History

Sacred Britannia : the gods and rituals of Roman Britain book cover

Sacred Britannia : the gods and rituals of Roman Britain

Miranda J. (Miranda Jane) Aldhouse-Green

200.9361 /Aldhouse-Green
Nonfiction, History, Religion, Political

Two thousand years ago, the Romans sought to absorb into their empire what they regarded as a remote, almost mythical island on the very edge of the known world - Britain. The expeditions of Julius Caesar and the invasion of AD 43 brought fundamental and lasting changes to the island. Not least among these was a pantheon of new Classical deities and religious systems, along with a clutch of exotic eastern cults including Christianity. But what of Britannia and her own home-grown deities? What cults and cosmologies did the Romans encounter and how did they in turn react to them? Under Roman rule, the old gods were challenged, adopted, adapted, absorbed and re-configured. In this fresh and innovative new account, Miranda Aldhouse-Green balances literary, archaeological and iconographic evidence (and scrutinizes their shortcomings and how we interpret them) to illuminate the complexity of religion and belief in Roman Britain, and the two-way traffic of cultural exchange and interplay between imported and indigenous cults. Despite the remoteness of this period, on the threshold between prehistory and history, many of the forces, tensions, ideologies and issues of identity at work are still relevant today.

Candice's picture

This book is literally as the blurb says--it describes the religious atmosphere of Britain when the Romans blasted onto the scene, and uses various historical accounts and archaeological finds to give evidence. If that's your thing, then you'll love it! It can lean a little to the technical side, and assumes the reader might have a slight comfort level reading socio-archaeological articles, but the information is presented in nice, small bites so you don't get lost in the details. If deep British history is your cup of tea, and you don't need a lot of color photos to spice up the info, then you won't be disappointed. -Candice

The ruin of all witches : life and death in the New World book cover

The ruin of all witches : life and death in the New World

Malcolm Gaskill

974.402 /Gaskill
History

"A gripping story of a family tragedy brought about by witch-hunting in Puritan New England that combines history, anthropology, sociology, politics, theology and psychology. In Springfield, Massachusetts in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails, property vanishes, and people suffer convulsions as if possessed by demons. A woman is seen wading through the swamp like a lost soul. Disturbing dreams and visions proliferate. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics and the community becomes tangled in a web of distrust, resentment and denunciation. The finger of suspicion soon falls on a young couple with two small children: the prickly brickmaker, Hugh Parsons, and his troubled wife, Mary. Drawing on rich, previously unexplored source material, Malcolm Gaskill vividly evokes a strange past, one where lives were steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in omens, curses and enchantments. The Ruin of All Witches captures an entire society caught in agonized transition between superstition and enlightenment, tradition and innovation"--

Anne M's picture

What makes a community turn on a neighbor, especially a tight-knit community? Hugh Parsons wasn't pleasant to be around. He was irascible, mean-spirited, and always seemed to show up when you didn't want him. Malcolm Gaskill takes us to Puritan Springfield, Massachusetts in 1651 where Hugh Parson's angry and bearish behavior leads to accusations of witchcraft. Unlike Salem with its long list of victims, Springfield, which happened 40 years before, ruined just one family. Was it just Hugh Parson's behavior? Did they just want to be rid of him? Or was the accusations about deeper fear? A brand new colonial settlement, Springfield was going through some drastic socio-economic-political-cultural changes. Gaskill paints an interesting portrait of a town on the brink. -Anne M

The revolutionary : Samuel Adams book cover

The revolutionary : Samuel Adams

Stacy Schiff

BIOGRAPHY Adams, Samuel
History, Biographies

"Thomas Jefferson asserted that if there was any leader of the Revolution, "Samuel Adams was the man." With high-minded ideals and bare-knuckle tactics, Adams led what could be called the greatest campaign of civil resistance in American history. Stacy Schiff returns Adams to his seat of glory, introducing us to the shrewd and eloquent man who supplied the moral backbone of the American Revolution. He employed every tool available to rally a town, a colony, and eventually a band of colonies behind him, creating the cause that created a country. For his efforts he became the most wanted man in America: When Paul Revere rode to Lexington in 1775, it was to warn Samuel Adams that he was about to be arrested for treason. In The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, Schiff brings her masterful skills to Adams's improbable life, illuminating his transformation from aimless son of a well-off family to tireless, beguiling radical who mobilized the colonies"--

