In his Introduction, historian Jared Orsi sets a suspenseful table for his saga, drawing in his readers with cliff-hanging (sorry) drama about soldier and explorer Zebulon Pike and his team, as they struggled through mountainous terrain after days without food:
"In January 1807, deep in the snows of the Rocky Mountains, Captain Zebulon Montgomery Pike faced a wrenching decision. He was the commander of an American military expedition to explore the southwestern reaches of the Louisiana Purchase, and he had become badly lost. Since early December, the men had trudged through snow drifts and sloshed across streams. When the horses gave out, they hefted 72-pound packs into the teeth of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
"By January the party was desperate -- too weak to go on, too imperiled not to. On the 17th, several men got wet crossing Grape Creek, and by evening privates John Sparks and Thomas Daugherty were hobbling on frozen feet. Pike wrote in his journal that the men faced 'every possibility of losing them.' Further travel for the two young men was clearly impossible, and yet to leave crippled men in the wilderness promised them almost certain death. Furnishing them with as much food and ammunition as he could spare, and promising to return when he could, he left them."
Author Jared Orsi is associate professor of history at Colorado State University.
From the dust jacket:
"It's 1629, and King Charles I and his French queen, Henrietta Maria, have reigned in England for less than three years. Young dwarf Jeffrey Hudson is swept away from a village chambles and plunged into the Stuart court when his father sells him to the most hated man in England -- the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham trains Jeffrey to be his spy in the household of Charles's seventeen-year-old bride, hoping to gain intelligence that will help him undermine the vivacious queen's influence with the king.
"Desperately homesick in a country that hates her for nationality and Catholic faith, Henrietta Maria surrounds herself with her 'Royal Menagerie of Freaks and Curiosities of Nature- -- a 'collection' consisting of a giant, two other dwarfs, a rope dancer, an acrobat/animal-trainer, and now Jeffrey, who is dubbed 'Lord Minimus.'"
Author Ella March Chase earned her bachelor of arts degree from Augustana College, Rock Island, IL. She is author of The Virgin Queen's Daughter and Three Maids for a Crown, a story of the Grey Sisters.
The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti -- Amarna and its People by Barry Kemp, Thames & Hudson '14, in oversized format on glossy stock, $29.95, 320 pages, ASIN #0500291209. Index, further reading, notes, dozens of b&w images sprinkled through text.
The ancient site of Tell el-Amarna in Middle Egypt was the capital of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten and his chief consort, Nefertiti. "Occupied for around 16 years in the 14th century BC," writes author Barry Kemp, "the city lay largely abandoned and forgotten until excavations over the last 100 years brought it back into prominence."
It is the ancient city that Kemp describes: "A city of temples, royal palaces, civic offices and elite tombs, and simultaneously a city of small-scale mud-brick dwellings. Amarna was an 'urban village,' where most of its citizens were only two or three steps removed in the social scale from the king himself. Barry Kemp evokes the unique character of this famous capital, bringing to life its people -- from Akhenaten, Nefertiti and the royal family to priests and craftsmen -- in this brilliantly written and imaginatively conceived account of the mysterious Amarna interlude."
Author Barry Kemp is emeritus professor of Egyptology at Cambridge University and has been conducting research and excavations at Amarna since 1977.