The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Aleksievich; translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa VolokhonskyIn this absorbing oral history, Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Aleksievich compiles firsthand reports of Russian women's military service in World War II. Noting that the women she interviewed were reluctant to discuss their experiences, she also reveals that their perceptions differ significantly from those of men, even though the women often performed similar duties (for example, as snipers or tank drivers). Evocatively weaving their accounts into a vivid tapestry, The Unwomanly Face of War brings previously unnoticed ordeals and achievements to light.
Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment by Angela J. Davis, EditorIn Policing the Black Man, legal scholar and American University law professor Angela Davis assembles 11 essays that provide "lucid perspectives" (Kirkus Reviews) on the racial bias of the American law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Detailing the history of discrimination against African American men, racial profiling in legal policy and practice, and issues such as police as school security officers and poverty, these essays provide a sobering picture of the position of black males in the U.S. This is an enlightening presentation for readers interested in racial justice.
Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis... by Bruce HendersonOffering a riveting closeup of a specialized group of U.S. Army personnel in World War II, Sons and Soldiers brings to life the stories of German Jews who escaped the Nazi regime in the 1930s and subsequently made significant contributions to the Allied victory. Called the "Camp Ritchie Boys" from the camp where they were trained as interrogators, they were deployed in Europe with major combat units from D-Day on. Featuring six of the men, historian Bruce Henderson chronicles the Ritchie Boys' service. World War II buffs and readers interested in Jewish history shouldn't miss this inspiring account.
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica HesseBeginning in November 2012, an arson spree terrorized a rural county in Virginia for six months. In American Fire, journalist Monica Hesse traces the fiery trail of Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick, who torched unoccupied buildings near where they lived in economically depressed but tightly knit Accomack County. Like Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the deadly pair were romantically entwined; their motives remained elusive until after their capture. True crime aficionados and those interested in the economic fates of rural communities will want to pick up this compelling story.
Award-Winning History Books
Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven BeckertWinner of Columbia University's 2015 Bancroft prize and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Empire of Cotton portrays in riveting detail how cotton production and manufacture transformed global economics. This extensively researched, vividly described history depicts the contrast between pre-industrial and industrial labor and reveals the relationships over millennia between warfare, slavery, and cotton. Harvard University historian Sven Beckert's "highly detailed, provocative" (Booklist) work offers a must-read portrayal of the development of capitalism.
Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape by Mark Lee GardnerIn Shot All to Hell, historian Mark Lee Gardner explores the careers of celebrity outlaws Jesse and Frank James and their gang. Focusing on their best-known raid, an 1876 deadly bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota, Gardner writes a page-turner "that's as entertaining as it is historically accurate" (Publishers Weekly). Explaining the gang's origins as Confederate-sympathizing bushwhackers, depicting their flamboyant taste in clothing and horses, and graphically characterizing their ruthlessness, this volume won the 2014 Spur Award for Western History (given by the Western Writers of America).
Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam by Fredrik LogevallIn a narrative highlighted with vivid portraits of Vietnamese and French leaders, Embers of War chronicles the last four decades of French dominion in Indochina, leading up to the U.S. military's involvement in Vietnam. Focusing on the intricate diplomatic and political situation in Southeast Asia, acclaimed historian Fredrik Logevall exposes French colonial administrators' missteps and traces the Western powers' failure to grasp Vietnamese nationalists' desire for independence and self-rule. Though this 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning history ends where the U.S. war in Vietnam begins, Logevall's analysis explains why American intervention there was doomed before it started.
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea WulfDid you know that the U.S. state of Nevada was almost named "Humboldt," after the Enlightenment-era German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt? During his lifetime, Humboldt was the "most famous man in the world after Napoleon," but is hardly remembered today. This multiple award-winning book restores Humboldt to his rightful place in history, describing his life as well as his many contributions to science. For example, Humboldt came up with the concept of climate zones, discovered the magnetic equator, and redefined our concept of nature itself -- as a web of life connecting every organism on Earth.
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