October 15, 2016 Booklist 13 www.booklistonline.com
a Chinese prison. Savitt was 19 when he
first went to China to study at the Beijing
Teacher’s College as an exchange student
from Duke. Though he stands out as a foreigner, Savitt’s fluency in Mandarin gives
him access to people and places he otherwise
would have difficulty reaching. After he fin-ishes his degree at Duke, Savitt returns to
Beijing and finds work as a reporter, first for
the Los Angeles Times and then for UPI wire
service. Among other things, Savitt covers
student protests, and he is on the front line
in June of 1989 when government soldiers
open fire on student protesters in Tianan-men Square. In the 1990s, Savitt is inspired
to start his own publication despite China’s
Communist government strictly forbidding underground papers. The publication,
Beijing Scene, becomes profitable and influential; it also leads to Savitt’s arrest in 2000.
A fascinating look at China’s recent tumultuous past. —Kristine Huntley
YA/C: Students studying Chinese history
will find this accessible firsthand account
to be eye-opening and informative. KH.
Eleanor Roosevelt, v.3: The War
Years and After, 1939–1962.
By Blanche Wiesen Cook.
Nov. 2016. 720p. Viking, $40 (9780670023950); e-book,
$17.99 (9780735221185). 973.917.
Cook published the first volume in her
Eleanor Roosevelt biography series in 1992.
Volume 2, which covered the years 1933–38,
wait. There is a lot to cover in this period,
the war years and beyond, and at times it
does feel a bit like Cook is ticking off his-
torical high points. But, as in the previous
volumes, there is much more tucked in each
chapter. Cook, obviously, knows her subject
intimately and is able to make connections
that come after a lifetime of study. The fo-
cus is on the war years, but even during that
imperiled time Roosevelt never lost sight—
and neither does her biographer—of the
other issues that consumed her: social and
economic equality as “a liberal vision and
hope.” Readers also continue to learn more
about Roosevelt’s inner life, her relation-
ship to her husband, and, fascinatingly, the
way she would find love and comfort in the
friendship of men, like her eventual biogra-
pher Joseph Lash and the financier Bernard
Baruch. The last chapter of Mrs. Roosevelt’s
life, after the death of her husband, a period
when she was more fully able to work from
a place of her own beliefs rather than work-
ing around FDR’s political necessities, is also
chronicled fully and perceptively. All this
makes for fascinating reading, and it high-
lights for students of history how the world
has changed since ER’s time. And how it has
not. —Ilene Cooper
Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of
Courage and Survival on Both Sides of
the Berlin Wall.
By Nina Willner.
Oct. 2016. 400p. illus. Morrow, $27.99
Willner’s mother, Hanna, just 20 years old,
escaped from East Germany into West Germany at nearly the last possible moment.
His telling of her story quickly becomes a
page-turner about a loving family facing East
Germany’s hardships, restrictions, and fears
under the oppressive communist regime and
the manipulative secret police. Young Hanna
eventually lands in America, but she leaves
her beloved family behind—Oma, Opa, and
many others, but especially her younger sister Heidi. Hanna and daughter Nina’s tale
spins unexpectedly when Nina is commissioned in the U.S. Army as an intelligence
officer—and stationed in 1983 in Berlin,
just miles from the family members she has
never met. Not just the author’s storytelling
skill but also the many photos touchingly
portray this charming, divided family. Plenty
of background—both heartbreaking (
would-be escapees shot at the wall) and fascinating
(President Kennedy’s Berlin speech, preceded by his peeking over the wall)—is woven
neatly in. A multigenerational tale that brings
the Cold War and the iron curtain to tragic,
memorable life. —Eloise Kinney
YA/M: Mature teens will find much to
admire in the story of brave, steadfast
Hanna and Heidi, and the personalized
account will help bring history lessons to
Istanbul: City of Majesty at the
Crossroads of the World.
By Thomas F. Madden.
Nov. 2016. 400p. Viking, $30 (9780670016600). 949.61.
As he did in Venice (2012), Madden presents
a vivid and, in this case, timely one-volume
history of a legendary city, tracing the life of
Istanbul from the days of the Greek settlers
in 667 BC to the current Erdogan presidency.
His focus is on the “human stories of those
who lived here,” and this lends an immediacy
to his chronicle of 25 centuries. Madden covers the early days of Ionian city-states through
the time of Justinian’s Constantinople to
the Ottoman Empire to the era of Ataturk
Mustafa Kemal, and he recounts the con-vention-defying love stories of Justinian and
Theodora and Süleyman and Hürrem as well
as the history behind the Hagia Sophia. The
land flanked by the Bosporus Strait and the
Sea of Marmara, between Asia and Europe,
has long been the site of conflicting allegiances, but it has survived and grown. Madden’s
insights into Istanbul’s religious and political history reminds us that world politics is
rife with complex questions: Who came first?
Who built enduring cities? Who survived?
Who vanished? And where do we go from
here? —Shoba Viswanathan
The Marches: A Borderland Journey
between England and Scotland.
By Rory Stewart.
Nov. 2016. 352p. HMH, $27 (9780544108882). 941.37.
Stewart, currently a member of the British Parliament, is an award-winning author
whose previous work, The Prince of the
Marshes (2006), described his time in southern Iraq. Here his meandering but often
fascinating narrative takes him through the
rugged but beautiful landscape of the borderlands between northern England and
the lowlands of his native Scotland. Stewart, often accompanied by his octogenarian
father, visits a variety of natural and man-made features, from Neolithic, Roman,
and more recent epochs, while offering his
views on their significance in historical and
contemporary Britain. These are especially
conveyed through the experiences and attitudes of Stewart’s father, whose views
may mirror the current turmoil concerning
Scotland’s role in the United Kingdom. His
father is revealed as both a proud Scot and
a former soldier and diplomat who served
the British Empire. Yet he often shows disdain for “English supremacy.” Aside from
his examination of British identity politics,
Stewart provides wonderful insights as he
visits Roman fortifications, medieval castles,
and Hadrian’s Wall. This is an informative,
thoughtful, and timely mix of history and
travelogue. —Jay Freeman
Millennium: From Religion to
Revolution; How Civilization Has
Changed over a Thousand Years.
By Ian Mortimer.
Nov. 2016. 416p. Pegasus, $28.95 (9781681772431). 909.
During the remarkable 105 years of a life
that ended in 1387, Sir John de Sully witnessed many changes in Europe consequent
to the Black Death. But assessing the lasting
effect of these changes requires the historical perspective that Mortimer develops as he
tracks the century-by-century transformations
that turned Europe from a feudal patchwork
held together by the Catholic Church in
the eleventh century to a secular confederation of nations united by international law,
mass communication, and cybertechnology
in the twenty-first century.
Peter Abelard emerges as
the decisive change agent of
the twelfth century; Richard III, of the fifteenth;
and Karl Marx, of the
nineteenth. Though Mortimer finally concurs with
the widespread judgment
that the twentieth century saw more overall
change than any preceding one, he insists
that the sixteenth century experienced more
profound changes in ideology and law and
the nineteenth more dramatic changes in demography. An atheist, Mortimer surprisingly