Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World by Thomas Cahill is the latest entry in his survey of pivotal times in history. Here he looks at the artistic, technological, and spiritual changes in Western Europe from the late 14th through the early 16th centuries. Thoughtful and detailed but very readable, this is the perfect book for the armchair historian who is looking for a survey of an era that did so much to shape the modern world.
Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll is a fascinating account of his visits to many lesser-known (or practically unknown) historical sites around the United States. His style is a bit like Sarah Vowell's, especially in his empathy for the obscure, humble underdogs who never made it into history books and who deserve at least a historical marker. Chapters include his visits to places connected with Elisha Otis (the founder of Otis elevators and inventor of the safety brake for elevators), rocket pioneer Robert Goddard, and Dr. Loring Miner (the first physician to warn of the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918). While he's a lot less snarky than Vowell, Carroll's research and his often self-deprecating sense of humor would make him a great tour guide for the ultimate history geek road trip.
Chris at Bay View and Tippecanoe