Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission by Bret BaierIn Three Days in January, political journalist Bret Baier (Fox News) details President Dwight Eisenhower's last three days in office. The transition to John F. Kennedy's administration came at a time when nuclear war seemed not just possible but (to many) imminent. Reviewing Eisenhower's entire presidency through the lens of his farewell address of January 17, 1961, Baier connects the issues that preoccupied Eisenhower with later events that Kennedy faced. He also sheds light on Eisenhower's growing respect for the much younger Kennedy. For another thorough and accessible account of Eisenhower's two terms, take a look at Jim Newton's Eisenhower.
The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First-Century Refugee Crisis by Patrick KingsleyChronicling the experiences of a single Syrian migrant and documenting the journeys of thousands of refugees from several Middle Eastern countries, journalist Patrick Kingsley paints a gut-wrenching picture of the current humanitarian crisis. Zooming in on duplicitous smugglers who advertise their services on Facebook, comparing the numbers of refugees to the population of Europe (0.2%), and highlighting rescue work by particular volunteers, Kingsley includes his personal views on these migrations by people fleeing from danger, while backing up his observations with impersonal data. For a deep, eye-opening exploration of this subject, check out The New Odyssey.
The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire by Stephen KinzerAccording to Stephen Kinzer, an acclaimed foreign correspondent (the New York Times and Boston Globe), the 1898 Spanish-American War was the first American imperialist venture. Subsequently, Theodore Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst, among several men who supported the war, lined up against anti-imperialists led by Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, and others in a vigorous debate that played out across American public life. In The True Flag, Kinzer thoroughly reviews their arguments for and against a U.S. policy of intervention in foreign territories, then shows how relevant they remain today. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews says that this book "should be required reading for civics courses."
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and... by Brad RiccaOne day in 1917, teenager Ruth Cruger disappeared in New York City, and traces of her whereabouts swiftly evaporated. Frustrated by the police detectives' failure to find Ruth, her father appealed to Grace Humiston, who had made a name for herself with her work for immigrants and the falsely accused, acquiring the nickname "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes." Though the police assumed that Ruth had eloped, Humiston disagreed, doggedly following up on clues the official detectives had overlooked until she solved the case. Fans of Erik Larson's true crime histories (including The Devil in the White City and Thunderstruck) should enjoy this compelling, detailed account, which reads like a suspense novel.
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. TysonThough several books have covered the 60-year-old case of Emmett Till's lynching in Mississippi, historian Timothy Tyson's new history freshly illuminates the trial of Till's murderers. He analyzes the trial transcript, which had been missing since 1955, interviews the key witness (now 80 years old) to Till's allegedly inappropriate behavior, and provides details from a recent FBI investigation. This riveting account immerses readers in the case and offers the definitive summary of its impact on subsequent history. For an absorbing study of one aspect of the case, try John Edgar Wideman's Writing to Save a Life, which focuses on Emmett's father Louis Till.
The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age by Myra MacPhersonIn their activities that sound like feminist initiatives of a century later, sisters Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee "Tennie" Claflin shocked and fascinated Gilded Age America and the world: together they opened the first woman-owned stock brokerage; Victoria ran for president, choosing Frederick Douglass to join her ticket; Tennie ran for Congress and became the honorary colonel of a black National Guard regiment. They also published a newspaper and exposed prominent citizens' misdeeds through their investigative reporting. In The Scarlet Sisters, journalist Myra MacPherson vividly portrays their campaign to improve the status of women. For a compelling episode in 19th-century women's history, be sure to read this well-researched and engaging dual biography.
The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science is Still a Boys' Club by Eileen PollackIn 2005, Lawrence Summers, then the president of Harvard University, asked: why are there so few tenured women professors in the hard sciences? Physicist Eileen Pollack (now a creative writing teacher) decided to find the answer to his question. Relating her own reasons for abandoning her dream of becoming a theoretical physicist after earning a bachelor's degree in physics in the 1970s, she discusses her findings about 21st-century women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Their reasons for staying out of those fields are complex; her analysis is fascinating. Kirkus Reviews calls this "unvarnished" report "impossible to put down."
Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate SummerscalePopular historian Kate Summerscale delves once more into Victorian society's dirty little secrets. Legal divorce was made available to England's common citizens for the first time in 1858. The same year, Henry Robinson sued for divorce after finding a secret diary in which his wife had allegedly penned erotic musings about her doctor. Isabella dared to counter-sue, presenting the court with (among other evidence of marital neglect) Henry's two illegitimate children as proof of his adultery. Summerscale seamlessly weaves private letters, newspaper stories, public documents, and Isabella's infamous diary into a moving portrait of history's real "Mrs. Robinson."
Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach LemmonDuring the early years of the U.S. war in Afghanistan launched in 2001, intelligence officers couldn't collect complete information from Afghan civilians because the male personnel weren't permitted to have any contact with women. Though high-level Army leaders were skeptical, Special Operations strategists convinced them in 2010 that they needed women to gather intelligence -- and that women were capable of the stringent physical demands of Special Ops. In Ashley's War, journalist Gail Tzemach Lemmon relates the successful experiences of the first such female officer in the U.S. Army: First Lt. Ashley White. For more on women in the contemporary U.S. military, try Helen Thorpe's Soldier Girls.
The Queen's Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth's Court by Anna WhitelockFor Queen Elizabeth I, life at court often focused on her bedchamber, where she could be herself and entrust her hopes and fears to the ladies who waited on her and slept with or near her. In the award-winning Queen's Bed, historian Anna Whitelock depicts the queen's private daily life: she vividly describes the beds in each of her residences, including her traveling bed, and she details Elizabeth's relationships with the women close to the throne and her love affairs. This unusual study expands on the more formal view of her public life; you might also enjoy Tracy Borman's The Private Lives of the Tudors.
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