New and Recently Released! The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 - by Piers Brendon Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/28/2008 ISBN: 9780307268297 ISBN-10: 0307268292 October 17th, 1781--according to British historian Piers Brendon, that date (the day that Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington) marked the beginning of the end for the British Empire. But this book isn't a dreary chronicle of the inevitable decline of the British Empire--rather, it's a "colorful and often brilliant" (Booklist) analysis of Britain's imperial reign between the American Revolution and the handoff of Hong Kong back to China. In a comprehensive and detailed manner that is sure to fascinate armchair historians, imperial Britain's weaknesses, strengths, diversity, and legacy are all brought to life. First Chapter The Ascent of Money - by Niall Ferguson Publisher: Penguin Group USA Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 11/13/2008 ISBN: 9781594201929 ISBN-10: 1594201927 What timing--just when the world is experiencing a series of financial dramas, historian Niall Ferguson offers up a look at the history of money, banking, and credit. Ferguson, who is both a historian and an author of several books on money-related topics, is an excellent guide to financial history from Mesopotamia's clay tablets to the bursting of bubbles. If you're looking for the logic behind financial institutions, want to better understand why credit was necessary for civilization to prosper, or are curious what Scottish widows have to do with insurance theory, you'll want to check out The Ascent of Money. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: Understanding Iran and Iranians - by Hooman Majd Publisher: Bantam Dell Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 9/23/2008 ISBN: 9780385523349 ISBN-10: 0385523343 Journalist Hooman Majd is ideally positioned to write about contemporary Iran, for he's the Western-educated son of an Iranian diplomat and the grandson of an ayatollah. His ability to speak Farsi like a native allows him to use the language as a window into the economic, political, and social forces at work in Iran, and his examination of Iran as a Muslim, Shiite, and Persian country takes into account the diverse perspectives of many real-life people in the modern-day nation. Majd's even-handed, conversational style covers everything from the role of cats (not what you'd think for the home of Persian cats) to President Ahmadinejad's thoughts on the Holocaust. First Chapter Table of Contents Napoleon in Egypt - by Paul Strathern Publisher: Bantam Dell Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/28/2008 ISBN: 9780553806786 ISBN-10: 0553806785 Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Egypt in 1798, with 335 ships and 40,000 men, was the largest long-distance seaborne force that the world had ever seen. But Napoleon's assault was intended to do more than simply expand French control, for Napoleon took with him more than 150 scientists, mathematicians, artists, and writers for the dual purposes of bringing Western civilization to Egypt and bringing Egyptian treasures back to France. Using newly uncovered diaries and papers, author Paul Strathern offers an entertaining account of the enterprise, as well as a nuanced portrait of Napoleon and the colorful members of his expedition. For more on the scientific expedition, try Nina Burleigh's Mirage. First Chapter Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World - by Sharon Waxman Publisher: Times Books Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/28/2008 ISBN: 9780805086539 ISBN-10: 0805086536 If you've already read journalist Simon Houpt's Museum of the Missing, an excellent history of modern-day art theft, you may be eager to get your hands on Sharon Waxman's Loot, which tackles the debate over the ownership of great works of ancient art. Who has stronger claim--the museum that houses the art, or the country from which it originated? Though there are no easy answers, journalist Waxman will take you on a fascinating journey through hotly contested battles (including over the Elgin marbles, among others) while also posing the arguments on all sides. "Erudite and wholly satisfying," says Kirkus Reviews. Focus on: The Victorian Era Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death - by Deborah Blum Publisher: Penguin Press Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 8/3/2006 ISBN: 9781594200908 ISBN-10: 1594200904 During the Victorian era, attempts to communicate with the dead through mediums and séances grew in popularity, but they were attended by a flurry of scientific activity as researchers tried to determine whether spiritualism had a grounding in science. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum focuses on the prominent Harvard psychologist William James, who risked his reputation trying to gather scientific data proving--or disproving--the existence of paranormal powers. Although many scorned the idea that scientific reasoning could be applied to mind-reading and apparitions, he did find some allies. Their efforts are chronicled here, in what The Washington Post calls a "lively and provocative" book. Table of Contents Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco - by Marilyn Chase Publisher: Random House Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 3/1/2004 ISBN: 9780375757082 ISBN-10: 0375757082 Though Victorian Europe suffered from several cholera epidemics, it was bubonic plague that erupted in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. In addition to describing how the plague arrived in San Francisco and how it spread once it got there, Wall Street Journal reporter Marilyn Chase also looks at the efforts of scientists Joseph Kinyoun, Dr. Rupert Blue, and Blue's aide Colby Rucker to contain and eradicate the disease. She also focuses on city administrators, who didn't want word of the epidemic to spread, and on the discriminatory practices aimed at the booming city's population of Chinese immigrants. If you're interested in public health issues or the history of San Francisco, you won't want to miss this gripping book. First Chapter Table of Contents Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1899 - by Dominic Green Publisher: Free Press Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 1/9/2007 ISBN: 9780743280716 ISBN-10: 0743280717 The Victorian era is recognized as a time of prosperity for the British, but it wasn't without its conflicts. In the second half of the 19th century, as the British Empire expanded along the Nile River, tensions rose between the despotic Egyptian ruler and his people; then, when British troops made their presence felt, relations soured between the British and their Muslim subjects. Author Dominic Green profiles several prominent men, several of whom will be of interest to readers looking to discover parallels with today's troubles in the Middle East: the Sudanese Sufi leader Mohammed Ahmed; the British general Charles George Gordon; and the leader of the Egyptian revolt, Colonel Ahmed Urabi. First Chapter Table of Contents Death at the Priory: Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England - by James Ruddick Publisher: PGW Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 12/1/2002 ISBN: 9780802139740 ISBN-10: 0802139744 If you're a fan of Agatha Christie novels, your curiosity will be piqued by the true-life--and still unsolved--murder of successful attorney Charles Bravo, which a fascinated Christie called "one of the most mysterious poisoning cases ever recorded." Bravo and his new wife, Florence, lived in a stately house in London and enjoyed the best of Victorian society, but the household was not a happy one, for Bravo was abusive towards his wife and unreasonable towards his servants. His death, mere months into the marriage, was never solved, though Florence and several unhappy servants were suspected of murder. Could it have been suicide? Read Death at the Priory and draw your own conclusions. Table of Contents The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers - by Tom Standage Publisher: St. Martin's Press Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 9/18/2007 ISBN: 9780802716040 ISBN-10: 0802716040 What do the Internet and the telegraph have in common? No, that's not the start of a bad joke--it's a serious question, and one that journalist Tom Standage answers in this "lively, anecdote-filled history" (Booklist). For the most part, Standage covers the history of the telegraph, from its invention to the ways this once cutting-edge invention changed the world. But by looking at the social, cultural, economic, and political influence of the telegraph on the Victorian era, he is also able to draw conclusions about the Internet's effect on the modern age (though keep in mind that this book was first published in 1998--the year that Google was incorporated, and long before the advent of YouTube or Wikipedia).