Books: 5 History Books for the Beach

Big subjects don't always need weighty tomes

Admit it: you feel guilty about the lightweight stuff you read in summer. But there's a compromise between Harlequin romances and Hegel's Phenomenology: brief but thoughtful volumes of history and biography. Weighing in at fewer than 200 pages, these books are slim but not slight.

THOMAS JEFFERSON

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

Th acidic British political commentator is a perfect biographer for the disputatious Founding Father. Eternally at war with whoever seemed inclined to pull the Republic into Britain's orbit, Jefferson could be scheming and hypocritical. Hitchens is not blind to the man's shortcomings, especially his readiness to tolerate slavery for the...

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