The trial at the heart of Bringing Down the Colonel offers a glimpse into life during the Gilded Age and, more importantly, how women can bring about important social change. Madeleine Pollard, the woman at the center of the trial, truly puts the whole system on trial when she sues Colonel Breckinridge for “breach of promise,” demanding that he be held to the same standards as she is. Many women—before, alongside, and after Madeleine Pollard—also helped bring down this system, making this book about more than one woman’s quest for justice: it is inspiration for when the fight seems futile.
You may be thinking you’ll want to read this book with a ‘Yo Ho Ho! And a Bottle of Rum, for it’s a Pirate’s Life for Me!’ But you’ll reconsider after reading this epic retelling of the Golden Age of American piracy in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. This is a definitive history on piracy off the American coast, as well as by Americans over in the Indian Ocean. Filled with colorful biographies of all the famous pirates, such as Captain Kidd and Blackbeard, this book also examines the social, political and economic reasons so many men turned to piracy in those days. This is a fascinating look at how piracy was encouraged by many Americans, so long as it didn’t affect their pockets, and how the tide then turned against the buccaneers after a prolonged government campaign and crackdown. You’ll never look at Captain Jack Sparrow the same way again.
Though today’s Congress seems combative, all the filibusters and name-calling are nothing compared to when Congressmen actually stabbed and shot one another. From the infamous caning of Charles Sumner to endless duel challenges, historian Joanne Freeman shows that these frayed tensions were practically destined to erupt into Civil War. Remembering the Congress of the past solely as hallowed halls and dignified men is dangerous, she argues, as the real history reveals uncomfortable yet necessary truths about a union on the brink of collapse. Written with wit, flair, and a hint of cheek, Freeman presents these Congressmen as petty, triumphant, stoic, and vengeful—or, as she puts it more simply, human.