History

Meet me by the fountain : an inside history of the mall book cover

Meet me by the fountain : an inside history of the mall

Alexandra Lange

381.11 /Lange
Nonfiction, Business, History

Since their birth in the 1950s, malls have been temples of commerce. Amid the aftershocks of financial crises, a global pandemic, and the rise of online retail, abandoned shopping centers have become one of our era's defining images. Lange chronicles the postwar invention of the mall, and shows how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in the cultural ascent. She shows that they are environments of both freedom and exclusion, of consumerism but also of community. --

Candice's picture

Oh wow, when I first saw this title, every remnant of my teenaged self reached for the Aqua Net and whatever dayglo clothing I could find! The mall was such a feature of my adolescent years, the word was synonymous with both fashion and social life. Now that I'm older and the wants and ways of people and buying have changed, the mall takes on a bittersweet/wasted space element. Lange's book, however, not only looks back at what the mall was, but also forward, finding ways to repurpose and make equitable the space and resources they provide. Is there hope for the mall yet?? Find out! -Candice

Last call at the Hotel Imperial : the reporters who took on a world at war book cover

Last call at the Hotel Imperial : the reporters who took on a world at war

Deborah Cohen

070.922 /Cohen
Nonfiction, Biographies, History

"Married foreign correspondents John and Frances Gunther intimately understood that it isn't only impersonal, economic forces that propel history, bringing readers so close to the front lines of history that they could feel how personal pathologies became the stuff of geopolitical crises. Together with other reporters of the Lost Generation--American journalists H.R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson--the Gunthers slipped through knots of surveillance and ignored orders of expulsion in order to expose the mass executions in Badajoz during the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the millions of dollars that Joseph Goebbels salted away abroad, and the sexual peccadillos of Hitler's brownshirts. They conjured what it was like to ride with Hitler in an airplane ("not a word did he say to any soul"); broke the inside story about Mussolini's claustrophobia and superstitions (he "took fright" at an Egyptian mummy that had been given to him); and verified the hypnotic impression Stalin made when he walked into a room ("You felt his antennae"). But just as they were transforming journalism, it was also transforming them: who they loved and betrayed, how they raised their children and coped with death. Over the course of their careers they would popularize bringing the private life into public view, not only in their reporting on the outsized figures of their day, but in what they revealed about their own (and each other's) intimate experiences as well. What were intimate relationships, after all, but geopolitics writ small?"--

Anne M's picture

I thought this book had a slow start, but as soon as we got to Europe and in the thick of war reporting, I was hooked. Learning about Dorothy Thompson, Frances Gunther, John Gunther, H.R. Knickerbocker, and Vincent Sheean and how they reported on Europe in the 1930s and 1940s showed how important journalists are. -Anne M

Hell's half-acre : the untold story of the Benders, a serial killer family on the American frontier book cover

Hell's half-acre : the untold story of the Benders, a serial killer family on the American frontier

Susan Jonusas

364.1523 /Jonusas
Nonfiction, True Crime, History, Literary Nonfiction

"In 1873 the people of Labette County in Kansas made a grisly discovery. Buried on a homestead seven miles south of the town of Cherryvale, in a bloodied cellar and under frost-covered soil, were countless bodies in varying states of decay. The discovery sent the local community and national newspapers into a frenzy that continued for over two decades, and the land on which the crimes took place became known as 'Hells Half-Acre.' When it emerged that a family of four known as the Benders had been accused of the slayings, the case was catapulted to infamy."

Candice's picture

Sometimes, when summer comes, you just want a good, historical true crime book to get lost in. This book does the trick. The author does a good job of telling the eerie story of the Benders and their crimes, while giving context through the descriptions of burgeoning frontier towns, the hardworking people who populated them, the political schemes of the day, and the lawlessness that pervaded an environment that was created by taking the land from one people and giving it to another. A great mix of crime and solid history. -Candice

The colony : faith and blood in a promised land book cover

The colony : faith and blood in a promised land

Sally Denton

364.1523/Denton
True Crime, History

"A shocking massacre in 2019 sparks a probing investigation into the strange, violent history of a polygamist Mormon outpost in Mexico. A harmless, unassuming caravan of women and children was ambushed by masked gunmen in northern Mexico on November 4, 2019. In a massacre that produced international headlines, nine people were killed and five others gravely injured. The victims were members of the La Mora and LeBaron communities-fundamentalist Mormons whose forebears broke from the LDS Church and settled in Mexico when polygamy was outlawed. In The Colony, the best-selling investigative journalist Sally Denton picks up where initial reporting on the killings left off, and in the process tells the violent history of the LeBaron clan and their homestead, from the first polygamist emigration to Mexico in the 1880s to the LeBarons' internal blood feud in the 1970s to the family's recent alliance with the NXIVM sex cult. Drawing on sources within Colonia LeBaron itself, Denton creates a mesmerizing work of investigative journalism in the tradition of Under the Banner of Heaven and Going Clear"--

