History of Individual Cities
City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
City of Fortune
How Venice Ruled the Seas
Paperback      ISBN: 0812980220
"The rise and fall of Venice's empire is an irresistible story and Roger] Crowley, with his rousing descriptive gifts and scholarly attention to detail, is its perfect chronicler."--The Financial Times

The New York Times bestselling author of Empires of the Sea charts Venice's astounding five-hundred-year voyage to the pinnacle of power in an epic story that stands unrivaled for drama, intrigue, and sheer opulent majesty. City of Fortune traces the full arc of the Venetian imperial saga, from the ill-fated Fourth Crusade, which culminates in the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, to the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499-1503, which sees the Ottoman Turks supplant the Venetians as the preeminent naval power in the Mediterranean. In between are three centuries of Venetian maritime dominance, during which a tiny city of "lagoon dwellers" grow into the richest place on earth. Drawing on firsthand accounts of pitched sea battles, skillful negotiations, and diplomatic maneuvers, Crowley paints a vivid picture of this avaricious, enterprising people and the bountiful lands that came under their dominion. From the opening of the spice routes to the clash between Christianity and Islam, Venice played a leading role in the defining conflicts of its time--the reverberations of which are still being felt today.

" Crowley] writes with a racy briskness that lifts sea battles and sieges off the page."--The New York Times

"Crowley chronicles the peak of Venice's past glory with Wordsworthian sympathy, supplemented by impressive learning and infectious enthusiasm."--The Wall Street Journal
Venice: Pure City
Venice
Pure City
Hardcover      ISBN: 0385531524

Peter Ackroyd at his most magical and magisterial a glittering, evocative, fascinating, story-filled portrait of Venice, the ultimate city.
The Venetians language and way of thinking set them aside from the rest of Italy. They are an island people, linked to the sea and to the tides rather than the land. This latest work from the incomparable Peter Ackroyd, like a magic gondola, transports its readers to that sensual and surprising city.
His account embraces facts and romance, conjuring up the atmosphere of the canals, bridges, and sunlit squares, the churches and the markets, the festivals and the flowers. He leads us through the history of the city, from the first refugees arriving in the mists of the lagoon in the fourth century to the rise of a great mercantile state and its trading empire, the wars against Napoleon, and the tourist invasions of today. Everything is here: the merchants on the Rialto and the Jews in the ghetto; the glassblowers of Murano; the carnival masks and the sad colonies of lepers; the artists Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo. And the ever-present undertone of Venice s shadowy corners and dead ends, of prisons and punishment, wars and sieges, scandals and seductions.
Ackroyd s "Venice: Pure City "is a study of Venice much in the vein of his lauded "London: The Biography." Like "London," "Venice "is a fluid, writerly exploration organized around a number of themes. History and context are provided in each chapter, but Ackroyd s portrait of Venice is a particularly novelistic one, both beautiful and rapturous. We could have no better guide reading "Venice: Pure City "is, in itself, a glorious journey to the ultimate city."

Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis
Beale Street Dynasty
Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis
Hardcover      ISBN: 0393082571

Following the Civil War, Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, thrived as a cauldron of sex and song, violence and passion. But out of this turmoil emerged a center of black progress, optimism, and cultural ferment. Preston Lauterbach tells this vivid, fascinating story through the multigenerational saga of a family whose ambition, race pride, and moral complexity indelibly shaped the city that would loom so large in American life.

Robert Church, who would become "the South's first black millionaire," was a mulatto slave owned by his white father. Having survived a deadly race riot in 1866, Church constructed an empire of vice in the booming river town. He made a fortune with saloons, gambling, and--shockingly--white prostitution. But he also nurtured the militant journalism of Ida B. Wells and helped revolutionize American music through the work of composer W.C. Handy, the man who claimed to have invented the blues.

In the face of Jim Crow, the Church fortune helped fashion the most powerful black political organization of the early twentieth century. Robert and his son, Bob Jr., bought and sold property, founded a bank, and created a park and auditorium for their people finer than the places whites had forbidden them to attend.

However, the Church family operated through a tense arrangement with the Democrat machine run by the notorious E. H. "Boss" Crump, who stole elections and controlled city hall. The battle between this black dynasty and the white political machine would define the future of Memphis.

Brilliantly researched and swiftly plotted, Beale Street Dynasty offers a captivating account of one of America's iconic cities--by one of our most talented narrative historians.

Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination
Black Detroit
A People's History of Self-Determination
Paperback      ISBN: 0062346636

NAACP 2017 Image Award Finalist

2018 Michigan Notable Books honoree

The author of Baldwin's Harlem looks at the evolving culture, politics, economics, and spiritual life of Detroit--a blend of memoir, love letter, history, and clear-eyed reportage that explores the city's past, present, and future and its significance to the African American legacy and the nation's fabric.

