General Alex Dumas is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiar—because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
But, hidden behind General Dumas's swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: he was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas made his way to Paris, where he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.
The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. TIME magazine called The Black Count "one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that sheds light on the historical moment that made it possible." But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.
Not all pioneers went west.
In The Greater Journey, David McCullough tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.
Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, was one of this intrepid band. Another was Charles Sumner, whose encounters with black students at the Sorbonne inspired him to become the most powerful voice for abolition in the US Senate. Friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Morse not only painting what would be his masterpiece, but also bringing home his momentous idea for the telegraph. Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Paris to escape the controversy generated by her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Three of the greatest American artists ever—sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent—flourished in Paris, inspired by French masters.
Almost forgotten today, the heroic American ambassador Elihu Washburne bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris, and the nightmare of the Commune. His vivid diary account of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris is published here for the first time.
Telling their stories with power and intimacy, McCullough brings us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’ phrase, longed “to soar into the blue.
In this lively and lucid volume, Andrew Hussey brings to life the urchins and artists who've left their marks on the city, filling in the gaps of a history that affected the disenfranchised as much as the nobility. Paris: The Secret History ranges across centuries, movements, and cultural and political beliefs, from Napoleon's overcrowded cemeteries to Balzac's nocturnal flight from his debts. For Hussey, Paris is a city whose long and conflicted history continues to thrive and change. The book's is a picaresque journey through royal palaces, brothels, and sidewalk cafés, uncovering the rich, exotic, and often lurid history of the world's most beloved city.
In an ideal pairing of author and subject, the magisterial historian Paul Johnson offers a vivid look at the life of the strategist, general, and dictator who conquered much of Europe. Following Napoleon from the barren island of Corsica to his early training in Paris, from his meteoric victories and military dictatorship to his exile and death, Johnson examines the origins of his ferocious ambition. In Napoleon's quest for power, Johnson sees a realist unfettered by patriotism or ideology. And he recognizes Bonaparte’s violent legacy in the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Napoleon is a magnificent work that bears witness to one individual's ability to work his will on history.
Indeed, France has captivated us for centuries. Here, in this compelling history from acclaimed historian Marshall B. Davison, is its story: from prehistory to its conquest by Julius Caesar; from its invasion by the Franks, who gave us the name we use today, to the reign of Charlemagne; from the rule of the Bourbon monarchs, who reached their apex under the Sun King, Louis XIV, to the bloody days of the French Revolution; from the ruthless rise and reign of Napoleon Bonaparte to the brutal Nazi occupation during World War II. This book is a must-read for any Francophile.
Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.
Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers—the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards.
As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort—pious and generous—who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII.
Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch—a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts.
Praise for Elizabeth of York
“Weir tells Elizabeth’s story well. . . . She is a meticulous scholar. . . . Most important, Weir sincerely admires her subject, doing honor to an almost forgotten queen.”—The New York Times Book Review
“In [Alison] Weir’s skillful hands, Elizabeth of York returns to us, full-bodied and three-dimensional. This is a must-read for Tudor fans!”—Historical Novels Review
“This bracing biography reveals a woman of integrity, who . . . helped [her husband] lay strong groundwork for the success of the new Tudor dynasty. As always in a Weir book, the tenor of the times is drawn with great color and authenticity.”—Booklist
“Weir once again demonstrates that she is an outstanding portrayer of the Tudor era, giving us a fully realized biography of a remarkable woman.”—Huntington News
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Austerlitz, Borodino, Waterloo: his battles are among the greatest in history, but Napoleon Bonaparte was far more than a military genius and astute leader of men. Like George Washington and his own hero Julius Caesar, he was one of the greatest soldier-statesmen of all times.
Andrew Roberts’s Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine. Like Churchill, he understood the strategic importance of telling his own story, and his memoirs, dictated from exile on St. Helena, became the single bestselling book of the nineteenth century.
An award-winning historian, Roberts traveled to fifty-three of Napoleon’s sixty battle sites, discovered crucial new documents in archives, and even made the long trip by boat to St. Helena. He is as acute in his understanding of politics as he is of military history. Here at last is a biography worthy of its subject: magisterial, insightful, beautifully written, by one of our foremost historians.
From the Hardcover edition.
Helen Castor tells afresh the gripping story of the peasant girl from Domremy who hears voices from God, leads the French army to victory, is burned at the stake for heresy, and eventually becomes a saint. But unlike the traditional narrative, a story already shaped by the knowledge of what Joan would become and told in hindsight, Castor’s Joan of Arc: A History takes us back to fifteenth century France and tells the story forwards. Instead of an icon, she gives us a living, breathing woman confronting the challenges of faith and doubt, a roaring girl who, in fighting the English, was also taking sides in a bloody civil war. We meet this extraordinary girl amid the tumultuous events of her extraordinary world where no one—not Joan herself, nor the people around her—princes, bishops, soldiers, or peasants—knew what would happen next.
Adding complexity, depth, and fresh insight into Joan’s life, and placing her actions in the context of the larger political and religious conflicts of fifteenth century France, Joan of Arc: A History is history at its finest and a surprising new portrait of this remarkable woman.
Joan of Arc: A History features an 8-page color insert.
Newly in print for the first time in years, this is the classic story of the invasion of Normandy, and a book that endures as a masterpiece of living history. A compelling tale of courage and heroism, glow and tragedy, The Longest Day painstakingly recreates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.
For this new edition of The Longest Day, the original photographs used in the first 1959 edition have been reassembled and painstakingly reproduced, and the text has been freshly reset. Here is a book that is a must for any follower of history, as well as for anyone who wants to better understand how free nations prevailed at a time when darkness enshrouded the earth.
When Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight, returns from combat in Scotland to find his wife, Marguerite, accusing Jacques LeGris, her husband’s old friend and fellow courtier, of brutally raping her, the knight takes his cause before the teenage King Charles VI. Amid LeGris’s vociferous claims of innocence and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite’s charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a “trial by combat” that leaves her fate, too, in the balance. For if her husband and champion loses the duel, she will be put to death as a false accuser.
Carrouges and LeGris, in full armor, eventually meet on a walled field in Paris before a massive crowd that includes the king and many nobles of the realm. A fierce fight on horseback and then on foot ensues during which both combatants suffer wounds—but only one fatal. The violent and tragic episode was notorious in its own time because of the nature of the alleged crime, the legal impasse it provoked, and the resulting trial by combat, an ancient but increasingly suspect institution that was thereafter abolished.
The dramatic true story of the knight, the squire, and the lady unfolds in 1386, during the devastating Hundred Years War between France and England, as enemy troops pillage the land, madness haunts the French court, the Great Schism splits the Church, Muslim armies threaten Christendom, and rebellion, treachery, and plague turn the lives of all into toys of Fortune. Based on extensive research in Normandy and Paris, The Last Duel brings to life a colorful, turbulent age and three unforgettable characters caught in a fatal triangle of crime, scandal, and revenge. It is at once a moving human drama, a captivating detective story, and an engrossing work of historical intrigue.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Three times, beginning in 1690, warfare arose between New France and New England. Settlements were destroyed, and armies clashed, yet nothing was settled. Each country regarded the Ohio Valley as its own. A small skirmish in 1754 touched off a war that spread to Europe, then to Africa, Asia, and even to islands in the Atlantic and Pacific. The fate of North America hung in the balance. This conflict, the Great War for the Empire, may well be called the first of the world wars.
Here, award-winning historian Francis Russell brings to life the vast panorama that formed the background for this struggle in which the English redcoats fought side by side with American colonists against French soldiers and their Indian allies.
Joan Wallach Scott, the renowned pioneer of gender studies, argues that the law is symptomatic of France's failure to integrate its former colonial subjects as full citizens. She examines the long history of racism behind the law as well as the ideological barriers thrown up against Muslim assimilation. She emphasizes the conflicting approaches to sexuality that lie at the heart of the debate--how French supporters of the ban view sexual openness as the standard for normalcy, emancipation, and individuality, and the sexual modesty implicit in the headscarf as proof that Muslims can never become fully French. Scott maintains that the law, far from reconciling religious and ethnic differences, only exacerbates them. She shows how the insistence on homogeneity is no longer feasible for France--or the West in general--and how it creates the very "clash of civilizations" said to be at the root of these tensions.
The Politics of the Veil calls for a new vision of community where common ground is found amid our differences, and where the embracing of diversity--not its suppression--is recognized as the best path to social harmony.
In Americans in Paris, tales of adventure, intrigue, passion, deceit, and survival unfold season by season, from the spring of 1940 to liberation in the summer of 1944, as renowned journalist Charles Glass tells the story of a remarkable cast of expatriates and their struggles in Nazi Paris. Before the Second World War began, approximately thirty thousand Americans lived in Paris, and when war broke out in 1939 almost five thousand remained. As citizens of a neutral nation, the Americans in Paris believed they had little to fear. They were wrong. Glass's discovery of letters, diaries, war documents, and police files reveals as never before how Americans were trapped in a web of intrigue, collaboration, and courage.
Artists, writers, scientists, playboys, musicians, cultural mandarins, and ordinary businessmen-all were swept up in extraordinary circumstances and tested as few Americans before or since. Charles Bedaux, a French-born, naturalized American millionaire, determined his alliances as a businessman first, a decision that would ultimately make him an enemy to all. Countess Clara Longworth de Chambrun was torn by family ties to President Roosevelt and the Vichy government, but her fiercest loyalty was to her beloved American Library of Paris. Sylvia Beach attempted to run her famous English-language bookshop, Shakespeare & Company, while helping her Jewish friends and her colleagues in the Resistance. Dr. Sumner Jackson, wartime chief surgeon of the American Hospital in Paris, risked his life aiding Allied soldiers to escape to Britain and resisting the occupier from the first day. These stories and others come together to create a unique portrait of an eccentric, original, diverse American community.
Charles Glass has written an exciting, fast-paced, and elegant account of the moral contradictions faced by Americans in Paris during France's dangerous occupation years. For four hard years, from the summer of 1940 until U.S. troops liberated Paris in August 1944, Americans were intimately caught up in the city's fate. Americans in Paris is an unforgettable tale of treachery by some, cowardice by others, and unparalleled bravery by a few.
More than the heroic conqueror of Western Europe, Charlemagne was an intense and thoughtful human being. His succession of five wives brought him a palace full of children. So warm was his love for his daughters that he could never bear to see them married away from the court, even though enticing alliances with other rulers were offered them.
A deeply religious man, Charlemagne became the protector of orthodox Christianity against medieval heresies. A patron of learning, he established schools and brought artists and scholars to his court to work and study. As a result, most classical literature comes down to us in copies of books made in Charlemagne's time.
Here, from National Book Award winner Richard Winston, is his remarkable story.
The Battle of Normandy was the greatest offensive campaign the world had ever seen. Millions of soldiers battling for control of Europe were thrust onto the front lines of a massive war unlike any experienced in history. But the greatest of clashes would prove to be the crucible in which the outcome of World War II would be decided.
Author John Prados tells the story of how and why the tactics and battle plans of Normandy proved so formative, and reconstructs the climactic Allied Normandy breakout from both sides of the battle lines.