The GMAHS History Readers Book club meets the first Thursday of each month, 6:30 PM, at Promont. The lineup of books for upcoming months includes:
January 2, 2018
A Covert Affair by Jennet Conant
By bestselling author Jennet Conant, a stunning account of Julia Child’s early life as a member of the OSS in the Far East during World War II, and the tumultuous years when she and Paul Child were caught up in the McCarthy witch hunt and behaved with bravery and honor.
Bestselling author Jennet Conant brings us a stunning account of Julia and Paul Child’s experiences as members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in the Far East during World War II and the tumultuous years when they were caught up in the McCarthy Red spy hunt in the 1950s and behaved with bravery and honor. It is the fascinating portrait of a group of idealistic men and women who were recruited by the citizen spy service, slapped into uniform, and dispatched to wage political warfare in remote outposts in Ceylon, India, and China.
The eager, inexperienced 6 foot 2 inch Julia springs to life in these pages, a gangly golf-playing California girl who had never been farther abroad than Tijuana. Single and thirty years old when she joined the staff of Colonel William Donovan, Julia volunteered to be part of the OSS’s ambitious mission to develop a secret intelligence network across Southeast Asia. Her first post took her to the mountaintop idyll of Kandy, the headquarters of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, the supreme commander of combined operations. Julia reveled in the glamour and intrigue of her overseas assignment and lifealtering romance with the much older and more sophisticated Paul Child, who took her on trips into the jungle, introduced her to the joys of curry, and insisted on educating both her mind and palate. A painter drafted to build war rooms, Paul was a colorful, complex personality. Conant uses extracts from his letters in which his sharp eye and droll wit capture the day-to-day confusion, excitement, and improbability of being part of a cloak- and-dagger operation.
When Julia and Paul were transferred to Kunming, a rugged outpost at the foot of the Burma Road, they witnessed the chaotic end of the war in China and the beginnings of the Communist revolution that would shake the world. A Covert Affair chronicles their friendship with a brilliant and eccentric array of OSS agents, including Jane Foster, a wealthy, free-spirited artist, and Elizabeth MacDonald, an adventurous young reporter. In Paris after the war, Julia and Paul remained close to their intelligence colleagues as they struggled to start new lives, only to find themselves drawn into a far more terrifying spy drama. Relying on recently unclassified OSS and FBI documents, as well as previously unpublished letters and diaries, Conant vividly depicts a dangerous time in American history, when those who served their country suddenly found themselves called to account for their unpopular opinions and personal relationships.
February 6, 2018
Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter
From the author of the bestsellers The Emperor of Ocean Park and New England White, an electrifying and provocative historical novel set in an alternate history in which Abraham Lincoln survives assassination at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. In this gripping legal and political thriller, Stephen L. Carter imagines what might have happened if Lincoln had lived to face the tumultuous post-war politics of 1865 Washington, D.C., including an impeachment trial for overstepping his Constitutional authority during the Civil War. At the novel’s center is Abigail Canner, a young black woman recently graduated from Oberlin, who is hired by the D.C. law firm that is working on Lincoln’s defense. When one of Lincoln’s lead lawyers is found brutally murdered, Abigail is plunged into a web of intrigue, politics, and conspiracy.
March 6, 2018
March by Geraldine Brooks
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize–a powerful love story set against the backdrop of the Civil War, from the author of The Secret Chord.
From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story “filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man” (Sue Monk Kidd). With “pitch-perfect writing” (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as a renowned author of historical fiction.
April 3, 2018
April Morning by Howard Fast
When you read this novel about April 19, 1775, you will see the British redcoats marching in a solid column through your town. Your hands will be sweating and you will shake a little as you grip your musket because never have you shot with the aim of killing a man. But you will shoot, and shoot again and again while your shoulder aches from your musket’s kick and the tight, disciplined red column bleeds and wavers and breaks and you begin to shout at the top of your lungs because you are there, at the birth of freedom—you’re a veteran of the Battle of Lexington, and you’ve helped whip the King’s best soldiers…
May 1, 2018
The Golden Age by Jane Smiley (third in the trilogy)
It’s 1987, and the next generation of Langdons is facing economic, social, and political challenges unlike anything their ancestors have encountered. Michael and Richie, twin sons of World War II hero Frank, work in the high-stakes worlds of government and finance—but their fiercest enemies may be closer to home. Charlie, the charmer, struggles to find his way; Guthrie is deployed to Iraq, leaving the Iowa family farm in the hands of his younger sister, Felicity— who, as always, has her own ideas. Determined to help preserve the planet, she worries that her family farm’s land is imperiled, and not only by the extremes of climate change.
Moving seamlessly from the power-brokered 1980s and the scandal-ridden ‘90s to our own present moment and beyond, Golden Age combines intimate drama, emotional suspense, and an intricate view of history, bringing to a magnificent conclusion the epic trilogy of one unforgettable family.
June 5, 2018
Summer of the Gods by Edward Larson