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1810's - 1940's = Industrialization, Imperialism, & Nationalism
by Averell "Ace" Smith Year Published:
Soon after Satchel Paige arrived at spring training in 1937 to pitch for the Pittsburgh Crawfords, he and five of his teammates, including Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell, were lured to the Dominican Republic with the promise of easy money to play a short baseball tournament in support of the country’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo. As it turned out, the money wasn’t so easy. After Paige and his friends arrived on the island, they found themselves under the thumb of Trujillo, known by Dominicans for murdering those who disappointed him. In the initial games, the Ciudad Trujillo all-star team floundered. Living outside the shadow of segregation, Satchel and his recruits spent their nights carousing and their days dropping close games to their rivals, who were also stocked with great players. Desperate to restore discipline, Trujillo tapped the leader of his death squads to become part of the team management. The American players believed they might be lined up and shot if they lost the tournament.
When Paige’s team ultimately rallied to win, it barely registered with Trujillo, who a few months later ordered the killings of fifteen thousand Haitians at the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Paige and his teammates returned to the states to face banishment from the Negro Leagues, but ironically they barnstormed across America wearing their Trujillo All-Stars uniforms.The Pitcher and the Dictator is an extraordinary story of race, politics, and some of the greatest baseball players ever assembled, playing high-stakes baseball in support of one of the Caribbean’s cruelest dictators.
by Boris Pasternak Year Published:
In the grand tradition of the epic novel, Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece brings to life the drama and immensity of the Russian Revolution through the story of the gifted physician-poet, Zhivago; the revolutionary, Strelnikov; and Lara, the passionate woman they both love. Caught up in the great events of politics and war that eventually destroy him and millions of others, Zhivago clings to the private world of family life and love, embodied especially in the magical Lara. First published in Italy in 1957, Doctor Zhivago was not allowed to appear in the Soviet Union until 1987, twenty-seven years after the author’s death.
by George Orwell Year Published:Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell's fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong has rivaled Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea in terms of scale and scope. Fueled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars, and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals' Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed, or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. "We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it's a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell's view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy. by Winston Churchill Year Published:
As a visionary, statesman, and historian, and the most eloquent spokesman against Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill was one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century. In this autobiography, Churchill recalls his childhood, his schooling, his years as a war correspondent in South Africa during the Boer War, and his first forays into politics as a member of Parliament. My Early Life not only gives readers insights into the shaping of a great leader but, as Churchill himself wrote, "a picture of a vanished age." If you want to fully understand Winston Churchill, My Early Life is essential reading.
by Peter Kurth Year Published:In 1918, Tsar Nicholas II and his family were shot in the Russian Revolution. In 1920, a woman who many believe was the Grand Duchess Anastasia was rescued from a canal in Berlin. This is her story. Peter Kurth's previous bestselling titles include Isadora: A Sensational Life, and a biography of the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson, American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson. His essays have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, and many others. by David Fromkin Year Published:When war broke out in Europe in 1914, it surprised a European population enjoying the most beautiful summer in memory. For nearly a century since, historians have debated the causes of the war. Some have cited the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; others have concluded it was unavoidable. In Europe’s Last Summer, David