of the Council on Foreign Relations Finalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award For six months in 1919, after the end of "the war to end all wars," the Big Three--President Woodrow Wilson, British prime minister David Lloyd George, and French premier Georges Clemenceau--met in Paris to shape a lasting peace. In this landmark work of narrative history, Margaret MacMillan gives a dramatic and intimate view of those fateful days, which saw new political entities--Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Palestine, among them--born out of the ruins of bankrupt empires, and the borders of the modern world redrawn.
Poisoner, besotted mother, despot, necromancer, engineer of a massacre: the stain on the name of Catherine de Medici is centuries old. In this critically hailed biography, Leonie Frieda reclaims the story of this unjustly maligned queen of France to reveal a skilled ruler battling against extraordinary political and personal odds.
Orphaned in infancy, imprisoned in childhood, heiress to an ancient name and vast fortune, Catherine de Medici was brought up in Florence, a city dominated by her ruling family. At age fourteen, the Italian-born young woman became a French princess in a magnificent alliance arranged by her uncle the pope to Henry, son of King Francis I of France. She suffered cruelly as her new husband became bewitched by the superbly elegant Diane de Poitiers. Henry's influential and lifelong mistress wisely sent her lover to sleep with Catherine, and after an agonizingly childless decade when she saw popular resentment build against her, she conceived the first of ten children. Slowly Catherine made the court her own: she transformed the cultural life of France, importing much of what we now think of as typically French -- cuisine, art, music, fashion -- from Italy, cradle of the Renaissance.
In a freak jousting accident in 1559, a wooden splinter fatally pierced Henry's eye. Hitherto sidelined, Catherine found herself suddenly thrust into the maelstrom of French power politics, for which she soon discovered she had inherited a natural gift.
A contemporary and sometime ally of Elizabeth I of England, Catherine learned to become both a superb strategist and ruthless conspirator. During the rise of Protestantism, her attempts at religious tolerance were constantly foiled, and France was riven by endemic civil wars. Although history has always laid the blame for the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day massacre by a Catholic mob of thousands of French Protestants at Catherine's door, Leonie Frieda presents a powerful case for Catherine's defense.
This courageous queen's fatal flaw was a blind devotion to her sickly and corrupt children, three of whom would become kings of France. Despite their weaknesses, Catherine's indomitable fight to protect the throne and their birthright ensured the survival of the French monarchy for a further two hundred years after her death, until it was swept away by the French Revolution.
Leonie Frieda has returned to original sources and reread the thousands of letters left by Catherine, and she has reinvested this protean figure with humanity. The first biography of Catherine in decades, it reveals her to be one of the most influential women ever to wear a crown.
On the 150th anniversary of the world's most famous cavalry charge comes a revisionist retelling of the battle based on firsthand accounts from the soldiers who fought there
In October 1854, with the Crimean War just under way and British and French troops pushing the tsar's forces back from the Black Sea, seven hundred intrepid English horsemen charged a mile and a half into the most heavily fortified Russian position. In the seven minutes it took the cavalry to cross this distance, more than five hundred of them were killed. Celebrated in poetry and legend, the charge of the Light Brigade has stood for a century and a half as a pure example of military dash and daring. Until now, historical accounts of this cavalry charge have relied upon politically motivated press reports and diaries kept by the aristocratic British generals who commanded the action.
In "Hell Riders," noted historian and Crimean War expert Terry Brighton looks, for the first time, to the journals recorded by survivors-the soldiers who did the fighting. His riveting firsthand narrative reveals the tragically inept leadership on the part of the British commander in chief, Lord Raglan, whose orders for the charge were poorly communicated and misinterpreted, and an unfathomable indifference on the part of British officers to the men who survived the battle and were left to tend their wounds and bury the dead in the freezing cold. While the charge overran the Russians, it gained nothing and the war continued for another two years. In finally capturing the truth behind the charge of the Light Brigade, Brighton offers a stirring portrait of incredible bravery in the service of a misguided endeavor.
