History and Current Events
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam HigginbothamWhat it's about: the catastrophic April 26, 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine.
Why you might like it: Suspenseful and sweeping, this vivid account includes recently declassified documents and interviews with survivors.
Try this next: For a moving look at the disaster's ongoing environmental damage, read Kate Brown's Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future.
How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel ImmerwahrWhat it is: a fast-paced, illuminating history exploring the impact of American imperialism on past and present non-mainland U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
Why it matters: This absorbing work reveals a perspective on American history that is often overlooked.
Did you know? Nearly half of the mainland population is unaware that today's four million territory residents are U.S. citizens.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden KeefeWhat it's about: In December 1972, Belfast widow and mother of 10 Jean McConville was wrongly accused of being an informant for the British Army. Abducted from her home by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), she was never seen again.
Why you might like it: Blending elements of murder mystery, political history, and true crime, this heartwrenching deep dive into The Troubles offers an unflinching portrait of the conflict's lasting repercussions.
An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex KotlowitzWhat it is: an intimate and empathetic chronicle of the summer of 2013 in Chicago neighborhoods plagued by violence and neglect.
What's inside: immersive interviews with advocates, bystanders, victims, and perpetrators.
Author alert: Journalist Alex Kotlowitz is the author of There Are No Children Here, which was named by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important books of the 20th century.
Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation by Steve LuxenbergWhat it's about: the complex, decades-long origins of the landmark United States Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which legally upheld racially segregated "separate but equal" facilities.
Reviewers say: Separate "is likely to become the seminal work on this crucial Supreme Court decision" (Library Journal).
For fans of: Isabel Wilkerson's sweeping Great Migration history The Warmth of Other Suns.
No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria by Rania AbouzeidWhat it is: a sobering account of the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which has claimed an estimated 500,000 lives since 2011.
What sets it apart: Branded a spy by the Syrian government and banned from entering the country, journalist Rania Abouzeid spent several years clandestinely entering Syria to conduct her reportage.
Book buzz: No Turning Back was a 2018 Booklist Editors' Choice and New York Times Notable Book selection.
The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny by Ian DavidsonWhat it is: a dramatic, richly detailed history of the French Revolution (1789-1799), which resulted in the overthrow of the French monarchy and the establishment of a democratic republic.
Featuring: helpful maps, graphics, and timelines.
Who it's for: readers familiar with the topic or those looking for a comprehensive overview.
The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962-1976 by Frank DikötterWhat it's about: Chairman Mao Zedong's final decade of rule as the founder of the People's Republic of China.
Is it for you? This chilling study of a turbulent era depicts a China beset with violence, famine, and disease.
Series alert: The Cultural Revolution is the 3rd book in the People's Trilogy, following Mao's Great Famine and The Tragedy of Liberation.
The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. EllisWhat it's about: the influential roles four Founding Fathers played in the political transformations occurring between the end of the American Revolution and the establishment of the federal government.
Starring: George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.
About the author: Historian Joseph J. Ellis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation.
October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China MiévilleWhat it is: a breathtaking month-by-month account of Russia's two 1917 revolutions, which culminated in the rise of Vladimir Lenin and the creation of the world's first workers' state.
Read it for: award-winning fantasy author China Miéville's (Perdido Street Station) lyrical prose.
Want a taste? “Trench-drenched soldiers the colour of ripped-up earth taking what hours of respite they could, drinking tea from tin mugs.”
Contact your librarian for more great books!