Revisit a world of conquest, exploration, and imperial adventure with this Modern Library eBook bundle that includes Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Francis Parkman’s Montcalm and Wolfe, William H. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico, and Theodore Roosevelt’s The Naval War of 1812.
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (ABRIDGED)
Edward Gibbon’s masterpiece, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second to the fifteenth centuries, is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written. This abridgment retains the full scope of the original, while emphasizing elements ignored in all other abridgments—in particular the role of religion in the empire and the rise of Islam.
MONTCALM AND WOLFE
The result of more than forty years of passionate research, Montcalm and Wolfe is the epic story of Europe’s struggle for dominance of the New World. Thought by many to be Francis Parkman’s greatest work, it is a riveting read and an essential part of any military history collection.
HISTORY OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO
William H. Prescott’s sweeping account of Cortés’s subjugation of the Aztec people has endured as a landmark work of scholarship and dramatic storytelling. This pioneering study presents a compelling view of the clash of civilizations that reverberates in Latin America to this day.
THE NAVAL WAR OF 1812
Published when its author, Theodore Roosevelt, was only twenty-three years old, The Naval War of 1812 was immediately hailed as a literary and scholarly triumph, and it is still considered the definitive book on the subject. Roosevelt’s inimitable style and robust narrative make The Naval War of 1812 enthralling, illuminating, and utterly essential to every armchair historian.
About Edward Gibbon
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.
About Francis Parkman
Francis Parkman was born in Boston in 1823 and is best known for his masterly seven-volume history, France and England in North America, and for the annual prize awarded by the Society of American Historians in his honor. He died in 1893.
Caleb Carr is the bestselling author of the novels The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness, as well as a critically acclaimed biography of an American mercenary, The Devil Soldier. He writes frequently on military history for The New York Times and MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, where he is a contributing editor.
About William H. Prescott
William Hickling Prescott, the renowned American historian who chronicled the rise and fall of the Spanish empire, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1796. His grandfather had commanded colonial forces at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolution; his father was a highly respected judge and philanthropist. Prescott was tutored in Latin and Greek by the rector of Trinity Church in Boston and entered Harvard in 1811. In a bizarre accident, Prescott was blinded in the left eye by a crust of bread thrown in a dining-hall fracas. He abandoned plans to study law but went on to graduate in 1814 having earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa. While traveling abroad the following year Prescott temporarily lost the sight in his right eye. With his vision permanently impaired, he aspired to the life of a gentleman-scholar. Prescott launched a career as a man of letters in 1821 with an essay on Byron that appeared in the North American Review. Over the next two decades he contributed regularly to the prestigious Boston literary journal. His most important articles and reviews, including seminal pieces on the theory and practice of historical composition, were later collected in Biographical and Critical Miscellanies (1845) and Critical and Historical Essays (1850).
Under the influence of George Ticknor, a friend and mentor who taught European literature at Harvard, Prescott began learning Spanish in 1824. Engrossed by the history of Spain, he committed himself to tracing its development into a world power. Employing secretaries to read him manuscripts sent from Spanish archives, Prescott set about writing a work of sound scholarship that would also interest a general audience. A phenomenal memory allowed him to compose whole chapters in his mind during morning horseback rides. Later he recorded them on paper using a noctograph, a special stylus for the blind. More than a decade later he finished The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic (1837), which enjoyed tremendous critical and popular success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Prescott's fame gained him entrée into Spanish intellectual circles, greatly facilitating research on his next book, History of the Conquest of Mexico (1843), a sweeping account of Cortés's subjugation of the Aztec people. 'Regarded simply from the standpoint of literary criticism, the Conquest of Mexico is Prescott's masterpiece,' judged his biographer Harry Thurston Peck. 'More than that, it is one of the most brilliant examples which the English language possesses of literary art applied to historical narration. . . . [Prescott] transmuted the acquisitions of laborious research into an enduring monument of pure literature.' Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin agreed: 'The enduring interest in Prescott's Conquest of Mexico comes less from his engaging survey of Aztec civilization than from his genius for the epic. . . . Though Prescott has been called the nation's first 'scientific historian' for his use of manuscript sources, he would live on as a creator of literature.'
