We’ve all been thrilled by the hidden corners of history so deftly incorporated into the novels of suspense writers like Steve Berry and Dan Brown, but you don’t have to wait for your next thriller to discover them for yourself. Our history is a treasure trove of fascinating information, much of which remains hidden until we crack open a truly revealing book.
If you’re looking to revel in the previously unknown, Copperfield’s Books has some terrific reads. Copperfield’s of California will celebrate its 35th year in 2016 and with bookstores in seven locations (and an eighth coming next year), they might be just around your corner.
These picks were selected by Copperfield’s frontlist buyer Sheryl Cotleur:
Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them by Nancy Marie Brown (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)
“When 75 ancient ivory chess pieces wash up on a Scottish beach in the 1850s, questions arise. How they get there and how did they arrive intact? Research shows they were carved in the 1200s and the intricate pieces call forth a fascinating time when Norsemen controlled the North Atlantic for 400 years. More mysteries await. The pieces were carved by a woman who is unheard of in this era, and even the provenance of the ivory is a surprise. I love this book because it’s so improbable to have discovered these pieces and the history they reveal is so real and true.”
The Other Paris by Luc Sante (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)
“The outer reaches of Paris in the late 19th century and early 20th were home to a great assembly of craftspeople, tradesmen, artists (Picasso and Balzac for instance), prostitutes, and other folks doing whatever it took to get by. In the way that San Francisco’s Barbary Coast and New York’s wharf districts influenced the development and direction of the more famous parts of those cities, The Other Paris shows through text and illustration how the neighborhoods of the under-classes and bohemians helped make Paris what it is today. Everyone tends to think of the obvious landmarks when they think of Paris but what I found so interesting was the small world revealed here, which is very much part of Paris we know today.”
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall (Scribner, 2015)
“This book is especially timely given our modern politicians proclaiming how they will make other countries and leaders they disagree with bend to their demands. What is not taken into consideration is how geography deeply influences politics. Landscapes, rugged or otherwise, and what the land holds in resources, exert their own kind of sway that no one, not even a Putin, can surmount. This book grabbed me because of its enormous relevance to our world today. Think about it, Afghanistan is geographically impenetrable and, over thousands of years, it is a country that has never been conquered.”