Herb Boyd moved to Detroit in 1943, as race riots were engulfing the city. Though he did not grasp their full significance at the time, this critical moment would be one of many he witnessed that would mold his political activism and exposed a city restless for change. In Black Detroit, he reflects on his life and this landmark place, in search of understanding why Detroit is a special place for black people.

Boyd reveals how Black Detroiters were prominent in the city's historic, groundbreaking union movement and--when given an opportunity--were among the tireless workers who made the automobile industry the center of American industry. Well paying jobs on assembly lines allowed working class Black Detroiters to ascend to the middle class and achieve financial stability, an accomplishment not often attainable in other industries.

Boyd makes clear that while many of these middle-class jobs have disappeared, decimating the population and hitting blacks hardest, Detroit survives thanks to the emergence of companies such as Shinola--which represent the strength of the Motor City and and its continued importance to the country. He also brings into focus the major figures who have defined and shaped Detroit, including William Lambert, the great abolitionist, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, Coleman Young, the city's first black mayor, diva songstress Aretha Franklin, Malcolm X, and Ralphe Bunche, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

With a stunning eye for detail and passion for Detroit, Boyd celebrates the music, manufacturing, politics, and culture that make it an American original.

--Detroit Free Press
Twin Cities Then and Now
Twin Cities Then and Now
Paperback      ISBN: 0873513274

"Because of their relative stability, streets offer an incomparable framework for looking at the urban past and comparing it to the present," writes Millett in his introduction to Twin Cities Then and Now, which consists of seventy-two historic street scenes matched with new photographs taken from the same locations. Accompanying each scene is an informative essay that examines the often astonishing changes wrought by time and circumstance.

The historic photographs, some published here for the first time, include views taken from as long ago as the 1880s and as recently as the late 1950s. Jerry Mathiason's elegant new black-and-white photographs complement these historic images and provide superb visual comparisons between then and now, while Millett's lively text puts each scene into clear focus. Twin Cities Then and Now also includes four specially prepared maps along with detailed informational graphics that identify hundreds of significant buildings and places visible in the photographs.

Twin Cities Then and Now is an engaging, startling, and at times heartbreaking look at the dramatic march of progress in Minneapolis and St. Paul. For, as Millett also writes in his introduction, "to observe a city over time is to see, for better or worse, the remorseless power of change."

Jerusalem: The Biography
Jerusalem
The Biography
Paperback      ISBN: 0307280500

"This is an essential book for those who wish to understand a city that remains a nexus of world affairs." --Booklist (starred)

Jerusalem
is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, fanaticism, bloodshed, and coexistence, from King David to the 21st century, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the "center of the world" and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a gripping narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem's biography is told through the wars, love affairs, and revelations of the men and women who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem. As well as the many ordinary Jerusalemites who have left their mark on the city, its cast varies from Solomon, Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent to Cleopatra, Caligula and Churchill; from Abraham to Jesus and Muhammad; from the ancient world of Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and Nero to the modern times of the Kaiser, Disraeli, Mark Twain, Lincoln, Rasputin, Lawrence of Arabia and Moshe Dayan.

In this masterful narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore brings the holy city to life and draws on the latest scholarship, his own family history, and a lifetime of study to show that the story of Jerusalem is truly the story of the world.

A New York Times Notable Book

Jewish Book Council Book of the Year

Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans
Nine Lives
Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans
Paperback      ISBN: 0385523203
The hidden history of the haunted and beloved city of New Orleans, told through the intersecting lives of nine remarkable characters.

"Nine Lives is stunning work. Dan Baum has immersed himself in New Orleans, the most fascinating city in the United States, and illuminated it in a way that is as innovative as Tom Wolfe on hot rods and Truman Capote on a pair of murderers. Full of stylistic brilliance and deep insight and an overriding compassion, Nine Lives is an instant classic of creative nonfiction." --Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of a dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city, told through the lives of night unforgettable characters and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed New Orleans in the 1960s, and Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. Dan Baum brings the kaleidoscopic portrait to life, showing us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.

BONUS: This edition contains a Nine Lives discussion guide.
Rome: A History in Seven Sackings
Rome
A History in Seven Sackings
Paperback      ISBN: 150119111x
"This magnificent love letter to Rome" (Stephen Greenblatt) tells the story of the Eternal City through pivotal moments that defined its history--from the early Roman Republic through the Renaissance and the Reformation to the German occupation in World War Two--"an erudite history that reads like a page-turner" (Maria Semple).

