Staff Pick

The story of Frederick Douglass’s rise from runaway slave to leading abolitionist, writer, and orator has been told before, not least by Douglass himself in not one but three autobiographies. Still, David W. Blight’s extensively researched, richly textured new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $37.50), reveals fresh details and provides a deeper appreciation of the complexities and paradoxes of the most important African American of the 19th century. Drawing on previously unpublished materials discovered in a private collection in Georgia, Blight, a Yale history professor, not only examines Douglass’ voluminous writings and speeches but also delves into his two marriages, other relationships, and complex extended family. While Blight clearly admires Douglass’s brilliant intellect, literary talents, and oratorical skills, he offers a balanced view of his subject’s many sides and turbulent life in this illuminating and engaging book.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom Cover Image
ISBN: 9781416590316
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 16th, 2018

Staff Pick

You can be forgiven if, just looking at the title, you think Leadership: In Turbulent Times (Simon & Schuster, $30) is about the United States in 2018. It’s not, but it’s very relevant nonetheless. Looking to the past to better understand the present, acclaimed presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin examines the leadership qualities demonstrated during periods of national crisis by four exceptional presidents—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. She describes how true presidential leadership isn’t so much a function of temperament or background, but of a capacity for resilience in the face of one’s own failures and limitations. It requires sacrifice, courage, and a clear moral compass. As a reviewer in the New York Times noted, “Goodwin’s special strength as an historian has always been her ability to present subtle, complex studies of her subjects’ personalities and to show how they interact with their times.”

Leadership: In Turbulent Times Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476795928
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 18th, 2018

Staff Pick

One of the illuminating and sobering tasks that an historian can perform for a society is to look back at what was intended by, say, a nation’s founding fathers and compare that to what ended up happening over the years. Michael Beschloss does this expertly and sweepingly in Presidents of War (Crown, $35), which looks at how, despite a Constitution intended to make it difficult for a president to lead America into war—indeed, the sole power to declare war was given to Congress—presidents have gotten us embroiled in wars roughly once in every generation. Beschloss’s landmark book examines the experiences of eight presidents from the War of 1812 through the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam. It also includes an early chapter on the skillful efforts of a ninth president, Thomas Jefferson, who kept the United States out of war.

Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307409607
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Published: Crown - October 9th, 2018