Fromkin provides a different answer: hostilities were commenced deliberately. In a riveting re-creation of the run-up to war, Fromkin shows how German generals, seeing war as inevitable, manipulated events to precipitate a conflict waged on their own terms. Moving deftly between diplomats, generals, and rulers across Europe, he makes the complex diplomatic negotiations accessible and immediate. Examining the actions of individuals amid larger historical forces, this is a gripping historical narrative and a dramatic reassessment of a key moment in the twentieth-century. by Peter Englund Year Published:In this masterly, highly original narrative history, Peter Englund takes a revelatory new approach to the history of World War I, magnifying its least examined, most stirring component: the experiences of the average man and woman—not only the tragedy and horror but also the absurdity and even, at times, the beauty. The twenty people from whose journals and letters Englund draws are from Belgium, Denmark, and France; Great Britain, Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Italy, Australia, and New Zealand; Russia, Venezuela, and the United States. There is a young man in the British army infantry who had been considering emigrating until the war offered him its “grand promise of change” and a middle-aged French civil servant, a socialist and writer whose “faith simply crumbled” at the outbreak of war. There is a twelve-year-old German girl thrilled with the news of the army’s victories because it means that she and her classmates are allowed to shout and scream at school. There is an American woman married to a Polish aristocrat, living a life of quiet luxury when the war begins but who will be moved, ultimately, to declare: Looking Death in the eyes, one loses the fear of Him. From field surgeon to nurse to fighter pilot, some are on the Western Front, others in the Balkans, East Africa, Mesopotamia. Two will die, one will never hear a shot fired; some will become prisoners of war, others will be celebrated as heroes. But despite their various war-time occupations and fates, genders and nationalities, they will be united by their involvement—witting or otherwise—in The Great, and terrible, War. A brilliant mosaic of perspectives that moves between the home front and the front lines, The Beauty and the Sorrow reconstructs the feelings, impressions, experiences, and shifting spirits of these twenty particular people, allowing them to speak not only for themselves but also for all those who were in some way shaped by the war, but whose voices have been forgotten, rejected, or simply remained unheard. by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Year Published:Born in 1938 in rural Kenya, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o came of age in the shadow of World War II, amidst the terrible bloodshed in the war between the Mau Mau and the British. The son of a man whose four wives bore him more than a score of children, young Ngũgĩ displayed what was then considered a bizarre thirst for learning, yet it was unimaginable that he would grow up to become a world-renowned novelist, playwright, and critic. In Dreams in a Time of War, Ngũgĩ deftly etches a bygone era, bearing witness to the social and political vicissitudes of life under colonialism and war. Speaking to the human right to dream even in the worst of times, this rich memoir of an African childhood abounds in delicate and powerful subtleties and complexities that are movingly told. by Pat Barker Year Published:With Toby’s Room, a sequel to her widely praised previous novel Life Class, the incomparable Pat Barker confirms her place in the pantheon of Britain’s finest novelists. This indelible portrait of a family torn apart by war focuses on Toby Brooke, a medical student, and his younger sister Elinor. Enmeshed in a web of complicated family relationships, Elinor and Toby are close: some might say too close. But when World War I begins, Toby is posted to the front as a medical officer while Elinor stays in London to continue her fine art studies at the Slade, under the tutelage of Professor Henry Tonks. There, in a startling development based in actual fact, Elinor finds that her drafting skills are deployed to aid in the literal reconstruction of those maimed in combat. One day in 1917, Elinor has a sudden premonition that Toby will not return from France. Three weeks later the family receives a telegram informing them that Toby is “Missing, Believed Killed” in Ypres. However, there is no body, and Elinor refuses to accept the official explanation. Then she finds a letter hidden in the lining of Toby’s uniform; Toby knew he wasn’t coming back, and he implies that fellow soldier Kit Neville will know