History and Current Events
The Man in the Red Coat by Julian BarnesWhat it is: a gossipy history of Belle Époque France as experienced by the colorful characters who inhabited it.
Starring: licentious gynecologist Samuel Pozzi, subject of John Singer Sargent's famous 1881 portrait Dr. Pozzi at Home and friend of Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and more.
Read it for: the primary sources deployed to humorous effect (the Princess of Monaco referred to Pozzi as "disgustingly handsome.")
Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote by Ellen Carol DuBoisWhat it is: a lively and accessible history of the women's suffrage movement, published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and packed with profiles of lesser-known activists.
What sets it apart: historian Ellen Carol DuBois' frank exploration of how proponents of the suffrage movement often excluded women of color from participating.
Further reading: For a suspenseful account of how the 19th Amendment passed, check out The Woman's Hour by Elaine Weiss, soon to be adapted for TV by Stephen Spielberg.
Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction by David EnrichFollow the money: In this sobering and well-researched chronicle, New York Times finance editor David Enrich investigates Germany-based Deutsche Bank's long and troubled history, from its funding of Auschwitz to its close relationship with Donald Trump, who owed the company a staggering $350 million at the time of his election.
Who it's for: fans of compelling business exposés like Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail or Christopher Leonard's Kochland.
Operation Chastise: The RAF's Most Brilliant Attack of World War II by Max HastingsMay 17, 1943: Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) blew up two dams in Germany's Ruhr valley, an effort that shook German confidence and killed more than 1,500 civilians, many of them forced laborers.
How they did it: through much trial and error -- the RAF spent two years testing the "bouncing bomb" developed by engineer Barnes Wallis.
Reviewers say: "Another Hastings must-read" (Kirkus Reviews).
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki KendallWhat it's about: how mainstream feminism prioritizes white women while ignoring marginalized voices.
Why you might like it: In this incisive collection of essays, author Mikki Kendall draws on her own experiences as a black woman who has experienced poverty, racial discrimination, and violence to deliver an enlightening guide to embracing intersectionality.
Chapters include: "Solidarity is Still for White Women;" "The Hood Doesn't Hate Smart People;" "Allies, Anger, and Accomplices."
Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of History's Greatest Buildings by James CrawfordWhat it is: an engaging, millennia-spanning survey of 20 ruined structures that offers a revealing glimpse at the civilizations that built and destroyed them.
Sites "visited:" the Library of Alexandria; the Tower of Babel; Old St. Paul's Cathedral; the Berlin Wall; the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects, the World Trade Center.
Don't miss: author James Crawford's ode to the "deleted city" -- web hosting site GeoCities, which shuttered in 2009.
The Last Palace: Europe's Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House by Norman EisenWelcome to...Prague's Petschek Villa, built by Jewish banker Otto Petschek in the 1920s and home to U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic Norman Eisen nearly a century later.
What it's about: how the palatial estate survived Nazi and Soviet occupation thanks to the residents who fought to save it from destruction.
Residents included: Rudolf Toussaint, the Nazi-hating German general who defied orders to burn Petschek Villa; Shirley Temple Black, who witnessed 1989's Velvet Revolution while serving as an ambassador.
Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem's Legendary Theater by Ted Fox; illustrated by James Otis SmithWhat it is: a lively graphic adaptation of Ted Fox's 1983 history of the Apollo Theater, which has been at the forefront of African American culture since the 1930s.
Featuring: Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Chris Rock, Lauryn Hill, and many more.
Art alert: Dynamic black and blue illustrations burst from the panels to mimic the experience of being in a dimly lit theater.
Washington's Monument: And the Fascinating History of the Obelisk by John Steele GordonWhat it is: an engaging history of Washington, D.C.'s Washington Monument, which took nearly 40 years to build and is, at 555 feet, the world's tallest stone structure (and the "tallest structure, by law," in the United States capital).
Did you know? In 1855, members of the nativist and anti-Catholic Know-Nothing party successfully halted the project for three years because Pope Pius IX had donated a commemorative stone to the construction efforts.
Don't miss: an entertaining micro-history of ancient Egypt's famous obelisks on which the Washington Monument is modeled.
The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont by Shawn LevyWhat it's about: the iconic Los Angeles hotel Chateau Marmont, which for nearly a century has attracted celebrities to its secluded bungalows for all manner of decadence and debauchery.
Want a taste? "Chateau Marmont is the ultimate Hollywood hotel because it is, like Hollywood itself, bigger than life even when it is obviously fake."
Try this next: For another dishy history of a storied hotel, try Julie Satow's The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel.
Contact your librarian for more great books!