A war book recommendation: A Disappearance in Damascus: Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War by Deborah Campbell

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CXqcUe.
This important book opens our eyes to the lives of the people who are trying to find peace in a world of chaos.
Book description from Google Books:
Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionWinner of the Freedom to Read AwardWinner of the Hubert Evans PrizeIn the midst of an unfolding international crisis, renowned journalist Deborah Campbell finds herself swept up in the mysterious disappearance of Ahlam, her guide and friend. Campbell’s frank, personal account of a journey through fear and the triumph of friendship and courage is as riveting as it is illuminating.The story begins in 2007, when Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There she meets and hires Ahlam, a refugee working as a “fixer”—providing Western media with trustworthy information and contacts to help get the news out. Ahlam has fled her home in Iraq after being kidnapped while running a humanitarian center. She supports her husband and two children while working to set up a makeshift school for displaced girls. Strong and charismatic, she has become an unofficial leader of the refugee community.Campbell is inspired by Ahlam’s determination to create something good amid so much suffering, and the two women become close friends. But one morning, Ahlam is seized from her home in front of Campbell’s eyes. Haunted by the prospect that their work together has led to her friend’s arrest, Campbell spends the months that follow desperately trying to find Ahlam—all the while fearing she could be next.The compelling story of two women caught up in the shadowy politics behind today’s most searing conflict, A Disappearance in Damascus reminds us of the courage of those who risk their lives to bring us the world’s news.
The book is rated 4.26/5 at goodreads.com, from 218 ratings. See 39 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DrOaIo.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CYKhte.

A war book recommendation: The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford History of the United States) by Richard White

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2Dq5xt0.
…most of all Mr White’s book should be read—not just because it has so much to say about the latter part of the 19th century, but also because it casts light on America’s current problems with giant companies and roiling populism.
Book description from Google Books:
The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multivolume history of the American nation. In the newest volume in the series, The Republic for Which It Stands, acclaimed historian Richard White offers a fresh and integrated interpretation of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age as the seedbed of modern America. At the end of the Civil War the leaders and citizens of the victorious North envisioned the country’s future as a free-labor republic, with a homogenous citizenry, both black and white. The South and West were to be reconstructed in the image of the North. Thirty years later Americans occupied an unimagined world. The unity that the Civil War supposedly secured had proved ephemeral. The country was larger, richer, and more extensive, but also more diverse. Life spans were shorter, and physical well-being had diminished, due to disease and hazardous working conditions. Independent producers had become wage earners. The country was Catholic and Jewish as well as Protestant, and increasingly urban and industrial. The “dangerous” classes of the very rich and poor expanded, and deep differences — ethnic, racial, religious, economic, and political — divided society. The corruption that gave the Gilded Age its name was pervasive. These challenges also brought vigorous efforts to secure economic, moral, and cultural reforms. Real change — technological, cultural, and political — proliferated from below more than emerging from political leadership. Americans, mining their own traditions and borrowing ideas, produced creative possibilities for overcoming the crises that threatened their country. In a work as dramatic and colorful as the era it covers, White narrates the conflicts and paradoxes of these decades of disorienting change and mounting unrest, out of which emerged a modern nation whose characteristics resonate with the present day.
The book is rated 4.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 129 ratings. See 37 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CXjZHS.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CXjZYo.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A war book recommendation: Gorbachev: His Life and Times by William Taubman

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2DpGkis.
Yet, revealing as the book is about Mr Gorbachev’s ability to overcome ideological dogmas that required squaring up to the West, it is equally revealing about how Western leaders were unable or unwilling to believe him.
Book description from Google Books:
The definitive biography of the transformational world leader by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Khrushchev. When Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, the USSR was one of the world’s two superpowers. By 1989, his liberal policies of perestroika and glasnost had permanently transformed Soviet Communism, and had made enemies of radicals on the right and left. By 1990 he, more than anyone else, had ended the Cold War, and in 1991, after barely escaping from a coup attempt, he unintentionally presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union he had tried to save. In the first comprehensive biography of the final Soviet leader, William Taubman shows how a peasant boy became the Soviet system’s gravedigger, how he clambered to the top of a system designed to keep people like him down, how he found common ground with America’s arch-conservative president Ronald Reagan, and how he permitted the USSR and its East European empire to break apart without using force to preserve them. Throughout, Taubman portrays the many sides of Gorbachev’s unique character that, by Gorbachev’s own admission, make him “difficult to understand.” Was he in fact a truly great leader, or was he brought low in the end by his own shortcomings, as well as by the unyielding forces he faced? Drawing on interviews with Gorbachev himself, transcripts and documents from the Russian archives, and interviews with Kremlin aides and adversaries, as well as foreign leaders, Taubman’s intensely personal portrait extends to Gorbachev’s remarkable marriage to a woman he deeply loved, and to the family that they raised together. Nuanced and poignant, yet unsparing and honest, this sweeping account has all the amplitude of a great Russian novel.
The book is rated 4.23/5 at goodreads.com, from 132 ratings. See 34 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DmwQnX.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CVx9p0.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A war book recommendation: A Disappearance in Damascus: Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War by Deborah Campbell

