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The Best History Books of August

HitThis entire summer has been great for history books. In keeping with that theme, August has some big hits, once again betraying the common impression that summer is only for beach reads. Here's a selection of our Best History Books of the Month. (And no, they were not selected for the size of their subtitles... or their white covers.)


The Games: A Global History of the Olympics by David Goldblatt - The games are over, the medals awarded. The world's athletic demigods have been hailed and/or demonized. History has been made.

If you want more, see David Goldblatt's book on the history of the Olympics and how they are made.



Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency by James Andrew Miller - This oral history about the forming of Hollywood's most powerful agency has recently caused a bit of a stir. I've compared this book to a cross between Game of Thrones and People Magazine. Amazon's Seira Wilson wrote of the book, "Powerhouse is a front row seat to the building of an entertainment industry icon in all its garish glory. And it's nearly impossible to look away."


American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin - It turns out an entire generation of young Americans may not know who Patty Hearst is. Many of us never really knew that much about her as it was; that has all changed, though. If you're interested in learning a little bit more about the 70s socialite and her kidnapping, see Jon Foro's coverage and interview with Jeffery Toobin. Once that has whetted your appetite, you'll want to check out Toobin's book.


The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts - Horses: they're the humans of the animal kingdom. Dogs have an argument--but they're more like trusty sidekicks. When it comes to heroism, no other animal can beat a horse. Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Flicka, Black Beauty, Wildfire. End of conversation. But I'm getting off-point.

Here's Amazon Editor Erin Kodicek's review of The Perfect Horse:

"Many of us have heard the heroic story of the "Monuments Men"—Allied troops tasked with retrieving iconic artworks stolen by the Nazis during WWII. In The Perfect Horse, Elizabeth Letts sheds light on another of Hitler's infamous heists, that of prized stallions from Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, and other parts of Europe, with the aim of employing eugenics to breed the consummate war horse (of course, of course). The harrowing mission to save these magnificent creatures, not just from the clutches of the Nazis, but the advancing--and very hungry—Russian army, was approved by General George S. Patton, evidently no slouch on the polo field. But consent came with a worrying caveat: if things went south, the ragtag band of rescuers were on their own. So why, in the midst of so much human suffering, did these men willingly risk their lives in this equine endeavor? The answers to this question lend Lett's narrative its emotional power, and are just as relevant today as they were then. Whether you're a history buff, a horse fan, or can appreciate how doing one positive thing can have enormous impact, The Perfect Horse is the perfect read for you."

You can see all of our Best History Books of August here.



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