Biography and Memoir
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. BlightWhat it is: a comprehensive yet accessible biography of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), the runaway slave-turned-abolitionist orator.
About the author: Award-winning Yale historian David W. Blight is a longtime Douglass scholar and the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.
What sets it apart: Granted access to private sources previously made unavailable to other historians, Blight offers new insights into Douglass' complicated family life.
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore with Veronica Chambers What it's about: In this eye-opening behind-the-scenes memoir, four influential political strategists and longtime friends share their respective (but often overlapping) journeys working for Democratic campaigns and administrations.
Paying it forward: The group created a "Bank of Justice" to support women and minorities entering political careers.
Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and... by Mary GabrielWhat it is: a sweeping, richly contextualized portrait of five women artists who revolutionized the abstract expressionism movement.
Why it matters: Despite their trailblazing accomplishments (including their participation in the groundbreaking 1951 Ninth Street Show), these women have remained largely overlooked by the modern art scene.
Reviewers say: "an incandescent, engrossing, and paradigm-altering art epic" (Booklist); "superbly written and absorbing" (Library Journal).
The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger What it's about: the close yet contentious relationship between sisters Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier, their privileged East Hampton upbringing, and their roles as America's First Lady and a princess of Poland.
Featuring: candid interviews with Lee about the women's childhood.
Don't miss: surprising, gossipy insights -- Lee was left out of Jackie's 38-page will; Jackie may have helped vet JFK's potential paramours.
Good Friday on the Rez: A Pine Ridge Odyssey by David Hugh BunnellWhat it is: David Hugh Bunnell's 280-mile road trip to visit his longtime friend and "blood brother," Vernell White Thunder, at South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Why you might like it: The author vividly blends reflections of his time as a Pine Ridge schoolteacher with historical context as he passes Lakota landmarks and towns.
Don't miss: Bunnell's account of smuggling food to protesters during the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee.
The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin Who it's about: Oglala Lakota chief Red Cloud (1822-1909), the only Plains Indian to defeat the United States Army in a war.
How'd he do it? A brilliant tactician and politician, Red Cloud formed alliances with Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Sioux warriors to reclaim Powder River Country during Red Cloud's War (1866-1868).
Further reading: Autobiography of Red Cloud: War Leader of the Oglalas, which was lost for over 100 years prior to its publication.
Crazy Brave by Joy HarjoWhat it is: a reflective memoir from Muscogee poet, musician, and Native Writers' Circle Lifetime Achievement Award winner Joy Harjo.
Topics include: the author's fraught family dynamics and single teenage motherhood; her schooling at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
What sets it apart: Harjo's candid, lyrical writing conveys the "intricate and metaphorical language of my ancestors."
Heart Berries by Terese Marie MailhotWhat it is: a raw and powerfully crafted coming-of-age memoir of life on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation, evocatively told in a series of concise and cogent essays.
Want a taste? "The thing about women from the river is that our currents are endless. We sometimes outrun ourselves."
About the author: First Nation writer Terese Marie Mailhot is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts and is currently the Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University.
How the World Moves: The Odyssey of an American Indian Family by Peter NabokovWhat it's about: the tensions and contradictions of cultural assimilation as experienced by Pueblo shaman Edward Proctor Hunt (born Day Break in 1861 New Mexico), who later became a "cultural broker," shopkeeper, and Wild West show performer alongside his family.
Further reading: Hunt's The Origin Myth of Acoma Pueblo, recounted to Smithsonian scholars in 1928 and published in an updated edition as a companion volume to How the World Moves.
American Warrior: The True Story of a Legendary Ranger by Gary O'Neal with David Fisher Who it's about: retired Army Ranger and Special Forces soldier Gary O'Neal, who drew upon the warrior traditions of his Oglala Sioux ancestors to develop combat techniques during his tours in Vietnam, Iraq, and Nicaragua.
Is it for you? O'Neal's graphic recollections of his 40-year career may not be for everyone, though "military buffs will give this high marks" (Kirkus Reviews).
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