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CXqcUe.
This important book opens our eyes to the lives of the people who are trying to find peace in a world of chaos.
Book description from Google Books:
Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionWinner of the Freedom to Read AwardWinner of the Hubert Evans PrizeIn the midst of an unfolding international crisis, renowned journalist Deborah Campbell finds herself swept up in the mysterious disappearance of Ahlam, her guide and friend. Campbell’s frank, personal account of a journey through fear and the triumph of friendship and courage is as riveting as it is illuminating.The story begins in 2007, when Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There she meets and hires Ahlam, a refugee working as a “fixer”—providing Western media with trustworthy information and contacts to help get the news out. Ahlam has fled her home in Iraq after being kidnapped while running a humanitarian center. She supports her husband and two children while working to set up a makeshift school for displaced girls. Strong and charismatic, she has become an unofficial leader of the refugee community.Campbell is inspired by Ahlam’s determination to create something good amid so much suffering, and the two women become close friends. But one morning, Ahlam is seized from her home in front of Campbell’s eyes. Haunted by the prospect that their work together has led to her friend’s arrest, Campbell spends the months that follow desperately trying to find Ahlam—all the while fearing she could be next.The compelling story of two women caught up in the shadowy politics behind today’s most searing conflict, A Disappearance in Damascus reminds us of the courage of those who risk their lives to bring us the world’s news.
The book is rated 4.26/5 at goodreads.com, from 217 ratings. See 38 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DrOaIo.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CYKhte.

A war book recommendation: The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford History of the United States) by Richard White

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2Dq5xt0.
…most of all Mr White’s book should be read—not just because it has so much to say about the latter part of the 19th century, but also because it casts light on America’s current problems with giant companies and roiling populism.
Book description from Google Books:
The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multivolume history of the American nation. In the newest volume in the series, The Republic for Which It Stands, acclaimed historian Richard White offers a fresh and integrated interpretation of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age as the seedbed of modern America. At the end of the Civil War the leaders and citizens of the victorious North envisioned the country’s future as a free-labor republic, with a homogenous citizenry, both black and white. The South and West were to be reconstructed in the image of the North. Thirty years later Americans occupied an unimagined world. The unity that the Civil War supposedly secured had proved ephemeral. The country was larger, richer, and more extensive, but also more diverse. Life spans were shorter, and physical well-being had diminished, due to disease and hazardous working conditions. Independent producers had become wage earners. The country was Catholic and Jewish as well as Protestant, and increasingly urban and industrial. The “dangerous” classes of the very rich and poor expanded, and deep differences — ethnic, racial, religious, economic, and political — divided society. The corruption that gave the Gilded Age its name was pervasive. These challenges also brought vigorous efforts to secure economic, moral, and cultural reforms. Real change — technological, cultural, and political — proliferated from below more than emerging from political leadership. Americans, mining their own traditions and borrowing ideas, produced creative possibilities for overcoming the crises that threatened their country. In a work as dramatic and colorful as the era it covers, White narrates the conflicts and paradoxes of these decades of disorienting change and mounting unrest, out of which emerged a modern nation whose characteristics resonate with the present day.
The book is rated 4.22/5 at goodreads.com, from 126 ratings. See 36 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CXjZHS.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CXjZYo.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A war book recommendation: Judgment at Appomattox: A Novel (The Battle Hymn Cycle) by Ralph Peters

