Our America: A Photographic History by Ken Burns; introduction by Sarah Hermanson MeisterWhat's inside: a chronological collection of both well-known and obscure photographs documenting nearly two centuries of American history, assembled by famed documentarian Ken Burns.
Why you might like it: Featuring richly detailed notes on each photo's context and origin, this moving collection celebrates the breadth of the American experience.
Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and... by Matthew F. DelmontWhat it is: a thought-provoking history that explores the essential yet overlooked roles African American soldiers played in World War II and details how they served in the face of racism.
Don't miss: Historian Matthew F. Delmont's account of the lesser-known Port Chicago Mutiny, an event that led to the desegregation of the United States Navy.
Try this next: David P. Cline's well-researched oral history Twice Forgotten: African Americans and the Korean War.
The Story of Russia by Orlando FigesWhat it is: a sweeping history of Russia from 988 CE to the present exploring the evolution of the country's national identity: "No other country has reimagined its past so frequently."
About the author: Prizewinning historian Orlando Figes is regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on Russian history.
Book buzz: The Story of Russia was named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan FreedlandWhat it's about: In 1944, Slovak Jewish teenager Rudolf Vrba made a harrowing escape from Auschwitz and co-wrote a report about the camp that was distributed to the Allies and helped save over 200,000 lives.
Read it for: a compelling, pulse-pounding account that reads like fiction; a nuanced portrait of an overlooked historical figure who often courted controversy in his postwar life.
Try this next: The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Escape of the Great War by Neal Bascomb.
The Newlyweds: Rearranging Marriage in Modern India by Mansi ChoksiWhat it is: Dubai-based journalist Mansi Choksi's illuminating exploration of how the pull between tradition and modernity informs marriage customs in contemporary India.
Featuring: profiles of a lesbian couple, an intercaste couple, and an interfaith couple who eschewed arranged marriages in their search for true love.
Reviewers say: "This is a heart-wrenching and inspiring portrait of love under pressure" (Publishers Weekly).
The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World by Shelley PuhakWhat it's about: the rivalry between Merovingian queen consorts and sisters-in-law Brunhild and Fredegund, each of whom played an active (and violent) role in securing their positions in 6th-century Francia.
Why you might like it: Poet Shelley Puhak's lively and evocative history "reclaims two powerhouse women from obscurity" (Publishers Weekly) by revealing how they subverted the limitations of their era.
For fans of: the women-led politicking of HBO's House of the Dragon.
The Black Joke: The True Story of One Ship's Battle Against the Slave Trade by A.E. RooksWhat it's about: the HMS Black Joke, the British Royal Navy ship whose crew captured slave ships off the west coast of Africa between 1828 and 1832 and helped free thousands of enslaved people.
Why you should read it: Jeopardy! champion A.E. Rooks' well-researched narrative, aided by her background in in law and library science and ample use of archival materials, revives the maritime exploits that were vital to curbing the transatlantic slave trade.
Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern by Jing TsuWhat it's about: how industrialization and globalization led to efforts to modernize the written Chinese language and make it more accessible.
Author alert: Jing Tsu is the Literature Chair of the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow.
Reviewers say: "An engaging, relevant work that delves into the linguistic past in order to predict China's future success in the world" (Kirkus Reviews).
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