman


Margaret Truman - 1973
    Margaret Truman writes with unequaled insight and understanding about her father's extraordinary life and offers rare glimpses at the personalities and politics behind the world events of his time. A New York Times bestseller.

The Commanders


Bob Woodward - 1991
    The Commanders, an account of the use of the military in the first Bush administration, is in many respects their story -- the intimate account of the tensions, disagreements and debates on the road to war.