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How to Sell Your Book: Make it About a Single Year

 The persistent appeal of the single-year book ...

John Dos Passos, 1919 (1932)
The second novel in Dos Passos’s USA Trilogy, 1919 follows various American characters, famous and unknown alike, during World War I.  

Gore Vidal, 1876 (1976)
Part of Vidal’s Narratives of Empire series, 1876 follows Charlie Schuyler as he navigates New York society during the centennial year of American independence.

David Howarth, 1066: The Year of the Conquest (1981)
Howarth’s book contextualizes the Norman conquest of England and the birth of European history that followed.

Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (2002)
In the wake of World War I, world leaders sat down to redraw the map—and according to MacMillan, we’re still living with the consequences.

Gavin Menzies, 1421: The Year China Discovered America (2003)
Menzies overturned conventional wisdom with his account of the year in which China, not Columbus, first landed in America.

David McCullough, 1776 (2005)
McCullough looks at the military feats in the first year of the American Revolution that led to a British defeat.

Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (2008)
The mysterious title of Bolaño’s posthumously published novel doesn’t have an obvious meaning. However, the year has cropped up in various other works by Bolaño, always referring to a grim and apocalyptic time and place.

Fred Kaplan, 1959 (2009)
Kaplan posits that 1959—not the 1960s as a whole
—actually saw the most dramatic cultural shifts.

Adam Goodheart, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (2011)
Goodheart zeroes in on the first year in the Civil War, the very beginnings of what he calls the second American revolution. In focusing on the first year of the war, Goodheart teases out the war’s causes more fully.

Charles Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (2011)
The second book in Mann’s examination of Columbus’s discovery of America, 1493 looks at the economic and ecological impact Columbus’s discovery had on the world. He covered 1491 in an earlier book.

Sara Peters, 1996 (2013)
The poet Sara Peters confronts her own brand of nostalgia and memory in this collection.

Max Hastings, Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War (2013)
Hastings examines the events leading up to the war, crafting a new argument for why Germany and Austria-Hungary were the players most to blame.

Ian Buruma, Year Zero: 1945 (2013)

Buruma takes the year 1945, just after the end of World War II, as the first year in a new world completely unlike the one before it.