Monthly Archives: August 2010

No American is safe in the Islamic world.

Over the edge : the true story of four American climbers’ kidnap and escape in the mountains of Central Asia New York : Villard Books, c 2002      Greg Child Mountaineers , Crimes against , Kyrgyzstan Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xiii, 284 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Before dawn on August 12, 2000, four of America’s best young rock climbers, the oldest of them only twenty-five, were sleeping in their portaledges high on the Yellow Wall, in the Pamir-Alai mountain range of Kyrgyzstan, in central Asia. By daybreak, they would be taken at gunpoint by fanatical militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which operates out of secret bases in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and which is linked to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network. The desperadoes—themselves barely out of their teens—intended to use their hostages as human shields and for ransom as they moved across Kyrgyzstan. They hid the climbers by day and marched them by night through freezing, treacherous mountains, with little food, no clean water, and the constant threat of execution. The four would see a fellow hostage, a Kyrgyz soldier, executed before their eyes. And in a remarkable life-and-death crucible over six terrifying days, they would be forced to choose between saving their own lives and committing an act none of them thought they ever could.

In Over the Edge, the four climbers — Jason “Singer” Smith, John Dickey, Tommy Caldwell, and Beth Rodden —  tell the complete story of their nightmarish ordeal. In riveting detail, author Greg Child re-creates the entire hour-by-hour drama, from the first ricocheting bullets to the climactic and agonizing decision the climbers had to make in order to gain their freedom and survival. Set in a powder-keg region of narcotics trafficking and terrorism, this is a deeply compelling book about loyalty and the unshakeable human will to survive.

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Political campaigns may have become more civilized having given up the carnival for the big lie.

Rude republic : Americans and their politics in the nineteenth century Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c 2000      Glenn C. Altschuler and Stuart M. Blumin Political culture , United States , History , 19th century Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. xii, 316 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [275]-303) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

What did politics and public affairs mean to those generations of Americans who first experienced democratic self-rule? Taking their cue from vibrant political campaigns and very high voter turnouts, historians have depicted the nineteenth century as an era of intense and widespread political enthusiasm. But rarely have these historians examined popular political engagement directly, or within the broader contexts of day-to-day life. In this bold and in-depth look at Americans and their politics, Glenn Altschuler and Stuart Blumin argue for a more complex understanding of the “space” occupied by politics in nineteenth-century American society and culture. Mining such sources as diaries, letters, autobiographies, novels, cartoons, contested-election voter testimony to state legislative committees, and the partisan newspapers of representative American communities ranging from Massachusetts and Georgia to Texas and California, the authors explore a wide range of political actions and attitudes.

They consider the enthusiastic commitment celebrated by historians together with various forms of skepticism, conflicted engagement, detachment, and hostility that rarely have been recognized as part of the American political landscape. Rude Republic sets the political parties and their noisy and attractive campaign spectacles, as well as the massive turnout of voters on election day, within the communal social structure and calendar, the local human landscape of farms, roads, and county towns, and the organizational capacities of emerging nineteenth-century institutions. Political action and engagement are set, too, within the tide of events: the construction of the mass-based party system, the gathering crisis over slavery and disunion, and the gradual expansion of government (and of cities) in the post-Civil War era. By placing the question of popular engagement within these broader social, cultural, and historical contexts, the authors bring new understanding to the complex trajectory of American democracy.

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From a Medieval knight who travelled the world to an 18th century Muslim who enslaved thousands of Christians with tales of the British Empire thrown in Giles Milton is armchair history at its best.

The riddle and the knight : in search of Sir John Mandeville, the world’s greatest traveler New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001      Giles Milton Christian pilgrims and pilgrimages , Biography, Mandeville, John, Sir. Itinerarium Hardcover. 1st American ed. Originally published: [London, England] : Allison & Busby, 1996. 230 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [223]-226) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Part travelogue/part historical mystery about the most famous traveler–and chronicler– in medieval Europe.

Giles Milton’s first book, The Riddle and the Knight, is a fascinating account of the legend of Sir John Mandeville, a long-forgotten knight who was once the most famous writer in medieval Europe. Mandeville wrote a book about his voyage around the world that became a beacon that lit the way for the great expeditions of the Renaissance, and his exploits and adventures provided inspiration for writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Keats. By the nineteenth century however, his claims were largely discredited by academics. Giles Milton set off in the footsteps of Mandeville, in order to test his amazing claims, and to restore Mandeville to his rightful place in the literature of exploration.

Samurai William : the Englishman who opened Japan New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, c 2002      Giles Milton Japan , Officials and employees, Alien , Biography.Adams, William, 1564-1620 Hardcover. 1st American ed. and printing. Originally published: Samurai William: the adventurer who unlocked Japan. Hodder & Stoughton, 2002. 352 p. : ill., map ; 22 cm. Includes Index. An eye-opening account of the first encounter between England a nd Japan. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

An eye-opening account of the first encounter between England and Japan, by the acclaimed author of Nathaniel’s Nutmeg

In 1611, the merchants of London’s East India Company received a mysterious letter from Japan, written several years previously by a marooned English mariner named William Adams. Foreigners had been denied access to Japan for centuries, yet Adams had been living in this unknown land for years. He had risen to the highest levels in the ruling shogun’s court, taken a Japanese name, and was now offering his services as adviser and interpreter.

Seven adventurers were sent to Japan with orders to find and befriend Adams, in the belief that he held the key to exploiting the opulent riches of this forbidden land. Their arrival was to prove a momentous event in the history of Japan and the shogun suddenly found himself facing a stark choice: to expel the foreigners and continue with his policy of isolation, or to open his country to the world. For more than a decade the English, helped by Adams, were to attempt trade with the shogun, but confounded by a culture so different from their own, and hounded by scheming Jesuit monks and fearsome Dutch assassins, they found themselves in a desperate battle for their lives.