Amanda's picture

This was fast read, engaging and shocking in its subject matter. It will enlighten the reader on a community they may not be aware of but will still seem relatable. -Amanda

Paper bullets : two artists who risked their lives to defy the Nazis book cover

Paper bullets : two artists who risked their lives to defy the Nazis

Jeffrey H. Jackson

940.53082 /Jackson
History

"The true story of an audacious resistance campaign undertaken by an unlikely pair: two French women -- Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe -- who drew on their skills as Parisian avant-garde artists to write and distribute wicked insults against Hitler and calls to desert, a PSYOPs tactic known as "paper bullets," designed to demoralize Nazi troops occupying their adopted home of Jersey in the British Channel Islands"--

Amanda's picture

This was a part of WWII I was unaware of. This is such a riveting story of two artists who resisted the Nazis in occupied Britain. If you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society you'll find some familiar territory here! -Amanda

Deliberate evil : Nathaniel Hawthorne, Daniel Webster, and the 1830 murder of a Salem slave trader book cover

Deliberate evil : Nathaniel Hawthorne, Daniel Webster, and the 1830 murder of a Salem slave trader

Renehan, Edward, 1956- author.

364.1523 /Renehan
Nonfiction, True Crime, History

The 1830 murder of wealthy slaver Joseph White shook all of Salem, Massachusetts. Soon the crime drew national attention when it was discovered that two of the conspirators came from Salem's influential Crowninshield family: a clan of millionaire shipowners, cabinet secretaries, and congressmen. A prosecution team led by famed Massachusetts senator Daniel Webster made the case even more newsworthy. Meanwhile, young Salem native Nathaniel Hawthorne-- who knew several of the accused-- observed and wrote.

Candice's picture

This looks to have a lot of interesting facets to it...wealthy and powerful families, a savvy prosecutor, a canny witness to unfolding events, and a murder. And of course, Salem. -Candice

Hell's half-acre : the untold story of the Benders, a serial killer family on the American frontier book cover

Hell's half-acre : the untold story of the Benders, a serial killer family on the American frontier

Susan Jonusas

364.1523 /Jonusas
Nonfiction, True Crime, History

"In 1873 the people of Labette County in Kansas made a grisly discovery. Buried on a homestead seven miles south of the town of Cherryvale, in a bloodied cellar and under frost-covered soil, were countless bodies in varying states of decay. The discovery sent the local community and national newspapers into a frenzy that continued for over two decades, and the land on which the crimes took place became known as 'Hells Half-Acre.' When it emerged that a family of four known as the Benders had been accused of the slayings, the case was catapulted to infamy. The idea that a family of seemingly respectable homesteaders--one among thousands who were relocating further west looking for land and opportunity after the Civil War--were capable of operating 'a human slaughter pen' appalled and fascinated the nation. But who the Benders really were, why they committed such a vicious killing spree, and what became of them when they fled from the law is a mystery that has remains unsolved to this day--not that there aren't some convincing theories. Part gothic western, part literary whodunnit, and part immersive study of postbellum America, Hell's Half-Acre sheds new light on one of the most notorious cases in our nation's history while holding a torch to a society under the strain of rapid change and moral disarray. Susan Jonasus draws on extensive original archival material, and introduces us to a fascinating cast of characters, including the despairing families of the victims as well as the fugitives that helped the murderers escape. Hell's Half-Acre is not simply a book about a mass murder. It is a journey into the turbulent heart of nineteenth century America, a place where modernity stalks across the landscape, violently displacing existing populations and wearily building new ones. It is a world where folklore can quickly become fact, and an entire family of criminals can slip right through a community's fingers, only to reappear at the most unexpected of times"--

Candice's picture

I love true crime and I love history, so this book hits a sweet spot. The writing is so good--super informative and interesting, and vividly descriptive of not just the crimes, but also the time and setting. A good book to kick the summer off with! -Candice

Nazi billionaires : the dark history of Germany's wealthiest dynasties book cover