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2CDRvDD.
The study of military history on today’s politically correct campuses ranks somewhat below Latin. What better way for faculty, students and general readers to rediscover the Civil War than through these enthralling books…
Book description from Google Books:
The ferocious final weeks of the Civil War come alive in Judgment at Appomattox, the final novel of New York Times bestselling author Ralph Peters’s breathtaking, Boyd Award-winning seriesA great war nears its end. Robert E. Lee makes a desperate, dramatic gamble. It fails. Ulysses S. Grant moves. Veteran armies clash around Petersburg, Virginia, as Grant seeks to surround Lee and Lee makes a skillful withdrawal in the night. Richmond falls. Each day brings new combat and more casualties, as Lee’s exhausted, hungry troops race to preserve the Confederacy. But Grant does not intend to let Lee escape…In one of the most thrilling episodes in American history, heroes North and South, John Brown Gordon and Phillip Sheridan, James Longstreet and Francis Channing Barlow, battle each other across southern Virginia as the armies converge on a sleepy country court house.Written with the literary flair and historical accuracy readers expect from Ralph Peters, Judgment at Appomattox takes us through the Civil War’s last grim interludes of combat as flags fall and hearts break. Capping the author’s acclaimed five-novel cycle on the war in the East, this “dramatized history” pays homage to all the soldiers who fought, from an Irish-immigrant private wearing gray, to the “boy generals” who mastered modern war. This is a grand climax to a great, prize-winning series that honors—and reveals—America’s past.Battle Hymn CycleCain at GettysburgHell or RichmondValley of the ShadowThe Damned of PetersburgJudgment at AppomattoxAt the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Cfdwbb.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A war book recommendation: The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2CgHhJn.
The book’s English publication comes on the heels of Alexievich’s much acclaimed “Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets,” published in English in 2016. Both follow a similar format, which has transformed Alexievich into the foremost oral historian of the Soviet socialist experiment.
Book description from Google Books:
A long-awaited English translation of the groundbreaking oral history of women in World War II across Europe and Russia–from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature “A landmark.”–Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK * NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2017 BY NPR For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.” In The Unwomanly Face of War, Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women–more than a million in total–were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten. Alexievich traveled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. Together, this symphony of voices reveals a different aspect of the war–the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories. Translated by the renowned Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Unwomanly Face of War is a powerful and poignant account of the central conflict of the twentieth century, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war. “But why? I asked myself more than once. Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? They did not believe themselves. A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown . . . I want to write the history of that war. A women’s history.”–Svetlana Alexievich THE WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” “A monument to courage . . . It would be hard to find a book that feels more important or original. . . . [Alexievich’s] achievement is as breathtaking as the experiences of these women are awe-inspiring.”–The Guardian “Magnificent . . . Alexievich charts an extraordinary event through intimate interviews with its ordinary witnesses.”–The New York Times Book Review
The book is rated 4.51/5 at goodreads.com, from 5683 ratings. See 874 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DnI0rl.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DlPBa3.

A war book recommendation: The Addis Ababa Massacre: Italy’s National Shame by Ian Campbell

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2DsmK3G.
Graziani is little known; his sins even less so. Mr Campbell’s book will be welcomed by the Ethiopian government, which has long argued that its citizens deserve an apology.
Book description from Google Books:
In February 1937, following an abortive attack by a handful of insurgents on Mussolini’s High Command in Italian-occupied Ethiopia, ‘repression squads’ of armed Blackshirts and Fascist civilians were unleashed on the defenseless residents of Addis Ababa. In three terror-filled days and nights of arson, murder and looting, thousands of innocent and unsuspecting men, women and children were roasted alive, shot, bludgeoned, stabbed to death, or blown to pieces with hand-grenades. Meanwhile the notorious Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani, infamous for his atrocities in Libya, took the opportunity to add to the carnage by eliminating the intelligentsia and nobility of the ancient Ethiopian empire in a pogrom that swept across the land. In a richly illustrated and ground-breaking work backed up by meticulous and scholarly research, Ian Campbell reconstructs and analyses one of Fascist Italy’s least known atrocities, which he estimates eliminated 19-20 per cent of the capital’s population. He exposes the hitherto little known cover-up conducted at the highest levels of the British government, which enabled the facts of one of the most hideous civilian massacres of all time to be concealed, and the perpetrators to walk free.
The book is rated 5.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 1 ratings.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Dsn6aw.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A war book recommendation: The Fear and the Freedom: How the Second World War Changed Us by Keith Lowe

