Frankopan’s history of the Silk Road is a wide-ranging and incisive history of a region that has been and will be incredibly important, economically and culturally, for the world. The ‘re-rise’ of Asia and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative make this an especially timely account.
I absolutely loved Mary Beard’s SPQR. It is a sparkling book that brings the past to life. I remember feeling like I’d been electrocuted the first time I went to one of Beard’s lectures at Cambridge many years ago — and this book provides the same thrill and excitement. Glorious.
I’ve enjoyed several books this year (2015) that I would count among my favorites, but the one that’s left the deepest impression is Nigel Hamilton’s “The Mantle of Command,”which looks at a defining period in the life of President Franklin Roosevelt—the first year of World War II. Mr. Hamilton has created a masterpiece that is the counterpoint, in many ways, to Winston Churchill’s well-known “The Second World War” series, which painted a heroic portrait of the charismatic prime minister. FDR never had the chance to pen his own autobiographical account of the war, and history has sometimes portrayed him as something of a bystander to the war. Mr. Hamilton corrects this misperception, detailing Roosevelt’s wise tactics for slowly building up America’s military forces and showing how he had to go around the backs of his own advisers to ready the U.S. for its entrance into battle. What emerges is a portrait of Roosevelt not only as a truly great leader, but an excellent strategist and commander.
David McCullough’s ‘The Wright Brothers‘ is a story about two brothers and one incredible moment in American history. But it’s also a story that resonates with anyone who believes deeply in the power of technology to change lives—and the resistance some have to new innovations.
Stephen Witt tells of how technology in the form of the MP3 digital format brought the music industry to its knees. His book is a tour de force, delving into the criminal underworld of hackers and pilferers as well the complacent corporate boardroom.
This is one of the best military history books of all time. Thucydides more or less invented impartial, accurate history as we know it, and gives a detailed account of the defining struggle of Classical Greece.
Best historical examination of how important new technologies impact the economy, and one of two books that have best predicted the evolution of the US economy the last 6 years.
Most reasonably well informed people already know that Spain under the Moors was a vibrant cultural melting pot. This book digs deeper, describing the place in fascinating detail and then moving on to Sicily, Alexandria, and Palestine during the centuries that culminated in the Crusades.