Books

Epoch Booklist: Recommended Reading for July 8–14

This week, we feature an insider’s look at the Nixon administration and a chilling novel illuminating the terrors of the Soviet regime.

Fiction

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A Study in Provincial Life

‘Middlemarch’
By George Eliot

“Middlemarch” (1871–72) is considered Eliot’s masterpiece. Set in the early 19th century, the novel explores views on art, religion, science, and politics. Brilliant portraits are painted of characters dealing with stymied love, and idealistic goals and their loss.

Wordsworth Editions, 1998, 736 pages

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A Novel of Deadly Ideologies

‘A Postcard From the Volcano: A Novel of Pre-War Germany’
By Lucy Beckett

Here, we follow the young Prussian aristocrat Max von Hofmannswaldau, his family, and his friends between the world wars as they encounter the ideologies that came into play during this period. We see the results of the horrors of war, concentration camps, and totalitarianism that killed tens of millions of people. Professor of literature Lucy Beckett brings all her talents to bear in this intelligent and deeply moving story of the devastating effects of these conflicts on countries and on individual lives.

Ignatius Press, 2009, 520 pages

Language Arts

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A New Yawk State of Language

‘You Talkin’ to Me? The Unruly History of New York English’
By E.J. White

You know New York English when you hear it. It’s unique and serves as a cultural marker. A study of New York linguistics, told by linguistics expert E.J. White, “Talkin’ to Me” isn’t a dry, scholarly tome. It tells the story of New York English—about why and how New Yorkers talk the way they do. As lively as Brooklynese, told with Bugs Bunny’s insouciance and Archie Bunker’s confidence, it’s fascinating and it captures New York’s spirit in a captivating look at American English.

Oxford University Press, 2020, 320 pages

History

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How Repeating Firearms Remade America

‘Gun Barons: The Weapons That Transformed America and the Men Who Invented Them’
By John Bainbridge Jr.

“They say God created all men, but Samuel Colt made them equal.” This saying originated in the American West and gives testimony to the impact that repeating firearms had in 19th-century America. Along with Colt, the brand names Smith & Wesson, Winchester, and Remington still resonate. This is an accurate, interesting history of the firearms industry; the eccentric, colorful men who brought their innovations to market; and the companies they started.

St. Martin’s Press, 2022, 352 pages

Memoir

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A Clear View of Nixon

‘The President’s Man: The Memoirs of Nixon’s Trusted Aide’
By Dwight Chapin

Dwight Chapin, the longtime aide to former President Richard Nixon, provides an in-depth look at Nixon and his administration, detailing some of the most historic moments, including the president’s visit to China, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreement, and, of course, Watergate. Chapin gives a straightforward, yet sympathetic view of the Nixon years.

William Morrow, 2022, 480 pages

Classics

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The Nightmare of Totalitarianism

‘Darkness at Noon’
By Arthur Koestler

Set in the late 1930s, this historical novel takes place in an unnamed country, but it’s clearly Soviet Russia. Nikolai Rubashov is an aging Bolshevik imprisoned and tried for treason. As we learn about his complicated past and his sacrifices for the Communist Party, we also experience his life in prison and the show trials that were so common at that time. Disillusioned with Soviet communism, Koestler wrote his novel in part to show that to totalitarian governments, the individual has no value except to forward the party’s agenda.

Scribner Reprint, 2019, 272 pages

For Kids

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Don’t Be a Goop!

‘Goops and How to Be Them’
By Gelett Burgess

First published in 1900, the Goop book remains popular with the preschool set today. Simple, silly drawings and advice on topics from cleanliness to bravery are found on every page of this children’s classic. Highly recommended.

Independently published, 2019, 90 pages

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A Residential Plea

‘The Old Tree’
By Ruth Brown

Residents of an old tree (a rabbit, badger, squirrel, crow, and others) aim to save their home from being cut down. Elaborate illustrations, including a pop-up surprise at the end, give great life to this fun and endearing tale.

Candlewick, 2007, 32 pages

Dustin Bass
Dustin Bass is the host of EpochTV's "About the Book," a show about new books with the authors who wrote them. He is an author and co-host of The Sons of History podcast.
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick lives and writes in Front Royal, Virginia. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.”
Anita L. Sherman is an award-winning journalist who has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for local papers and regional publications in Virginia. She now works as a freelance writer and is working on her first novel. She is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to four, and she resides in Warrenton, Va. She can be reached at anitajustwrite@gmail.com
Mark Lardas
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, Texas. His website is MarkLardas.com
Barbara Danza
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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