Anne M's picture

I really enjoy Schiff’s biographies and histories. She wrote one on Cleopatra and another called "The Witches," which chronicles the New England witchcraft hysteria of the 17th century. Both I recommend highly. Schiff is a great storyteller. She knows how to set the scene, provides interesting context, and then introduces her subject. This time it is founding father and known trouble-maker Samuel Adams. Now sort of a footnote in Revolutionary history, Adams played a huge role in providing unrelenting criticism of the king and parliament, leading to our country’s independence from Britain. Why was his legacy buried? Schiff's take is pretty interesting, especially through our 21st century lens. -Anne M

Seen and unseen : what Toyo Miyatake, Dorothea Lange, and Ansel Adams' photographs reveal about the Japanese American incarceration book cover

Seen and unseen : what Toyo Miyatake, Dorothea Lange, and Ansel Adams' photographs reveal about the Japanese American incarceration

Elizabeth Partridge

j940.547273 Partridge
Nonfiction, Literary Nonfiction, Picture Books, History, Art / Art History

"Legendary photographers Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams all photographed the Japanese American incarceration, but with different approaches and different results. This nonfiction picture book for middle-grade readers examines the Japanese-American incarceration and the complexity of documenting it through the work of these three photographers"--

Casey's picture

Seen and Unseen is a must-read. An incredible marriage of photography, literary nonfiction, scrapbooking, illustration, survivor stories, and US History, Partridge and Tamaki use various media to bring Japanese American incarceration to light. This is suggested reading for all families, middle-graders, young adults, and adults, especially those interested in or affected by WWII. Seen and Unseen would be a great gift as well! -Casey

Come to this court & cry : how the Holocaust ends book cover

Come to this court & cry : how the Holocaust ends

Linda Kinstler

940.5318 /Kinstler
History

Investigating the death of Herberts Cukurs, a fugitive Nazi from Latvia who had served in her grandfather's unit, and modern efforts to exonerate him for his past actions, the author explores both her family story and the legacy of the post-Holocaust era in Europe, and how that legacy extends into the present.

Amanda's picture

This is like reading a WWII spy thriller, but knowing that this really happened add to the feeling of being enveloped in the story. Recommended for readers of Deborah Lipstadt's Denial and Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men. -Amanda

The sewing girl's tale : a story of crime and consequences in Revolutionary America book cover

The sewing girl's tale : a story of crime and consequences in Revolutionary America

John Wood Sweet

364.1532 /Sweet
History

Summer, 1793. A crime was committed in the back room of a New York brothel-- the kind of crime that even victims usually kept secret. Instead, seventeen-year-old seamstress Lanah Sawyer charged a gentleman with rape. Her accusation sparked a raw courtroom drama and a relentless struggle for vindication that threatened both Lanah's and her assailant's lives. The trial exposed a predatory sexual underworld, sparked riots in the streets, and ignited a vigorous debate about class privilege and sexual double standards. Sweet takes us from a chance encounter in the street, and shows that if our laws and our culture were changed by a persistent young woman and the power of words two hundred years ago, they can be changed again. - adapted from jacket

Anne M's picture

John Wood Sweet brings the story of Lanah Sawyer to light in this historical courtroom account. What I found surprising is even though these cases were tried very differently because of the political and economic status of women in the 18th Century, there is a lot that 21st Century readers would find familiar. -Anne M

The occult, witchcraft & magic : an illustrated history book cover

The occult, witchcraft & magic : an illustrated history

Christopher Dell

133.4 /Dell
Nonfiction, History, Art / Art History, Nature

From the earliest Paleolithic cave rituals, magic has gripped the imagination. Magic and magicians appear in early Babylonian texts, the Bible, Judaism and Islam. Secret words, spells and incantations lie at the heart of every mythological tradition. Today, magic means many things: contemporary Wicca is practised widely as a modern pagan religion in Europe and the US; 'magic' also evokes the cathartic rituals of Chaos magic, but stretches to include the non-spiritual, rapid-fire sleight of hand performed by slick stage magicians who fill vast arenas. The book is packed with authoritative text and a huge and inspired selection of images, chosen from unusual and hidden sources. The material is presented in 100 entries, and includes some of the best-known representations of magic and the occult from around the world.

