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Genres Archives: History

Civil Society in Communist Eastern Europe: Opposition and Dissent in Totalitarian Regimes

Civil Society
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As well as promoting debates about liberal democracy, the dramatic events of 1989 also bought forth a powerful revival in the interest of the notion of civil society. This revival was reflected mainly in two broad tracts of literature. The first was primarily focused on the events surrounding the Solidarity movement in Poland and the tumultuous events of 1980-81. The second was concerned with the ‘Velvet Revolutions’ more broadly. Following the events of 1989, there appeared a number of works sharing the common central argument that civil society played a key role in the overthrow of these Communist regimes in 1989. Challenging the centrally accepted wisdom that dissent in totalitarian regimes was representative of civil society, Civil Society and Communism posits the argument that the totalitarian public sphere, a new theoretical typology, presents a more robust and rigorous way by which to understand dissent and opposition in totalitarian Czechoslovakia, Poland and the GDR.

A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid

A History of Ancient Egypt
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The ancient world comes to life in the first volume in a two book series on the history of Egypt, spanning the first farmers to the construction of the pyramids. Famed archaeologist John Romer draws on a lifetime of research to tell one history’s greatest stories; how, over more than a thousand years, a society of farmers created a rich, vivid world where one of the most astounding of all human-made landmarks, the Great Pyramid, was built. Immersing the reader in the Egypt of the past, Romer examines and challenges the long-held theories about what archaeological finds mean and what stories they tell about how the Egyptians lived.

More than just an account of one of the most fascinating periods of history, this engrossing book asks readers to take a step back and question what they’ve learned about Egypt in the past. Fans of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra and history buffs will be captivated by this re-telling of Egyptian history, written by one of the top Egyptologists in the world.

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Lawrence in Arabia
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A thrilling and revelatory narrative of one of the most epic and consequential periods in 20th century history – the Arab Revolt and the secret “great game” to control the Middle East.

The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War One was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, “a sideshow of a sideshow.” Amidst the slaughter in European trenches, the Western combatants paid scant attention to the Middle Eastern theater. As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by a small handful of adventurers and low-level officers far removed from the corridors of power.

Curt Prüfer was an effete academic attached to the German embassy in Cairo, whose clandestine role was to foment Islamic jihad against British rule. Aaron Aaronsohn was a renowned agronomist and committed Zionist who gained the trust of the Ottoman governor of Syria. William Yale was the fallen scion of the American aristocracy, who traveled the Ottoman Empire on behalf of Standard Oil, dissembling to the Turks in order gain valuable oil concessions. At the center of it all was Lawrence. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in the sands of Syria; by 1917 he was the most romantic figure of World War One, battling both the enemy and his own government to bring about the vision he had for the Arab people.

The intertwined paths of these four men – the schemes they put in place, the battles they fought, the betrayals they endured and committed – mirror the grandeur, intrigue and tragedy of the war in the desert. Prüfer became Germany’s grand spymaster in the Middle East. Aaronsohn constructed an elaborate Jewish spy-ring in Palestine, only to have the anti-Semitic and bureaucratically-inept British first ignore and then misuse his organization, at tragic personal cost. Yale would become the only American intelligence agent in the entire Middle East – while still secretly on the payroll of Standard Oil. And the enigmatic Lawrence rode into legend at the head of an Arab army, even as he waged secret war against his own nation’s imperial ambitions.

Based on years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabia definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.

Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia (Historical Dictionaries of Africa)

Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia
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Ethiopia is one of the world’s oldest countries; its Rift Valley may be the location where the ancestors of humankind originated more than four million years ago. With a population of 67 million people today, it is the third most populous country on the African continent after Nigeria and Egypt. It is the source of 86 percent of the water reaching the Aswan Dam in Egypt, most of it carried by the amazing Blue Nile. Ethiopia offers major historical sites such as the pre-Christian palace at Yeha, the stele and tombs of the old Kingdom of Axum, and the rock-carved churches of Lalibela. For anyone interested in Ethiopia, this historical dictionary, through its individual and carefully cross-referenced entries, captures the importance and intrigue of this truly significant African nation.

Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia appeals to all levels of readers, providing entries for each of Ethiopia’s 85 ethnic groups and covering a broad range of cultural, political, and economic topics. Readers interested in the cultural aspects or who are planning to visit Ethiopia will find a wealth of entries on art, literature, handicrafts, music, dance, bird life, geography, and historic tourist sites. Practitioners in government and non-governmental organizations will find entries on pressing economic, social, and political issues such as HIV/AIDS, female circumcision , debt, human rights, and the environment. The important historical role of missionaries and the combination of conflict and cooperation between Christians and Muslims in the region are also issues reviewed. And, finally, many of the entries highlight relations between Ethiopia and her neighbors-Eritrea, Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan.

In the bibliography, considerable emphasis has been placed on including both new and old materials covering all facets of Ethiopia, organized for easy identification by areas of major interest.

The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe

The Last Battle
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May 1945. Hitler is dead, and the Third Reich little more than smoking rubble. No GI wants to be the last man killed in action against the Nazis. But for cigar-chewing, rough-talking, hard-drinking, hard-charging Captain Jack Lee and his men, there is one more mission: rescue fourteen prominent French prisoners held in an SS-guarded castle high in the Austrian Alps. It’s a dangerous mission, but Lee has help from a decorated German Wehrmacht officer and his men, who voluntarily join the fight.

Based on personal memoirs, author interviews, and official American, German, and French histories, The Last Battle is the nearly unbelievable story of the most improbable battle of World War II—a tale of unlikely allies, bravery, cowardice, and desperate combat between implacable enemies.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

Thomas Jefferson
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In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.

Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things—women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson’s world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.

The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity—and the genius of the new nation—lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President’s House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.

The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India

Women of the Raj
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In the nineteenth century, at the height of colonialism, the British ruled India under a government known as the Raj. British men and women left their homes and traveled to this mysterious, beautiful country–where they attempted to replicate their own society. In this fascinating portrait, Margaret MacMillan examines the hidden lives of the women who supported their husbands’ conquests–and in turn supported the Raj, often behind the scenes and out of the history books. Enduring heartbreaking separations from their families, these women had no choice but to adapt to their strange new home, where they were treated with incredible deference by the natives but found little that was familiar. The women of the Raj learned to cope with the harsh Indian climate and ward off endemic diseases; they were forced to make their own entertainment–through games, balls, and theatrics–and quickly learned to abide by the deeply ingrained Anglo-Indian love of hierarchy.

Weaving interviews, letters, and memoirs with a stunning selection of illustrations, MacMillan presents a vivid cultural and social history of the daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives of the men at the center of a daring imperialist experiment–and reveals India in all its richness and vitality.

“A marvellous book…[Women of the Raj] successfully [re-creates] a vanished world that continues to hold a fascination long after the sun has set on the British empire.”
– The Globe and Mail

“MacMillan has that essential quality of the historian, a narrative gift.”
– The Daily Telegraph

“MacMillan is a superb writer who can bring history to life.”
– The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Well researched and thoroughly enjoyable.”
– Evening Standard