In the News, October 2021
Posted 10.20.21: A New York Times Best Seller! Eric Jager's The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France is #11 on the paperback list: "Breathes astonishing vigor, realism and a remarkable modernity into a celebrated trial by combat.... A taut page-turner with all the hallmarks of a good historical thriller: superb pacing, plot twists, dramatic tension and a fully fleshed cast of characters.... An enriching total immersion."
Posted 10.20.21: Eric Jager's book joins Victor Davis Hanson's The Dying Citizen: How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America, which is on the hardcover New York Times Best Seller list.
Posted 10.14.21: A New York Times Best Seller! Victor Davis Hanson's The Dying Citizen: How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America is #7 on the hardcover nonfiction list and #6 on the combined print and e-book nonfiction list!
Posted 10.14.21: "An eye-opening journey....With a witty, conversational tone, Underhill leads readers on a trip through various aspects of the food industry.... Hopeful and enlightening commentary on the future."—Kirkus Reviews on Paco Underhill's How We Eat: The Brave New World of Food and Drink, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.
Posted 10.04.21: "Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age, by David A. Price, tells the story of amazing men who invested their time and talents and developed a machine to help them decode the codes used by the Germans in World War II.... Price used recently declassified sources to bring this incredible story to print.... A gripping and wonderful read.”—Joan Steinberg, The Portland Press Herald
Posted 10.01.21: "A multifaceted account of the rise of the rock show.... A revealing, absorbing book."—Kirkus Reviews on Rock Concert: An Oral History as Told by the Artists, Backstage Insiders, and Fans Who Were There by Marc Myers.
Posted 09.24.21: Publishers Weekly on Rock Concert: An Oral History as Told by the Artists, Backstage Insiders, and Fans Who Were There by Marc Myers. "Myers surveys in this engrossing oral history five decades of rock concerts, and the ‘songwriters, producers, disc jockeys, managers, promoters, and artists [that] sided with the youth culture as it struggled to be heard.' Starting with the emergence of R&B in the late 1940s and ending with 1985's Live Aid benefit, he vividly recreates what went on behind the scenes, onstage, and in the crowds with intimate accounts from the people who were there.... Myers also offers a thoughtful overview of the considerable ways in which the rock landscape has shifted.... Eminently entertaining, this is sure to delight rock fans of all persuasions." Forthcoming from Grove in November.
Posted 09.22.21: "The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix captures the heart-pounding excitement, the unique personalities, and the interplay of chance, inspiration, doggedness, and sound scientific method that allowed for the decoding of DNA. Howard Markel's skills as a trained historian, a physician, and an accomplished writer allow this watershed moment in science to come alive and to be a page turner. A marvelous book!"—Abraham Verghese, M.D., professor of medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, and author of Cutting for Stone. "Howard Markel's brilliant book examining the discovery of DNA is a ‘must-read' for biologists and historians. But this is also a book for every reader; it brings to life the discovery of life itself. From Watson, Crick, and Franklin to the dozens of characters that Markel includes, The Secret of Life covers vast and important ground…An indispensable work."—Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene.
Posted 08.12.21: Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Classics and History, prominent for his scholarship, teaching, and social and political commentary died Aug. 6 at age 89. His monumental four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War (1969–1987) was described by George Steiner as “the foremost work of history produced in North America in the 20th century.”... Kagan's gift was narrative: he was a superb story teller.... His other scholarly works include Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy (1990), which one critic called “lively and thoughtful...learned and passionate;” On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (1995), praised as “vivid and vastly informative.... One of the most incisive books written on the causes of war;” his later one-volume synthesis of the war that sundered the ancient world, The Peloponnesian War (2003), of which one critic wrote, “Kagan's sumptuous style will enthrall readers who had not imagined that they would find the topic so absorbing;” and his most recent, Thucydides: The Reinvention of History (2009). (Yale News, 8.10.21)
Posted 08.06.21: "The Words That Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760–1840 is Akhil Amar's most ambitious work yet, the first book of what he envisions to be a definitive three-volume reinterpretation of constitutional history and legal analysis. The work, with its comprehensive scope, incisive analysis, and storyteller's gifts, is frequently provocative and sweeping in its simultaneous grasp of politics and law.... Amar's use of biography and narrative history brings these stories to life."—Joel Seligman, Los Angeles Review of Books
Posted 07.30.21: A starred Kirkus review for The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix by Howard Markel: "A medical historian offers a new history of one of the 20th century's most significant scientific quests.... Markel, a Guggenheim fellow and professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, has written one of the best.... A brilliant addition to the literature on the history of biological discovery."
Posted 07.27.21: Publishers Weekly on The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix by Howard Markel: “One of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century was also the scientific heist of the century, according to this action-packed history.... Markel skillfully explains the knotty science behind the breakthrough and highlights the clash of outsize personalities.... Tart, sharp-eyed prose....This wonderfully evocative tale sings.”