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2Dqj9U3.
Their testimony, combined with the author’s pointed analysis, elevates a laudable volume into a very readable and startling book.
Book description from Google Books:
Bestselling historian Keith Lowe’s The Fear and the Freedom looks at the astonishing innovations that sprang from WWII and how they changed the world.The Fear and the Freedom is Keith Lowe’s follow-up to Savage Continent. While that book painted a picture of Europe in all its horror as WWII was ending, The Fear and the Freedom looks at all that has happened since, focusing on the changes that were brought about because of WWII—simultaneously one of the most catastrophic and most innovative events in history. It killed millions and eradicated empires, creating the idea of human rights, and giving birth to the UN. It was because of the war that penicillin was first mass-produced, computers were developed, and rockets first sent to the edge of space. The war created new philosophies, new ways of living, new architecture: this was the era of Le Corbusier, Simone de Beauvoir and Chairman Mao. But amidst the waves of revolution and idealism there were also fears of globalization, a dread of the atom bomb, and an unexpressed longing for a past forever gone. All of these things and more came about as direct consequences of the war and continue to affect the world that we live in today. The Fear and the Freedom is the first book to look at all of the changes brought about because of WWII. Based on research from five continents, Keith Lowe’s The Fear and the Freedom tells the very human story of how the war not only transformed our world but also changed the very way we think about ourselves.
The book is rated 4.07/5 at goodreads.com, from 27 ratings. See 9 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2Do6mkW.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Cgd0u9.

A war book recommendation: Lincoln and the Abolitionists: John Quincy Adams, Slavery, and the Civil War by Fred Kaplan

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DknAjb.
What we have is a complicated tale that, thanks to this book, can be more clearly understood, and its similarities with today’s imbroglio will fascinate the reader.
Book description from Google Books:
“[Kaplan] tells this story with precision and eloquence.” —Seattle Times“An eye-opening biography from a trusted source on the topic.” —Kirkus Review“Elegantly written and thoroughly researched.” —Publishers WeeklyThe acclaimed biographer, with a thought-provoking exploration of how Abraham Lincoln’s and John Quincy Adams’ experiences with slavery and race shaped their differing viewpoints, provides both perceptive insights into these two great presidents and a revealing perspective on race relations in modern America.Lincoln, who in afterlife became mythologized as the Great Emancipator, was shaped by the values of the white America into which he was born. While he viewed slavery as a moral crime abhorrent to American principles, he disapproved of anti-slavery activists. Until the last year of his life, he advocated “voluntary deportation,” concerned that free blacks in a white society would result in centuries of conflict. In 1861, he had reluctantly taken the nation to war to save it. While this devastating struggle would preserve the Union, it would also abolish slavery—creating the biracial democracy Lincoln feared. John Quincy Adams, forty years earlier, was convinced that only a civil war would end slavery and preserve the Union. An antislavery activist, he had concluded that a multiracial America was inevitable. Lincoln and the Abolitionists, a frank look at Lincoln, “warts and all,” provides an in-depth look at how these two presidents came to see the issues of slavery and race, and how that understanding shaped their perspectives. In a far-reaching historical narrative, Fred Kaplan offers a nuanced appreciation of both these great men and the events that have characterized race relations in America for more than a century—a legacy that continues to haunt us all. The book has a colorful supporting cast from the relatively obscure Dorcas Allen, Moses Parsons, Violet Parsons, Theophilus Parsons, Phoebe Adams, John King, Charles Fenton Mercer, Phillip Doddridge, David Walker, Usher F. Linder, and H. Ford Douglas to Elijah Lovejoy, Francis Scott Key, William Channing, Wendell Phillips, and Rufus King. The cast includes Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s first vice president, and James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, the two presidents on either side of Lincoln. And it includes Abigail Adams, John Adams, Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and Frederick Douglass, who hold honored places in the American historical memory.The subject of this book is slavery and racism, the paradox of Lincoln, our greatest president, as an antislavery moralist who believed in an exclusively white America; and Adams, our most brilliant statesman, as an antislavery activist who had no doubt that the United States would become a multiracial nation. It is as much about the present as the past.
The book is rated 3.69/5 at goodreads.com, from 45 ratings. See 17 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2Djzbz0.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DkRpQB.