History and Current Events
Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Jodie Adams Kirshner; foreword by Michael Eric DysonWhat it is: an eye-opening portrait of Detroit, Michigan following the city's 2013 bankruptcy filing.
What's inside: profiles of seven Detroit citizens trying to make a better life while facing poverty, urban blight, and government negligence.
Try this next: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and Detroit native) Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy similarly surveys the lives of everyday citizens navigating the Motor City's tumultuous changes.
America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika LeeWhat it is: a sweeping yet accessible deep dive into America's fear and hatred of immigrants, from the Colonial era to the present.
Topics include: the 19th-century Know Nothing movement; the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; Japanese American internment during World War II; contemporary Islamophobia and anti-Mexican sentiments.
Author alert: Award-winning historian Erika Lee (The Making of Asian America) is the director of the Immigration History Research Center.
Checkpoint Charlie: The Cold War, the Berlin Wall, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Iain MacGregorWhat it's about: how Cold War tensions spurred the construction of Checkpoint Charlie, the border crossing separating East and West Germany that became a powerful symbol of the era.
Why you might like it: This dramatic, well-researched account was published to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
What sets it apart: never-before-seen interviews with border guards, intelligence operatives, and escapees.
Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for... by Jessica McDiarmidWhat it is: a heart-wrenching exposé on British Columbia's Highway 16, known as the "Highway of Tears" because of the disappearances or murders of many Indigenous girls and women in the area.
Why it matters: Journalist Jessica McDiarmid's "powerful must-read" (Booklist) illuminates how these unsolved and underreported crimes are a microcosm of the systemic forces that continue to fail vulnerable Indigenous populations throughout Canada.
The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century by Thant Myint-UWhat it's about: how decades of colonialism, military rule, corruption, and civil war, as well as recent developments like the Rohingya genocide and China's rising political influence have wreaked havoc on the "unfinished nation" of Burma.
Why you might like it: Drawing from his experiences as a former diplomat and adviser to the Burmese government, Burmese American historian Thant Myint-U offers a compelling and perceptive glimpse into a country that "remains a mystery to most outsiders" (Kirkus).
The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era by Gareth RussellWhat it is: an extensively researched, evocatively detailed account of the Titanic's fateful voyage as experienced by six first-class passengers.
Featuring: Lucy Leslie, Countess of Rothes, who rowed a lifeboat full of passengers to safety; Jewish American immigrant Ida Strauss, who chose to die with her husband rather than board a lifeboat without him.
Don't miss: Author Gareth Russell's debunking of many of the popular conspiracy theories and falsehoods about the ship's sinking.
This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled... by David J. SilvermanWhat it's about: the complex 50-year alliance between the Wampanoag tribe and European colonizers that ended with King Philip's War, a three-year conflict that almost completely annihilated the Wampanoag.
Why you might like it: This impassioned narrative centers the Wampanoag people's experiences, offering insights into why the alliance was brokered and how the tribe persisted in the face of devastation.
Don't miss: profiles of Wampanoag activists, including Frank James (1923-2001), who established the National Day of Mourning in 1970.
The Wonders: The Extraordinary Performers Who Transformed the Victorian Age by John WoolfWhat it is: a lively and thought-provoking history of the "freak show," which gained considerable popularity in the 19th century even as performers were increasingly exploited by showmen like P.T. Barnum.
What sets it apart: Historian John Woolf's well-researched debut gives a voice to the performers who had few other opportunities for employment.
Did you know? Queen Victoria's known love of freak performers helped elevate the public perception of freak shows as high-brow amusements.
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