My Christmas book-buying recommendations are now available on NRO. Here they are, for your shopping convenience:
For the Civil War buff: As we head into the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, armchair historians will want to keep up with the sesquicentennial. There is no shortage of excellent guides to the conflict. A recent one that I’ve enjoyed dipping into is The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War, by Donald Stoker. Rather than a blow-by-blow account of battles and operations, it describes the strategic objectives of North and South and how civilian and military leaders tried to realize them.
For the English major: Harvard University Press has just published The Beowulf Manuscript, the first facing-page translation of the Beowulf poem plus the four texts that appeared with it in the original document once owned by Sir Robert Cotton. A good companion volume is The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, a forthcoming book that includes pieces by Seamus Heaney, Robert Pinsky, and other contemporary poets.
For the Tea Party activist: Defiance of the Patriots, by Benjamin L. Carp, provides the definitive history of the Boston Tea Party — why it happened and what it wrought. The book retails for $30; my podcast interview with Carp is free.