World History: Apr. 2023, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

From the Windors and Simon Winchester to South Africa, Eastern and Central Europe, Israel, and more. 

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Carroll, Rory. There Will Be Fire: Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, and Two Minutes That Changed History. Putnam. Apr. 2023. 416p. ISBN 9780593419496. $28. TRUE CRIME

Gordis, Daniel. Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders’ Dreams? Ecco. Apr. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9780063239449. $28.99. HISTORY/MIDDLE EAST

Grann, David. The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder. Doubleday. Apr. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780385534260. $30. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable. TRUE CRIME

Heather, Peter. Christendom: The Triumph of a Religion, AD 300–1300. Knopf. Apr. 2023. 736p. ISBN 9780451494306. $35. Downloadable. EUROPE

Kundera, Milan. A Kidnapped West: The Tragedy of Central Europe. Harper. Apr. 2023. 112p. tr. from French by Linda Asher. ISBN 9780063272958. $24.99. EUROPE/WESTERN

Larman, Alexander. The Windsors at War: The King, His Brother, and a Family Divided. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2023. 432p. ISBN 9781250284587. $28.99. HISTORY/ROYALTY

Malala, Justice. The Plot To Save South Africa: The Week Mandela Averted Civil War and Forged a New Nation. S. & S. Apr. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781982149734. $28.99. HISTORY/AFRICA

Mikanowski, Jacob. Goodbye, Eastern Europe: An Intimate History of a Divided Land. Pantheon. Apr. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9781524748500. $30. Downloadable. HISTORY/EUROPE/WESTERN

Smith, Sally Bedell. George VI and Elizabeth: The Marriage That Saved the Monarchy. Random. 720p. ISBN 9780525511632. $40. CD. HISTORY/ROYALTY

Simon, Steven. Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East. Penguin Pr. Apr. 2023. 480p. ISBN 9780735224247. $32. POLITICAL SCIENCE/MIDDLE EASTERN

Winchester, Simon. Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic. Harper. Apr. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9780063142886. $32.50. lrg. prnt. HISTORY/MODERN

The Guardian’s Ireland correspondent, Carroll chronicles the IRA’s attempt to assassinate Margaret Thatcher in October 1984, detailing the planting of the bomb, the subsequent manhunt, and the long-term consequences in There Will Be Fire. Published on Israel’s 75th anniversary, two-time National Jewish Book Award winner Gordis’s Impossible Takes Longer considers the past, present, and future to see whether Israel’s founders achieved their goal of creating a national home for the Jewish people that would transform Jewish life (60,000-copy first printing). In 1742, a ship landed on Brazil’s coast with 30 starving men feted as survivors of the wrecked British warship The Wager—until three months later, when three stragglers on another ship landing in Chile claimed the Wager’s men were mutineers; from the No. 1 New York Times best-selling Grann (Killers of the Flower Moon). Chair of medieval history at King's College, London, Heather offers new reasons why Christendom grew from a tiny sect persecuted within foundering fourth-century CE Rome to the religion dominating Europe 1,000 years later. Celebrated Czech novelist Kundera, who has lived in France since 1975, argues that the “small nations” of Europe—e.g., Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine—are culturally rooted in Europe and under Soviet rule constituted A Kidnapped West (40,000-copy first printing). Following the LJ-starred The Crown in Crisis, which chronicled the Abdication Crisis of 1936, British historian Larman’s The Windsors at War moves on to King George VI and the conflict within the Windsor family during World War II as the Duke of Windsor cozied up to Hitler (40,000-copy first printing). From leading South African political commentator Malala, The Plot To Save South Africa covers the 1993 assassination of Nelson Mandela’s protégé Chris Hani by a white supremacist hoping to ignite a war, even as Mandela had begun power-sharing discussions with President F.W. de Klerk. Good-bye, Eastern Europe broadly documents the region briefly called Eastern Europe, moving from pre-Christian times through the great empires (Ottoman, Hapsburg, and Russian), the rise of communism and fascism, and the post-Soviet era to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; Polish-born Mikanowski, a frequent contributor to the Atlantic, has a PhD in Eastern European history from Berkeley (25,000-copy first printing). Granted special access by Queen Elizabeth II to her parents’ letters and diaries and to the papers of close friends and family, Smith, the New York Times best-selling author of Elizabeth the Queen, aims to show how a loving marriage helped George VI and Elizabeth lead a nation through war (50,000-copy first printing). From Simon, a former senior director for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs on the National Security Council, Grand Delusion tracks the four decades of intense, oil-driven U.S. involvement in the Middle East begun by the Reagan administration and moving through Desert Storm (which he challenges) to the Obama administration’s step back from the region. The acclaimed Winchester leaps nimbly from cuneiform writings and ancient museums through Gutenberg and the first encyclopedia to Google and Wikipedia as he examines Knowing What We Know—that is, how we acquire, retain, and pass on information—and how technology’s current capability to do those things for us might be threatening our ability to think (100,000-copy first printing).

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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