why. Toby’s Room is an eloquent literary narrative of hardship and resilience, love and betrayal, and anguish and redemption. In unflinching yet elegant prose, Pat Barker captures the enormity of the war’s impact—not only on soldiers at the front but on the loved ones they leave behind. by Jason Goodwin Year Published:It is 1836. Europe is modernizing and the Ottoman Empire must follow suit. But just before the sultan announces sweeping changes, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind them? Only one intelligence agent can be trusted to find out: Yashim, a man both brilliant and near-invisible in this world, an investigator who can walk with ease in the great halls of the empire, in its streets, and even within its harems--because, of course, Yashim is a eunuch. His investigation points to the Janissaries, who, for four hundred years were the empire's elite soldiers. Crushed by the sultan, could they now be staging a brutal comeback? And can they be stopped without throwing Istanbul into political chaos? This first book in the Investigator Yashim series is a richly entertaining tale, full of exotic history and intrigue. by Sarah Rose Year Published:In the dramatic story of one of the greatest acts of corporate espionage ever committed, Sarah Rose recounts the fascinating, unlikely circumstances surrounding a turning point in economic history. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British East India Company faced the loss of its monopoly on the fantastically lucrative tea trade with China, forcing it to make the drastic decision of sending Scottish botanist Robert Fortune to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India. Fortune's danger-filled odyssey, magnificently recounted here, reads like adventure fiction, revealing a long-forgotten chapter of the past and the wondrous origins of a seemingly ordinary beverage. by W. Travis Hanes & Frank Sanello Year Published:In this tragic and powerful story, the two Opium Wars of 1839–1842 and 1856–1860 between Britain and China are recounted for the first time through the eyes of the Chinese as well as the Imperial West. Opium entered China during the Middle Ages when Arab traders brought it into China for medicinal purposes. As it took hold as a recreational drug, opium wrought havoc on Chinese society. By the early nineteenth century, 90 percent of the Emperor's court and the majority of the army were opium addicts. Britain was also a nation addicted-to tea, grown in China, and paid for with profits made from the opium trade. When China tried to ban the use of the drug and bar its Western smugglers from it gates, England decided to fight to keep open China's ports for its importation. England, the superpower of its time, managed to do so in two wars, resulting in a drug-induced devastation of the Chinese people that would last 150 years. In this page-turning, dramatic and colorful history, The Opium Wars responds to past, biased Western accounts by representing the neglected Chinese version of the story and showing how the wars stand as one of the monumental clashes between the cultures of East and West. by James R. Arnold Year Published:
As the global war on terror enters its second decade, the United States military is engaged with militant Islamic insurgents on multiple fronts. But the post-9/11 war against terrorists is not the first time the United States has battled such ferocious foes. The forgotten Moro War, lasting from 1902 to 1913 in the islands of the southern Philippines, was the first confrontation between American soldiers and their allies and a determined Muslim insurgency. The Moro War prefigured American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than superficially: It was a bitter, drawn-out conflict in which American policy and aims were fiercely contested between advocates of punitive military measures and proponents of conciliation. As in today's Middle East, American soldiers battled guerrillas in a foreign environment where the enemy knew the terrain and enjoyed local support. The deadliest challenge was distinguishing civilians from suicidal attackers. Moroland became a crucible of leadership for the U.S. Army, bringing the force that had fought the Civil War and the Plains Indian Wars into the twentieth century. The officer corps of the Moro campaign matured into the American generals of World War I. Chief among them was the future general John Pershing-who learned lessons in the island jungles that would guide his leadership in France. Rich with relevance to today's news from the Middle East, and a gripping piece of storytelling, The Moro War is a must-read to understand a formative conflict too long overlooked and to anticipate the future of U.S. involvement overseas.