A lively and accessible history of Modernism, The First Moderns is filled with portraits of genius, and intellectual breakthroughs, that richly evoke the fin-de-si cle atmosphere of Paris, Vienna, St. Louis, and St. Petersburg. William Everdell offers readers an invigorating look at the unfolding of an age."This exceptionally wide-ranging history is chock-a-block with anecdotes, factoids, odd juxtapositions, and useful insights. Most impressive. . . . For anyone interested in learning about late 19th- and early 20th- century imaginative thought, this engagingly written book is a good place to start."-Washington Post Book World "The First Moderns brilliantly maps the beginning of a path at whose end loom as many diasporas as there are men."-Frederic Morton, The Los Angeles Times Book Review "In this truly exciting study of the origins of modernist thought, poet and teacher Everdell roams freely across disciplinary lines. . . . A brilliant book that will prove useful to scholars and generalists for years to come; enthusiastically recommended."-Library Journal, starred review "Everdell has performed a rare service for his readers. Dispelling much of the current nonsense about 'postmodernism, ' this book belongs on the very short list of profound works of cultural analysis."-Booklist "Innovative and impressive . . . Everdell] has written a marvelous, erudite, and readable study."-Mark Bevir, Spectator "A richly eclectic history of the dawn of a new era in painting, music, literature, mathematics, physics, genetics, neuroscience, psychiatry and philosophy."-Margaret Wertheim, New Scientist " Everdell] has himself recombined the parts of our era's intellectual history in new and startling ways, shedding light for which the reader of The First Moderns will be eternally grateful."-Hugh Kenner, The New York Times Book Review "Everdell shows how the idea of "modernity" arose before the First World War by telling the stories of heroes such as T. S. Eliot, Max Planck, and Georges Serault with such a lively eye for detail, irony, and ambiance that you feel as if you're reliving those miraculous years."-Jon Spayde, Utne Reader
A comprehensive examination of the rituals and philosophies that created and sustained medieval troubadour culture- Debunks the myth of the platonic nature of courtly love, showing the many sexual similarities to the Tantric practices of India - Reveals how the roots of courtly love go back to the matriarchal cultures of neolithic times The widespread turmoil that shook Western Europe as it entered the new millennium with the year 1000 prompted a vast reevaluation of the chief tenets of society. Foremost among these was a new way of looking at love and the place held by women in society. The Christian-inspired tradition that at best viewed women with contempt--and often with outright fear and loathing--was replaced by a new perspective, one in which women enjoyed a central role as the inspiration for all male action. For several hundred years courtly love, with its emphasis on adultery, carnal pleasures, and the power of the feminine, dominated European culture despite its flouting of conventional Christian morality. Medieval historians by and large have tended to regard courtly love as a sterile parlor game for the upper classes. To the contrary, Jean Markale shows that the stakes were much higher: the roots of the ritual re-created here go all the way back to the great mother goddess. In addition, the platonic nature attributed to these relationships is based on a misunderstanding of courtly love; underneath the refined poetry of the troubadours' verses flourished a system of sexual initiation that rivaled Indian Tantra.
In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, his fourth volume to explore "the hinges of history," Thomas Cahill escorts the reader on another entertaining--and historically unassailable--journey through the landmarks of art and bloodshed that defined Greek culture nearly three millennia ago.In the city-states of Athens and Sparta and throughout the Greek islands, honors could be won in making love and war, and lives were rife with contradictions. By developing the alphabet, the Greeks empowered the reader, demystified experience, and opened the way for civil discussion and experimentation--yet they kept slaves. The glorious verses of the Iliad recount a conflict in which rage and outrage spur men to action and suggest that their "bellicose society of gleaming metals and rattling weapons" is not so very distant from more recent campaigns of "shock and awe." And, centuries before Zorba, Greece was a land where music, dance, and freely flowing wine were essential to the high life. Granting equal time to the sacred and the profane, Cahill rivets our attention to the legacies of an ancient and enduring worldview.
The author of The Fatal Shore links 1,500 years of Catalan history with the architecture, painting, sculpture, music, and poetry of Barcelona to pay tribute to the intense accomplishments of the Catalunya culture. 50,000 first printing. $50,000 ad/promo. Tour.
Geert Mak spent the year of 1999 criss-crossing the continent, tracing the history of Europe from Verdun to Berlin, Saint Petersburg to Auschwitz, Kiev to Srebrenica. He set off in search of evidence and witnesses, looking to define the condition of Europe at the verge of a new millennium. The result is mesmerizing: Mak's rare double talent as a sharp-eyed journalist and a hugely imaginative historian makes "In Europe" a dazzling account of that journey, full of diaries, newspaper reports and memoirs, and the voices of prominent figures and unknown players; from the grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II to Adrinana Warno in Poland, with her job at the gates of the camp at Birkenau.
But Mak is above all an observer. He describes what he sees at places that have become Europe's wellsprings of memory, where history is written into the landscape. At Ypres, he hears the blast of munitions from the Great War that are still detonated there twice a day. In Warsaw, he finds the point where the tram rails that led to the Jewish ghetto come to a dead end in a city park. And in an abandoned nursery school near Chernobyl, where tiny pairs of shoes still stand in neat rows, he is transported back to the moment time stood still in the dying days of the Soviet Union.
Mak combines the larger story of twentieth-century Europe with details that give it a face, a taste and a smell. His unique approach makes the reader an eyewitness to a half-forgotten past, full of unknown peculiarities, sudden insights and touching encounters. "In Europe" is a masterpiece; it reads like the epic novel of Europe's most extraordinary century.