Prescott devoted his final years to chronicling the decline of the Spanish empire. He published The Life of Charles the Fifth after His Abdication (1856), a continuation of William Robertson's The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles the Fifth (1769), but only managed to finish the first three volumes of The History of the Reign of Philip the Second (1855-58). William H. Prescott died of a stroke at his home in Boston on January 29, 1859. In assessing his achievements, Daniel J. Boorstin wrote: 'One of Prescott's greatest feats as a 'scientific' historian was to depict the scenes of his drama so vividly without ever having been there--for he never visited Spain, Mexico, or Peru. . . . Prescott created from the rawest of raw material, laboring under physical handicaps and displaying a single-minded courage with few precedents in the annals of literature. . . . He had to discover the landscape, conceive new heroes, and mark their own paths through time. The story of how he made his histories was itself a kind of epic.'
About Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt—the naturalist, writer, historian, soldier, and politician who became twenty-sixth president of the United States—was born in New York City on October 27, 1858, into a distinguished family. He was the second of four children of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., a wealthy philanthropist of Dutch descent, and the former Martha (“Mittie”) Bulloch, an aristocratic Southern belle. An endlessly inquisitive young man, he was especially interested in natural history, which became the focus of his first published works, Summer Birds of the Adirondacks (1877) and Notes on Some of the Birds of Oyster Bay (1879). Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 1880 Roosevelt briefly studied law. The next year he was elected to the New York State Assembly on the Republican ticket and soon made a name for himself as a historian with The Naval War of 1812 (1882).
Following the death of his wife, Alice, in childbirth in 1884, Roosevelt sought change and headed west to ranch lands he had acquired in the Dakota Territory. The young outdoorsman chronicled his years in the Bad Lands in Hunting Trips of a Ranchman (1885), the first volume in the nature trilogy that eventually included Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail (1888) and The Wilderness Hunter (1893). After failing to win the New York City mayoral election in 1886 as a self-styled “Cowboy Candidate,” Roosevelt married childhood sweetheart Edith Kermit Carow and retired for a time to Sagamore Hill, his estate at Oyster Bay, Long Island. He wrote Gouveneur Morris (1888), a biography of the revolutionary-era statesman intended as a companion to the political memoir Life of Thomas Hart Benton (1887) and conceived the masterful four-volume history The Winning of the West (1889–1896).
Roosevelt returned to public life in 1889. Appointed Civil Service Commissioner he spent the next six years in Washington energetically pushing for reform of the government system, all the while propelling himself into the national spotlight. In 1895 he accepted a position as member, and later president, of the Board of Police Commissioners of New York City. Known as “a man you can’t cajole, can’t frighten, can’t buy,” Roosevelt continued to enjoy growing prestige nationwide, and within two years he was named assistant secretary of the navy under President William McKinley. Resigning this office in May 1898 at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt helped organize and train the “Rough Riders,” a regiment of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry whose legendary exploits he recorded in The Rough Riders (1899). A popular hero upon returning from Cuba, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in November 1898, and two years later he became vice president of the United States in the second administration of William McKinley.
The assassination of President McKinley in September 1901 placed Roosevelt in the White House, and he was elected president in 1904. For the remainder of the decade he embodied the boundless confidence of the nation as it entered the American Century. He promised a square deal for the workingman, brought about trust-busting reforms aimed at regulating big business, and instituted modern-day environmental measures. The first American leader to play an important role in world affairs, Roosevelt guided construction of the Panama Canal, advocated a “big stick” policy to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, and sought to keep the Open Door course in China. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for resolving the Russo-Japanese War.
After leaving office in 1909 he took an almost yearlong hunting trip to Africa and described his adventures in African Game Trails (1910). In 1912 he made a bid for reelection on the progressive Bull Moose ticket but lost to Woodrow Wilson, who became a bitter enemy. Afterward he completed Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (1913) and Through the Brazilian Wilderness (1914), an account of his explorations in South America. With the outbreak of World War I, Roosevelt became an outspoken advocate of United States military preparedness in books such as America and the World War (1915). His last work, The Great Adventure, appeared in 1918. Still entertaining the idea of running again for office, Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep at Sagamore Hill on January 6, 1919.