History and Current Events
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhDWhat it's about: supplemented with research and the author's own experiences with prejudice, this eye-opening work explores how readers can combat unconscious racial bias in their everyday lives.
Author alert: MacArthur fellow Jennifer L. Eberhardt is a Stanford University psychology professor and an expert on the topic of racial bias.
Book buzz: Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson calls Biased "groundbreaking."
Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens's London by Claire HarmanLondon, 1840: Penny dreadfuls are surging in popularity and are believed to be a corrupting influence on the city’s lower-class residents. When aristocrat Lord William Russell is brutally murdered in his home, is a book to blame?
Starring: prime suspect François Corvoisier, a valet of Russell's who claimed in court that William Harrison Ainsworth's crime novel Jack Sheppard drove him to the violent deed.
The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government... by Heath Hardage LeeWhat it is: the forgotten story of the military wives who mobilized to bring their POW husbands home from Vietnam.
How they did it: After forming the National League of Families, the women organized media campaigns, lobbied politicians, learned encryption to send and receive coded messages (earning the nickname "Jane Bonds"), and even negotiated directly with the North Vietnamese.
Reviewers say: Book clubs will flock to this "unputdownable" tale (Library Journal) that "begs for discussion" (Booklist).
Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement by Jessie Morgan-OwensWhat it's about: how the photograph of seven-year-old light-skinned slave Mary Mildred Williams was used to stoke abolitionist ire.
Unwitting celebrity: Brought onstage during Senator Charles Sumner's 1855 antislavery tour, Mary's white-passing appearance earned her the nickname "white slave" and garnered sympathy from audiences who otherwise ignored the plight of her darker-skinned counterparts.
Why you might like it: Girl in Black and White offers an illuminating new perspective on the racial politics of the abolitionist movement.
The Trial of Lizzie Borden: A True Story by Cara RobertsonWhat it is: a fast-paced account of the notorious 1893 Lizzie Borden murder trial that utilizes court transcripts, newspaper accounts, and recently discovered letters written by Borden herself to argue that the jury who acquitted her got it wrong.
About the author: Debut author Cara Robertson is a lawyer and former Supreme Court clerk who spent 20 years researching the Borden case.
Who it's for: true crime aficionados and amateur sleuths.
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill BrysonWhat it's about: how a single pivotal season signaled American's ascent to the world stage.
Topics include: Charles Lindbergh's ambitious transatlantic flight; Babe Ruth's career-best record of 60 home runs; the production of The Jazz Singer (the first "talking picture"); Al Capone's reign of terror.
Read it for: Bill Bryson's sly humor and unusual factoids (for instance, Calvin Coolidge enjoyed having Vaseline applied to his head).
Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah ChurchwellWhat it is: an evocative social history that explores how "the crime of the decade," an unsolved 1922 double homicide, may have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write The Great Gatsby.
Why you might like it: Thrilling, rich in detail, and sprinkled with a hint of gossip, Careless People blends aspects of biography, history, and true crime to vividly recreate the glamorous milieu of the Roaring Twenties.
The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political... by Linda GordonWhat it's about: the "second Ku Klux Klan," which attracted millions of middle-class northern and midwestern Americans throughout the 1920s.
How it happened: Klan leaders, many of whom were elected government officials, amplified xenophobic fears by arguing for "100 percent Americanism" amid the country's influx of immigrants.
Don't miss: Linda Gordon's incisive discussion of the Klan's 500,000 women members, who played significant roles in the organization.
When Paris Sizzled: The 1920s Paris of Hemingway, Chanel, Cocteau, Cole Porter... by Mary McAuliffeWhat it is: a vibrant year-by-year chronicle of Paris' rollicking Années folles ("Crazy Years") and the larger-than-life personalities that populated the city during its creative boom.
What sets it apart: Mary McAuliffe's breezy vignettes include the exploits of lesser-known figures like cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubenstein and automobile manufacturer André Citroën, who hoped to be the French Henry Ford.
The Great Fire: One American's Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century's First... by Lou UreneckWhat it's about: In the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, a small group of American rescuers, led by Methodist minister Asa Jennings, successfully evacuated more than 250,000 Greek and Armenian refugees from the Great Fire of Smyrna (in present-day Turkey).
Is it for you? This richly contextualized account explores the 500 years of conflict between Greece and Turkey that precipitated the tragedy.
Reviewers say: "An inspiring illumination of a hero who deserves recognition" (Kirkus Reviews).
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