–> 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelen Flood
Critically acclaimed historian Flood (Grant and Sherman: The Friendship that Won the Civil War) provides a brilliant, compelling account of Lincoln’s dramatic final full year of life-a year in which the war finally turned in the Union’s favor and Lincoln faced a tough battle for re-election. After Union defeats at the Battle of Cold Harbor and the siege of Petersburg, Confederate General Jubal Early came within five miles of Washington, D.C., before he was beaten back; General Sherman’s September victory at Atlanta followed, with his bloody march to the sea. At the same time, Lincoln found himself running against his own secretary of the treasury, Salmon Chase, for the Republican nomination, and then against the Democrat (and general) George B. McClellan for the presidency. Lincoln won by a narrow popular majority, but a significant electoral majority. At the close of 1864, as Lincoln celebrated both his re-election and the coming end of the war, John Wilkes Booth laid down an ambitious plan for kidnapping that soon evolved into a map for murder. Combining a novelist’s flair with the authority and deep knowledge of a scholar, Flood artfully integrates this complex web of storylines.
–> The Fourteenth of July: And the Taking of the Bastille by Christopher Prendergast
The storming of the decrepit Bastille fortress-prison, which symbolically and in real terms, marked the beginning of the French Revolution, took place on 14 July 1789. Bastille Day is the iconic French national holiday, yet it wasn’t celebrated until nearly a century later.
Using contemporary accounts, often by eyewitnesses, Prendergast describes the Bastille prison, its reputation as France’s most feared place of incarceration; its storming by the armed populace, and the momentous aftermath…And then richly and fascinatingly he shows how the celebration of this extraordinary day, truly one of those which have shaped the world, became part of the fabric of national life.