Monthly Archives: June 2014

Two titles from the Earle of Caribbean Piracy

The sack of Panama : Captain Morgan and the battle for the Caribbean Peter Earle New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2007 Hardcover. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. x, 292 p. : maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 253-260) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Captain Henry Morgan’s capture of the city of Panamá in 1671 is seen as one of the most audacious military operations in history. In The Sack of Panamá , Peter Earle masterfully retells this classic story, combining thorough research with an emphasis on the battles that made Morgan a pirate legend.

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Morgan’s raid was the last in a series of brutal attacks on Spanish possesions in the Caribbean, all sanctioned by the British crown. Earle recounts the five violent years leading up to the raid, then delivers a detailed account of Morgan’s march across enemy territory, as his soldiers contended with hunger, tropical diseases, and possible ambushes from locals. He brings a unique dimension to the story by devoting nearly as much space to the Spanish victims as to the Jamican privateers who were the aggressors.

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The book covers not only the scandalous events in the Colonial West Indies, but also the alarmed reacions of diplomats and statesmen in Madrid and London. While Morgan and his men were laying siege to Panamá , the simmering hostilities between the two nations resulted in vicious political infighting that rivaled the military battles in intensity.
With a wealth of colorful characters and international intrigue, The Sack of Panamá is a painstaking history that doubles as a rip-roaring adventure tale.

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Treasure hunt : shipwreck, diving, and the quest for treasure in an age of heroes Peter Earle New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2008 Hardcover. Originally published: London : Methuen, 2007. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. xv, 383 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [359]-370) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Treasure Hunt is the story of an obsession. Rumors of Spanish treasure, or gold and silver at the bottom of the sea, have been a part of maritime lore for centuries. In 1687, Captain William Phips brought back to port an incredible cargo – nearly forty tons of silver and gold – the treasure of the Spanish galleon Concepción, wrecked over forty years before on a coral reef in the middle of the ocean. The unimaginable had become real, and the great treasure-hunting boom had begun.

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Soon after Phips’s success, there were numerous expeditions that meant to emulate his stunning achievement. During that same time there was also a boom in the invention of crude and often very dangerous diving equipment. Many of these new projects were promoted on the infant stock market, where gambling and treasure hunting became closely connected with the birth of modern capitalism.

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By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, treasure hunting had become a professional occupation, with a new breed of diver emerging. Much of their time was spent salvaging the wrecks of English and Dutch East-Indiamen carrying treasure to finance business in Asia. Ever since, men have been prepared to risk life and fortune in the search for underwater riches.

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It is a short walk from the hallelujah to the hoot… Vladimir Nabokov

Authors must address their work to either the sacred or the profane and should they choose the latter their work will most like vacillate between the pedestrian and the pornographic. Nabokov, like so many emigres and exiles [and distinguishing between the two is often difficult], became a darling of the West for supposedly having chosen liberal democracy over Bolshevism. In reality the liberal democracies simply allowed a different type of freedom to exploit just like the Bolshevism presented a new opportunity for tyranny.

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Although we lament Russia’s decline back into tyranny under Putin we must note that it still apes some of the affectations of European liberal democracy that had their advent under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Nabokov might well be welcomed there although just as he finally wound up spending his exile first in Europe, then in the United States and finally in Switzerland – after the United States with its typical good sense recognized LOLITA for exactly what it is – he may ultimately be Swiss, a nation of counting houses that produces nothing but cheese full of holes and cuckoo clocks.

Imagining Nabokov : Russia between art and politics Nina L. Khrushcheva New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2007 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. xvii, 233 p. ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 227-233). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Vladimir Nabokov’s exile to the West after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution allowed him to take a crucial literary journey, leaving the closed nineteenth-century Russian culture behind and arriving in the extreme openness of twentieth-century America. In Imagining Nabokov, Khrushcheva offers the novel hypothesis that because of this journey, the works of Russian-turned-American Vladimir Nabokov are highly relevant to the political transformation under way in Russia today.

Khrushcheva, a Russian living in America, finds in Nabokov’s novels a useful guide for Russia’s integration into the globalized world. Now one of Nabokov’s “Western” characters herself, she discusses the cultural and social realities of contemporary Russia that he foresaw a half-century earlier.

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In Pale Fire; Ada, or Ardor; Pnin; and other works, Nabokov reinterpreted the traditions of Russian fiction, shifting emphasis from personal misery and communal life to the notion of forging one’s own “happy” destiny. In the twenty-first century Russia faces a similar challenge, Khrushcheva contends, and Nabokov’s work reveals how skills may be acquired to cope with the advent of democracy, capitalism, and open borders.

