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The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World

A humble vegetable, once regarded as trash food, had as revolutionary an impact on Western history as the railroad or the automobile. Using Ireland, England, France, and the United States as examples, Larry Zuckerman shows how daily life from the eighteenth century until the First World War would have been unrecognizable--perhaps impossible--without the potato, which functioned as fast food, famine insurance, fuel- and labor-saver, budget stretcher, and bank loan, as well as delicacy. Drawing on personal diaries, contemporaneous newspaper accounts, and other primary sources, this is popular social history at its liveliest and most illuminating.

The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I

In August 1914, the German Army invaded Belgium because the granite-block roads of Flanders and Brabant seemed to lead to Paris as veins lead toward the heart. The attack violated a treaty that the German chancellor likened to a "scrap of paper," prompting many foreigners to conclude that Germany did not respect international law. When the invaders shot thousands of civilians and burned and looted scores of towns, the news shocked a world that had taken European culture for granted. Allied propagandists invoked the "rape of Belgium" to claim that justice lay on their side, though they often argued the case by telling fables about "barbarians" who had done unspeakable things to women and children.

But no exaggeration was necessary. The real rape of Belgium lasted more than fifty months under an occupation that kept seven million people in fear for their lives, liberty, and property. The real rape had nothing to do with atrocities, real or imagined, but with routine terror and the mindset that condoned it, which put German crimes on another level.

This book shows why the crimes matter, what legacy they left, and why they offer a new way to look at the First World War.