History and Current Events
The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times by Anthony DePalmaWhat it is: an immersive portrait of everyday life for contemporary Cubans grappling with their country's "bizarre mash-up of an economy."
Read it for: the eye-opening interviews.
Author alert: A former Latin America correspondent for the New York Times, Anthony DePalma is the author of The Man Who Invented Fidel.
Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State by Barton GellmanThen: In 2014, journalist Barton Gellman won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on Edward Snowden's leak of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents.
Now: Gellman reflects on the pressures of his white-knuckle investigation and his complicated relationship with Snowden in this propulsive deep dive into the modern surveillance state.
For fans of: All the President's Men.
The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China by Jonathan KaufmanStarring: the Sassoons and the Kadoories, two Jewish families originally from Baghdad whose business pursuits had a powerful impact on the economy of 19th- and 20th-century Shanghai.
Is it for you? This sweeping history confronts the darker aspects of the families' prosperity, including their willful ignorance of China's political troubles and their participation in the opium trade.
Don't miss: the Sassoons and the Kadoories putting aside their bitter rivalry to protect 18,000 Jewish refugees during World War II.
Troop 6000: The Girl Scout Troop That Began in a Shelter and Inspired the World by Nikita StewartWhat it is: the uplifting story of a Girl Scout troop that was founded in a Queens, New York shelter, eventually expanding to include hundreds of girls in the New York City shelter system.
Read it if: you like social justice narratives; you're looking for a clear-eyed view on the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness.
Reviewers say: "A tale of how grassroots spirit and gritty determination can bloom into hope" (Kirkus Reviews).
Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution by Kathleen DuValWhat it's about: the lesser-known "contest of empires" between British, Spanish, and French forces fighting for control of Florida's Gulf Coast during the American Revolution.
What sets it apart: Historian Kathleen DuVal's intimate account focuses on eight individuals involved in the conflict, including Chickasaw leader Payamataha, who advocated for neutrality; slave Petit Jean, who helped the Spanish defeat the British at sea; and French Cajun refugee and avowed pro-colonist Amand Broussard.
Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It by Larrie D. FerreiroWhat it is: a richly detailed revisionist history that reveals how France and Spain's military and financial aid were crucial to securing American independence.
Want a taste? "Instead of the myth of heroic self-sufficiency, the real story is that the American nation was born as the centerpiece of an international coalition."
Book buzz: A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Brothers at Arms won the Journal of the American Revolution Book of the Year Award in 2016.
In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown by Nathaniel PhilbrickSeptember 5, 1781: a decisive French victory at the Battle of the Chesapeake heralded the final days of the American Revolution.
Why you might like it: Author Nathaniel Philbrick draws upon letters, journal entries, sea logs, and his own firsthand knowledge of sailing to deliver a dramatic account of a key battle.
Author alert: Pulitzer Prize finalist Philbrick is the National Book Award-winning author of In the Heart of the Sea.
Revolution Song: The Story of America's Founding in Six Remarkable Lives by Russell ShortoWhat it is: an evocative history of the American Revolution as experienced by six people navigating the era's nascent conceptions of individual freedom.
Featuring: Seneca diplomat Cornplanter, who fought with the British; soldier's daughter Margaret Moncrieffe, a demimondaine who eschewed the era's gender norms; Venture Smith, a Connecticut slave who bought his freedom.
Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution through Painters' Eyes by Paul StaitiWhat it's about: how five artists, often working alongside the Founding Fathers, created visual narratives of the American Revolution that have endured for centuries.
Reviewers say: "A lively, splendid history that captures the times with insight, acumen, and a juggler's finesse" (Kirkus Reviews).
Try this next: Jane Kamensky's award-winning biography A Revolution in Color offers an intimate portrait of John Singleton Copley, one of the painters profiled in Of Arms and Artists.
Contact your librarian for more great books!