Saturday, July 28, 2012

Featured Book: Treacherous Beauty and Mark Jacob and Stephen H. Case

I'm actually in the process of reading this book for review at the moment, but I thought I would feature it once as a teaser for my review! In my pre-teen years, I was a bit obsessed with the American Revolution... but I'm ashamed to say I can't remember ever reading about Peggy Shippen before, even as a sidenote or footnote to Benedict Arnold's story. This book is definitely providing some interesting information about a lesser known historical figure.

Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, the Woman behind Benedict Arnold's Plot to Betray America by Mark Jacob and Stephen H. Case

Histories of the Revolutionary War have long honored heroines such as Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, and Molly Pitcher. Now, more than two centuries later, comes the first biography of one of the war’s most remarkable women, a beautiful Philadelphia society girl named Peggy Shippen. While war was raging between England and its rebellious colonists, Peggy befriended a suave British officer and then married a crippled revolutionary general twice her age. She brought the two men together in a treasonous plot that nearly turned George Washington into a prisoner and changed the course of the war. Peggy Shippen was Mrs. Benedict Arnold.

After the conspiracy was exposed, Peggy managed to convince powerful men like Washington and Alexander Hamilton of her innocence. The Founding Fathers were handicapped by the common view that women lacked the sophistication for politics or warfare, much less treason. And Peggy took full advantage.

Peggy was to the American Revolution what the fictional Scarlett O’Hara was to the Civil War: a woman whose survival skills trumped all other values. Had she been a man, she might have been
arrested, tried, and executed. And she might have become famous. Instead, her role was minimized and she was allowed to recede into the background—with a generous British pension in hand.
 
In Treacherous Beauty, Mark Jacob and Stephen H. Case tell the true story of Peggy Shippen, a driving force in a conspiracy that came within an eyelashof dooming the American democracy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Featured Book: From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847--1928



From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847--1928 by Julia Gelardi


This sweeping saga recreates the extraordinary opulence and violence of Tsarist Russia as the shadow of revolution fell over the land, and destroyed a way of life for these Imperial women.

The early 1850s until the late 1920s marked a turbulent and significant era for Russia. During that time the country underwent a massive transformation, taking it from days of grandeur under the tsars to the chaos of revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet Union.

At the center of all this tumult were four women of the Romanov dynasty. Marie Alexandrovna and Olga Constantinovna were born into the family, Russian Grand Duchesses at birth. Marie Feodorovna and Marie Pavlovna married into the dynasty, the former born a Princess of Denmark, the latter a Duchess of the German duchy of Mecklendburg-Schwerin. In From Splendor to Revolution, we watch these pampered aristocratic women fight for their lives as the cataclysm of war engulfs them. In a matter of a few short years, they fell from the pinnacle of wealth and power to the depths of danger, poverty, and exile. It is an unforgettable epic story.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Via Tea at Trianon: Review: The Divorce of Henry VIII by Catherine Fletcher


 Tea at Trianon:

The Divorce of Henry VIII  (UK title: Our Man in Rome) by Professor Catherine Fletcher of Durham University is an indispensable addition to the library of any serious scholar of Tudor history. I say "serious" scholar because, while the book is not overlong, it is not light reading. It might be challenging for some to keep track of all the various players and intertwining events unless one is already deeply immersed in the politics of the King's Great Matter. However, after glancing at the author's extensive bibliography, I must commend her for being able to concentrate so much detailed research into one volume. It includes material rarely covered by other works about Henry VIII, shedding light on the fascinating world of sixteenth century ambassadors.

Read more.