Summer reading: History

Absolute Monarchs

A History of the Papacy

John Julius Norwich

Random House: $30

The respected historian of the Byzantine Empire and Venice now turns to one of the oldest institutions on Earth and those who have worn the mitred hat during its 2,000-year-old history. (July)

American Dreamers

How the Left Changed a Nation

Michael Kazin

Alfred A. Knopf: $27.95

From the early anti-slavery movement to

Noam Chomsky

and filmmaker Michael Moore, the author examines the radical thinkers and reformers who have transformed American politics and culture. (August)


A History of Water and Humankind

Brian Fagan

Bloomsbury: $28


Archaeologist Fagan documents the human historical relationship with water, from sacred gift to exploited resource, and our move back to having reverence for it. (June)

Exorcising Hitler

The Occupation and Denazification of Germany

Frederick Taylor

Bloomsbury: $30

The impact and efforts to purge the specter of Hitler in the immediate months and years after

World War II

. (May)

The First Detective

The Life and Revolutionary Times of Vidocq — Criminal, Spy and Private Eye

James Morton

Overlook: $27.95

Was Eugene Vidocq the 18th century's James Bond? The author tracks the shadowy police officer-turned-detective whose exploits inspired novelists and left an indelible mark on crime detection. (June)

The Greater Journey

Americans in Paris

David McCullough

Simon & Schuster: $37.50

McCullough looks at the American expatriates — artists, writers, doctors, architects — who made Paris their home from 1830 to 1900. (May)

In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Erik Larson

Crown: $26

The American ambassador to Germany during the early 1930s has concerns — dismissed by the

State Department

— about Hitler's ambitions, while his daughter becomes enamored of the Berlin society of the Third Reich. (May)

The Golden Empire

Spain, Charles V and the Creation of America

Hugh Thomas

Random House: $35

The second of Hugh Thomas' three-volume history of Spain, this work looks at the years 1522 to 1566, when the country was the greatest power in Europe. (August)


A Portrait

Patrick French

Alfred A. Knopf: $30

The authorized biographer of V.S. Naipaul turns to the subcontinent in this study of the complexities and contradictions that embody modern India. (June)

The Murder of the Century

The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars

Paul Collins

Crown: $26

The author of "The Book of William" looks at the cradle in which 19th century yellow journalism was born: a dismembered corpse and rival newspapers jockeying to cover the grisly case. (June)

On China
Henry Kissinger

Penguin: $36

Drawing on 40 years of intimate acquaintance with the country and its leaders, Henry Kissinger reflects on how China's past relations with the outside world illuminate its 21st century trajectory. (May)

The President and the Assassin

McKinley, Terror and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century

Scott Miller

Random House: $28

Former Wall Street Journal reporter Miller tells the story of the momentus years in America leading up to the assassination of

President McKinley

in 1901. (June)

Rebels in Paradise

The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s

Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

Henry Holt

: $27

Los Angeles

was the epicenter of artistic cool in the 1960s, spawning a number of influential artists including

Ed Ruscha


David Hockney

, Robert Irwin and John Baldessari. (June)

The Sea

A Cultural History

John Mack

University of Chicago

Press: $35

An inventive look at the oceans and their influence — as barriers, as sources of commerce, life and cultural inspiration — on human civilization and the relations among nations. (May)

The Wars of Afghanistan

Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts and the Failures of the Great Powers

Peter Tomsen

PublicAffairs: $40

The author, who served as

President George H.W. Bush

's envoy to Afghanistan, examines how that nation's tribal society has shaped its modern narrative. (July)

The Whites of Their Eyes

Bunker Hill, the First American Army, and the Emergence of George Washington

Paul Lockhart

Harper: $27.99

The story of the first army raised on American soil and the challenges it faced in defending and protecting American interests against a superior opposing force. (June)