History and Current Events
Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts from the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History by Catharine ArnoldWhat it is: a stark collection of testimonies from victims and survivors of the influenza pandemic that killed more than 50 million people worldwide between 1918 and 1919.
Did you know? While reports of the disease were being censored by nations in the midst of WWI, neutral Spain publicized the affliction of its ruler, King Alfonso XIII, leading to the disease becoming known as the "Spanish flu" -- and the mistaken assumption that Spain was experiencing the largest outbreak.
How Do We Look by Mary BeardWhat it's about: In this accessible, elegantly illustrated volume, classicist Mary Beard reexamines ancient art from viewers' (rather than artists') perspectives, exploring how bodies and the divine have been perceived throughout history.
What sets it apart: its joyful, accessible tone and its focus on non-Western, non-male-centric art.
Media buzz: How Do We Look is a companion to the BBC/PBS series Civilizations, for which Beard serves as a presenter.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah HarariWhat it is: a multidisciplinary approach to understanding contemporary challenges and maintaining rational thinking in a "post-truth" world.
Lessons include: "When You Grow Up, You Might Not Have a Job;" "Some Fake News Lasts Forever;" "The Future Is Not What You See in the Movies."
Reviewers say: "This well-informed and searching book is one to be savored and widely discussed" (Publishers Weekly).
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill LeporeWhat it's about: In this engrossing, vignette-laden history of America, Harvard historian and bestselling author Jill Lepore (The Secret History of Wonder Woman) explores the contradictions between the country's founding ideals and its historical and contemporary practices.
Want a taste? "To study the past is to unlock the prison of the present."
Don't miss: mini-biographies of lesser-known historical figures, many of them women and people of color.
Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam ToozeWhat it is: a trenchant look back at the 2008 economic crisis and its lasting repercussions.
Topics include: Brexit, Donald Trump's election, and the rising prosperity of Russia and China.
Who it's for: readers seeking an in-depth geopolitical analysis and economic history.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin DickeyWhat is it: a measured, cogent history of notable haunted houses, institutions, and towns in America.
Want a taste? "Ghost stories are how cities make sense of themselves: how they narrate the tragedies of their past, weave cautionary tales for the future."
Why you might like it: This intriguing road trip narrative poignantly grapples with what ghost lore reveals about thorny topics like race.
American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America by Linda S. GodfreyWhat it's about: Reporter and "creature expert" Linda S. Godfrey draws on eyewitness accounts, historical documents, and folklore to investigate the otherworldly beasts allegedly populating the American landscape.
Featuring: Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, the Mothman, and Wampus cats.
Reviewers say: "a handy encyclopedia for enthusiastic cryptozoologists of all ages" (Publishers Weekly).
The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured... by Peter ManseauWhat it's about: the work of controversial "spirit photographer" William Mumler, who was tried for fraud in a highly publicized 1869 case that featured showman P.T. Barnum as a witness for the prosecution.
Worth a thousand words: Mumler's most famous photograph, taken six years after Abraham Lincoln's assassination, purportedly shows Lincoln's ghost hovering behind his wife.
Why you might like it: This balanced account allows readers to draw their own conclusions about Mumler and his work.
The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America's UFO Highway by Ben MezrichWhat it is: a lively and dramatic account of small-town police officer Chuck Zukowski's 3,000-mile quest to prove that UFOs exist, sparked by unexplained livestock mutilations in his rural Colorado town.
Places visited: the usual UFO "hot spots" like Roswell and Area 51, but also underground military bases and sacred Native American sites.
For fans of: The X-Files and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem by Stacy SchiffWhat it is: a gripping and vivid retelling of the Salem witch trials and their aftermath, recounted with verve in a conversational tone.
About the author: Historian Stacy Schiff is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra: A Life.
Try this next: Marilynne K. Roach's Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and the Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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Des Plaines, Illinois 60016