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Archive for Nonfiction

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean David AbulafiaSituated at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millenia the place where religions, economies, and political systems met, clashed, influenced and absorbed one another. David Abulafia offers a fresh perspective by focusing on the sea itself: its practical importance for transport and sustenance; its dynamic role in the rise and fall of empires; and the remarkable cast of characters–sailors, merchants, migrants, pirates, pilgrims–who have crossed and recrossed it.

Ranging from prehistory to the 21st century, The Great Sea is above all the history of human interaction across a region that has brought together many of the great civilizations of antiquity as well as the rival empires of medieval and modern times. Interweaving major political and naval developments with the ebb and flow of trade, Abulafia explores how commercial competition in the Mediterranean created both rivalries and partnerships, with merchants acting as intermediaries between cultures, trading goods that were as exotic on one side of the sea as they were commonplace on the other. He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of convivencia, “living together,” exemplified in medieval Spain, where Christian theologians studied Arabic texts with the help of Jewish and Muslim scholars, and traceable throughout the history of the region.

Brilliantly written and sweeping in its scope, The Great Sea is itself as varied and inclusive as the region it describes, covering everything from the Trojan War, the history of piracy, and the great naval battles between Carthage and Rome to the Jewish Diaspora into Hellenistic worlds, the rise of Islam, the Grand Tours of the 19th century, and mass tourism of the 20th. It is, in short, a magnum opus, the definitive account of perhaps the most vibrant theater of human interaction in history.

 

 

Author: David Abulafia

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A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War

A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War Amanda ForemanAcclaimed historian Amanda Foreman follows the phenomenal success of her New York Times bestseller Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire with her long-awaited second work of nonfiction: the fascinating story of the American Civil War and the major role played by Britain and its citizens in that epic struggle.

Even before the first rumblings of secession shook the halls of Congress, British involvement in the coming schism was inevitable. Britain was dependent on the South for cotton, and in turn the Confederacy relied almost exclusively on Britain for guns, bullets, and ships. The Union sought to block any diplomacy between the two and consistently teetered on the brink of war with Britain. For four years the complex web of relationships between the countries led to defeats and victories both minute and history-making. In A World on Fire, Amanda Foreman examines the fraught relations from multiple angles while she introduces characters both humble and grand, bringing them to vivid life over the course of her sweeping and brilliant narrative.

Between 1861 and 1865, thousands of British citizens volunteered for service on both sides of the Civil War. From the first cannon blasts on Fort Sumter to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, they served as officers and infantrymen, sailors and nurses, blockade runners and spies. Through personal letters, diaries, and journals, Foreman has woven together their experiences to form a panoramic yet intimate view of the war on the front lines, in the prison camps, and in the great cities of both the Union and the Confederacy. Through the eyes of these brave volunteers we see the details of the struggle for life and the great and powerful forces that threatened to demolish a nation.

In the drawing rooms of London and the offices of Washington, on muddy fields and aboard packed ships, Foreman reveals the decisions made, the beliefs held and contested, and the personal triumphs and sacrifices that ultimately led to the reunification of America. A World on Fire is a complex and groundbreaking work that will surely cement Amanda Foreman’s position as one of the most influential historians of our time.

 

 

Table of Contents:

Prologue

PART 1: COTTON IS KING

1. The Uneasy Cousins
2. On the Best of Terms
3. “The Cards Are in Our Hands!”
4. Expectations Are Dashed
5. The Rebel Yell
6. War by Other Means
7. “It Takes Two to Make a Quarrel”
8. The Lion Roars Back
9. The War Moves to England
10. The First Blow Against Slavery
11. Five Miles from Richmond
12. The South Is Rising
13. Is Blood Thicker Than Water?
14. A Fateful Decision

PART II: FIRE ALL AROUND THEM

15. Bloodbath at Fredericksburg
16. The Missing Key to Victory
17. “The Tinsel Has Worn Off”
18. Faltering Steps of a Counterrevolution
19. Prophecies of Blood and Suffering
20. The Key Is in the Lock
21. The Eve of Battle
22. Crossroads at Gettysburg
23. Pressure Rising
24. Devouring the Young
25. River of Death
26. Can the Nation Endure?

PART III: IF ONLY WE ARE SPARED

27. Buckling Under Pressure
28. A Great Slaughter
29. “Defiance to Her Enemies”
30. “Can We Hold Out?”
31. The Crisis Comes
32. The Tyranny of Hope
33. “Come Retribution”
34. “War is Cruelty”
35. “The British Mark on Every Battle-field”
36. “Richmond Tomorrow”
37. Fire, Fire
38. “A True- Born King of Men”

Epilogue

 

 

Author: Amanda Foreman

Yoga in the Workplace

Yoga in the Workplace Shameem AkhtarWho has the time for exercise ? While research has shown that benefits from yoga range from curing aliments and improving muscle tone and flexibility to reducing stress and tension, today’s extended office hours, long commutes, and family obligation mean that not all of us can keep to a fitness schedule. But, in yoga at the workplace, acclaimed yoga practitioner Shameem Akhtar has come up with a simple and efficient way of using yogic practices at the work station, even as you work. These adapted yogic practices – which can be neatly integrated into the office environment- demand very little in terms of time, yet promise to infuse you with wealth, both mentally and physically.although primarily developed for a workaholic is committed to his or her cubicle, the book works just as well for a home-maker or a driven – loving grandparent. Even people who exercise regularly will find this book useful: studies have proven that exercise relegated entirely to one part of the day is not as effective if the rest of the day is spent largely in a passive manner. This book fills that lacuna. Clear, lucid instructions accompanied by easy – to – follow illustrations make this book an effective companion for those of us who have to juggle several roles in a day seamlessly.

 

 

Author: Shameem Akhtar