Gift Ideas: History, Current Affairs, Political Science, Biographies

Let us be your personal shoppers!

ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost all ABC staff members are personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the stores. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for the upcoming holiday season, and they came up with some great ones: new books, classic books, magazines, games, merchandise, and stationery.

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Current Affairs & Political Science, History, Military History, Ancient History, and Biographies as supplied by Barry, Jeroen, Sophie, Jouke and Tom.

Even more gift ideas can be found here and here!

Current Affairs & Political Science


The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate – Robert D. Kaplan

In The Revenge of Geography, Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the near and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world’s hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. The Russian steppe’s pitiless climate and limited vegetation bred hard and cruel men bent on destruction, for example, while Nazi geopoliticians distorted geopolitics entirely, calculating that space on the globe used by the British Empire and the Soviet Union could be swallowed by a greater German homeland.
Kaplan then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia. (more…)

Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for Us – Dambisa Moyo

In Winner Take All, Dambisa Moyo cuts through the misconceptions and noise surrounding resource scarcity with a penetrating analysis of what really is at stake. Revealing the hard facts behind the insatiable global demand for economic growth, Moyo shows how in this race for resources, China is way out in front. Tracing China’s breathtaking quest for commodities, Moyo examines the impact this is having on us all and its profound implications for our future.

The Penguin Companion to European Union – Timothy Bainbridge & Anthony Teasdale

The bestselling Penguin Companion to European Union explains the ideas, institutions, personalities and policies that have shaped politics at European level since the Second World War. Its interlocking A to Z entries provide clear, definitive and accessible accounts of the history, role, powers and decision-making processes of the European Union – and other international organizations, such the Council of Europe and NATO – as well as the national and international political contexts in which they operate.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty – Daron Acemoglu

Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?
Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?
Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today. (more…)

History


Fear & Loathing At Rolling Stone – Hunter S. Thompson

“Buy the ticket, take the ride,” was a favorite slogan of Hunter S. Thompson, and it pretty much defined both his work and his life. Jann S. Wenner, the outlaw journalist’s friend and editor for nearly thirty-five years, has assembled articles that begin with Thompson’s infamous run for sheriff of Aspen on the Freak Party ticket in 1970 and end with his final piece on the Bush-Kerry showdown of 2004. In between is Thompson’s remarkable coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign and plenty of attention paid to Richard Nixon; encounters with Muhammad Ali, Bill Clinton, and the Super Bowl; and a lengthy excerpt from his acknowledged masterpiece, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (more…)

Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country–And Why They Can’t Make Peace – Patrick Tyler

Born of idealism, under David Ben Gurion and his proteges, Dayan, Sharon and Peres, Israel came to prioritize security at all costs, and to seize land and water whenever opportunity arose. The security state erected around the nation is the most efficient, ruthless, intelligent and skilful in the region. And it is very little understood. Patrick Tyler believes that the way to understand it is to understand the men and women who have created, sustained and directed it. Less an anatomy of institutions and administrations than a searching biographical study of the outsize personalities who headed its operations and in consequence steered Israel’s course since its foundation, this book is a landmark in the revelation of the inner workings of the Israeli nation-state.

After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa – Douglas Foster

A brutally honest exposé, After Mandela provides a sobering portrait of a country caught between a democratic future and a political meltdown. Recent works have focused primarily on Nelson Mandela’s transcendent story. But Douglas Foster, a leading South Africa authority with early, unprecedented access to President Zuma and to the next generation in the Mandela family, traces the nation’s entire post-apartheid arc, from its celebrated beginnings under “Madiba” to Thabo Mbeki’s tumultuous rule to the ferocious battle between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Foster tells this story not only from the point of view of the emerging black elite but also, drawing on hundreds of rare interviews over a six-year period, from the perspectives of ordinary citizens, including an HIV-infected teenager living outside Johannesburg and a homeless orphan in Cape Town.

