History and Current Events
Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. FieselerWhat it's about: In June 1973, 32 people died after an arsonist set New Orleans' Up Stairs Lounge ablaze. The tragedy remained the deadliest attack on a gay club in the United States until the Pulse shooting in 2016.
Why it's significant: Debut author Robert W. Fieseler's vivid account of the attack's aftermath -- in which indifferent authorities failed to identify the perpetrator -- spotlights a forgotten moment in the gay rights movement and the costly toll of the uphill battle to equality.
Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for... by Margalit FoxWhat it is: a page-turning true crime account of the 1908 wrongful murder conviction of Jewish German immigrant Oscar Slater, featuring an unlikely hero at its center -- Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle.
Don't miss: New York Times writer Margalit Fox's extensive research richly reconstructs how Doyle used his famous creation's deduction methods to exonerate Slater.
The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Andrew LawlerWhat it is: Part detective story, part archaeological exploration, this inquisitive study examines the disappearance of 115 colonists from the Roanoke Colony in 1590.
Why you might like it: With an accessible narrative that will appeal to both history buffs and general readers, The Secret Token is an engrossing mystery.
Want a taste? "If you look at the maps long enough, Roanoke Island can begin to take on the shape of a question mark."
Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America by Alissa QuartWhat it is: an in-depth and ambitious look at the systemic hardships faced by the American middle class, offering policy-based solutions.
About the author: Alissa Quart is the executive editor of the nonprofit Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
Book buzz: Nickel and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich calls Squeezed "a keen, elegantly written, and scorching account of the American family today."
Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History... by Lynn Vincent and Sara VladicWhat it's about: On July 30, 1945, a Japanese submarine torpedoed and sank the USS Indianapolis, with all but 317 of the 1,196 crew perishing after the initial attack and in the four days before help arrived.
Did you know? The Indianapolis was torpedoed mere days after the completion of its highly classified mission to deliver the atomic bomb "Little Boy" to the Pacific Islands. Little Boy, the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, was dropped on Hiroshima one week after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker... by Paul FischerWhat it's about: In 1978, South Korean actress Choi Eun-Hee and her ex-husband, director Shin Sang-Ok, were abducted under the orders of Kim Jong-Il and forced to create North Korean propaganda films to help bolster the country's lagging film industry.
Is it for you? This gripping exploration of North Korean filmmaking history offers an illuminating glimpse into a secretive culture, sure to satisfy true crime fans, cinephiles, and Korean history enthusiasts.
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth GreenwoodWhat it is: a fascinating and lighthearted survey of "pseudocide" (faking one's death), inspired by author Elizabeth Greenwood's frustrations with mounting student loan debt.
Don't miss: Greenwood's attempt to stage her death in the Philippines, a country known for having high rates of death fraud.
For fans of: Mary Roach and Susan Orlean.
Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom KizziaWhat it's about: In 2002, the fundamentalist Pilgrim family squared off against the National Park Service after their 420-acre homestead infringed on land owned by Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The initial skirmish kicked off an investigation that uncovered the Pilgrim family's chilling history -- and the fact that its patriarch was not what he seemed.
About the author: A longtime Alaska journalist (and Pilgrim family neighbor), Tom Kizzia had unparalleled access to the secretive family throughout the course of his reportage.
17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew MortonWhat it is: a revelatory chronicle of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's close ties to Adolf Hitler, who planned to install the pair as puppet monarchs after his invasion of Britain.
Chapters include: "Sex, Drugs, and Royal Blackmail;" "A Shady Royal in a Sunny Place;" "The Hunt for Pirate Gold."
Reviewers say: "reads like a good spy thriller" (Booklist); "hard to put down" (Library Journal).
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey ToobinWhat it is: a propulsive account of Patty Hearst's 1974 kidnapping by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), an organization she later claimed to have joined in earnest, famously robbing a bank with them.
What sets it apart: Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin offers a balanced view of Hearst's subsequent federal trial, demonstrating both sides' incompetence and opportunism.
Why you might like it: Though Toobin never states whether he believes Hearst acted of her own accord, he provides plenty of detailed research for readers to draw their own conclusions.
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