Samurai William is the fascinating story of a clash of two cultures, and of the enormous impact one Westerner had on the opening of the East.

Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, or, The true and incredible adventures of the spice trader who changed the course of history New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999      Giles Milton Nutmeg industry , Indonesia , Maluku , History , 17th century,  Coen, Jan Pieterszoon, 1587-1629, Courthope, Nathaniel Hardcover. First American edition. xi, 388 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 375-378) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

A true tale of high adventure in the South Seas.

The tiny island of Run is an insignificant speck in the Indonesian archipelago. Just two miles long and half a mile wide, it is remote, tranquil, and, these days, largely ignored.

Yet 370 years ago, Run’s harvest of nutmeg (a pound of which yielded a 3,200 percent profit by the time it arrived in England) turned it into the most lucrative of the Spice Islands, precipitating a battle between the all-powerful Dutch East India Company and the British Crown. The outcome of the fighting was one of the most spectacular deals in history: Britain ceded Run to Holland but in return was given Manhattan. This led not only to the birth of New York but also to the beginning of the British Empire.

Such a deal was due to the persistence of one man. Nathaniel Courthope and his small band of adventurers were sent to Run in October 1616, and for four years held off the massive Dutch navy. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg centers on the remarkable showdown between Courthope and the Dutch Governor General Jan Coen, and the brutal fate of the mariners racing to Run-and the other corners of the globe-to reap the huge profits of the spice trade. Written with the flair of a historical sea novel but based on rigorous research, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg is a brilliant adventure story

White gold : the extraordinary story of Thomas Pellow and Islam’s one million white slaves New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c 2004      Giles Milton Slavery , Morocco , History,      Pellow, Thomas, b. 1704 Hardcover. 1st American ed., 2005. and printing. xii, 316 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [281]-304) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In the summer of 1716, a Cornish cabin boy named Thomas Pellow and fifty-one of his comrades were captured at sea by the Barbary corsairs. Their captors–Ali Hakem and his network of Islamic slave traders–had declared war on the whole of Christendom. France, Spain, England and Italy had suffered a series of devastating attacks. Thousands of Europeans had been snatched from their homes and taken in chains to the great slave markets of Algiers, Tunis and Sale in Morocco.

Pellow and his shipmates were bought by the tyrannical sultan of Morocco, Moulay Ismail, who was constructing an imperial palace of such scale and grandeur that it would surpass every other building in the world, a palace built entirely by Christian slave labor.

Resourceful, resilient, and quick-thinking, Pellow was selected by Moulay Ismail for special treatment, and was one of the fortunate few who survived to tell his tale.

An extraordinary and shocking story, drawn from unpublished letters and manuscripts written by slaves and by the padres and ambassadors sent to free them, White Gold reveals a disturbing and long forgotten chapter of history.

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In World War II, a chosen few fought a silent war beneath the waves…These are their stories.

The depths of courage : American submariners at war with Japan, 1941-1945 New York : Berkley Caliber, 2007      Flint Whitlock and Ron Smith ; foreword by Albert Konetzni World War, 1939-1945 , Campaigns , Pacific Area, United States. Navy , Submarine forces , History Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xvii, 428 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [405]-413) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In the dark days after Pearl Harbor, the small, ill-equipped arm of the Navy known as Submarine Force would stand between the shattered U.S. Pacific Fleet and the might of the Japanese Navy. Unfortunately, the spirit and courage of the Submarine Force is being forgotten as the veterans of that force pass into history.

To preserve their heroic tales of war beneath the sea, critically acclaimed author and military historian Flint Whitlock, in collaboration with decorated WWII submarine veteran Ron Smith, set out on a journey of more than two years to interview submariners and to record their stories before the memories of their endeavors are lost forever. Here, those stories are chronicled in honor of those who gave their all for their country.

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In a gripping account of the high seas and the high life in New York and Savannah, Erik Calonius brings to light one of the most important and little remembered stories of the Civil War period.

The Wanderer : the last American slave ship and the conspiracy that set its sails New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2006      Erik Calonius Wanderer (Schooner),  Slave trade , Georgia , Savannah , History , 19th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xiv, 298 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [279]-284) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On Nov. 28, 1858, a ship called the Wanderer slipped silently into a coastal channel and unloaded its cargo of over 400 African slaves onto Jekyll Island, Georgia, thirty eight years after the African slave trade had been made illegal. It was the last ship ever to bring a cargo of African slaves to American soil.

Built in 1856, the Wanderer began life as a luxury racing yacht, flying the pennant of the New York Yacht Club and cited as the successor to the famous yacht America. But within a year of its creation, the Wanderer was secretly converted into a slave ship, and, with the New York Yacht Club pennant still flying above as a diversion, sailed off to Africa. The Wanderer’s mission was meant to be more than a slaving venture, however. It was designed by its radical conspirators to defy the federal government and speed the nation’s descent into civil war.

The New York Times first reported the story as a hoax; however, as groups of Africans began to appear in the small towns surrounding Savannah, the story of the Wanderer began to leak out; igniting a fire of protest and debate that made headlines throughout the nation and across the Atlantic.

As the story shifts between Savannah, Jekyll Island, the Congo River, London, and New York City, the Wanderer’s tale is played out in heated Southern courtrooms, the offices of the New York Times, The White House, the slave markets of Africa and some of the most charming homes Southern royalty had to offer.

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