A history book recommendation: Mississippi Blood: A Novel (Natchez Burning) by Greg Iles

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2s3Wafq.
Operatic in its reach, this is still essentially a tough crime procedural, with courtroom drama that is far more blistering than the John Grisham variety. Mississippi Blood is Southern Gothic delivered in the most incarnadine of hues.
Book description from Google Books:
The #1 New York Times BestsellerThe final installment in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy by Greg Iles“Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful. I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer. . . . This is an amazing work of popular fiction.”   — Stephen King“One of the longest, most successful sustained works of popular fiction in recent memory… Prepare to be surprised. Iles has always been an exceptional storyteller, and he has invested these volumes with an energy and sense of personal urgency that rarely, if ever, falter.”—    Washington PostThe endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi—Greg Iles’s epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present.Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn’s experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations–preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son. During forty years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others.  Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of an 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner.  It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son–Penn’s half-brother–who sets in motion the murder case against his father.  The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi’s violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to an early grave.  Unable to trust anyone around him–not even his own mother–Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father’s case. Together, Penn and Serenity battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives. Mississippi Blood is the enthralling conclusion to a breathtaking trilogy seven years in the making–one that has kept readers on the edge of their seats. With piercing insight, narrative prowess, and a masterful ability to blend history and imagination, Greg Iles illuminates the brutal history of the American South in a highly atmospheric and suspenseful novel that delivers the shocking resolution his fans have eagerly awaited. 
The book is rated 4.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 8431 ratings. See 1075 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s3t3c6.
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A history book recommendation: Like Death (New York Review Books Classics) by Guy De Maupassant

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2wHepFO.
Drink deeply of this intoxicating, heady work. Reading it makes you realise that when it comes to sophistication, the French, in their writing as well as their manners, make us look like apes.
Book description from Google Books:
A devastating novel about the treachery of love by Maupassant, now in a new translation by National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning poet and translator Richard HowardOlivier Bertin is at the height of his career as a painter. After making his name as a young man with his Cleopatra, he has gone on to establish himself as “the chosen painter of Parisiennes, the most adroit and ingenious artist to reveal their grace, their figures, and their souls.” And though his hair may be white, he remains a handsome, vigorous, and engaging bachelor, a prized guest at every table and salon. Olivier’s lover is Anne, the Countess de Guilleroy, the wife of a busy politician. Their relationship is long-standing, close, almost conjugal. The countess’s daughter is Annette, and she is the spitting image of her mother in her lovely youth. Having finished her schooling, Annette is returning to Paris. Her parents have put together an excellent match. Everything is as it should be–until the painter and countess are each seized by an agonizing suspicion, like death. . . . In its devastating depiction of the treacherous nature of love, Like Death is more than the equal of Swann’s Way. Richard Howard’s new translation brings out all the penetration and poetry of this masterpiece of nineteenth-century fiction.
The book is rated 3.82/5 at goodreads.com, from 562 ratings. See 43 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xo4VTj.
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A history book recommendation: The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2sfHMgP.
His faith in the country is touching, and this book is a gift (and not just a last-minute one for your nephew, either).
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times Bestseller A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States—winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many others—that reminds us of fundamental American principles.Over the course of his distinguished career, David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. The American Spirit reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, which political party we identify with, or our ethnic background. This is a book about America for all Americans that reminds us who we are and helps to guide us as we find our way forward.
The book is rated 4.34/5 at goodreads.com, from 1444 ratings. See 326 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2tz0unL.
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A history book recommendation: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A Novel by Balli Kaur Jaswal

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2xj60Me.
Ms Jaswal has written a funny and moving tale of desire and its discontents. It serves as a reminder that even the most traditional societies often come in 50 shades of grey.
Book description from Google Books:
A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.Every woman has a secret life . . .Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.
The book is rated 3.89/5 at goodreads.com, from 1066 ratings. See 260 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xiTE6F.
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A history book recommendation: A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA by Joshua Kurlantzick

