History and Current Events
The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution by Eric FonerWhat it's about: how the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th constitutional amendments (also known as the Reconstruction amendments) impacted an America still reeling from the aftermath of the Civil War.
Don't miss: an incisive and resonant look into how the Reconstruction amendments are interpreted and debated in contemporary political discourse, particularly in relation to voter rights.
Book buzz: Library Journal calls Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner's latest "a must-read for anyone interested in U.S. history."
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. GraffWhat it is: a heartwrenching collection of first-person accounts from survivors, first responders, and witnesses of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Is it for you? Intimate and apolitical, this vivid, hour-by-hour chronicle of one of America's most tragic days is unflinching in its depictions of loss.
Further reading: Mitchell Zuckoff's richly detailed history Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11.
Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh MoaveniFeaturing: thirteen women and girls, with backgrounds as varied as their motivations, who left their homes in Europe and North Africa to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
Read it for: a compassionate yet critical examination of the many whys of religious extremism and radicalization.
About the author: Iranian American journalist Azadeh Moaveni expands upon her Pulitzer Prize-nominated New York Times reportage for this immersive history.
Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant by Anne Gardiner PerkinsWhat it's about: In 1969, 268 years after its founding, Yale University admitted women undergraduates for the first time (of the 575 accepted into the elite Ivy, 90% were white).
What happened next: Isolated from (yet harassed by) their male peers and professors, the women of Yale advocated for institutional reforms like gender-blind admissions, racial equality, and inclusive healthcare.
Who it's for: Yalies; fans of inspiring women's histories like Hidden Figures and Rise of the Rocket Girls.
Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation by Steve VogelWhat it's about: "Operation Gold," the ambitious yet ultimately doomed endeavor between the CIA and MI5 to construct a tunnel into East Berlin to tap into Soviet communication lines.
What happened: Thanks to the efforts of double agent George Blake, Soviet authorities had been aware of the tunnel's existence since its inception in 1951, but to protect Blake, waited until 1956 to "discover" it.
Read it for: a pulse-pounding and dramatic storyline reminiscent of a John le Carré novel.
Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt AndersenWhat it is: a provocative, no-holds-barred exploration of how superstition, self-delusion, charlatanism, and conspiracy theories have always been richly embedded in the fabric of American life and culture.
Topics include: the Salem witch trials; Dr. Oz; P.T. Barnum; 1960s counterculture; Satanic Panic; Donald Trump.
Want a taste? "We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland."
The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture by Euny HongWhat it's about: Hallyu (or The Korean Wave), the global dissemination of South Korean popular culture that has exploded since the 1990s and has been aided by technological progress, economic changes, and government investments.
Author alert: Journalist Euny Hong's life experiences richly inform this breezy account -- she grew up in Seoul's Gangnam District, famously immortalized in PSY's satirical song "Gangnam Style."
Whatever Happened to the Metric System?: How America Kept Its Feet by John Bemelmans MarcianoWhat it's about: Rich in political intrigue, this lively history chronicles four centuries' worth of attempts to convert America to the metric system.
Read it for: author John Bemelmans Marciano's clever sense of humor, including the use of fractions to denote chapter headings.
Did you know? The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that doesn't use the metric system (Myanmar and Liberia are the other two).
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah VowellWhat it's about: Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette's 1824 return to American soil, where he was received with great fanfare by more than 80,000 onlookers.
Don't miss: Author Sarah Vowell's unconventional research methods included attending a Lafayette-themed puppet show.
Reviewers say: This snarky romp is "especially recommended to those who are convinced that history is dry" (Library Journal).
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer WrightWhat's inside: a lighthearted yet gruesome survey of 13 diseases, including the bubonic plague, syphilis, cholera, and leprosy.
Want a taste? "There's debate today over whether the plague that led to Rome's fall was typhus or measles or smallpox. I am on Team Smallpox!"
Chapters include: "Try Being Nice Instead of Burning People as Witches;" "Spread the Word That Vaccines Are the Best;" "Never Glamorize Ill Health."
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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