Gifted Brazilian artist Marina Amaral and one of Britain’s leading historians, Dan Jones, have teamed up to give us a new history of the world. Covering events from the 1850s to the Space Race, The Colour of Time (Pegasus, $39.95) tells the story of some of the most important events and people that shaped the world, from Napoleon III and Queen Victoria to Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II. With vintage black-and-white photographs expertly colorized by Amaral, these distant moments in time come to life before our eyes; this is history as we haven’t quite seen it before. And even though a photo is worth a thousand words, brilliant writing by Dan Jones gives just enough context and a deeper meaning to what we see. A combination of two hundred amazing photographs and perfectly chosen words to accompany them, this book is a must have not only for history buffs but for everyone. If you are looking for a perfect Holiday gift, look no further.
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.”
Though today’s Congress seems combative, all the filibusters and name-calling are nothing compared to when Congressmen actually stabbed and shot one another. From the infamous caning of Charles Sumner to endless challenges to duel, as historian Joanne Freeman shows in The Field of Blood (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $28), these frayed tensions were practically destined to erupt into the Civil War. Remembering the Congress of the past solely as hallowed halls and dignified men, she argues, is dangerous, as the real history reveals uncomfortable yet necessary truths about a nation on the brink of disunion. Written with wit, flair, and a hint of cheek, Freeman presents these Congressmen as petty, triumphant, stoic, and vengeful—or, as she puts it more simply, human.