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Brass shines as fair to the ignorant as gold to the goldsmiths… Elizabeth I

Elizabeth : the struggle for the throne David Starkey New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c 2001 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 363 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), ports. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [325]-351) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

An abused child, yet, a woman in a man’s world, passionately sexual Elizabeth I is often claimed to be England’s most successful ruler. Starkey’s new biography concentrates on Elizabeth’s formative years — from her birth in 1533 to her accession in 1558 — and shows how the experiences formed her character and shaped her opinions and beliefs.

From princess and heir-apparent to bastardized and disinherited royal, accused traitor to head of the princely household, Elizabeth experienced every vicissitude of fortune and extreme of condition — conniving to rise above it, always manipulated by the men waiting just off stage, to reign during a watershed moment in history. A uniquely absorbing tale of one young woman’s turbulent and seemingly impossible journey toward the throne, Elizabeth is the story of the making of a queen who symbolized England even if she did not truly rule.

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General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall… Ronald Reagan

Ultimately it was the people themselves who tore down the wall and that is just the way Ronald Reagan would have wanted it. No American politician did more for longer – stayed more consistently on both message and task – than Ronald Reagan. Because we had the great good fortune to have a leader unwilling to accommodate evil for the sake of either appeasement or advancement of some hidden agenda of his own we had a generation of peace, prosperity and security the residue of which kept us afloat for nearly twenty years after he left office. Now that the fifth columnist have taken over we are less hopeful, less certain of our futures and wandering in a wasteland listening to hear his clarion call again.

The crusader : Ronald Reagan and the fall of communism Paul Kengor New York : Regan Books, c 2006 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvi, 412 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [321]-396) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Based on extraordinary research: a major reassessment of Ronald Reagan’s lifelong crusade to dismantle the Soviet Empire – including shocking revelations about Ted Kennedy who tried to collude with USSR to counter Reagan’s efforts and make one last desperate grab at the White House himself.

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Kengor’s God and Ronald Reagan made presidential historian Kengor’s name as one of the premier chroniclers of the life and career of the 40th president. Now, with The Crusader, Kengor returns with the one book about Reagan that has not been written: The story of his lifelong crusade against communism, and of his dogged – and ultimately triumphant – effort to overthrow the Soviet Union.

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Drawing upon reams of newly declassified presidential papers, as well as untapped Soviet media archives and new interviews with key players, Kengor traces Reagan’s efforts to target the Soviet Union from his days as governor of California to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of what he famously dubbed the “Evil Empire.” The result is a major revision and enhancement of what historians are only beginning to realize: That Reagan not only wished for the collapse of communism, but had a deep and specific understanding of what it would take – and effected dozens of policy shifts that brought the USSR to its heels within a decade of his presidency.

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The Crusader makes use of key sources from behind the Iron Curtain, including one key memo that implicates Ted Kennedy in a scheme to enlist Soviet premier Yuri Andropov to help defeat Reagan’s 1984 reelection bid. Such new finds make The Crusader not just a work of extraordinary history, but a work of explosive revelation that will be debated as hotly today as Reagan’s policies were in the 1980s.

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Longshoremen are the racket of the laboring class.

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Dark harbor : the war for the New York waterfront Nathan Ward New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xx, 250 p. : map ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [225]-233) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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What if the world of the old New York waterfront was as violent and mob-controlled as it appears in Hollywood movies? Well, it really was, and the story of its downfall, told here in high style by Nathan Ward, is the original New York mob story.

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New York Sun reporter Malcolm “Mike” Johnson was sent to cover the murder of a West Side boss stevedore and discovered a “waterfront jungle, set against a background of New York’s magnificent skyscrapers” and providing “rich pickings for criminal gangs.” Racketeers ran their territories while doubling as union officers, from the West Side’s “Cockeye” Dunn, who’d kill for any amount of dock space, to Jersey City’s Charlie Yanowsky, who controlled rackets and hiring until he was ice-picked to death.

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Johnson’s hard-hitting investigative series won a Pulitzer Prize, inspired a screenplay by Arthur Miller, and prompted Elia Kazan’s Oscar-winning film On the Waterfront. And yet J. Edgar Hoover denied the existence of organized crime – even as the government’s dramatic hearings into waterfront misdeeds became mustsee television.

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Nathan Ward tells this archetypal crime story as if for the first time, taking the reader back to a city, and an era, at once more corrupt and more innocent than our own.

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