The History Channel Presents Spring 2003 Book Sense 76 Top Ten History Picks

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1. THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson (Crown, $25.95, 0609608444; Feb. '03) "Larsen tells the parallel stories of two men racing to meet their destinies: one creating the 1893 Chicago World's Fair against incredible odds, and one becoming America's first real serial killer. The otherworldly beauty and utopian vision of the fair make a stark contrast to the harsh realities of life just a few blocks away where on dark, dirty streets young women were disappearing by the dozens. A completely fascinating read."-- Michele Sulka, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH Also a Random House Audio (CD, 0739302086)

2. MICHELANGELO & THE POPE'S CEILING, by Ross King (Walker, $28, 0802713955; Jan.'03) "The intersecting worlds of art, war, religion, politics, and personality of 16th century Rome come alive in King's compulsively readable account of Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel. It's a marvelously detailed portrait of a gifted artist, a changing world, and an astounding work of art." -- Dale Szczeblowski, Concord Bookshop, Concord, MA Also an Audio Partners Audio (1572703059)

3. JEFFERSON'S GREAT GAMBLE: The Remarkable Story of Jefferson, Napoleon, and the Men Behind the Louisiana Purchase, by Charles Cerami (Sourcebooks, $22.95, 1570719454; Mar. '03) "Fine writing makes one of American history's most important events even more fascinating. With a cast of characters such as Jefferson, Madison, and Napoleon, it's a grand drama." -- Shirley Frank, Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds, WA

4. THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World, by Ken Alder (Free Press, $27, 074321675X; Sept. '02) "In 1792, two quixotic French astronomers head out from Paris to forge the exact measure of the meter. Too bad one of them made a mistake in his calculations and covered it up, his guilty knowledge driving him crazy. His partner sealed all evidence of the error in a vault at the Paris Observatory, until Alder now reveals this fascinating bit of science and history." -- Barbara Peters, Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ

5. SALT: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky (Penguin, $15 paper, 0142001619; Jan. '02) "Leave it to Kurlansky to take an ordinary item like salt and make it utterly fascinating. Who knew how much of our world was shaped by the need for salt? Wars were fought over it, and civilizations rose and fell because of it. True to form, Kurlansky's book is accessible, far-reaching, and all but un-put-downable." -- Peggy Hailey, BookPeople, Austin, TX

6. BLUE LATITUDES: Going Boldly Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, by Tony Horwitz (Holt, $26, 0805065415; Oct. '02) "Horwitz provides a fresh look at the at best forgotten, at worst maligned, explorer Captain James Cook. In tracing Cook's voyages around the Pacific and his return home to Yorkshire and London, Horwitz not only educates you about a great man, but entertains you every page of the way." -- Barry Johnson, Books at Stonehenge, Raleigh, NC Also a HarperAudio (069452350X)

7. AN ARMY AT DAWN: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, by Rick Atkinson (Holt, $30, 0805062882; Oct. '02) "A detailed history of the American army in its first battle on the shores of North Africa. It is not a part of World War II history that is often told, and the author makes the misjudgments made by Eisenhower, Marshall, and their subordinates, very vivid." -- Pat Kehde, The Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS Also an S&S Audio (0743527151)

8. THE LAST TRAIN TO PARADISE: Henry Flagler and the Building of the Railroad That Crossed the Ocean, by Les Standiford (Crown, $24, 0609607480; Sept. '02) "Flagler invested his riches in a fantastic dream: to build fabulous hotels and a railroad down the coast of Florida, all the way to Key West. The story of the men and women who aided in this dream and the harsh landscape they had to overcome is fascinating." ––Barbara Hoagland, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT Also a Random House Audio (CD, 0553756842)

9. THE CAT FROM HUE: A Vietnam War Story, by John Laurence (PublicAffairs, $18 paper, 1586481606; Dec.'02) "Laurence recounts the horrors of the battlefield and the drunken cynicism of his fellow reporters with absorbing detail and a refreshing lack of ego. The homefront is intertwined through a side story of the mongrel cat he brought back to the states from Vietnam. A rare and wonderful work." -- Mark Benno, Canterbury Booksellers, Madison, WI

10. MARIE ANTOINETTE: The Journey, by Antonia Fraser (Anchor, $16.95 paper, 0385489498; Nov. '02) "This carefully researched, 450-page biography draws from a wide variety of sources, including mostly letters, and is woven together seamlessly in a narrative that kept me as rapt as any fiction could. Fraser is a fine writer of histories, and, since the death of Barbara Tuchman, she is my very favorite." -- Blanchette W. Bailey, Baileywick Books, New Milford, CT

Now reaching more than 82 million Nielsen subscribers, The History Channel reveals the power and passion of history as an inviting place where people experience history personally and connect their own lives to the great lives and events of the past. The History Channel is the only place "Where the Past Comes Alive." The History Channel received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's "Save Our History" campaign dedicated to historic preservation and education.

Jay Winik's acclaimed bestselling book comes to life on The History Channel on April 14, 2003 at 8PM/9C. APRIL 1865: The Month That Saved America examines the most pivotal 30 days in the history of the United States. From interviews with top Civil War historians to historical reenactments of important events, the documentary brings to television a three-dimensional, detailed description of the incredible final days of the Civil War -- from the frenzied fall of Richmond to Lee's harrowing retreat, from the surrender at Appomattox to Lincoln's assassination and the beginning attempts at a reconstructed country. Winik's words serve as a brilliant blueprint to this riveting documentary, uniquely set within the larger sweep of history and filled with rich profiles of outsize figures.

Visit for programming, book, and DVD information on these and other history titles.

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