Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans
Before his oft-debated years in the White House, Andrew Jackson was known for his military exploits—specifically the Battle of New Orleans, which played a massive role in ending the War of 1812. Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans tells the story of this battle, and the unlikely combination of forces Jackson used en route to victory.
The long and complex life of Winston Churchill encompasses far more than his time as Prime Minister during the Second World War. Andrew Roberts’s massive biography of Churchill utilizes previously unused historical documents to offer a new perspective on his life and legacy—one which may be deeply illuminating for contemporary readers.
The right books can help turn complex systems and ideas into thrilling reading. Bhu Srinivasan’s Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism explores the ways that the United States and capitalism have been interwoven across the nation’s history—and how this has shaped the evolution of the nation in ways both expected and unexpected.
The Invisible Emperor
Two hundred years after his heyday, Napoleon Bonaparte remains a deeply compelling historical figure in both his triumphs and his defeats. In The Invisible Emperor, Mark Braude explores a more ambiguous time in Bonaparte’s life: his ten months in exile on Elba, and the people in his orbit as he planned his escape and return to mainland Europe.
In the Hurricane's Eye
Nathaniel Philbrick has written numerous gripping books dealing with history—especially nautical history—over the years. His latest, In the Hurricane’s Eye, explores the final year of the Revolutionary War and the seismic role that the French Navy played in turning the tide for the U.S.
The War Before the War
Prior to the start of the Civil War, the North and South were already engaged in a heated struggle over slavery. Andrew Delbanco’s The War Before the War explores how fugitive slaves seeking their freedom played a role in this conflict—and how their cause persuaded many of the evils of slavery.
Jon Lee Anderson
Jon Lee Anderson’s biography Che: A Revolutionary Life focuses on the life and legacy of Che Guevara, whose role in the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath remains contentious. Anderson delivers a comprehensive look at Guevara, as well at the larger political currents surrounding him for much of his life.
The Splendor Before the Dark
With her novel, The Splendor Before the Dark, Margaret George takes the reader to the bygone days of the Roman Empire—specifically, to the time when Nero ruled. George’s novel focuses on the destruction of Rome by fire, and of Nero’s efforts to rebuild the city and avoid plots against him.
Heirs of the Founders
H. W. Brands
The Founding Fathers remain at the center of many a deep dive into American history—but H. W. Brands opted for a different approach in his book Heirs of the Founders. Here, the focus is on Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John Calhoun, and the way the nation was shaped by a second generation of statesmen as much as it was shaped by their predecessors.
Dear Los Angeles
Covering nearly 500 years of history, the anthology Dear Los Angeles provides readers with an assortment of documents telling the story of a certain California city. Represented in the book are the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Susan Sontag, and Cesar Chavez, providing an array of perspectives on the City of Angels.
There’s never a wrong time to explore history in the pages of a book. Perhaps the history buff in your life is looking for a new perspective on the distant past, or endeavoring to fill in some gaps in their knowledge of a major historical figure. The right book can make a famous name feel like someone we’ve known all our lives, or turn complex events into thrilling prose. Here’s a look at ten notable titles that bring the past into sharp focus.
Editor: Eliza Smith; Featured Image: Matt McCarty