Archive for the ‘History’ Category


Pulitzer Prize Winners 2014

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Congratulation to everyone who won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize last night!  The full list can be found here; the winners in the Letters and Drama categories are:

Fiction: The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt *
Drama: The Flick – Annie Baker
History:  The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 – Alan Taylor
Biography or Autobiography:  Margaret Fuller: A New American Life – Megan Marshall
Poetry: 3 Sections – Vijay Seshadri
General Nonfiction: Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation – Dan Fagin

* True story:  I saw my very first goldfinch yesterday morning as I was on a run!  I should have kept running to the nearest bookie, obviously.  :-)  Very pretty and quick bird, and very striking, too.

You Review: Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia’s History – Catherine Merridale

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Reviewed by Maarten Zwiers

In her book Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia’s History, historian Catherine Merridale analyzes the Kremlin as a text. Such a methodology became increasingly popular among cultural historians during the 1970s, after the so-called linguistic turn, when all sorts of cultural expressions (festivals, rituals, flags, you name it) were subjected to “thick” descriptions.

Merridale argues that the Kremlin is not only the residence of Russia’s leaders, but can also be regarded as a theater and a script, a reflection of what the country was and what it wants to be. With every changing of the guard, the Kremlin changed too, sometimes dramatically. It was “a gallery that displays and embodies the current governing idea,” because Russian potentates have the tendency – like many rulers, by the way – to rewrite history in order to legitimize their reign. This rewriting occurred through the construction of new buildings on the Kremlin grounds (especially churches), the destruction of buildings (in the case of the communist take-over, especially churches), and the adding of symbolic iconography (saints, hammers and sickles, red stars). The development of the architectural layout of the Kremlin thus tells the story of Russia’s political elite, from the days of Genghis Khan until Vladimir Putin.

The result of this approach is an impressive and thorough book that can be considered the definitive history of the Kremlin, at least for now. The idea of studying an iconic building as a historical text is original and convincing. If you are a Kremlin aficionado, you are going to love the meticulous details Merridale explores throughout the narrative. But it is also a very big book, which often drowns in streams of exhaustive information. I strongly advise readers to write down all the Vladimirs, Dmitrys, and Ivans that make their appearance, otherwise you will lose track of them, especially in the first part of the book. There are better general histories of Russia available, but if you are a patient reader and want an inside perspective on the power games inside the Kremlin during the last 850 (!) years, I heartily recommend Red Fortress.

(Blogmistress’s note: my apologies for the delay in posting. The Gift Ideas took over most of my time in October and November.)

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebooks available for Red Fortress and Ivan’s War.

ABC’s Gift Ideas: Manga, Military History, Music, Mysteries/Thrillers

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Manga, Military History, Music and Mysteries & Thrillers as picked out by section buyers Ester, Sophie, RonG, Pleun and Jouke. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

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ABC’s Gift Ideas: History/Politics, Horror, Humor, Local Interest/Living Abroad

Monday, November 11th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for History/Politics, Horror, Humor and Local Interest/Living Abroad as picked out by section buyers Maarten, Barry, Ester, Luke, Martijn, Tom and Agnes. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

(more…)

ABC’s Gift Ideas: Ancient History/Mythology, Animals, Art

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people.  And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject.  :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Ancient History/Mythology, Animals, and Art, as picked out by section buyers Jouke, Sigrid, Ester, Jesse, and Martijn. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here, and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

(more…)