World History: Oct. 2023, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

The world, often at war. 

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Bass, Gary J. Judgment at Tokyo: World War II on Trial and the Making of Modern Asia. Knopf. Oct. 2023. 912p. ISBN 9781101947104. $45. HISTORY

Not as discussed as the Nuremberg Trials, the trial of Japan’s World War II leaders as war criminals sought redress for the attack on Pearl Harbor; atrocities against civilians in China, the Philippines, and elsewhere; and abuses against prisoners of war like the infamous Bataan Death March. The aim was also to create a legal framework for prosecuting future war crimes, even as it gave Japanese leaders an opportunity to argue that the war was waged to liberate Asia from Western imperialism. Pulitzer Prize finalist Bass (The Blood Telegram) chronicles the trial, showing how it shaped the Cold War to come.

Beard, Mary. Emperor of Rome: Ruling the Ancient Roman World. Liveright: Norton. Oct. 2023. 512p. ISBN 9780871404220. $37.95. HISTORY

Sweeping from Julius Caesar (assassinated 44 BCE) to Alexander Severus (assassinated 235 CE), celebrated classicist Beard chronicles Rome’s emperors not by repeating familiar stories but by asking astute questions. How much power did they really have? Were their reigns as bloody as we imagine? Who were their wives, lovers, servants, and soldiers? And why do we remain so fascinated with them?

Guy, John & Julia Fox. Hunting the Falcon. Harper. Oct. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9780063073449. $35. CD. HISTORY

As companion to the Tony Award–winning Six, here’s a revisionist history of Anne Boleyn from best-selling, Whitbread-winning Tudor expert Guy and Fox, author of the USA TODAY best-selling Jane Boleyn. They plumb recently discovered archival material and shuffle aside outmoded ways of looking at women to argue that Anne was a shrewd politician, wielding more power and influence than previously thought; apparently, at one point Henry considered making her a joint sovereign. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Mundy, Liza. The Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA . Crown. Oct. 2023. 480p. ISBN 9780593238172. $32.50. HISTORY

Women have worked for the CIA since its inception in 1947. Initially not deemed capable of spycraft, they held low-level positions that allowed them to move quietly through foreign capitals, collecting secrets and soon building the CIA archives. Eventually, they did become spies; it was female CIA analysts who first warned about Al Qaeda and tracked down Osama Bin Laden. The New York Times best-selling Mundy (Code Girls) tells their story.

Petraeus, David & Andrew Roberts. Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Harper. Oct. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780063293137. $40. CD. HISTORY

Retired U.S. Army general Petraeus and New York Times best-selling, multi-award-winning historian Roberts join forces to see what lessons we can glean from global conflict since the end of World War II. The narrative sweeps from the Arab-Israeli wars, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the two Gulf wars, to the collapse of Yugoslavia and long-term conflict in Afghanistan, to guerrilla conflicts in Africa and South America and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. With a 200,000-copy first printing.

Reid, Stuart A. The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination. Knopf. Oct. 2023. 640p. ISBN 9781524748814. $30. HISTORY

In 1960, just days after Congo was given its independence by Belgium, the Congo army mutinied, Belgian forces reentered the picture, and prime minister Patrice Lumumba turned to the UN for help. Disappointed by its response, he then turned to the Soviet Union, prompting the CIA to plot Lumumba’s assassination. Eventually, he was deposed in a CIA-backed coup and killed by Congolese assassins, launching brutal times in Congo and nurturing the CIA’s tendency toward violent intervention. The executive editor of Foreign Affairs reports.

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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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