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MHQ Reviews: Notable Books, Winter 2013

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: November 02, 2012 
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French general Alex Dumas was the inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo. (Bruno Arrigoni/AKG-Images)
French general Alex Dumas was the inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo. (Bruno Arrigoni/AKG-Images)

The Black Count Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss (Crown, $27). The biography of the man upon whom Alexandre Dumas based The Count of Monte Cristo—Dumas's grandfather and namesake, French Revolutionary war general Alex Dumas, the son of a count and a black slave, whose fighting prowess frightened the Austrians and made Napoleon jealous.

War on the Waters The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861–1865, by James M. McPherson (University of North Carolina, $35). The revered Civil War chronicler argues that the U.S. Navy played a major, largely uncredited role in the Union victory.

Islands of Destiny The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun, by John Prados (NAL, $26.95). The MHQ contributor argues that these grueling battles were the turning point of World War II in the Pacific.

Spying in America Espionage from the Revolutionary War to the Dawn of the Cold War, by Michael J. Sulick (Georgetown, $26.95). These profiles of 30 spies who've tried to undo us reveal why we're vulnerable to good espionage work.

The Complete Roman Legions, by Nigel Pollard and Joanne Berry (Thames & Hudson, $39.95). A detailed history of the elite fighting force, with a full accounting of each of the 45 legions that can be identified.

The Liberator One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau, by Alex Kershaw (Crown, $28). Kershaw (Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter) focuses his fine narrative skills on the journey of a single officer from rookie to battle-grizzled leader.

Love, Tommy Letters Home, from the Great War to the Present Day, edited by Andrew Roberts (Osprey, $25.95). From a top World War II historian comes a delightful collection of correspondence by British soldiers, sailors, and aviators.

Lincoln's Code The Laws of War in American History, by John Fabian Witt (Free Press, $32). Witt, a Yale scholar, traces how 157 rules issued during the Civil War became the cornerstone of the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war today.

Fortress Israel The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country—and Why They Can't Make Peace, by Patrick Tyler (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35). Tyler, a New York Times correspondent, stirs controversy with his argument that Israel's military elite has held too much sway throughout the country's history.

Uncommon Warriors 200 Years of the Most Unusual American Naval Vessels, by Ken W. Sayers (Naval Institute, $34.95). The loving work of a navy buff, this profiles more than 500 auxiliary and unclassified ships that are history's afterthoughts.

Zumwalt The Life and Times of Admiral Elmo Russell "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., by Larry Berman (HarperCollins, $29.99). Berman humanizes "the father of the modern navy" and tracks his rise from young hero of the 1944 Battle for Leyte Gulf to top naval officer during Vietnam.

Geronimo, by Robert M. Utley (Yale, $30). Utley—an MHQ contributing editor and author of The Lance and the Shield, an acclaimed biography of Sitting Bull—offers a deeply researched portrait that separates fact from fiction in the story of the mythologized Indian warrior.  

Fiction

The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers (Little, Brown, $24.99). The searing first novel from an Iraq War infantryman plunges readers into the disorienting heart of modern warfare while casting a cool, unblinking gaze on veterans' lives at home.  

Coming Soon

Churchill and Seapower, by Christopher M. Bell (Oxford).

The Fall of the House of Dixie, The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South, by Bruce Levine (Random House).

Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons, by Ward Wilson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).  

 

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