Governing the World: The History of an Idea – Mark Mazower

The latest book by one of the best historians of the moment!

A history of the project of world government, from the first post-Napoleonic visions of the brotherhood of man to the current crisis of global finance.
The Napoleonic Wars showed Europe what sort of damage warring states could do. But how could sovereign nations be made to share power and learn to look beyond their own narrow interests? The old monarchs had one idea. Mazzini and the partisans of nationalist democracy had another, and so did Marx and the radical Left.
It is an argument that has raged for two hundred years now, and Mark Mazower tells its history enthrallingly in Governing the World. (more…)

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 – Anne Applebaum

In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway. She describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain.

Military History


No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden – Mark Owen

This Navy SEAL’s account has been on the NY Times Bestseller list ever since it was published.  Compare it to Peter Bergen’s Manhunt and Mark Bowden’s The Finish for an even completer picture of the mission.

The Military History Book – DK Publishing

After well-received titles like Battle at Sea and Soldier, publisher Dorling Kindersley finally tackles a complete overview of military history, from 5000 BC to the present, covering all corners of the world.  For those who are just getting interested in the subject, and those who want to broaden their scope.

The Seven Military Classics of China – Ralph D. Sawyer

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War was one of seven classic essays on warfare and military strategy written in Ancient China between 500 BC and 700 AD. The other six were never readily available to the rest of the world – but now you can find all of them together in one volume.

The Second World War – Antony Beevor

One of the foremost military historians alive has finally written his definitive account of World War II.

Ancient History


1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created – Charles C. Mann

A deeply engaging new history of how European settlements in the post-Colombian Americas shaped the world, from the bestselling author of 1491. Presenting the latest research by biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the post-Columbian network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In this history, Mann uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars. In 1493, Mann has again given readers an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean – David Abulafia

Situated 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. (more…)

Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-forgotten Europe – Norman Davies

From Norman Davies, the acclaimed author of Europe: A History, comes the magical history of Europe’s lost realms.
Europe’s history is littered with kingdoms, duchies, empires and republics which have now disappeared but which were once fixtures on the map of their age. What happened to the once-great Mediterranean ‘Empire of Aragon’? Where did the half-forgotten kingdoms of Burgundy go? Which current nations will one day become a distant memory too? This original and enthralling book peers through the cracks of history to discover the stories of lost realms across the centuries.

In the Shadow of the Sword – Tom Holland

The acclaimed author of Rubicon now produces a panoramic account of the rise of Islam.
No less significant than the collapse of the Roman Republic or the Persian invasion of Greece, the evolution of the Arab empire is one of the supreme narratives of ancient history, a story dazzlingly rich in drama, character, and achievement. Just like the Romans, the Arabs came from nowhere to carve out a stupefyingly vast dominion–except that they achieved their conquests not over the course of centuries as the Romans did but in a matter of decades. Just like the Greeks during the Persian wars, they overcame seemingly insuperable odds to emerge triumphant against the greatest empire of the day–not by standing on the defensive, however, but by hurling themselves against all who lay in their path.

Biographies


Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power – Jon Meacham

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author (of American Lion and Franklin and Winston) brings vividly to life a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history. (more…)

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 – William Manchester & Paul Reid

Spanning the years of 1940-1965, The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister-when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill conjured up by William Manchester and Paul Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action. The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation’s military response and defense; compelled FDR into supporting America’s beleaguered cousins, and personified the “never surrender” ethos that helped the Allies win the war, while at the same time adapting himself and his country to the inevitable shift of world power from the British Empire to the United States.

This third part of the The Last Lion series of biographies on Winston Churchill has been twenty years in the making, and follows The Last Lion: Visions of Glory and The Last Lion: Alone.

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson – Robert Caro

The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career—1958 to1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.

This is the fourth book of Robert A. Caro’s monumental The Years of Lyndon Johnson, following The Path to Power, Means of Ascent and Master of the Senate.