History and Current Events
Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy by Dan Abrams and David FisherThe plaintiff: GOP leader and New York state politician William Barnes, who sued a fellow Republican for libel in 1915.
The defendant: Barnes' friend turned rival, former president Theodore Roosevelt, whose accusation of corruption spurred the case.
The verdict: dramatic and suspenseful, this "fine and timely legal drama" (Booklist) examines resonant issues of political influence and overreach.
The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick AtkinsonWhat it's about: the first two years of the American Revolutionary War and the stakes for both sides of the conflict.
About the author: Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson is the author of the Liberation Trilogy, which begins with An Army at Dawn.
Series alert: The British are Coming is the vivid 1st entry in the extensively researched Revolution Trilogy.
Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide by Tony Horwitz1852: Reporter Frederick Law Olmsted tours the American South to cover the region's growing divisions on the eve of the Civil War.
2014: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz (who died in May 2019) retraces Olmsted's steps, juxtaposing his own commentary with his predecessor's to highlight the ways the South has changed -- and the ways it hasn't.
Don't miss: Horwitz's adventures in period-authentic transportation, including steamboat, coal barge, horseback, and mule.
Chasing the Moon: The People, the Politics, and the Promise That Launched America into the... by Robert Stone and Alan AndresWhat it's about: Published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this fast-paced history chronicles America's efforts to win the space race.
TV buzz: Chasing the Moon is the sweeping companion to the PBS American Experience series of the same name premiering on July 8th.
Try this next: Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan; Apollo's Legacy by Roger D. Launius.
Cults and Secret Societies
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff GuinnWhat it's about: the horrific descent of charismatic small-town pastor turned cult leader Jim Jones, who in 1978 led 918 of his Peoples Temple followers into taking their own lives before he took his own.
Want a taste? "Bodies everywhere, seemingly too many to count, innumerable heaps of the dead."
Book buzz: The Road to Jonestown was a 2018 Edgar Award Finalist for Best Fact Crime.
The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God's Holy Warriors by Dan JonesWhat it is: an engaging account of the Knights Templar, the order of holy warriors established in 1119 and violently destroyed two centuries later.
Read it for: the well-researched separation of fact from myth, including discussions of enduring legends and conspiracy theories about the order.
Why you might like it: accessible prose makes The Templars a fascinating read for both general readers and fans of medieval history.
Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society That... by Tom StantonWhat it is: a dual narrative of Detroit's tumultuous 1930s, which saw the concurrent rise of two dramatically different organizations: World Series hopefuls the Detroit Tigers and Ku Klux Klan offshoot Black Legion.
Starring: a colorful cast of characters, including Tigers manager Mickey Cochrane and baseball-loving Black Legion operative Dayton Dean.
Who it's for: sports fans and true crime aficionados.
The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret... by Stephan TaltyWhat it's about: the Italian crime organization Black Hand's reign of terror in early 20th-century New York City and the efforts of NYPD officer Joseph Petrosino, the "Italian Sherlock Holmes," to stop them.
Movie buzz: Leonardo DiCaprio will star as Petrosino in a future film.
Try this next: William Oldfield and Victoria Bruce's similarly fast-paced history Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society, which chronicles a Midwestern postal worker's attempts to take down Black Hand.
Hunting Charles Manson: The Quest for Justice in the Days of Helter Skelter by Lis WiehlWhat it is: a propulsive account of the infamous 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders orchestrated by Charles Manson and carried out by members of his "family."
Chapters include: "Alternative Scenarios," which discusses some of the more bizarre theories about the killings -- was the mafia involved?
What sets it apart: Former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl utilizes her ample legal expertise to incorporate new research, exclusive interviews, and parole hearings into this "must read" (Library Journal).
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