History | Prepub Alert, May 2024 Titles

World War II and the U.S. Civil War are main topics this month, while applications of medieval magic and a consideration of the White House situation room are also on offer.








Alexander, Caroline. Skies of Thunder: The Deadly World War II Mission Over the Roof of the World. Viking. May 2024. 496p. ISBN 9781984879233. $32. HIST

Acclaimed historian Alexander (The Endurance) turns to the China-Burma-India theater, detailing the chaotic efforts to fly over the Himalayas in questionable planes and with unreliable maps. Based on her new research, she dives into battles and quests for survival as well as the geopolitical brinksmanship between nations. With a 100K-copy first printing.

Bruning, John R. Fifty-Three Days on Starvation Island: The World War II Battle That Saved Marine Corps Aviation. Hachette. May 2024. 496p. ISBN 9780316508650. $32.50. HIST

The best-selling author of Indestructible tells the story of the Marines at Guadalcanal in the disastrous early days of the war in the Pacific. Bruning focuses on three pilots: Major John L. Smith, Captain Marion Carl, and Major Richard Mangrum, who held off the Imperial army until the Allied forces could regroup.

Clavin, Tom & Bob Drury. Throne of Grace: A Mountain Man, an Epic Adventure, and the Bloody Conquest of the American West. St. Martin’s. May 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781250285836. $30. HIST

Best sellers Clavin and Drury (The Last Hill) return to the early history of the U.S. frontier, focusing on the adventurer Jedediah Smith as he traversed the Rocky Mountains and paved his way to the West Coast. In his wake, and all around him, are the violent repercussions of the birth of Manifest Destiny. With a 200K-copy first printing.

Dolin, Eric Jay. Left for Dead: Shipwreck, Treachery, and Survival at the Edge of the World. Liveright: Norton. May 2024. 400p. ISBN 9781324093084. $29.99. HIST

Dolin, best-selling author of Black Flags, Blue Waters, sets his newest during the War of 1812 when the U.S. and British abandoned five castaways on the Falkland Islands. Their 18-month struggle to survive improbably includes a dog, a baby, and a perilous open-ocean journey in a tiny boat.

Grinspan, Jon. Wide Awake: The Forgotten Force That Elected Lincoln and Spurred the Civil War. Bloomsbury. May 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781639730643. $32. HIST

Smithsonian historian Grinspan (The Age of Acrimony) shines attention on the 1860s anti-enslavement youth movement that played a key role in starting the U.S. Civil War, illuminating how that political campaign, which grew to include hundreds of thousands, pushed the nation from rhetoric to war. With a 60K-copy first printing.

Hampton, Dan. Vanishing Act: The Enduring Mystery Behind the Legendary Doolittle Raid over Tokyo. St. Martin’s. May 2024. 352p. ISBN 9781250283245. $30. HIST

The U.S. was determined to bomb Tokyo, sending the Doolittle Raiders on the mission. One of the squadrons headed to the Soviet Union instead, its purpose a mystery. Using research from the Japanese Imperial Archives and information from the Raiders’ descendants, best seller Hampton details what happened. With a 60K-copy first printing.

Kershaw, Alex. Patton’s Prayer: A True Story of Courage, Faith, and Victory in World War II. Dutton. May 2024. 384p. ISBN 9780593183779. $32. HIST

Multi-best-selling Kershaw (Against All Odds) considers General Patton’s reliance on faith in the face of intractable weather, which mired the Allies and allowed the Germans to regroup. With a prayer in hand, distributed to his quarter million troops, he told the men to pray as the Battle of the Bulge drew ever closer.

Larson, Erik. The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War. Crown. Apr. 2024. 608p. ISBN 9780385348744. $35. HIST

Blockbuster author Larson (The Devil in the White City) offers a political history considering the five months between Lincoln’s election and the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. His deeply researched account is character-driven and wide-ranging even as it centers upon Lincoln, trying desperately to avert war.

O’Donnell, Patrick K. The Unvanquished: The Untold Story of Lincoln’s Special Forces, the Manhunt for Mosby’s Rangers, and the Shadow War That Forged America’s Special Operations. Atlantic Monthly. May 2024. 448p. ISBN 9780802162861. $30. HIST

O’Donnell, best-selling author of The Indispensables, centers his newest on the Jessie Scouts, Lincoln’s special forces unit, and Mosby’s Rangers, their Confederate enemies, detailing their tradecraft, shadow activities, and battles. After the war, the Scouts moved to the battlefields of Mexico, where many mysteriously disappeared.

Stanmore, Tabitha. Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic. Bloomsbury. May 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781639730537. $29.99. HIST

Queen Elizabeth I’s astrology readings and taking care not to upset a fairy guard were accepted applications of magic as medieval Europe navigated its bewildering and anxious times. Historian Stanmore charmingly explores such incantations, detailing the daily use of common magic then and exploring its meaning today. With an 80K-copy first printing.

Stephanopoulos, George. The Situation Room: The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis. Grand Central. May 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781538740767. $35. HIST

Famed ABC broadcaster and former White House senior advisor Stephanopoulos examines the room where it happens, the inner sanctum where presidents make their most consequential decisions. His history of “the Sit Room” begins with the fallout after President Kennedy was shot and ends with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

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