Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back: Europe 1914–1949: “Europe’s twentieth century was a century of war.”
Robin Waterfield’s Xenophon’s Retreat: Greece, Persia, and the End of the Golden Age: “Late in September 401 BCE, two huge armies faced each other on a dusty plain, baked hard by the sun of a long summer, on the eastern bank of the River Euphrates, in what is now Iraq.”
Victoria C. Gardner Coates’s David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art: “The Valley of Elah is today a quiet agricultural zone southwest of Jerusalem, not far from the small town of Zekharia.”
While each book is deeply rewarding in its own way, I have a particular fondness for David’s Sling. The author, who is one of the few vocal conservatives in the art world as well as Ted Cruz’s foreign policy advisor, presents a novel theory: that these ten canonical works of art were created to commemorate the achievements of free societies.