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2xiQm3z.
Historians, particularly those who enjoy military history, will find the book compelling, but it is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to more fully understand our government and how its policies evolve.
Book description from Google Books:
The untold story of how America’s secret war in Laos in the 1960s transformed the CIA from a loose collection of spies into a military operation and a key player in American foreign policy.In 1960, President Eisenhower was focused on Laos, a tiny Southeast Asian nation few Americans had ever heard of. Washington feared the country would fall to communism, triggering a domino effect in the rest of Southeast Asia. So in January 1961, Eisenhower approved the CIA’s Operation Momentum, a plan to create a proxy army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces in Laos. While remaining largely hidden from the American public and most of Congress, Momentum became the largest CIA paramilitary operation in the history of the United States. The brutal war, which continued under Presidents Kennedy and Nixon, lasted nearly two decades, killed one-tenth of Laos’s total population, left thousands of unexploded bombs in the ground, and changed the nature of the CIA forever. Joshua Kurlantzick gives us the definitive account of the Laos war and its central characters, including the four key people who led the operation—the CIA operative who came up with the idea, the Hmong general who led the proxy army in the field, the paramilitary specialist who trained the Hmong, and the State Department careerist who took control over the war as it grew. The Laos war created a CIA that fights with real soldiers and weapons as much as it gathers secrets. Laos became a template for CIA proxy wars all over the world, from Central America in the 1980s to today’s war on terrorism, where the CIA has taken control with little oversight. Based on extensive interviews and CIA records only recently declassified, A Great Place to Have a War is a riveting, thought-provoking look at how Operation Momentum changed American foreign policy forever.
The book is rated 3.86/5 at goodreads.com, from 176 ratings. See 41 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xiQmAB.
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A history book recommendation: Compass by Mathias Enard

A critic review (source LA Times) can be read at: http://lat.ms/2wygIL6.
“Compass” is as challenging, brilliant, and — God help me — important a novel as is likely to be published this year, but there was more than one occasion on which I had to stop myself from throwing it across the room.
Book description from Google Books:
On the shortlist for the 2017 International Man Booker PrizeAs night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the center of these memories is his elusive, unrequited love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East.With exhilarating prose and sweeping erudition, Mathias �nard pulls astonishing elements from disparate sources–nineteenth-century composers and esoteric orientalists, Balzac and Agatha Christie–and binds them together in a most magical way. 
The book is rated 3.64/5 at goodreads.com, from 564 ratings. See 133 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2wy196n.
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A history book recommendation: The Lost Order: A Novel (Cotton Malone) by Steve Berry

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2s0Nbvr.
Berry’s fans will love his latest endeavor as he brings more detail into Malone’s past and how he came to be known as Cotton. The villains are a bit over the top, and their ultimate goal is somewhat confusing, but it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Book description from Google Books:
The Knights of the Golden Circle was the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history. It amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in hidden caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found.Now, one hundred and sixty years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights of the Golden Circle want that lost treasure—one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it. Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is far deeper than he ever imagined. At the center is the Smithsonian Institution—linked to the knights, its treasure, and Malone himself through an ancestor, a Confederate spy named Angus “Cotton” Adams, whose story holds the key to everything. Complicating matters are the political ambitions of a reckless Speaker of the House and the bitter widow of a United States Senator, who together are planning radical changes to the country. And while Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt face the past, ex-president Danny Daniels and Stephanie Nelle confront a new and unexpected challenge, a threat that may cost one of them their life. From the backrooms of the Smithsonian to the deepest woods in rural Arkansas, and finally up into the rugged mountains of northern New Mexico, The Lost Order by Steve Berry is a perilous adventure into our country’s dark past, and a potentially even darker future.
The book is rated 4.12/5 at goodreads.com, from 3202 ratings. See 393 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s0PHSv.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2s0RW86.
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A history book recommendation: Civil Wars: A History in Ideas by David Armitage

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2uA8RRj.
The meaning of civil war, as Mr Armitage shows, is as messy and multifaceted as the conflict it describes. His book offers an illuminating guide through the 2,000-year muddle and does a good job of filling a conspicuous void in the literature of conflict.
Book description from Google Books:
A highly original history, tracing the least understood and most intractable form of organized human aggression from Ancient Rome through the centuries to the present day. We think we know civil war when we see it. Yet ideas of what it is, and what it isn’t, have a long and contested history, from its fraught origins in republican Rome to debates in early modern Europe to our present day. Defining the term is acutely political, for ideas about what makes a war “civil” often depend on whether one is a ruler or a rebel, victor or vanquished, sufferer or outsider. Calling a conflict a civil war can shape its outcome by determining whether outside powers choose to get involved or stand aside: from the American Revolution to the war in Iraq, pivotal decisions have depended on such shifts of perspective. The age of civil war in the West may be over, but elsewhere in the last two decades it has exploded–from the Balkans to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and Sri Lanka, and most recently Syria. And the language of civil war has burgeoned as democratic politics has become more violently fought. This book’s unique perspective on the roots and dynamics of civil war, and on its shaping force in our conflict-ridden world, will be essential to the ongoing effort to grapple with this seemingly interminable problem.
The book is rated 3.31/5 at goodreads.com, from 13 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uA8VAx.
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A history book recommendation: The Queen of the North Disaster: The Captain’s Story by Colin Henthorne

