For those of you whom are so inclined to literature, I have news on some of the latest bits. Many of these titles are not currently in the general market, but shall make their appearances in the months to come. However, should you feel the inclination to further study the codex, request the item be purchased by your local librarian or confirm the bookstore will be stocking it. All of these novels are set in various locations during the 19th century. Some are works of fiction, others are non-fiction for the curious-minded student of the era. I make no move to promote a particular book, since I have not read any them, but a few have made their way on my infinitely long To Read List!*
The Age of Edison: Electric light and the invention of modern America by Ernest Freeberg
The Age of Edison places the story of Edison’s invention in the context of a technological revolution that transformed America and Europe in these decades. Edison and his fellow inventors emerged from a culture shaped by broad public education, a lively popular press that took an interest in science and technology, and an American patent system that encouraged innovation and democratized the benefits of invention. And in the end, as Freeberg shows, Edison’s greatest invention was not any single technology, but rather his reinvention of the process itself. At Menlo Park he gathered the combination of capital, scientific training, and engineering skill that would evolve into the modern research and development laboratory. His revolutionary electrical grid not only broke the stronghold of gas companies, but also ushered in an era when strong, clear light could become accessible to everyone.
The Baker Street Translation by Michael Robertson
In Michael Robertson’s The Baker Street Translation, Reggie and Nigel Heath—brothers who lease law offices at 221B Baker Street in London, England and answer mail addressed to the location’s most famous resident, Sherlock Holmes—find themselves pulled once again into a case straight out of Arthur Conan Doyle. An elderly American heiress wants to leave her entire fortune to Sherlock Holmes. A translator wants Sherlock Holmes to explain a nursery rhyme. And Robert Buxton—Reggie’s rival for the love of actress Laura ankin—has gone missing. Reggie must suss all these things out before an upcoming British royal event. If he doesn’t, something very bad will happen to everyone at that event—and to Laura. Fast-paced, exciting, and clever, this is the perfect mystery for aficionados of the current craze for all things Sherlockian.
The Duchess of Drury Lane by Freda Lightfoot
Passion, jealousy, scandal and betrayal – a true-life Regency Romance of the rise and fall of an extraordinary woman born into extraordinary times. Growing up in a poverty-stricken, fatherless household, Dorothy Jordan overcame her humble beginnings to become the most famous comic actress of her day. It was while performing on Drury Lane that Dorothy caught the eye of the Duke of
Clarence, later to become King William IV. Her twenty-year relationship with the Duke was one of great happiness and domesticity, producing ten children. But ultimately, Dorothy’s generous nature was her undoing and she was to be cruelly betrayed by the man she loved.
Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, crisis, and the end of compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple
The author of several award-winning books, most focused on 19th century America (e.g., White Heat: The friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Aware), Wineapple offers a grand account of a crucial time in American history, encompassing expansion, war, and vastly shifting social expectations while confronting the one evil at the heart of this country: slavery. How can you not be fascinated by a book that includes characters from P.T. Barnum to Walt Whitman to Frederick Douglas?–Library Journal
The Glass Ocean by Lori Baker
Leopoldo and Clotilde meet in 1841 aboard the Narcissus, on an expedition led by Clotilde’s magnanimous, adventuring father. It’s Leopoldo’s task to document the animals of the high sea, and by his skilled hand the drawings become the only record of these secretive creatures’ existence. But what possesses his mind is golden Clotilde, and soon his papers fill with images of her, beginning a devotion that will prove inescapable. Clotilde meanwhile sees only her dear papa, but when he goes missing she is pushed to Leopoldo, returning with him to the craggy English shores of Whitby, the place to which Leopoldo vowed he would never return.
Henry Ford by Vincent Curcio
As the American auto industry struggles to reinvent itself, Vincent Curcio’s timely biography offers a wealth of new insight into the man who started it all. Henry Ford not only founded Ford Motor Company but institutionalized assembly line production and, some would argue, created the American middle class. By constantly improving his product and increasing sales, Ford was able to lower the price of the automobile until it became a universal commodity. He paid his workers so well that, for the first time in history, the people who manufactured a complex industrial product could own one. This was “Fordism”–social engineering on a vast scale. But, as Curcio displays, Ford’s anti-Semitism would forever stain his reputation. Hitler admired him greatly, both for his anti-Semitism and his autocratic leadership, displaying Ford’s picture in his bedroom and keeping a copy of Ford’s My Life and Work by his bedside. Nevertheless, Ford’s economic and social initiatives, as well as his deft handling of his public image, kept his popularity high among Americans. He offered good pay, good benefits, English language classes, and employment for those who struggled to find jobs–handicapped, African-American, and female workers. Such was his popularity that in 1923, the homespun, clean-living, xenophobic Henry Ford nearly won the Republican presidential nomination.
I Invented the Modern Age: The rise of Henry Ford by Richard Snow
In many ways, of course, Ford’s story is well known; in many more ways, it is not. Richard Snow masterfully weaves together a fascinating narrative of Ford’s rise to fame through his greatest invention, the Model T. When Ford first unveiled this car, it took twelve and a half hours to build one. A little more than a decade later, it took exactly one minute. In making his car so quickly and so cheaply that his own workers could easily afford it, Ford created the cycle of consumerism that we still inhabit. Our country changed in a mere
decade, and Ford became a national hero. But then he soured, and the benevolent side of his character went into an ever-deepening eclipse, even as the America he had remade evolved beyond all imagining into a global power capable of producing on a vast scale not only cars, but airplanes, ships, machinery, and an infinity of household devices.
A Little Folly by Jude Morgan
Paris Reborn: Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann, and the quest to build a modern city by Stephane Kirkland
Traditionally known as a dirty, congested, and dangerous city, 19th Century Paris, France was transformed in an extraordinary period from 1848 to 1870, when the government launched a huge campaign to build streets, squares, parks, churches, and public buildings. The Louvre Palace was expanded, Notre-Dame Cathedral was restored and the French masterpiece of the Second Empire, the Opéra Garnier, was built. A very large part of what we see when we visit Paris today originates from this short span of twenty-two years. The vision for the new Nineteenth Century Paris belonged to Napoleon III, who had led a long and difficult climb to absolute power. But his plans faltered until he brought in a civil servant, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, to take charge of the implementation. Heedless of ontroversy, at tremendous cost, Haussmann pressed ahead with the giant undertaking until, in 1870, his political enemies brought him down, just months before the collapse of the whole regime brought about the end of an era.
Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker’s trail of blood by Jim Steinmeyer
Hunting through archives and letters, literary and theatrical history, and the relationships and events that gave shape to Stoker’s life, Steinmeyer reveals the people and stories behind the Transylvanian legend. In so doing, he shows how Stoker drew on material from the careers of literary contemporaries Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde; reviled personas such as Jack the Ripper and the infamous fifteenth-century prince Vlad Tepes, as well as little-known but significant figures, including Stoker’s onetime boss, British stage star Henry Irving, and Theodore Roosevelt’s uncle, Robert Roosevelt (thought to be a model for Van Helsing). Along the way, Steinmeyer depicts Stoker’s life in Dublin and London, his development as a writer, involvement with London’s vibrant theater scene, and creation of one of horror’s greatest masterpieces. Combining historical detective work with literary research, Steinmeyer’s eagle eye provides an enthralling tour through Victorian culture and the extraordinary literary monster it produced.
*Note: All blurbs are from Amazon. Unless, otherwise noted.*