March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution by Will EnglundWorld War I began in August 1914, but the U.S. remained neutral until April 1917. In this riveting history, author Will Englund details President Woodrow Wilson's reasons for bringing his country into the war, illuminating other American leaders' arguments for and against war (including Congresswoman Jeannette Ranking, journalist H.L. Mencken, and former President Theodore Roosevelt). A major element in Wilson's thinking was Russian Tsar Nicholas II's March abdication, but the most significant factor was the escalating German submarine attacks on American shipping. Englund's discussion provides a "novel and persuasive point of entry" (Publishers Weekly) into the subject of U.S. participation in World War I.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David GrannIn 1920s Oklahoma, the Osage Indian Nation possessed immense wealth because their land contained large petroleum reserves. In Killers of the Flower Moon, New Yorker staff writer David Grann portrays a series of murders on the reservation. Local authorities couldn't solve the crimes, but an investigation by the relatively new FBI (led by the young J. Edgar Hoover) identified and charged the killers, whose primary motivation was greed. In this thoroughly researched history, Grann also reveals conspiracy and corruption beyond what the FBI discovered. Whether you're interested in Native American history or fascinated by true crime stories, check out this thrilling narrative, complete with photographs.
No One Cares about Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron PowersIn No One Cares about Crazy People, bestselling author Ron Powers combines a well-researched discussion of the social history of mental illness with an account of his two sons' schizophrenia. Sharply critiquing recent political comments about the mentally ill (as reflected in the book's title), Powers traces the treatment of these patients from 18th-century Britain's Bedlam hospital to 21st-century American practices. By describing his sons' ordeals, Powers makes the too-often ignored failures of mental health care heart-rendingly visible. This clear and powerful discussion updates and confirms the findings presented in Pete Earley's Crazy.
A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System by T.R. ReidAccording to acclaimed Washington Post correspondent T.R. Reid, the U.S. income tax code is a complete failure, bloated with loopholes and intelligible only to tax lawyers. In A Fine Mess, Reid reports on his exploration of taxation systems around the world, offering simpler approaches he says would work in the American economy. Pointing out that the income tax code has been completely reworked every 32 years since its 1913 inception, he argues that it's time for another overhaul. Though many individuals and groups will oppose the elimination of their favorite deductions, Reid's accessible explanations clarify the need for reform.
City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris by Holly TuckerDuring the reign of King Louis XIV of France, Paris suffered from a crime wave that culminated in the murders of two judicial officials. The second murder impelled Louis to appoint a crime czar to clean up the (literal) filth and corruption in the City of Light. As Paris' first police chief, Nicolas de la Reynie uncovered a crime ring that involved high-level French aristocrats, brought them to trial, and executed many. After de la Reynie's death, Louis himself destroyed a lot of the records, but author Holly Tucker mines other historical sources to chronicle the entire operation -- the cleanup of Paris, the crimes, and the punishments -- enriching her fascinating picture with details of Parisian daily life.
The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark MazzettiAfter the 9/11 attacks, the CIA changed its practice of shunning violence in its operations and adopted covert paramilitary techniques to carry out White House orders to assassinate specific enemies. In The Way of the Knife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti reviews the policy shift that now permits the use of predator drones, paramilitary contract agents, and similar operations, obscuring the distinction between espionage and acts of war. Focusing on less-well-known operations in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, Mazzetti details the CIA's work and explains how these maneuvers prompt increased anti-Americanism abroad. This is "a well-reported, smoothly written" account, says Kirkus Reviews.
Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War by Megan K. StackWhen Megan Stack was a child, she learned from a Marine veteran that people affected by war could "survive and not survive, both at the same time." In this eloquent memoir, she herself goes to war as a young journalist. Covering the time between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2006, Stack describes her encounters with warlords, CIA operatives, and regular people, as well as how she witnessed death and carnage, dealt with innocent people being killed, and heard government officials lie to the public. Stack visited Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel, among other places, and this evocative, personal book (a National Book Award finalist) provides much food for thought about the strife-filled Middle East.
Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen ThorpeUntil 2015, the U.S. excluded women from ground combat, but they have increasingly served as non-combatants on the front lines since deployments to Iraq began in 2002. In Soldier Girls, journalist Helen Thorpe chronicles the experiences of three Indiana women who joined the National Guard before 9/11, not expecting to be sent to a war zone. Describing their different backgrounds, the importance of their friendship throughout their 12 years' service, and the effects of deployment on the women and their families, Thorpe vividly portrays the lives of women in the armed forces. For more on American women in combat, try Amber Smith's Danger Close and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's Ashley's War.
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby WarrickIn Black Flags, Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick chronicles the birth of ISIS and its rise to become a major international threat. Recounting the history of Muslim zealot Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, he explains how Zarqawi organized the insurgency into a coherent movement called al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which survived his 2006 death in an airstrike and became ISIS. Warrick reveals how errors in U.S. responses to the crises in Iraq and Syria fed the anger of Zarqawi and his followers and bolstered their formation of a powerful army and a borderless nation. This book won Warrick his second Pulitzer Prize (the first was for a newspaper series); for additional background on al-Qaeda in Iraq, pick up his 2011 The Triple Agent.
Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon by Kim ZetterIn the 21st century, digital warfare has become a reality, according to cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter. In this detailed report, she recounts the origins of a malicious computer code called Stuxnet, its 2010 physical destruction of Iran's nuclear weapons development, and the wider dangers of digital attacks. Zetter explains in accessible terms how this type of computer virus (a "zero-day exploit") works and its risks to everyone from personal computer users to banks to international superpowers. Countdown to Zero Day provides its sobering analysis "with the panache of a spy thriller," says Publishers Weekly in a starred review.
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