New history books (August-December 2012 edition)

Posted in Books, Reading, Russian by Alex L. on December 31, 2012

History off the Book header

Below are new books published in the second half of 2012 that seemed to me like really interesting reads in my favorite fields (ancient philosophy and military history). This is a condensed version of my typical monthly books post, but I hope to return to my usual reviews and previews again next month.


Churchill and Seapower. Christopher M. Bell. Churchill was a leading naval strategist in both the First and Second World War. This is the first systematic study of his role in naval affairs and should be an informative read.

Aviation (rarities)

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander

Operation KE: The Cactus Air Force and the Japanese Withdrawal from Guadalcanal by Roger Letourneau and Dennis Letourneau

The North African Air Campaign: U.S. Army Air Forces from El Alamein to Salerno by Christopher M. Rein

Viper Pilot: A Memoir of Air Combat by Dan Hampton

Blue Moon over Cuba: Aerial Reconnaissance during the Cuban Missile Crisis by William B. Ecker and Kenneth V. Jack

Notable mentions

Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron: The War of 1812 and the Forging of the American Navy by Ronald Utt

Demosthenes of Athens and the Fall of Classical Greece by Ian Worthington

The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity by Robert Louis Wilken

October & November

Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar. Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni. This book seems like a good reflection on the perils of holding on to uncompromising political ideals.


Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith

America’s Black Sea Fleet: The U.S. Navy Amidst War and Revolution, 1919-1923 by Robert Shenk

Notable mentions

Venice: A New History by Thomas F. Madden

A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future by Jiang Qing

Battle of Stones River: The Forgotten Conflict Between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland by Larry J. Daniel

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America by Jennifer L. Anderson

The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam by Andrew Wiest


War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865. James McPherson. This work is a very good introduction by a renowned historian to the naval conflict during the Civil War. Man-for-man, the Union navy was arguably more effective in defeating the Confederacy than the army.

Notable mentions

The Axial Age and Its Consequences by Robert N. Bellah and Hans Joas, eds.

From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia by Pankaj Mishra

Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD by Peter Brown

Governing the World: The History of an Idea by Mark Mazower


Soviet Hurricane Aces of World War 2. Aleksander Rusinov. Although a short read, this edition by Osprey describes an entirely original topic (in English, at least): the units of the Soviet Air Force that flew British Hurricane aircraft sent to the eastern front during WWII through the Lend-Lease Program.

Notable mentions

Soviet Women on the Frontline in the Second World War by R.D. Markwick and E.C. Cardona

The Wives: The Women Behind Russia’s Literary Giants by Alexandra Popoff

The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist

One Drop in a Sea of Blue: The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota by John B. Lundstrom

The Silk Road: A New History by Valerie Hansen

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2 Responses

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  1. Chris Bell said, on April 3, 2013 at 5:20 am

    I think you’ll find that Churchill and Sea Power is, in fact, quite informative — I hope you enjoy!

  2. Alex L. said, on April 3, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Thanks for the post, Professor Bell! I do look forward to reading it.

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