Nazi billionaires : the dark history of Germany's wealthiest dynasties

David de (Journalist) Jong

943.086 /Jong
History, Business

A groundbreaking investigation of how the Nazis helped German tycoons make billions off the horrors of the Third Reich and World War II--and how America allowed them to get away with it. In 1946, Günther Quandt--patriarch of Germany's most iconic industrial empire, a dynasty that today controls BMW--was arrested for suspected Nazi collaboration. Quandt claimed that he had been forced to join the party by his archrival, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and the courts acquitted him. But Quandt lied. And his heirs, and those of other Nazi billionaires, have only grown wealthier in the generations since, while their reckoning with this dark past remains incomplete at best. Many of them continue to control swaths of the world economy, owning iconic brands whose products blanket the globe. The brutal legacy of the dynasties that dominated Daimler-Benz, cofounded Allianz, and still control Porsche, Volkswagen, and BMW has remained hidden in plain sight--until now. In this landmark work of investigative journalism, David de Jong reveals the true story of how Germany's wealthiest business dynasties amassed untold money and power by abetting the atrocities of the Third Reich. Using a wealth of untapped sources, de Jong shows how these tycoons seized Jewish businesses, procured slave laborers, and ramped up weapons production to equip Hitler's army as Europe burned around them. Most shocking of all, de Jong exposes how America's political expediency enabled these billionaires to get away with their crimes, covering up a bloodstain that defiles the German and global economy to this day.

Anne M's picture

An eye-opening investigation into how many of Germany's largest firms and wealthiest families gained their wealth through collaborating with the Nazi Party and the Third Reich, from benefiting from confiscated property from Jewish businesses and families to using forced labor in concentration and prisoner of war camps. de Jong does not stop there. He further investigates why these companies and their leadership were able to keep their businesses and wealth, while many of their government counterparts faced trial at Nuremberg. The content might not make this an easy read, but de Jong reveals how many of these companies have not grappled with or answered for their participation in such brutal and horrific acts. -Anne M

Origin : a genetic history of the Americas book cover

Origin : a genetic history of the Americas

Jennifer Raff

576.5 /Raff
Nonfiction, History, Science

20,000 years ago, people crossed a great land bridge from Siberia into Western Alaska and then dispersed southward into what is now called the Americas. Until we venture out to other worlds, this remains the last time our species has populated an entirely new place, and this event has been a subject of deep fascination and controversy. No written records--and scant archaeological evidence--exist to tell us what happened or how it took place. Many different models have been proposed to explain how the Americas were peopled and what happened in the thousands of years that followed. A study of both past and present, ORIGIN explores how genetics is currently being used to construct narratives that profoundly impact Indigenous peoples of the Americas. It serves as a primer for anyone interested in how genetics has become entangled with identity in the way that society addresses the question "Who is indigenous?"

Candice's picture

This is a great read for anyone interested in the history and archaeology of the Americas, and the theories and existing evidence of the first people to live there. It's a much-needed update and refresher on the topic! This book has a lot of detail, but is presented in a way that makes it eminently readable and highly entertaining. -Candice

Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies book cover

Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies

Laura Thompson

OverDrive Audiobook
History

Heiresses: surely they are among the luckiest women on earth. Are they not to be envied, with their private jets and Chanel wardrobes and endless funds? Yet all too often those gilded lives have been beset with trauma and despair. Before the 20th century a wife's inheritance was the property of her husband, making her vulnerable to kidnap, forced marriages, even confinement in an asylum. And in modern times, heiresses fell victim to fortune-hunters who squandered their millions. Heiresses tells the stories of these women: Mary Davies, who inherited London's most valuable real estate, and was bartered from the age of twelve; Consuelo Vanderbilt, the original American "Dollar Heiress", forced into a loveless marriage; Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress who married seven times and died almost penniless; Patty Hearst, heiress to a newspaper fortune who was arrested for terrorism. However, there are also stories of achievement: Angela Burdett-Coutts, who became one of the greatest philanthropists of Victorian England; Nancy Cunard, who lived off her mother's fortune and became a pioneer of the civil rights movement; Daisy Fellowes, elegant linchpin of interwar high society and noted fashion editor. Heiresses is about the lives of the rich, who—as F. Scott Fitzgerald said—are 'different'. But it is also a bigger story about how all women fought their way to equality, and sometimes even found autonomy and fulfillment.

Anne M's picture

Unlike many books about this topic that are more gossipy, Thompson really looks at the social issues and the power (or complete lack of power) woman had over their own money in England and Europe. From the time of Henry VIII to the 20th Century, Thompson examines individual women from Mary Davies to Jennie Churchill to Barbara Hutton and how different laws, social pressure, and culture impacted their experiences as heirs to large fortunes. It is a pretty engaging, interesting read. And this is one of those audiobooks where the author's voice is truly magnetic. You can tell she loved researching and writing this book. -Anne M