Only a society riven by fear and desperation would have incubated a figure as initially uncredentialed and unimpressive as Adolf Hitler. A school dropout and frequent vagrant, Hitler had no achievements to speak of until he served honorably in the German army during the Great War.
Esteemed historian Ian Buruma turns his attention to a happy marriage in his elegant new book, Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War. While his grandparents might seem a more limited subject than his recent Year Zero: A History of 1945, this family love story is deeply intertwined with history. Using their correspondence during both the First and Second World Wars as his primary source, Buruma crafts a finely observed portrait of an assimilated Jewish family in England between the wars.
Robert Lowell was considered by many to be the English-speaking world’s pre-eminent poet after the Second World War. In 1946, when he was barely 30 years old, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his second poetry collection, Lord Weary’s Castle. He received a second Pulitzer for The Dolphin in 1973, and many other awards followed until his death in 1977.
Jack London lived during America’s first Gilded Age from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. Readers of his very popular books (he was the first U.S. author to make more than a million dollars) were entertained by stories about dogs and wolves and gold miners and ships and cannibals. At the same time, London was educating the public about serious societal problems that required fundamental reform.
A lasting impression after reading Custer’s Trials is that George Armstrong Custer was a man who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time—until he died being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A.E. Hotchner’s Hemingway in Love is a poignant postscript to A Moveable Feast, particularly to Hemingway’s bittersweet last chapter. Hotchner, now 95, was Hemingway’s younger friend and Boswell, notebook at the ready, accompanying Papa to all the iconic haunts: Venice, Paris, Pamplona, Key West. He wrote a full biography of his mentor soon after Hemingway’s suicide. In this late memoir, Hotchner wants finally to give Hemingway his say about his one true love: Hadley, his first wife, the Paris wife.
Of all the tragedies associated with the Kennedy family, the story of Rosemary Kennedy is among the saddest—and least known. It lasted a lifetime and played out virtually in secret, as opposed to the assassinations and plane crashes that commanded 72-point headlines and seem frozen in time.
Now that anyone with a Facebook page and an opinion can be a political pundit, it’s hard to believe there was a time—and not that long ago—when a newspaper columnist could wield real political power. Mary McGrory did for nearly half a century.
Henry Kissinger is one of the most controversial statesmen in American history. Some regard him as the country’s greatest strategic foreign relations thinker, while others describe him as conspiratorial or as a war criminal. Noted Harvard historian Niall Ferguson tells the first part of Kissinger’s story in great detail in Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist, the first of a projected two-volume biography.
That they're different as day and night is unarguable, but the first two women appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court elevated one another, and the status of women in this country, immeasurably through their combined efforts. Sisters In Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World profiles O'Connor and Ginsburg, their struggles for acceptance in a field designed to exclude them and the cases they worked on that had the greatest impact.