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2vtsbuT.
Readers will have to decide for themselves if they are convinced, but this book provides the resources to support an informed judgment about one of our province’s most serious maritime disasters. This book is recommended reading for anyone who cares about maritime safety…
Book description from Google Books:
Few recent events in British Columbia have seized the public mind like the 2006 sinking of the BC Ferries passenger vessel Queen of the North. Across Canada, it was one of the top news stories of the year. In BC it has attained the status of nautical legend. Ten years later, questions are still being asked. How did a ship that sailed the same course thousands of times fall victim to such an inexplicable error? Was the bridge crew fooling around? Why doesn’t anybody in the know come forward and tell the truth? Nobody knew the ship, the crew and the circumstances that fateful March night better than the Queen of the North’s long-serving captain, Colin Henthorne, and in this book he finally tells his story. The basic facts are beyond dispute. Just after midnight on March 22, 2006, the Queen of the North–carrying 101 passengers–struck an underwater ledge off Gil Island, 135 kilometres south of Prince Rupert. The impact tore open the ship’s bottom and ripped out the propellers. In less than an hour, it sank to the bottom of Wright Sound, 427 metres below the surface. Despite the crew’s skilled evacuation, two passengers went missing and have never been found. Helmswoman Karen Briker was fired. Fourth Mate Karl Lilgert was charged with criminal negligence causing death and sentenced to four years in prison. Captain Henthorne, who was not on watch at the time of the grounding, fought to keep his job and lost. It took him over six years to recover his career. On the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, Captain Henthorne recalls with accuracy and detail that ill-fated voyage and all its terrible repercussions. The Queen of the North Disaster: The Captain’s Story dispels rumours about what really happened that night, revealing a fascinating inside look at a modern marine disaster.
The book is rated 3.55/5 at goodreads.com, from 20 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2vaoUWa.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2v9VwiB.

A history book recommendation: The Queen of the North Disaster: The Captain’s Story by Colin Henthorne

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2vtsbuT.
Readers will have to decide for themselves if they are convinced, but this book provides the resources to support an informed judgment about one of our province’s most serious maritime disasters. This book is recommended reading for anyone who cares about maritime safety…
Book description from Google Books:
Few recent events in British Columbia have seized the public mind like the 2006 sinking of the BC Ferries passenger vessel Queen of the North. Across Canada, it was one of the top news stories of the year. In BC it has attained the status of nautical legend. Ten years later, questions are still being asked. How did a ship that sailed the same course thousands of times fall victim to such an inexplicable error? Was the bridge crew fooling around? Why doesn’t anybody in the know come forward and tell the truth? Nobody knew the ship, the crew and the circumstances that fateful March night better than the Queen of the North’s long-serving captain, Colin Henthorne, and in this book he finally tells his story. The basic facts are beyond dispute. Just after midnight on March 22, 2006, the Queen of the North–carrying 101 passengers–struck an underwater ledge off Gil Island, 135 kilometres south of Prince Rupert. The impact tore open the ship’s bottom and ripped out the propellers. In less than an hour, it sank to the bottom of Wright Sound, 427 metres below the surface. Despite the crew’s skilled evacuation, two passengers went missing and have never been found. Helmswoman Karen Briker was fired. Fourth Mate Karl Lilgert was charged with criminal negligence causing death and sentenced to four years in prison. Captain Henthorne, who was not on watch at the time of the grounding, fought to keep his job and lost. It took him over six years to recover his career. On the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, Captain Henthorne recalls with accuracy and detail that ill-fated voyage and all its terrible repercussions. The Queen of the North Disaster: The Captain’s Story dispels rumours about what really happened that night, revealing a fascinating inside look at a modern marine disaster.
The book is rated 3.65/5 at goodreads.com, from 17 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2vaoUWa.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2v9VwiB.