by Mariano Azuela Year Published:The Underdogs is the first great novel about the first great revolution of the twentieth century. Demetrio Macias, a poor, illiterate Indian, must join the rebels to save his family. Courageous and charismatic, he earns a generalship in Pancho Villa’s army, only to become discouraged with the cause after it becomes hopelessly factionalized. At once a spare, moving depiction of the limits of political idealism, an authentic representation of Mexico’s peasant life, and a timeless portrait of revolution, The Underdogs is an iconic novel of the Latin American experience and a powerful novel about the disillusionment of war. by Eileen Welsome Year Published:On the cold, dark night of March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa—el jaguar—and his band of marauders crossed the border and raided the tiny town of Columbus, New Mexico. It was a vicious surprise attack, ending with corpses piled in the streets and psychological wounds that would last a lifetime. Suspects were rounded up, trials were held, and a virulent backlash against persons of Mexican origin erupted. General John “Black Jack” Pershing was told to assemble a small army, head into Mexico, and get Villa, dead or alive. The last hurrah for the U.S. cavalry, the “Punitive Expedition” marked America’s first use of armored tanks, airplanes, and trucks against an enemy. One of the deputies Pershing would choose was a recent West Point graduate named George Patton. The expedition brought the United States and Mexico to the brink of war, but it also restored greatness to both prey and predator. More than a classic account of the war for control of the West, The General and the Jaguar is a brilliant chronicle of obsession and revenge and a dual portrait of John Pershing and Pancho Villa, two of the greatest military minds of all time. by Erich Maria Remarque Year Published:Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive. by Margaret MacMillan Year Published:A joke circulating in Paris early in 1919 held that the peacemaking Council of Four, representing Britain, France, the U.S. and Italy, was busy preparing a "just and lasting war." Six months of parleying concluded on June 28 with Germany's coerced agreement to a treaty no Allied statesman had fully read, according to MacMillan, a history professor at the University of Toronto, in this vivid account. Although President Wilson had insisted on a League of Nations, even his own Senate would vote the league down and refuse the treaty. As a rush to make expedient settlements replaced initial negotiating inertia, appeals by many nationalities for Wilsonian self-determination would be overwhelmed by rhetoric justifying national avarice. The Italians, who hadn't won a battle, and the French, who'd been saved from catastrophe, were the greediest, says MacMillan; the Japanese plucked Pacific islands that had been German and a colony in China known for German beer. The austere and unlikable Wilson got nothing; returning home, he suffered a debilitating stroke. The council's other members horse-traded for spoils, as did Greece, Poland and the new Yugoslavia. There was, Wilson declared, "disgust with the old order of things," but in most decisions the old order in fact prevailed, and corrosive problems, like Bolshevism, were shelved. Hitler would blame Versailles for more ills than it created, but the signatories often could not enforce their writ. MacMillan's lucid prose brings her participants to colorful and quotable life, and the grand sweep of her narrative encompasses all the continents the peacemakers vainly carved up. 16 pages of photos, maps. by Alan Moorehead Year Published:Relive all the thrills and adventure of Alan Moorehead's classic bestseller The White Nile -- the daring exploration of the Nile River in the second half of the nineteenth century, which was at that time the most mysterious and impenetrable region on earth. Capturing in breathtaking prose the larger-than-life personalities of such notable figures as Stanley, Livingstone, Burton and many others, The White Nile remains a seminal work in tales of discovery and escapade, filled with incredible historical detail and compelling stories of heroism and drama. by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels Year Published:The complete The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the 1888 English version edited by Engels himself. One of the most influential political treatises of all time, The Communist Manifesto is essential reading for every student of politics and history. by Owen Lattimore Year Published:In inner Mongolia in 1927, when travel by rail had all but eclipsed the traditional camel caravan, Owen Lattimore embarked on the journey that would establish him as a legendary adventurer and leader among Asian scholars. The Desert Road to Turkestan is Lattimore's elegant and spirited account of his harrowing expedition across the famous "Winding Road." Setting off to rejoin his wife for their honeymoon in Chinese Turkestan, Lattimore was forced to contend with marauding troops, a lack of maps, scheming travel companions, and blinding blizzard. Luckily he had with him not only his father's retainer, Moses, but a team of camel pullers and Chinese traders he had assembled to teach him the ropes about their mysterious and now extinct way of life. Lattimore's gifts as a linguist and his remarkable powers of observation lend his chronicle an immediacy and force that has lost now of its impact in the decades