Melody's picture

This book was so popular when it came out that we had to stock multiple copies. This is a book for you if you love history, art, and illustrations. It doesn't have to be Halloween for me to love leafing through this book! -Melody

The swerve : how the world became modern book cover

The swerve : how the world became modern

Stephen Greenblatt

940.21 /Greenblatt
Nonfiction, History, Philosophy, Biographies

In this work, the author has crafted both a work of history and a story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius, a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book, the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age, fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.

Candice's picture

I'm a little late to this book, but I am so glad that I am reading it (on the recommendation of Natalie Haynes, for you podcast lovers!). This book so eloquently relays an important aspect of the humanism movement--that of finding and preserving and making known again--works from the Romans and Greeks. In this case, our questing hero goes by the name of Poggio, and he re-discovers a text by the Roman thinker Lucretius, who had been heavily influenced by Greek philosopher Epicurus. It's a layer cake of scrumptious meditation on how to live, combined with juicy details of the lives of Romans and Florentines--a real treat! -Candice

The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon's Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I book cover

The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon's Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I

Lindsey Fitzharris

OverDrive Audiobook
Literary Nonfiction, History, Biographies

From the moment the first machine gun rang out over the Western Front, one thing was clear: mankind's military technology had wildly surpassed its medical capabilities. Bodies were battered, gouged, hacked, and gassed. The First World War claimed millions of lives and left millions more wounded and disfigured. In the midst of this brutality, however, there were also those who strove to alleviate suffering. The Facemaker tells the extraordinary story of such an individual: the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, who dedicated himself to reconstructing the burned and broken faces of the injured soldiers under his care. Gillies, a Cambridge-educated New Zealander, became interested in the nascent field of plastic surgery after encountering the human wreckage on the front. Returning to Britain, he established one of the world's first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction. There, Gillies assembled a unique group of practitioners whose task was to rebuild what had been torn apart, to re-create what had been destroyed. At a time when losing a limb made a soldier a hero, but losing a face made him a monster to a society largely intolerant of disfigurement, Gillies restored not just the faces of the wounded but also their spirits. .

Anne M's picture

This book is devastating and hopeful at the same time. It is a story that starts out harrowing, but after hard work and ingenuity by a few individuals, things change for the better. The Facemaker, a history of World War I facial reconstruction, sets the scene: how World War I was fought in new and horrific ways. It was industrial. There were a lot of advancements in weapons of war. (And of course, for what?) Lindsey Fitzharris describes this moment in time very well. Then there are the people put in the trenches and at sea and in the air, not to mention the civilians, facing this new weaponry. Fitzharris makes these stories personal and individual, the pain experienced both inside and out. She picks a number of individuals that came home with significant facial injuries and how they viewed their lives as over. Enter Harold Gillies, an ears, nose, and throat doctor, who is about to become the leading expert in facial reconstruction. If you love compelling histories of war or medicine, I recommend this book. As an aside, the audio version was excellently narrated. -Anne M

The Middle Ages : a graphic guide book cover

The Middle Ages : a graphic guide

Eleanor Janega

940.1 /Janega
Nonfiction, History

"The Middle Ages: A Graphic Guide busts the myth of the 'Dark Ages', shedding light on the period's present-day relevance in a unique illustrated style. This history takes us through the rise and fall of empires, papacies, caliphates and kingdoms; through the violence and death of the Crusades, Viking raids, the Hundred Years War and the Plague; to the curious practices of monks, martyrs and iconoclasts. We'll see how the foundations of the modern West were established, influencing our art, cultures, religious practices and ways of thinking. And we'll explore the lives of those seen as 'Other' - women, Jews, homosexuals, lepers, sex workers and heretics. Join historian Eleanor Janega and illustrator Neil Max Emmanuel on a romp across continents and kingdoms as we discover the Middle Ages to be a time of huge change, inquiry and development - not unlike our own."--

Melody's picture

Illustrations are my jam. Any creatively rendered true story is going to grab my attention. I've been reading a lot of business and conflict management books lately, so this one is a nice reprieve where I can sit and enjoy an artist interpreting history. -Melody