History

The best we could do : an illustrated memoir book cover

The best we could do : an illustrated memoir

Thi Bui

BIOGRAPHY Bui, Thi
Graphic Novels, Memoir, Biographies, History

The author describes her experiences as a young Vietnamese immigrant, highlighting her family's move from their war-torn home to the United States in graphic novel format.

Casey's picture

Combining genealogy, auto-biography, history and graphic novel, Thi Bui's memoir is haunting and beautiful. -Casey

Cathedrals built by the Masons book cover

Cathedrals built by the Masons

Russell Herner

726.6 /Herner
History, Travel

"Through well-researched text, as well as drawings and color photography, this book captures the magnificence of European cathedrals and the brilliance of the Master Builders and craftsmen who designed and built them. Cathedral building is a fusion of man's greatest accomplishments in the arts, sciences, and humanities over the centuries. More than 250 photos and drawings capture the quality and craftsmanship built into these stunning structures created to replicate God's house or heaven on Earth. Color photos illustrate the gorgeous naves, detailed fan vaulted ceilings, beautiful stained-glass windows, flying buttresses, and 650-year-old parchment drawings of the cathedrals. Discover the origin of Gothic architecture, see how Gothic cathedrals were built using primitive tools, and learn about the development of Freemasonry and its direct descent from the stonemasons of the Middle Ages. Enjoy 30 cathedral tours and acquire a few Masonic secrets of the stonemasons."--Publisher's description.

Heidi L's picture

Great photos throughout, but what sets this book apart is the information about the building process and photographs of tools used in the construction of a cathedral. -Heidi L

Walking England's cathedral cities : twenty-eight original walks and tours around the cathedrals and cathedral cities of England book cover

Walking England's cathedral cities : twenty-eight original walks and tours around the cathedrals and cathedral cities of England

Rowland Mead

914.204 /Mead/2000
History, Travel

Heidi L's picture

While this is an older guidebook, it gives a sense of the areas surrounding fourteen cathedrals with walking tours highlighting interesting stops in the neighborhood. The book also contains detailed information for touring the interiors of the cathedrals. -Heidi L

England's cathedrals book cover

England's cathedrals

Simon Jenkins

726.60942/Jenkins
History, Travel

England's cathedrals are the nation's glory. They tower over its landscape, outranking palaces, castles and mansions. They attract roughly half the nation's population each year. For a millennium they have been objects of pilgrimage for those seeking faith, consolation and beauty. Still at the start of the twenty-first century, they remain unequalled in their size and splendour. More than any other English institution, cathedrals reflect the vicissitudes of history and should be treasured as such. They are custodians of culture and of the rituals of civic life. They offer welfare and relieve suffering. They uplift spirits with their beauty. In a real sense they are still what they were when first built a millennium ago, a glimpse of the sublime. Gloriously illustrated throughout, this book takes us on an enthralling tour of the nation and its history, through some of our most astonishing buildings.

Heidi L's picture

Vibrant color photographs of exteriors and select interior features of more than fifty cathedrals. The author's short but useful descriptions don't hold back on praise and censure when discussing restoration efforts or modifications to the structures. -Heidi L

The life and the adventures of a haunted convict book cover

The life and the adventures of a haunted convict

Austin Reed

BIOGRAPHY Reed, Austin
History

The earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer—recently discovered and authenticated by a team of Yale scholars—sheds light on the longstanding connection between race and incarceration in America. In 2009, scholars at Yale University came across a startling manuscript: the memoir of Austin Reed, a free black man born in the 1820s who spent most of his early life ricocheting between forced labor in prison and forced labor as an indentured servant. Lost for more than one hundred and fifty years, the handwritten document is the first known prison memoir written by an African American. Corroborated by prison records and other documentary sources, Reed’s text gives a gripping first-person account of an antebellum Northern life lived outside slavery that nonetheless bore, in its day-to-day details, unsettling resemblances to that very institution. Now, for the first time, we can hear Austin Reed’s story as he meant to tell it.

Melody's picture

This book is a remarkable find. Perfect for history buffs, rare manuscript nerds, and African American prison researchers, this book was written by an African American man born free in the 1820s but living much of his life in confinement. Reed was a natural storyteller and his memoir reads like a novel. He documents his experiences both in prison and as a free man, the cruelties of the whip and other 19th Century torture tactics as well as adventures and opportunities he encountered while living free. -Melody

Leonardo da Vinci book cover

Leonardo da Vinci

Walter Isaacson

BIOGRAPHY Leonardo
Biographies, History, Nonfiction

Acclaimed biographer Isaacson (Steve Jobs; The Innovators) delves into the 15th and 16th centuries to examine the insatiable energy of Leonardo da Vinci (1452â€"1519). Primarily relying on da Vinci's notebooks (more than 7,200 pages) for his research, as they help to understand da Vinci as a person, the author argues early and often that his subject was not the most brilliant man who ever lived, simply the most curious one. For example, in his journals, da Vinci reminds himself to "describe the tongue of the woodpecker." The illegitimate son of a wealthy notary in Vinci, a town outside Florence, Italy, da Vinci had a fascination with science and art from a young age. This melding of subjects was a main component of Renaissance life. This book examines da Vinci's birth, young adulthood, sexuality, works (e.g., The Last Supper, The Mona Lisa), and contemporaries such as Michelangelo and Cesare Borgia (on whom Machiavelli's The Prince was based). Lastly, Isaacson explores the polymath's enduring impact.

