Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker BuckWhat it's about: In 2016, journalist Rinker Buck constructed a flatboat similar to the ones used in the 19th century and spent four months traveling 2,000 miles down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
Read it for: an engaging blend of history, memoir, and travelogue that tries to re-capture the experience of 19th-century settlers and pioneers.
Author alert: Buck retraced the Oregon Trail in an award-winning 2015 history of the same name.
Asian American Histories of the United States by Catherine Ceniza ChoyWhat it is: an insightful and well-researched history that foregrounds the Asian American experience from the 19th century to the present.
Why you should read it: Exploring themes of violence and resistance, this latest volume in the ReVisioning History series offers illuminating perspectives on the erasure of Asian Americans from U.S. histories.
Further reading: The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee; the anthology My Life: Growing Up Asian in America.
The Big Lie: Election Chaos, Political Opportunism, and the State of American... by Jonathan LemireWhat it is: an incisive look at the damaging impact of disinformation campaigns launched before, during, and after Donald Trump's presidency.
About the author: Journalist Jonathan Lemire is the White House bureau chief at Politico and the host of Way Too Early on MSNBC.
Further reading: Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America by Dan Pfeiffer.
The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America by John Wood SweetWhat it's about: the first known recorded rape trial in American history.
What happened: In 1793 New York City, well-to-do Harry Bedlow raped 17-year-old seamstress Lanah Sawyer. Though Sawyer took Bedlow to court for his crimes, an all-male jury acquitted him.
Why it matters: The trial and subsequent aftermath sparked conversations about class privilege, sexual politics, and the limitations of the criminal justice system that endure to this day.
Focus on: Hispanic Heritage Month
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo VillavicencioWhat it is: journalist and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's impassioned reportage on undocumented people living in the United States.
What's inside: compelling and empathetic profiles of immigrants trying to get by in a country that often dehumanizes them.
Awards buzz: The Undocumented Americans was a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and a National Book Award finalist.
El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie GibsonWhat it is: a sweeping five century history of the influential role Hispanic people and cultures have played in North America's origins.
Why it matters: This thought-provoking work from historian Carrie Gibson (Empire's Crossroads) eschews Anglo-American narratives in favor of elevating marginalized or overlooked perspectives.
Reviewers say: "an essential acquisition for all American history collections" (Booklist).
An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul OrtizWhat it is: an intersectional history that investigates the role American imperialism has played in marginalizing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous peoples.
Why you might like it: Historian Paul Ortiz's concise and accessible account incorporates oral histories and other primary sources to illuminate the overlapping struggles for emancipation among denizens of the Global South (Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean).
Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity by Paola RamosWhat it's about: Vice journalist Paola Ramos' travels throughout the United States to amplify "the voices that are often neglected in the back of the room."
What's inside: profiles and photographs of diverse Hispanic and Latino/a people who have embraced the inclusivity of the term "Latinx," including queer and trans people, Muslim Latinx, "Blaxicans" (Black Mexicans), and undocumented immigrants.
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