Friday, 23 October 2009

New selection of books for reader reviews

Every month, we offer our readers the opportunity to review some of the latest history publications and to have their review published on the History Today Books Blog. Here is this month's selection.

To submit a review, please send an email to Kathryn Hadley (k.hadley[at] specifying your choice of book. We will then send you the book with a one-month deadline to send us your review. Books will be sent on a first come first served basis. (Unfortunately, we are unable to send out books to the USA).

The Hemingses of Monticello, Annette Gordon-Reed (Norton)
The story of the Hemings family, whose blood ties to the third president of America had long been expunged from American history, from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson’s death in 1826.

The Human Footprint, Anthony N. Penna (Wiley Blackwell)
This study of transnational environmental history, from the Palaeolithic to the present era, explores various themes ranging form the global impact of agriculture and urbanisation, to manufacturing, consumption and industrialising.

I Never Knew That About The Scottish, Christopher Winn (Ebury Press)
This journey of discovery around Scotland, from Edinburgh, home of Alexander Gordon Laing who was the first European to see Timbuktu, to Tain, home of the inventor of the automatic cash machine, John Shepherd-Barron, explores how every county contributes to the distinct Scottish personality.

Michelangelo: A Tormented Life, Antonio Forcellino (Polity Press)
A biography of Michelangelo which draws on the artist’s memoirs and personal correspondence to explore his life and character, times and works, as well as his changing religious views and the politics of patronage in Renaissance Italy.

Papa Spy: Love, Faith and Betrayal in Wartime Spain, Jimmy Burns (Bloomsbury)
Written by his son, the story of Tom Burns’ propaganda war against the Nazis and fight to keep Spain neutral and to protect Gibraltar and access to the western Mediterranean during the Second World War as a press attaché at the British Embassy in Madrid.

Plutonium: A History of the World’s Most Dangerous Element, Jeremy Bernstein (Cornell University Press)
This history of plutonium charts the steps that were taken to transform plutonium from a laboratory novelty, when it was first manufactured in 1941, into the nuclear weapon that destroyed Nagasaki, explaining both the science and the people involved.

Travelling Heroes: Greeks and their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer, Robin Lane Fox (Penguin)
This account of the formation of classical mythology in the eighth century charts how the intrepid seafarers of eighth-century Greece sailed around the Mediterranean, encountering new sights and weaving them into the myths of the gods, monsters and heroes that would become the cornerstone of Western civilization.

William H. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico, introduction by J.H. Elliott (Continuum)
This book contains a substantial extract from Prescott’s major work A History of the Conquest of Mexico, which is set against the background of the growth of historical research in the introduction by J.H. Elliott.

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