Rome, the Eternal City. It is a hugely popular tourist destination with a rich history, famed for such sites as the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, St. Peter's, and the Vatican. In no other city is history as present as it is in Rome. Today visitors can stand on bridges that Julius Caesar and Cicero crossed; walk around temples in the footsteps of emperors; visit churches from the earliest days of Christianity.

This is all the more remarkable considering what the city has endured over the centuries. It has been ravaged by fires, floods, earthquakes, and--most of all--by roving armies. These have invaded repeatedly, from ancient times to as recently as 1943. Many times Romans have shrugged off catastrophe and remade their city anew.

"Matthew Kneale is] one step ahead of most other Roman chroniclers" (The New York Times Book Review). He paints portraits of the city before seven pivotal assaults, describing what it looked like, felt like, smelled like and how Romans, both rich and poor, lived their everyday lives. He shows how the attacks transformed Rome--sometimes for the better. With drama and humor he brings to life the city of Augustus, of Michelangelo and Bernini, of Garibaldi and Mussolini, and of popes both saintly and very worldly. Rome is "exciting...gripping...a slow roller-coaster ride through the fortunes of a place deeply entangled in its past" (The Wall Street Journal).
Left Bank: Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-50
Left Bank
Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-50
Paperback      ISBN: 1250231469

An incandescent group portrait of the midcentury artists and thinkers whose lives, loves, collaborations, and passions were forged against the wartime destruction and postwar rebirth of Paris.

In this fascinating tour of a celebrated city during one of its most trying, significant, and ultimately triumphant eras, Agn s Poirier unspools the stories of the poets, writers, painters, and philosophers whose lives collided to extraordinary effect between 1940 and 1950. She gives us the human drama behind some of the most celebrated works of the 20th century, from Richard Wright's Native Son, Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, and James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Saul Bellow's Augie March, along with the origin stories of now legendary movements, from Existentialism to the Theatre of the Absurd, New Journalism, bebop, and French feminism.

We follow Arthur Koestler and Norman Mailer as young men, peek inside Picasso's studio, and trail the twists of Camus's, Sartre's, and Beauvoir's epic love stories. We witness the births and deaths of newspapers and literary journals and peer through keyholes to see the first kisses and last nights of many ill-advised bedfellows. At every turn, Poirier deftly hones in on the most compelling and colorful history, without undermining the crucial significance of the era. She brings to life the flawed, visionary Parisians who fell in love and out of it, who infuriated and inspired one another, all while reconfiguring the world's political, intellectual, and creative landscapes.

With its balance of clear-eyed historical narrative and irresistible anecdotal charm, Left Bank transports readers to a Paris teeming with passion, drama, and life.

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
All Souls
A Family Story from Southie
Paperback      ISBN: 0807072133

A breakaway bestseller since its first printing, All Souls takes us deep into Michael Patrick MacDonald's Southie, the proudly insular neighborhood with the highest concentration of white poverty in America. The anti-busing riots of 1974 forever changed Southie, Boston's working class Irish community, branding it as a violent, racist enclave. Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in Southie's Old Colony housing project. He describes the way this world within a world felt to the troubled yet keenly gifted observer he was even as a child: " as if] we were protected, as if the whole neighborhood was watching our backs for threats, watching for all the enemies we could never really define."

But the threats-poverty, drugs, a shadowy gangster world-were real. MacDonald lost four of his siblings to violence and poverty. All Souls is heart-breaking testimony to lives lost too early, and the story of how a place so filled with pain could still be "the best place in the world."

We meet Ma, Michael's mini-skirted, accordian-playing, usually single mother who cares for her children there are eventually eleven through a combination of high spirits and inspired "getting over." And there are Michael's older siblings Davey, sweet artist-dreamer; Kevin, child genius of scam; and Frankie, Golden Gloves boxer and neighborhood hero whose lives are high-wire acts played out in a world of poverty and pride.

But too soon Southie becomes a place controlled by resident gangster Whitey Bulger, later revealed to be an FBI informant even as he ran the drug culture that Southie supposedly never had. It was a world primed for the escalation of class violence-and then, with deadly and sickening inevitability, of racial violence that swirled around forced busing. MacDonald, eight years old when the riots hit, gives an explosive account of the asphalt warfare. He tells of feeling "part of it all, part of something bigger than I'd ever imagined, part of something that was on the national news every night."

Within a few years-a sequence laid out in All Souls with mesmerizing urgency-the neighborhood's collapse is echoed by the MacDonald family's tragedies. All but destroyed by grief and by the Southie code that

doesn't allow him to feel it, MacDonald gets out. His work as a peace activist, first in the all-Black neighborhoods of nearby Roxbury, then back to the Southie he can't help but love, is the powerfully redemptive close to a story that will leave readers utterly shaken and changed.