We can’t wait to get our hands on some of these books releasing in December. Which if these will you be reading?
1. Europe in Flames: The Crisis of the Thirty Years War by John Matusiak
`War,’ wrote Cardinal Richelieu, `is one of the scourges with which it has pleased God to afflict men’. Yet the prelate’s mournful observation scarcely begins to encapsulate the full complexity and unspeakable horror of the greatest man-made calamity to befall Europe before the twentieth century. Claiming far more lives proportionately than either the First or Second World Wars, it was a contest involving all the major powers of Europe, in which vast mercenary armies extracted an incalculable toll upon helpless civilian populations as their commanders and the men who equipped them frequently grew rich on the profits. Swedish troops alone are said to have destroyed some 2,000 German castles, 18,000 villages and 1,500 towns, while other vast armies in the pay of Spain, France, the Holy Roman Emperor and a host of pettier princelings brought death to as many as 8 million souls. Rarely has such a perplexing tale been more in need of a new account that is both compelling and informed, and no less comprehensible than comprehensive.
2. The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties
Deep new rifts are tearing apart the fabric of the United States and other Western societies: thriving cities versus rural counties, the highly skilled elite versus the less educated, wealthy versus developing countries. As these divides deepen, we have lost the sense of ethical obligation to others that was crucial to the rise of post-war social democracy. So far these rifts have been answered only by the revivalist ideologies of populism and socialism, leading to the seismic upheavals of Trump, Brexit, and the return of the far-right in Germany. We have heard many critiques of capitalism but no one has laid out a realistic way to fix it, until now. In a passionate and polemical book, celebrated economist Paul Collier outlines brilliantly original and ethical ways of healing these rifts—economic, social and cultural—with the cool head of pragmatism, rather than the fervor of ideological revivalism. He reveals how he has personally lived across these three divides, moving from working-class Sheffield to hyper-competitive Oxford, and working between Britain and Africa, and acknowledges some of the failings of his profession. Drawing on his own solutions as well as ideas from some of the world’s most distinguished social scientists, he shows us how to save capitalism from itself—and free ourselves from the intellectual baggage of the twentieth century.
3. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child. Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can it be explained by science? Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.
4. The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash
It’s the fall of 1979 in New York City when twenty-three-year-old Anton Winter, back from the Peace Corps and on the mend from a nasty bout of malaria, returns to his childhood home in the Dakota. Anton’s father, the famous late-night host Buddy Winter, is there to greet him, himself recovering from a breakdown. Before long, Anton is swept up in an effort to reignite Buddy’s stalled career, a mission that takes him from the gritty streets of New York, to the slopes of the Lake Placid Olympics, to the Hollywood Hills, to the blue waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and brings him into close quarters with the likes of Johnny Carson, Ted and Joan Kennedy, and a seagoing John Lennon. But the more Anton finds himself enmeshed in his father’s professional and spiritual reinvention, the more he questions his own path, and fissures in the Winter family begin to threaten their close bond. By turns hilarious and poignant, The Dakota Winters is a family saga, a page-turning social novel, and a tale of a critical moment in the history of New York City and the country at large
5. Wright Brothers, Wrong Story: How Wilbur Wright Solved the Problem of Manned Flight by William Hazelgrove
How could two misanthropic brothers who never left home, were high-school dropouts, and made a living as bicycle mechanics have figured out the secret of manned flight? This new history of the Wright Brothers’ monumental accomplishment focuses on their early years of trial and error at Kitty Hawk (1900-1903) and Orville Wright’s epic fight with the Smithsonian Institute and Glenn Curtis. William Hazelgrove makes a convincing case that it was Wilbur Wright who designed the first successful airplane, not Orville. He shows that, while Orville’s role was important, he generally followed his brother’s lead and assisted with the mechanical details to make Wilbur’s vision a reality. Combing through original archives and family letters, Hazelgrove reveals the differences in the brothers’ personalities and abilities. He examines how the Wright Brothers’ myth was born when Wilbur Wright died early and left his brother to write their history with personal friend John Kelly. The author notes the peculiar inwardness of their family life, business and family problems, bouts of depression, serious illnesses, and yet, rising above it all, was Wilbur’s obsessive zeal to test out his flying ideas. When he found Kitty Hawk, this desolate location on North Carolina’s Outer Banks became his laboratory. By carefully studying bird flight and the Rubik’s Cube of control, Wilbur cracked the secret of aerodynamics and achieved liftoff on December 17, 1903.
Hazelgrove’s richly researched and well-told tale of the Wright Brothers’ landmark achievement captures the excitement of the times at the start of the “American century.”
6. Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones
Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance. In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.
7. Half of What You Hear by Kristyn Kusek Lewis
From well-loved women’s fiction writer Kristyn Kusek Lewis comes a breakout novel about a woman moving to a small community and uncovering the many secrets that hide behind closed doors—perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Elin Hilderbrand. Greyhill, Virginia—refuge of old money, old mansions, and old-fashioned ideas about who belongs and who doesn’t—just got a few new residents. When Bess Warner arrives in town with her husband Cole and their kids, she thinks she knows what to expect. Sure, moving to Cole’s small hometown means she’ll have to live across the street from her mother-in-law, and yes, there’s going to be a lot to learn as they take over Cole’s family’s inn-keeping business, but Bess believes it will be the perfect escape from Washington. She needs it to be. After losing her White House job under a cloud of scandal, she hardly knows who she is anymore. But Bess quickly discovers that fitting in is easier said than done. Instead of the simpler life she’d banked on, she finds herself preoccupied by barbed questions from gossipy locals and her own worries over how her twins are acclimating at the town’s elite private school. When the opportunity to write an article for the Washington Post’s lifestyle supplement falls into Bess’s lap, she thinks it might finally be her opportunity to find her footing here…even if the subject of the piece is Greyhill’s most notorious resident. Susannah “Cricket” Lane, fruit of the town’s deepest-rooted family tree, is a special sort of outsider, having just returned to Greyhill from New York after a decades-long hiatus. The long absence has always been the subject of suspicion, not that the eccentric Susannah cares what anyone thinks; as a matter of fact, she seems bent on antagonizing as many people as possible. But is Susannah being sincere with Bess—or is she using their strangely intense interview sessions for her to further an agenda that includes peeling back the layers of Greyhill’s darkest secrets? As Bess discovers unsettling truths about Susannah and Greyhill at large, ones that bring her into the secrets of prior generations, she begins to learn how difficult it is to start over in a town that runs on talk, and that sometimes, the best way to find yourself is to uncover what everyone around you is hiding.
8. The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it. With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.
Are any of these books on your TBR pile? What other new releases are you looking forward to in December? Tell us in the comments below, and maybe we’ll do a read-along!
All book excerpts have been picked up from Goodreads