Posted 07.14.21: “In Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age, David A. Price convincingly recounts a heroic and tragic tale.... Price gives us a narrative worthy of James Bond. There is a grand buildup of tension and the race against time to get the code cracked. And there is the team's pride when then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill visits Bletchley, finds Turing sitting on the floor surrounded by papers, and realizes how brilliant the team is.”—Janine di Giovanni, Foreign Policy
Posted 07.01.21: Eileen M. Hunt in the Times Literary Supplement on The Bright Book of Life: Novels to Read and Reread and Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles: The Power of the Reader's Mind over a Universe of Death by Harold Bloom: "With his unparalleled expertise in poetry of the modern British and American traditions paired with his fading health, Bloom knew all too well that the candle burns brightly at both ends.... Everything was an allusion for Bloom in the end, yet nothing – especially not the wisdom of literature – was wholly illusory. In Take Arms against a Sea of Troubles and The Bright Book of Life, he shows his readers how even literary criticism must be decoded like a dramatic poem or a novel before we can consume it, straight-up, as a sharp and sometimes bitter history of the writer. The final philosophical paradox of Harold Bloom's oeuvre is that we are all collectively made and individually disclosed by our literary sources."
Posted 06.30.21: The New Yorker on Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age by David A. Price: "Colossus, the first digital, electronic computer, was developed by British intelligence during the Second World War, to decipher encrypted messages between Hitler and his generals. This history places the famous achievements of the computer scientist Alan Turing alongside the work of his mentor Max Newman and of Tommy Flowers, the engineer who designed the machine. Price describes the complexity of the codes produced by Germany's cipher machines and recounts Colossus's triumph in obtaining military intelligence before the Normandy landings. Noting that Colossus marked the beginning of the digital age, Price observes that it was the product 'not of impersonal forces but of the joining of extraordinary individuals within an extraordinary institution.'"
Posted 06.24.21: “Akhil Reed Amar's fascinating book The Words That Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760–1840 [is] a masterly synthesis of history and law, Mr. Amar's tome delivers, as the author describes it, a wide-angled, multigenerational narrative of ‘the American constitutional project.' Revolutionary America is remembered for its physical action: ‘bullets flew, tea chests splashed, cannons roared.' Yet, Mr. Amar argues, that's only half the story. ‘A cannon can roar but it cannot speak.' Listening in on the Founding Fathers, Mr. Amar traces ‘America's constitutional conversation' from 1760 to 1840.... Readers of The Words That Made Us will rightly marvel at its breadth and depth and at Mr. Amar's scholarly acumen. Sequel volumes—covering 1840 to 1920 and 1920 to 2000—are planned, making for a constitutional trilogy.”—Mark G. Spencer, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 06.17.21: A New York Times Paperback Bestseller! Marty Makary's The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care—and How to Fix It. As Booklist wrote in a starred review: "He found that working Americans feel that the system is stacked against them; it seems that they're right. He also critiques the workplace 'wellness' industry, with experts unnecessarily screening healthy people, leading to 'false positives and harmful medical procedures.' Consider this book a powerful call to action for more information about health costs and for restoring the 'noble mission' of treating everyone with fairness and dignity."
Posted 06.02.21: A starred review from Library Journal for Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age by David A. Price: “Price puts his expertise in history and technology to excellent use in his latest book. Following the exploits of the motley collection of geniuses installed at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, he weaves a superb narrative, at once compelling and relatable, about the technological innovations used to break the Nazis' many military and police codes and ciphers. In this book, the code breakers come to life as people grappling with personal conflicts and politics while working together (and sometimes against each other) in the relatively egalitarian environment at Bletchley.... VERDICT: Incredibly well-written and well-researched, this fast-paced book reads like a novel. Highly recommended.”
Posted 05.21.21: "Every once in a while a book comes along that can simultaneously enlighten and engross you by taking a seemingly esoteric subject and turning it into an absorbing page-turner. Professor Amar has penned a marvelous tale of how our uniquely American Constitution came to be and the larger than life characters that conceived, gave birth, and nurtured our system of self-government.... The chapters seem to fly by with Professor Amar's engaging and conversational writing style along with his incisive and balanced analysis of the critical events, people, and documents that made America not merely a collection of states, but truly the United States of America"—Jerry Lenaburg, New York Journal of Books, on The Words That Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760–1840 by Akhil Reed Amar
Posted 05.20.21: Winner of the 2021 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association! Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-Laws by William N. Eskridge, Jr. and Christopher R. Riano: "A comprehensive account of the long struggle for same-sex marriage.... A compelling narrative....The work is beautifully and accessibly written.... An essential work."—Library Journal