Below are a selection of recommended non-fiction books that will take you back to days long gone and help bring history alive.
Founded in 1827 as the county seat of Jackson County, Independence, “Queen City of the Trails,” prospered through outfitting pioneers as they began the journey west on the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails. The city persisted through various travails: a bloody war over slavery, fought between the Kansas Jayhawkers and the Missouri Bushwhackers; the rise of William Quantrill; the enforcement of the infamous Order No. 11; and Civil War action on the town square. By 1900, Independence was a prosperous community, the location of the headquarters of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (renamed the Community of Christ), and the hometown of a young man who became the 33rd president of the United States—Harry S. Truman. This book illustrates the history of Independence in more than 200 vintage images, detailing the people, businesses, churches, schools, organizations, and events that played important roles in the city’s past.
Written as a companion to the PBS series, this book, lavishly illustrated and engaging, presents a coherent overview of one of the world's largest cities. Arranged chronologically, this book captures some of New York's most diverse elements (e.g., Ellis Island immigration, labor disputes, traditional and avant-garde cultures, the seedier life of crime and even its distinctive architecture. Readers will find this work to be well-researched with photographs, paintings, newspaper headlines and interviews with historians and social critics. A "must read" for anyone enchanted with the history of New York.
A chronological narrative with maps, charts illustrations and photographs, this book covers social and economic issues, transport and trade, leisure, education and religion. It traces London's history from the earliest evidence of human settlement over 40,000 years up to the end of the millenium.
She was the fourteen-year-old daughter of the Austrian emperor, forced to give up everything she possessed to marry the Dauphin of France. The French, mistrusting everything that wasn't French, called her the Austrian Queen. Yet her graceful bearing, acquired under the tutelage of her demanding mother, the empress Maria Teresa, made her an unusually popular princess before she was scapegoated as "Madame Deficit" and much, much worse. Marie Antoinette was truly a victim of the French Revolution that took her life, her husband's life and even the life of her friends. She was neither heroine nor villain, but a young wife and mother who, in her journey into maturity, finds herself caught in a deadly vise.
Georgiana Spencer was, in a sense, an 18th-century It Girl. She came from one of England's richest and most landed families (the late Princess Diana was a Spencer too) and married into another. She was beautiful, sensitive, and extravagant--drugs, drink, high-profile love affairs, and even gambling counted among her favorite leisure-time activities. Nonetheless, she quickly moved from a world dominated by social parties to one focused on political parties. The duchess was an intimate of ministers and princes, and she canvassed assiduously for the Whig cause, most famously in the Westminster election of 1784. By turns she was caricatured and fawned on by the press, and she provided the inspiration for the character of Lady Teazle in Richard Sheridan's famous play The School for Scandal. But her weaknesses marked the last part of her life. By 1784, for one, Georgiana owed "many, many, many thousands," and her creditors dogged her until her death.
The long life and powerful persona of England's beloved Virgin Queen holds great appeal, even for those who do not relish history. She ruled England in a time when women were little more than chattel to their husbands. With her mother executed by her father for high treason based solely on confessions acquired with torture, Elizabeth was determined to never let a man rule as King either over or beside her. She may have been autocratic, devious, even deceptive, but these traits were necessary for her to successfully walk the tightrope between the two great powers of Europe, France and Spain, throughout her 45-year reign. Both countries were eager to bring small, weak England under their sway and to safely marry off its inconveniently independent queen. Because of her determination never to marry, Elizabeth died without a true heir to follow her. So, ironically, the son of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, a woman she was responsible for executing, would assume the throne after her death. The Scottish King known as James VI, would rule Elizabeth's empire as James I. The first Scot to ever rule England.