Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Spotlight: Operation Long Jump

 Operation Long Jump: Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Greatest Assassination Plot in History

by Bill Yenne

In the middle of World War II, Nazi military intelligence discovered a seemingly easy way to win the war for Adolf Hitler. The three heads of the Allied forces, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin, were planning to meet in Tehran in October, 1943. 

Under Hitler's personal direction, the Nazis launched "Operation Long Jump," an intricate plan to track the Allied leaders in Tehran and assassinate all three men at the same time. "I suppose it would make a pretty good haul if they could get all three of us," Roosevelt later said. 

Historian Bill Yenne retells the incredible, globe-spanning story of the most ambitious assassination plot ever thwarted in Operation Long Jump.


Thursday, September 17, 2015


Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy

Frank McLynn 
Mongol leader Genghis Khan was by far the greatest conqueror the world has ever known. His empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean to central Europe, including all of China, the Middle East, and Russia.

So how did an illiterate nomad rise to such colossal power and subdue most of the known world, eclipsing Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon? Credited by some with paving the way for the Renaissance, condemned by others for being the most heinous murderer in history, who was Genghis Khan? 

His actual name was Temujin, and the story of his success is that of the Mongol people: a loose collection of fractious tribes who tended livestock, considered bathing taboo, and possessed an unparalleled genius for horseback warfare. United under Genghis, a strategist of astonishing cunning and versatility, they could dominate any sedentary society they chose. 

Combining fast-paced accounts of battles with rich cultural background and the latest scholarship, Frank McLynn brings vividly to life the strange world of the Mongols. The most accurate and absorbing account yet of one of the most powerful men ever to have lived.

Frank McLynn has written an informative general account of Genghis Khan and his times.  An ambitious task given the lack of reliable sources however, McLynn pulls it of with an intriguing look into Mongol society.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015


When George (Alfred Molina) loses his job teaching music at a Roman Catholic school because of his sexuality, his husband Ben (John Lithgow) and he can no longer afford their mortgage, must sell their co-op, and move in with family.  Director Ira Sachs' unsentimental and graceful portrayal of family dynamics, well meaning but somewhat clueless relatives and George and Ben, the "old married couple", is one of intimacy, tragedy and resilience.

Come to the Wellesley Friday Morning Book/Movie Group this Friday, September 18 at 10AM to join in our discussion of the movie. Copies of the movie are available at the Reference Desk on the 2nd floor.


Monday, September 14, 2015


The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East

by Eugene Rogan

In 1914 the Ottoman Empire was depleted of men and resources after years of war against Balkan nationalist and Italian forces. But in the aftermath of the assassination in Sarajevo, the powers of Europe were sliding inexorably toward war, and not even the Middle East could escape the vast and enduring consequences of one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. 

The Great War spelled the end of the Ottomans, unleashing powerful forces that

would forever change the face of the Middle East. In The Fall of the Ottomans , award-winning historian Eugene Rogan brings the First World War and its immediate aftermath in the Middle East to vivid life, uncovering the often ignored story of the region's crucial role in the conflict.

Bolstered by German money, arms, and military advisers, the Ottomans took on the Russian, British, and French forces, and tried to provoke Jihad against the Allies in their Muslim colonies. Unlike the static killing fields of the Western Front, the war in the Middle East was fast-moving and unpredictable, with the Turks inflicting decisive defeats on the Entente in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Gaza before the tide of battle turned in the Allies' favor. The great cities of Baghdad, Jerusalem, and, finally, Damascus fell to invading armies before the Ottomans agreed to an armistice in 1918. 

The postwar settlement led to the partition of Ottoman lands between the victorious powers, and laid the groundwork for the ongoing conflicts that continue to plague the modern Arab world. A sweeping narrative of battles and political intrigue from Gallipoli to Arabia, The Fall of the Ottomans is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Great War and the making of the modern Middle East.


Thursday, September 3, 2015


Dragon Heart

by Cecelia Holland

   Where the Cape of the Winds juts into the endless sea, there is Castle Ocean, and therein dwells the royal family that has ruled it from time immemorial. But there is an Empire growing in the east, and its forces have reached the castle. 

King Reymarro is dead in battle, and by the new treaty, Queen Marioza must marry one of the Emperor's brothers. She loathes the idea, and has already killed the first brother, but a second arrives, escorted by more soldiers. While Marioza delays, her youngest son, Jeon, goes on a journey in search of his mute twin, Tirza, who needs to be present for the wedding. 

As Jeon and Tirza return by sea, their ship is attacked by a shocking and powerful dragon, red as blood and big as the ship. Thrown into the water, Tirza clings to the dragon, and after an underwater journey, finds herself alone with the creature in an inland sea pool. Surprisingly, she is able to talk to the beast, and understand it.

Cecelia Holland is a distinguished writer of historical fiction. Many of her books take place during the middle ages, including her first book, the Firedrake about William the conqueror. Holland incorporates her knowledge of medieval times and uses it in her world building. Her abbots, princesses, and  knights act as their medieval counterparts might have.

Dragon Heart is full of political plotting, violence, destruction, and death, by a seasoned author known for her character building and attention to historical detail.


epic violence, intense battle, deep love