Profiles in History

Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.

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Cover: Et Tu, Brute?: A Short History of Political Murder

Et Tu, Brute?: A Short History of Political Murder

Woolf, Greg

Beginning with Caesar’s legendary political assassination, immortalized in art and literature through the ages, Greg Woolf delivers a remarkable meditation on Caesar’s murder as it echoes down the corridors of history, affecting notions and acts of political violence to our day.

Cover: Guernica and Total War

Guernica and Total War

Patterson, Ian

The first use of total warfare came when the Basque town of Guernica was destroyed by the bombs of the German Condor. Patterson recounts the events of April 26, 1937, tracks the course of the Spanish Civil War, and explores how modern men and women respond to the threat of new warfare with new capacities for imagining aggression and death.

Cover: Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?: Missionaries, Journalists, Explorers, and Empire

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?: Missionaries, Journalists, Explorers, and Empire

Pettitt, Clare

When American reporter Henry Morton Stanley met Scottish missionary-explorer Dr. David Livingstone in 1871, his greeting was to take on mythological proportions. Drawing on films, children’s books, games, songs, cartoons, and TV shows, this book reveals the many ways our culture has remembered Stanley’s phrase, while tracking the birth of an Anglo-American Christian imperialism that still sets the world agenda today.

Cover: The Death of Socrates

The Death of Socrates

Wilson, Emily

Socrates’s death in 399 BCE has figured largely in our world ever since, shaping how we think about heroism and celebrity, religion and family life, state control and individual freedom, the distance of intellectual life from daily activity—many of the key coordinates of Western culture. In this book, Emily Wilson analyzes the enormous and enduring power the trial and death of Socrates has exerted over the Western imagination.

Cover: Remember, Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day

Sharpe, James

Bonfire Night, observed annually to memorialize the Gunpowder Plot, is one of England’s most festive occasions. Why has the memory of this act of treason and terrorism persisted for 400 years? Sharpe unravels the web of religion and politics that gave rise to the plot, and wittily shows how celebration of that night has changed over the centuries.

Cover: King Alfred: Burnt Cakes and Other Legends

King Alfred: Burnt Cakes and Other Legends

Horspool, David

David Horspool sees Alfred as inextricably linked to the legends and stories that surround him, and rather than attempting to separate the myth from the “reality,” he explores how both came together to provide a historical figure that was all things to all men.

Cover: The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade

The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade

Williams, Glyn

In a style that is more detective story than conventional biography, Williams explores the multiple narratives of Cook’s death. In short, Williams examines the story of Cook’s progress from obscurity to fame and, eventually, to infamy—a story that, until now, has never been fully told.

Cover: Dublin 1916: The Siege of the GPO

Dublin 1916: The Siege of the GPO

Wills, Clair

On Easter Monday 1916, while much of Dublin holidayed at the seaside and placed bets at the horse races, a disciplined group of Irish Volunteers seized the city’s General Post Office in what would become the defining act of rebellion against British rule—and the most significant single event in modern Irish history. This book unravels the events in and around the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916, revealing the twists and turns that the myth of the GPO has undergone in the last century.

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Jacket, Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter, by Luke Fernandez and Susan J. Matt, from Harvard University Press

Technology, Biology, Chronology

Fears and anxieties about the latest technologies are nothing new, say Luke Fernandez and Susan J. Matt, authors of Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter. But neither is the fact that they often provide new ways for us to connect and socialize. Mark Twain is rumored to have said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Of late, much press has been spent on uncovering those rhymes, focusing on the similarities between the current epidemic and past ones. These stories underscore the lesson that progress hasn't allowed us to escape the suffering of earlier