Campaigning with Grant

Campaigning with Grant by Horace Porter

Campaigning with Grant by Horace Porter

In the last year of the American Civil War, Horace Porter served as aide-de-camp to General Ulysses S. Grant, then commander of all the armies of the North. This lively 1897 memoir was written from the extensive notes he took during that time. It is highly regarded by later historians. Porter continued in that position with Grant to 1869. From 1869 to 1872 he served Grant as personal secretary in the White House. He was U.S. ambassador to France from 1897-1905.

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The Journey of Coronado

The Journey of Coronado by Pedro de Castaneda

The Journey of Coronado by Pedro de Castaneda

In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led an army from Mexico is search of the fabled golden cities of Cíbola. The Spaniards found no riches—instead, the Grand Canyon, the vast buffalo plains, and the pueblos of Zuni and Pecos. The narratives in this volume are all first-hand accounts of the Coronado expedition–raw, gripping, spirit-stirring–translated from the Spanish by George Parker Winship. The primary account was written by Pedro de Castañeda, a soldier in Coronado’s army. Letters from Coronado to the viceroy of Mexico and the Spanish king are also included.

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Stupor Mundi

Stupor Mundi by Lionel Allshorn

Stupor Mundi by Lionel Allshorn

Frederick II, under whose reign the Holy Roman Empire reached its greatest territorial extent, was called by his contemporaries “Stupor Mundi,” the “astonishment of the world.” Frequently at war with the papacy, which was hemmed in between Frederick’s northern and southern Italian lands, he was excommunicated four times. Frederick spoke six languages and was an avid patron of the arts. He negotiated a peace treaty ending the sixth crusade, reigned over a cosmopolitan court at Palermo, and entrusted the administration of his southern kingdom to an efficient Muslim and Jewish bureaucracy. Allshorn writes that “around his name there gathered a glamour of strangeness and splendor, of genius soaring to perilous questionings of eternal truths, of unbreakable resolution and of unconquerable pride.”

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Tutankhamen and the Discovery of His Tomb

Tutankhamen and the Discovery of His Tomb by Sir Grafton Elliot Smith

Tutankhamen and the Discovery of His Tomb by Sir Grafton Elliot Smith

Never before in the history of archaeological inquiry has any event excited such immediate and world-wide interest as Mr. Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in November 1922. It gives us a new revelation of the wealth and luxury of Egyptian civilization during its most magnificent period. In beauty and design and perfection of craftsmanship, Tutankhamen’s funerary equipment is indeed a new revelation of the ancient Egyptians’ artistic feeling and technical skill.”

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Hildebrand and His Time

Hildebrand and His Time by William Richard Ward Stephens

Hildebrand and His Time by William Richard Ward Stephens

W.R.W. Stephens, the Anglican Dean of Winchester, writes a short, lively biography of the great church reformer, Hildebrand of Sovana (1015-1085), afterwards Pope Gregory VII, setting his life within the larger context of the struggle for dominance between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy during the Middle Ages. The roots of the conflict can be traced to the alliance made between Pope Stephen II and his successors and the Frankish King Pippin and his son Charlemagne to break the power of the Lombard Kingdom in Italy. Later emperors sought first to reform and then to dominate the Papacy, but they finally met their match in Hildebrand, leading to the famous confrontation between Pope and Emperor on the snowy steps of Canossa Castle. Facing an imperial invasion, Pope Gregory took the fatal step of summoning his fierce Norman allies. They sacked and burned Rome and carried Hildebrand off to Salerno where, his body weak but his spirit unbowed, he breathed his last crying, “I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity–therefore I die in exile.” After Hildebrand’s death, his ally Duchess Matilda, the greatest power in northern Italy, continued the struggle with the tragic Emperor, Henry IV, over investiture and reform, a conflict which was only settled under his perfidious son, Henry V.

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A General History of the Pyrates

A General History of the Pyrates by Daniel Defoe

A General History of the Pyrates by Daniel Defoe

A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates is a 1724 book containing biographies of contemporary pirates. It’s author uses the name Captain Charles Johnson, generally considered a pseudonym. The real identity of the author was thought by some scholars to be Daniel Defoe, although this has since been disputed. The publisher Nathaniel Mist or somebody working for him are other suggested authors. In the first volume, “Johnson” sticks fairly close to the available sources, though he embellishes the stories somewhat. Nevertheless, the book was influential in shaping popular notions of piracy and provided the standard account of the lives of many individuals still famous in the 21st century.

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Warwick the Kingmaker

Warwick the Kingmaker by Charles William Chadwick Oman

Warwick the Kingmaker by Charles William Chadwick Oman

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (1428-1471), wealthy and powerful peer of England, was one of the leaders of the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487). He joined Richard, Duke of York in opposing the ineffectual and often incapacitated Lancastrian king, Henry VI. Falling out with York’s son, King Edward IV, he switched sides and joined forces with Henry’s exiled queen, Margaret of Anjou, but was killed at the Battle of Barnet. In this short biography, the British military historian, Charles Oman (1860-1946) brings to life a consummate medieval warrior, who was also a politician ahead of his time.

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A Rogue’s Life

A Rogue's Life by Wilkie Collins

A Rogue's Life by Wilkie Collins

“The story offers the faithful reflection of a very happy time in my past life. It was written at Paris, when I had Charles Dickens for a near neighbor and a daily companion, and when my leisure hours were joyously passed with many other friends, all associated with literature and art, of whom the admirable comedian, Regnier, is now the only survivor. The revising of these pages has been to me a melancholy task. I can only hope that they may cheer the sad moments of others. The Rogue may surely claim two merits, at least, in the eyes of the new generation—he is never serious for two moments together; and he “doesn’t take long to read.” W. C.”

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Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur by Albert Keim

Louis Pasteur by Albert Keim

Louis Pasteur famously said, “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.” Pasteur brought to the study of chemistry, microbiology, and applied immunology, a mind open, innovative, and insightful. Born of peasant stock in the French Jura, he worked with dogged determination all his life and often in the face of strenuous opposition. Through an unbroken succession of rigorously designed and meticulously performed experiments, Pasteur developed veterinary vaccines and halted grievous losses in the French wine, silk, and dairy industries. He provided the crucial experimental support for the germ theory of disease which enabled Joseph Lister and others to prevent infections in surgical patients and in new mothers. During the development of the vaccine against rabies, Pasteur and his colleagues often risked their own lives, but they delivered humankind from the terror of this agonizing and almost always fatal illness.

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Unknown London

Unknown London by Walter George Bell

Unknown London by Walter George Bell

For anyone interested in history or who think they know London, Eighteen London secrets will be explored in detail.

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