American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle GlaserWhat it's about: In 1961 New York City, pregnant teen Margaret Erle was sent to a maternity home, where she gave birth to a son she was forced to give up in a closed adoption.
Read it for: a heartwrenching exploration of America's postwar "adoption-industrial complex" that was fueled by secrecy and shame.
Try this next: For another illuminating history of mid-20th century adoption practices, check out Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away.
Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain (editors)What it is: a thoughtful anthology of essays, poems, profiles, and testimonies chronicling four centuries of Black American history.
Why you should read it: This well-researched tome features a diverse array of more than 80 contributors and spotlights lesser known events and figures that have all but been erased from history.
Reviewers say: "An impeccable, epic, essential vision of American history" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication by Alexander LarmanWhat it's about: England's abdication crisis of 1936, which saw King Edward VIII stepping down from his royal duties to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
What's inside: recently declassified documents that offer new insights on Edward and Wallis' relationship, their Nazi sympathies, and more.
Who it's for: Fans of the Netflix series The Crown will enjoy this juicy account rife with plenty of royal intrigue and scandal.
Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods by Amelia PangWhat it is: journalist Amelia Pang's sobering investigation of Chinese labor camps, where exploited workers endure brutal working conditions to manufacture products for American consumers.
Featuring: political prisoner Sun Yi, whose handwritten plea for help found in a package of Halloween decorations led to global media coverage of China's "reeducation through labor."
Why it matters: This thought-provoking exposé will make readers think twice about the origins and unseen costs of the goods they consume.
Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World by Simon WinchesterWhat it is: a sweeping and richly detailed global history of humankind's relationship to land ownership.
Topics include: the ecological impact of colonization; land reclamation efforts; the politics of cartography; Indigenous land rights.
Did you know? America's top 100 private landowners own acreage equal to the size of Florida.
The Spy Who Couldn't Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI's Hunt for... by Yudhijit BhattacharjeeWhat it's about: In the late 1990s, disaffected National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) employee Brian Regan attempted to sell classified information to foreign governments, though his efforts were thwarted by confusing encryption methods attributed to his dyslexia.
Why you might like it: This fast-paced chronicle of a little-known scheme will appeal to fans of stranger-than-fiction crime stories like Ben Mezrich's Sex on the Moon.
Operation Columba: The Secret Pigeon Service: The Untold Story of World War II Resistance... by Gordon CoreraWhat it is: a dramatic and vivid account of British military intelligence gathering in Nazi-occupied western Europe, which was conducted by dropping more than 16,000 homing pigeons into the region.
Read it for: author Gordon Corera's droll and lively writing style.
Want a taste? "If the Nazis come through your door, you might be able to explain away a pigeon but not a radio transmitter."
The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage by Mara HvistendahlWhat it's about: In 2011, three Chinese scientists were arrested for stealing hybrid seeds from an Iowa cornfield and sending them to China.
Why you should read it: Pulitzer Prize finalist Mara Hvistendahl's accessible latest offers insights on the China-United States trade war.
Reviewers say: "Not since Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest has a cornfield produced so much excitement" (Booklist).
Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Arthur J. MagidaStarring: Noor Inayat Khan, the daughter of an Indian Sufi mystic who was recruited by Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE), where she served as a radio operator until her capture and execution in 1944.
Who it's for: Fans of unlikely spy stories will enjoy this suspenseful chronicle of wartime heroism and sacrifice.
Try this next: For more true tales of women of the SOE, check out Larry Loftis' Code Name: Lise or Sonia Purnell's A Woman of No Importance.
The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch What it's about: the Hickey Plot, a 1776 scheme orchestrated by prominent New York politicians to kidnap and murder George Washington.
Read it for: the thrilling immediacy of the fast-paced prose; the evocative account of a Revolutionary-era New York City in turmoil.
Why it matters: Washington's counterintelligence unit, led by future Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, inspired the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) nearly two centuries later.
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