History and Current Events
Start by Believing: Larry Nassar's Crimes, the Institutions that Enabled Him, and the Brave... by John Barr and Dan MurphyWhat it is: a disturbing, well-researched exposé of Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of hundreds of young women and girls, many of them competitive gymnasts.
Author alert: Journalists John Barr and Dan Murphy won the Peabody Award in 2019 for their reportage of Nassar's crimes.
Reviewers say: "the definitive history of the case" (Library Journal).
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunnWhat it is: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists (and spouses) Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's compassionate examination of the forces contributing to the decline of America's working class.
Chapters include: "When Jobs Disappear;" "Drug Dealers in Lab Coats;" "Homeless in a Rich Nation."
Media buzz: A companion documentary premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival in November 2019.
999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune MacadamWhat it's about: In 1942, the Slovakian government paid the Nazis approximately $200 per person to deport hundreds of Jewish women to Auschwitz. Told they were being recruited for factory work, the women were among the first of the concentration camp's 1.3 million prisoners.
Why you should read it: Written to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation, this heartwrenching history collects interviews with survivors, family members, and witnesses, as well as testimonies from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive.
A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution by Jeremy D. PopkinWhat it is: "A fresh, welcome new interpretation of the French Revolution" (Kirkus Reviews) written by University of Kentucky historian Jeremy D. Popkin, an expert on the era.
Why it matters: Popkin argues that the French Revolution served as a resonant test case for modern political thought, with issues like racism, sexism, and social welfare being openly discussed and debated.
Read it for: Profiles of lesser known figures like glazier Jacques-Louis Ménétra help contextualize the Revolution's impact on the lower classes.
When Reagan Sent in the Marines: The Invasion of Lebanon by Patrick J. SloyanWhat it's about: On October 23, 1983, a bombing at the Marine barracks in Beirut killed 241 Americans, resulting in the largest single-day loss of Marine life.
Why it's significant: This gripping account reveals how the Reagan administration's incompetence led to the disaster and how the bombing subsequently inspired Osama bin Laden to attack America.
About the author: The late Patrick J. Sloyan won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his reporting on the Gulf War.
Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene A. CarruthersWhat it is: a galvanizing call for black liberation, written by Black Youth Project 100 founding director Charlene A. Carruthers.
What's inside: strategies on how to address the movement's goals through an intersectional lens, pulled from the author's experiences as a community organizer and a self-described "Black lesbian leftist."
Don't miss: Carruthers' enlightening discussion of the "Chicago Model" of community action, which dates back to the 1930s.
A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America's... by Rachel DevlinWhat it is: an informative account of the women and girls who fought for school desegregation between the 1940s and 1960s.
Did you know? In many of the era's desegregation cases, including 1954's Brown v. Board of Education, female plaintiffs vastly outnumbered male plaintiffs.
Try this next: Janet Dewart Bell's inspiring oral history Lighting the Fires of Freedom collects interviews with black women who were involved in the civil rights movement.
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya HartmanWhat it's about: Fleeing the post-Civil War South in the early 20th century, black women sought freedom in northern urban enclaves and eschewed social conventions to create new lives for themselves.
Is it for you? Guggenheim Fellow Saidiya Hartman's meticulously researched chronicle occasionally dips into speculation when the historical record isn't sufficient.
Reviewers say: "This passionate, poetic retrieval of women from the
footnotes of history is a superb literary achievement" (Publishers Weekly).
The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya MilesWhat it’s about: Detroit, Michigan’s enslavement of African and Indigenous people throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
Why you might like it: Tiya Miles’ scholarly yet accessible history illuminates the complicity of Northern states in the slave trade.
Book buzz: This thought-provoking work from MacArthur Fellow Miles was the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize winner and a Harriet Tubman Prize finalist.
The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era by Elizabeth Dowling TaylorWhat it is: a sweeping history of black society in Washington, D.C. that fought for reforms during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras.
Featuring: Library of Congress librarian and activist Daniel Murray, who served on President McKinley’s inauguration committee and founded the National Afro-American Council, a forerunner of the NAACP.
Read it for: profiles of influential black tastemakers who rarely make the history books.
Contact your librarian for more great books!