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VB Reads...Armchair Historians

Book lovers, you have heard the old adage "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it!" Well, here is your chance to prepare yourself for the future. Join the Village Books Armchair Historians Book Group - "understanding the past!" We meet the second Monday of every month from 7pm to 8:30pm in the Writers' Corner at Village Books to chat, discuss, and dissect the most current and interesting history being written. We will cover all eras and topics in our quest to "know history". Join us! Authors DO NOT attend.

Monday, December 9, 7:00pm

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan

In this exciting and illuminating work, National Book Award winner Timothy Egan delivers a story, both rollicking and haunting, of one of the most famous Irish Americans of all time. A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony for life. But two years later he was “back from the dead” and in New York, instantly the most famous Irishman in America. Meagher’s rebirth included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Afterward, he tried to build a new Ireland in the wild west of Montana—a quixotic adventure that ended in the  great mystery of his disappearance, which Egan resolves convincingly at last.

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780544944831
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - March 7th, 2017

Monday, January 13, 7:00pm

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780743270755
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 26th, 2006

Monday, February 10, 7:00pm

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.

Salt: A World History Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780142001615
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 28th, 2003

Monday, March 9, 7:00pm

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson

El Norte chronicles the sweeping and dramatic history of Hispanic North America from the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century to the present--from Ponce de Leon's initial landing in Florida in 1513 to Spanish control of the vast Louisiana territory in 1762 to the Mexican-American War in 1846 and up to the more recent tragedy of post-hurricane Puerto Rico and the ongoing border acrimony with Mexico. Interwoven in this stirring narrative of events and people are cultural issues that have been there from the start but which are unresolved to this day: language, belonging, community, race, and nationality. Seeing them play out over centuries provides vital perspective at a time when it is urgently needed.

In 1883, Walt Whitman meditated on his country's Spanish past: "We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents, and sort them, to unify them," predicting that "to that composite American identity of the future, Spanish character will supply some of the most needed parts." That future is here, and El Norte, a stirring and eventful history in its own right, will make a powerful impact on our national understanding.

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780802148360
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Grove Press - February 18th, 2020

Monday, April 13, 7:00pm

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr

We are familiar with maps that outline all fifty states. And we are also familiar with the idea that the United States is an “empire,” exercising power around the world. But what about the actual territories—the islands, atolls, and archipelagos—this country has governed and inhabited?

In How to Hide an Empire, Daniel Immerwahr tells the fascinating story of the United States outside the United States. In crackling, fast-paced prose, he reveals forgotten episodes that cast American history in a new light. We travel to the Guano Islands, where prospectors collected one of the nineteenth century’s most valuable commodities, and the Philippines, site of the most destructive event on U.S. soil. In Puerto Rico, Immerwahr shows how U.S. doctors conducted grisly experiments they would never have conducted on the mainland and charts the emergence of independence fighters who would shoot up the U.S. Congress.

In the years after World War II, Immerwahr notes, the United States moved away from colonialism. Instead, it put innovations in electronics, transportation, and culture to use, devising a new sort of influence that did not require the control of colonies. Rich with absorbing vignettes, full of surprises, and driven by an original conception of what empire and globalization mean today, How to Hide an Empire is a major and compulsively readable work of history.

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781250251091
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Picador - February 4th, 2020

Monday, May 11, 7:00pm

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts

He was known simply as the Blind Traveler. A solitary, sightless adventurer, James Holman (1786-1857) fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, helped chart the Australian outback—and, astonishingly, circumnavigated the globe, becoming one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored. A Sense of the World is a spellbinding and moving rediscovery of one of history's most epic lives—a story to awaken our own senses of awe and wonder.

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780007161263
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - May 29th, 2007

Monday, June 8, 7:00pm

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home by Denise Kiernan

The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.

Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York’s best known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House.

Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore—and secure the future of the region and her husband’s legacy.

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476794051
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - May 1st, 2018