Biography and Memoir
When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War by Jeffrey A. EngelWhat it is: a detailed account of how U.S. President George H.W. Bush helped bring about the end of the Cold War during his time in office.
Is it for you? Packed with political play-by-plays, this meticulously researched portrait is for readers with an interest in international relations and political history.
Further reading: For more on the 41st president, try Destiny and Power by Jon Meacham.
Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939 by Edgar Feuchtwanger with Bertil ScaliWhat it is: Historian Edgar Feuchtwanger relates how his boyhood in a prominent German-Jewish family was affected by the arrival of a new neighbor, Adolf Hitler, who moved in across the street from his Munich home in 1929.
Read it for: Feuchtwanger’s riveting first-hand accounts of events such as the Night of the Long Knives, the Anschluss, and Kristallnacht.
Reviewers say: “An intimate look at the horror wrought by Hitler” (Kirkus Reviews).
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha BandeleWhat it's about: Artist and social justice activist Patrisse Khan-Cullors divulges the story of her life, from her 1980s childhood in suburban Los Angeles to her involvement in founding the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Is it for you? This passionate and candid coming-of-age memoir is for readers with a strong interest in social activism, LGBT issues, and human rights.
Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles through Philosophy by Michael PerryWhat it is: Bestselling writer Michael Perry (The Jesus Cow) draws parallels between his life and that of medieval French philosopher Michel de Montaigne.
Read it for: Perry’s warm and humorous tone, which might provoke laughter as he describes his (and Montaigne’s) views on aging, sex, marriage...and kidney stones.
The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family by Gail Lumet BuckleyWhat it is: Author Gail Lumet Buckley, the daughter of singer Lena Horne, shares the multi-generational story of her African American family, from former Atlanta house slave Moses Calhoun to the family’s arrival in Brooklyn, New York, and beyond.
Further reading: For another saga of an African American family through several generations, check out From Slave Ship to Harvard by James H. Johnston.
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff HobbsWhat it's about: the haunting life story of Robert Peace, a brilliant young African American who grew up in the ghettos of 1980s Newark, New Jersey, but made his way into the Ivy League -- only to end up dealing drugs after graduation, which ultimately led to his death.
Author alert: The author of this compelling biography was Robert Peace’s roommate at Yale University.
You might also like: Kevin Powell's memoir The Education of Kevin Powell, another gripping and sobering portrayal of life for post-Civil Rights African Americans.
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education by Mychal Denzel SmithWhat it is: Mychal Denzel Smith (who writes for The Nation) details the story of his life as a young black man coming of age in the United States, from his birth in 1980s Washington, D.C., to his time at the historically black Hampton University, to his life as a social activist.
Read it with: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ National Book Award-winning Between the World and Me, which also provides cultural commentary and probes the issue of race in America.
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon TweedyWhat it is: Physician Damon Tweedy discusses his experience as an African American in the world of medicine, from his education at Duke University Medical School up to his work as a psychiatrist in North Carolina.
Why you should read it: Tweedy not only shares his personal story but also looks critically at disparities in health care for black and white Americans.
Reviewers say: “An arresting memoir that personalizes the enduring racial divide in contemporary American medicine” (Kirkus Reviews).
Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File by John Edgar WidemanWhat it is: a moving and thought-provoking meditation on the 1955 death of teenager Emmett Till and also that of his father, Louis Till, who was executed by the U.S. Army ten years earlier.
What sets it apart: By considering the stories of Emmett Till and his father, Louis, together, author John Edgar Wideman provides a new and thought-provoking narrative while reflecting on race and justice in America.
Further Reading: Mamie Till-Mobley's Death of Innocence or Timothy Tyson's The Blood of Emmett Till.
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