since its original publication. by Peter Hopkirk Year Published:Peter Hopkirk's spellbinding account of the great imperial struggle for supremacy in Central Asoa has been hailed as essential reading with that era's legacy playing itself out today. The Great Game between Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia was fought across desolate terrain from the Caucasus to China, over the lonely passes of the Parmirs and Karakorams, in the blazing Kerman and Helmund deserts, and through the caravan towns of the old Silk Road-both powers scrambling to control access to the riches of India and the East. When play first began, the frontiers of Russia and British India lay 2000 miles apart; by the end, this distance had shrunk to twenty miles at some points. Now, in the vacuum left by the disintegration of the Soviet Union, there is once again talk of Russian soldiers "dipping their toes in the Indian Ocean." The Washington Post has said that "every story Peter Hopkirk touches is totally engrossing." In this gripping narrative he recounts a breathtaking tale of espionage and treachery through the actual experiences of its colorful characters. Based on meticulous scholarship and on-the-spot research, this is the history at the core of today's geopolitics. by Niall Ferguson Year Published:The British Empire was the largest in all history: the nearest thing to world domination ever achieved. By the eve of World War II, around a quarter of the world's land surface was under some form of British rule. Yet for today's generation, the British Empire seems a Victorian irrelevance. The time is ripe for a reappraisal, and in Empire, Niall Ferguson boldly recasts the British Empire as one of the world's greatest modernizing forces.An important new work of synthesis and revision, Empire argues that the world we know today is in large measure the product of Britain's Age of Empire. The spread of capitalism, the communications revolution, the notion of humanitarianism, and the institutions of parliamentary democracy-all these can be traced back to the extraordinary expansion of Britain's economy, population, and culture from the seventeenth century until the mid-twentieth. On a vast and vividly colored canvas, Empire shows how the British Empire acted as midwife to modernity.Displaying the originality and rigor that have made him the brightest light among British historians, Ferguson shows that the story of the Empire is pregnant with lessons for today-in particular for the United States as it stands on the brink of a new era of imperial power, based once again on economic and military supremacy. A dazzling tour de force, Empire is a remarkable reappraisal of the prizes and pitfalls of global empire. by Gail Tsukiyama Year Published: Available in the IMCIn Women of the Silk Gail Tsukiyama takes her readers back to rural China in 1926, where a group of women forge a sisterhood amidst the reeling machines that reverberate and clamor in a vast silk factory from dawn to dusk. Leading the first strike the village has ever seen, the young women use the strength of their ambition, dreams, and friendship to achieve the freedom they could never have hoped for on their own. Tsukiyama's graceful prose weaves the details of "the silk work" and Chinese village life into a story of courage and strength. by George Orwell Year Published:Set in the days of the Empire, with the British ruling in Burma, this book describes corruption and imperial bigotry. Flory, a white timber merchant, befriends Dr Veraswami, a black enthusiast for the Empire, whose downfall can only be prevented by membership at an all-white club. by Adam Hochschild Year Published: Available in the IMCIn the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated. King Leopold's Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust. Adam Hochschild brings this largely untold story alive with the wit and skill of a Barbara Tuchman. Like her, he knows that history often provides a far richer cast of characters than any novelist could invent. Chief among them is Edmund Morel, a young British shipping agent who went on to lead the international crusade against Leopold. Another hero of this tale, the Irish patriot Roger Casement, ended his life on a London gallows. Two courageous black Americans, George Washington Williams and William Sheppard, risked much to bring evidence of the Congo atrocities to the outside world. Sailing into the middle of the story was a young Congo River steamboat officer named Joseph Conrad. And looming above them all, the duplicitous billionaire King Leopold II. With great power and compassion, King Leopold's Ghost will brand the tragedy of the Congo--too long forgotten--onto the conscience of the West. by Joseph Conrad Year Published: Available in the IMCDark allegory describes the narrator’s journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad’s finest, most enigmatic story. by Chinua Achebe Year Published: Available in the IMCThings Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. by Adam Bagdasarian Year Published:In 1915 Vahan Kenderian is living a life of privilege as the youngest son of a wealthy Armenian family in Turkey. This secure world is shattered when some family members are whisked away while others are murdered before his eyes. Vahan loses his home and family, and is forced to live a life he would never have dreamed of in order to survive. Somehow Vahan’s incredible strength and spirit help him endure, even knowing that each day could be his last.