History and Current Events
Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best by Neal BascombWhat it is: a dramatic account of the 1938 Pau Grand Prix, when French Jewish driver René Dreyfus bested Rudi Caracciola, the driver hand-picked by Hitler to secure a German victory and fuel Nazi propaganda.
Featuring: American heiress Lucy Schell, who bankrolled Dreyfus' efforts after he was banned from all major teams because of his heritage.
Read it for: a compelling underdog story of triumphing over adversity.
Had I Known: Collected Essays by Barbara EhrenreichWhat it is: an incisive assemblage of previously published essays from journalist and bestselling Nickel and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich.
Topics include: the failings of the mental health care system; higher education's rising costs; the criminalization of poverty; sexual harassment and rape culture.
Read it for: the eerie prescience of Ehrenreich's older pieces, such as 1986's "Is the Middle Class Doomed?"
Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered... by Eric EyreWhat it's about: how the opioid epidemic ravaged Kermit, West Virginia, a town with a population of less than 400 that distributed 12 million opioid pills over a period of three years.
Author alert: Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Eric Eyre expands upon his Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage for this sobering investigation.
What sets it apart: Though it shares the intimate tone of Beth Macy's Dopesick, Death in Mud Lick also focuses on the specific pharmaceutical distributors complicit in Kermit's decline.
This is Chance! The Shaking of an All-American City, A Voice That Held It Together by Jon MooallemMarch 27, 1964: the 9.2-magnitude "Good Friday earthquake" ripped through Anchorage, Alaska, the biggest earthquake in American history to date. With no clear disaster management in place, the city panicked.
What happened next: heroic radio reporter Genie Chance tirelessly organized recovery efforts during three days of nonstop broadcasts.
Read it for: an inspiring, vividly rendered account of a community rallying in a crisis.
Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian... by Claudio SauntWhat it's about: the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which forcibly displaced 80,000 Native Americans from their land.
Why it matters: Historian Claudio Saunt's incisive account debunks the myth that removal was unavoidable and reveals the political machinations behind the state-sponsored "exterminatory warfare."
Reviewers say: "forces a new reckoning with American history" (Publishers Weekly).
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental... by Gordon H. ChangWhat it is: an ambitious chronicle of the mid-19th century Chinese laborers who endured meager wages, dangerous working conditions, and racist hostility to build the Transcontinental Railroad.
What sets it apart: With no firsthand accounts available for study, historian Gordon H. Chang utilized census data, payroll information, newspaper articles, photographs, and archaeological findings to craft this impassioned own voices history.
Book buzz: Ghosts of Gold Mountain won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Adult Nonfiction earlier this year.
The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for... by Julie CheckowayWhat it's about: In 1937 Maui, teacher Soichi Sakamoto formed a "three-year swim club" for the impoverished Japanese American children of the area's sugar plantation workers. His goal? To produce Olympic-ready athletes in time for the 1940 Tokyo Games.
What happened next: Although the 1940 Games were canceled due to the outbreak of World War II, the team competed in the 1948 Games and Sakamoto found success as a swim coach at the University of Hawaii.
For fans of: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.
The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika LeeWhat it is: a sweeping survey of Asian immigration in the United States that won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Adult Nonfiction in 2016.
Why you might like it: Erika Lee's well-researched history eschews monolithic conceptions of Asian identity by detailing the specific experiences of people from various ethnic groups.
Don't miss: the overview of Asian immigration in Canada and Latin America.
The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung... by Doug MackWhat it is: a thought-provoking blend of history and travelogue that explores several United States territories including American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Read it for: island residents' insights on their relationship to the U.S.
Reviewers say: "An entertaining, informative guidebook to some cool places populated by people to whom attention should be paid" (Kirkus Reviews).
Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World's Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History... by David Wolman and Julian SmithWhat it's about: A decade after the United States' annexation of Hawaii, three Hawaiian cowboys (or paniolos) defied skepticism and scorn to dominate the competition at the 1908 Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.
Why it matters: This engaging history upends mythic conceptions of the American West by spotlighting the ways paniolos shaped cowboy culture and fought to maintain their identity after annexation.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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