Candice's picture

A thorough and illuminating look at the consummate Renaissance genius. There are many biographies about Leonardo, and books that are about the things he did, but this one goes deep and gives an amazing amount of insight into how and what he thought, and the events that shaped him -Candice

One summer : America, 1927 book cover

One summer : America, 1927

Bill Bryson

973.91 /Bryson
Nonfiction, History

Bryson examines closely the events and personalities of the summer of 1927 when America's story was one of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy.

Anne M's picture

What it must have been like to read the newspaper everyday this summer! This is a fascinating read and you can tell that Bryson had a great time researching this book. -Anne M

Caught in the revolution : Petrograd, Russia, 1917--a world on the edge book cover

Caught in the revolution : Petrograd, Russia, 1917--a world on the edge

Helen Rappaport

947.0841 /Rappaport
Nonfiction, History

"Caught in the Revolution is Helen Rappaport's masterful telling of the outbreak of the Russian Revolution through eye-witness accounts left by foreign nationals who saw the drama unfold. Between the first revolution in February 1917 and Lenin's Bolshevik coup in October, Petrograd (the former St. Petersburg) was in turmoil--felt nowhere more keenly than on the fashionable Nevsky Prospekt. There, the foreign visitors who filled hotels, clubs, bars and embassies were acutely aware of the chaos breaking out on their doorsteps and beneath their windows. Among this disparate group were journalists, diplomats, businessmen, bankers, governesses, volunteer nurses and expatriate socialites. Many kept diaries and wrote letters home: from an English nurse who had already survived the sinking of the Titanic; to the black valet of the US Ambassador, far from his native Deep South; to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who had come to Petrograd to inspect the indomitable Women's Death Battalion led by Maria Bochkareva. Helen Rappaport draws upon this rich trove of material, much of it previously unpublished, to carry us right up to the action--to see, feel and hear the Revolution as it happened to an assortment of individuals who suddenly felt themselves trapped in a 'red madhouse'"--

Anne M's picture

This book tells the story of the Russian Revolution in Petrograd from the perspective of people who found themselves in absolutely the wrong place at absolutely the wrong time—foreigners. Embassy officials, journalists, tourists, businessmen, servants, and ex-pats from Great Britain, France, and the United States lend their memoirs, letters, diaries, and newspaper articles to tell their story as Tsarist Russia fell into what seems like complete chaos. It makes for a pretty intense read as events unfold and become more unpredictable to those living through it. However, it is also clear that although they were living through the events, they were not of the events. Many of the reporters, embassy officials, bankers, and socialites seem to not understand what they are experiencing and why. And they got to leave. -Anne M

The millionaire and the bard : Henry Folger's obsessive hunt for Shakespeare's first folio book cover

The millionaire and the bard : Henry Folger's obsessive hunt for Shakespeare's first folio

Andrea E. Mays

822.33 /Z/Mays
Nonfiction, History

"Today it is the most valuable book in the world. Recently one sold for over five million dollars. It is the book that rescued the name of William Shakespeare and half of his plays from oblivion. The Millionaire and the Bard tells the miraculous and romantic story of the making of the First Folio, and of the American industrialist whose thrilling pursuit of the book became a lifelong obsession." --

Jason's picture

Added by Jason

Once in a great city : a Detroit story book cover

Once in a great city : a Detroit story

David Maraniss

977.434 /Maraniss
Nonfiction, History

"As David Maraniss captures it with power and affection, Detroit summed up America's path to music and prosperity that was already past history. It's 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city's leaders are among the most visionary in America: Grandson of the first Ford; Henry Ford II; influential labor leader Walter Reuther; Motown's founder Berry Gordy; the Reverend C.L. Franklin and his daughter, the amazing Aretha; Governor George Romney, Mormon and Civil Rights advocate; super car salesman Lee Iacocca; Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a Kennedy acolyte; Police Commissioner George Edwards; Martin Luther King. It was the American auto makers' best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther's UAW had helped lift the middle class. The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King delivered his 'I Have a Dream' speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington March. Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even then. Before the devastating riot. Before the decades of civic corruption and neglect, and white flight. Before people trotted out the grab bag of Rust Belt infirmities-- from harsh weather to high labor costs-- and competition from abroad to explain Detroit's collapse, one could see the signs of a city's ruin. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts"--

Anne M's picture

Like many northern cities in the era, the 1960's is a decade when politicians, business leaders, and residents make decisions that lead their city to sink or swim. In Detroit, small wounds begin to fester. -Anne M