Many of the big history books this season find relevance in crises facing the world today (migration, institutional racism, global warming), luring readers with the promise that examining the past holds clues to a better future.
History Top 10
East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity”
Philippe Sands. Knopf, May 24
Internationally renowned human rights lawyer Sands uncovers the creation and development of world-changing legal concepts that established humanitarian law, the result of the unprecedented atrocities of Hitler’s Third Reich.
The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship; Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
Patricia Bell-Scott. Knopf, Feb. 2
Two decades in the works, this book focuses on the unlikely friendship between Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt that critically shaped Roosevelt’s, and F.D.R.’s, view of race and racism in America.
Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea
Mitchell Duneier. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr. 19
Princeton sociology professor Duneier traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the 16th century and its revival by the Nazis to the present day.
The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World
Tara Zahra. Norton, Mar. 21
Zahra explores the deeper story of this astonishing movement of people—one of the largest in human history, and promises to provide insights to the refugee crisis of today.
The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero
Timothy Egan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar. 1
National Book Award–winner Egan carves out the colorful life of Thomas Francis Meagher, the audacious Irishman who moved to the U.S. and led the Irish Brigade during the Civil War.
In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond
Robert D. Kaplan. Random House, Feb. 9
Kaplan blends memoir, travelogue, journalism, and history to provide a potent examination of the forces that will determine Europe’s fate in the postmodern age.
The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer
Skip Hollandsworth. Holt, Apr. 5
True-crime aficionados are likely already aware of this long-awaited title from Hollandsworth, which recently received a PW starred review.
Paper: Paging Through History
Mark Kurlansky. Norton, May 16
In recent years there have been many books on the history of paper, but given the success of Cod and Salt, Kurlansky’s promises to be one of the more popular ones.
Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939
Adam Hochschild. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar. 29
The author of King Leopold’s Ghost adds to his multidimensional portrayals of historical characters in this collection of stories about many involved in the Spanish Civil War.
Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America
Douglas Brinkley. Harper, Mar. 15
Historian Brinkley’s books are known for exhibiting an impressive range of knowledge and fluid narrative skill, so readers can expect more of the same in his latest, which chronicles F.D.R.’s “undersung” legacy as premier protector of America’s public lands.
The Statesman and the Storyteller: John Hay, Mark Twain, and the Rise of American Imperialism by Mark Zwonitzer (Apr. 26, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-56512-989-4) brings two American figures—and friends—into the spotlight as it explores the tactics of and attitudes behind America’s earliest global policies and their influence on U.S. actions at a time when the country was taking center stage in the world.
1941: Fighting the Shadow War; A Divided America in a World at War by Marc Wortman (Apr. 5, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-2511-8) looks at the little-known history of America’s clandestine involvement in WWII before Pearl Harbor.
Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith (Feb. 2, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-465-07970-4) is the story of how Ali redefined what it means to be a black athlete in America—after Malcolm X enlightened him.
Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation by Jim Downs (Mar. 1, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-465-03270-9) overturns the dominant narrative of gay life in the decade before the AIDS crisis, arguing that gay liberation was about much more than sex, and shows the rich variety of gay life in America in the 1970s.
The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World by William Egginton (Feb. 2, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-62040-175-0). At the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’s death, a scintillating book from a respected scholar elucidates the achievement of Don Quixote and how it permanently changed the course of culture.
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (May 31, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-63286-412-3) reframes the conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America, from the end of the Civil War to our combustible present.
Lucie Aubrac: The French Resistance Heroine Who Outwitted the Gestapo by Siân Rees (June 1, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-61373-567-1) is the first full English-language biography of Lucie Aubrac, a founding leader of Libération-Sud, providing a long-needed corrective to the subject’s own admittedly “impressionistic” memoir.
The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of American Natural History by Darrin Lunde (Apr. 12, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-307-46430-9) relates how the intrepid naturalist Theodore Roosevelt and his lifelong passion for the natural world set the stage for America’s wildlife conservation movement.
The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World’s Oldest Bible by Chanan Tigay (Mar. 22, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-220641-1) is a historical detective story chronicling the oldest Bible in the world, and how its outing as a fraud led to a scandal.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea by Mitchell Duneier (Apr. 19, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-16180-4) covers the 500-year story of exclusion and containment, from the first Jewish ghetto to Ferguson, Mo.
The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich by Robert K. Wittman and David Kinney (Mar. 29, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-231901-2) is a window into the mind of Adolf Hitler’s “chief social philosopher,” Alfred Rosenberg, who formulated some of the guiding principles behind the Third Reich’s genocidal crusade.
Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America by Douglas Brinkley (Mar. 15, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-06-208923-6) examines the environmental legacy of F.D.R. and the New Deal.
The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, and Guerrillas, 1939–1945 by Max Hastings (May 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-06-225927-1) presents a worldwide cast of characters and some extraordinary sagas of intelligence and resistance, to create a new perspective on the greatest conflict in history, from the author of Inferno and Catastrophe: 1914.
The French Resistance by Olivier Wieviorka, trans. by Jane Marie Todd (Apr. 26, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-674-73122-6), details the Resistance from the inside out and reveals not one organization but many interlocking groups often at odds over goals, methods, and leadership.
Somme: Into the Breach by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (July 1, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-54519-9) focuses on the firsthand experiences and personal stories of both Allied and enemy soldiers who partook in the Somme campaign, the WWI battle that claimed over a million dead or wounded.
The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer by Skip Hollandsworth (Apr. 5, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-8050-9767-2) narrates the history of a terrifying serial killer—America’s first—who stalked Austin, Tex., in 1885.
The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran by Andrew Scott Cooper (July 19, hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-0-8050-9897-6) recounts the rise and fall of Iran’s glamorous Pahlavi dynasty, written with the cooperation of the late Shah’s widow, Empress Farah.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan (Mar. 1, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-544-27288-0) is the story of one of the most fascinating Irishman in 19th-century America, Thomas Francis Meagher, told by a National Book Award–winning author.
Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 by Adam Hochschild (Mar. 29, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-547-97318-0) delivers a sweeping history of the Spanish Civil War, through the stories of a dozen characters, including Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell, from the acclaimed author of King Leopold’s Ghost and To End All Wars.
Taverns of the American Revolution by Adrian Covert (July 12, trade paper, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-60887-785-0) delves into the role of the tavern in the American Revolution through vignettes about a selection of the era’s surviving public houses.
East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity” by Philippe Sands (May 24, hardcover, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-385-35071-6) explores the creation and development of the world-changing legal concepts that established humanitarian law, the result of the unprecedented atrocities of Hitler’s Third Reich.
The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship; Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell-Scott (Feb. 2, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-679-44652-1) is the story of the 28-year bond forged between Pauli Murray (granddaughter of a mulatto slave, who became a lawyer and civil rights pioneer) and Eleanor Roosevelt (first lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945 and human rights internationalist).
The Romanovs: 1613–1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore (May 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-307-26652-1) is an accessible account—based in part on newly available archival material—of three centuries of Russia’s ruling family, from the author of Young Stalin.
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan (Feb. 16, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-101-94632-9) illuminates how the silk roads—the crossroads of the world, the meeting place of East and West—shaped global history over the past two millennia.
MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific by Walter R. Borneman (May 10, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-316-40532-4) relates Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s rise during WWII, from the author of The Admirals.
(dist. by Random)
Melancholy Accidents by Peter Manseau (Mar. 22, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-61219-506-3) collects, introduces, and annotates many articles about gun violence in the 19th century from American newspapers, painting a portrait of U.S.’s long, bloody relationship with firearms.
Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill by Mark Lee Gardner (May 17, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-231208-2) chronicles the Rough Riders, a mounted regiment drawn from America’s western territories and led by Theodore Roosevelt, from the author of To Hell on a Fast Horse.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (Apr. 12, hardcover, $32.99, ISBN 978-1-56858-463-8) sheds light on the dark history of racist ideas and offers the tools to expose them.
(dist. by IPG)
Life Below Stairs: In the Victorian and Edwardian Country House by Siân Evans (Apr. 1, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-909881-64-8) reports stories of the humble lives spent “in service,” from the cook, butler, and housekeeper to the footmen, lady’s maids, governesses and tutors, nannies, and nursemaids.
Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nation’s Leaders by Brady Carlson (Feb. 1, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24393-2) entertainingly presents the death stories of our nation’s greatest leaders—and the wild ways we choose to remember and memorialize them, by public radio host and reporter Carlson.
The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World by Tara Zahra (Mar. 21, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-393-07801-5). Between 1846 and 1940, more than 50 million Europeans moved to the Americas. Zahra explores the deeper story of this astonishing movement of people—one of the largest in human history.
Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky (May 16, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-23961-4) sketches the definitive history of paper and the astonishing ways it has shaped today’s world; from the author of Cod and Salt.
The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire by Karl Jacoby (June 13, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-23925-6) narrates a new story of the black experience in America through the life of a mysterious entrepreneur.
Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America by Kali Nicole Gross (Feb. 2, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-19-024121-6) examines a murder investigation from the Philadelphia area in 1887, using detectives’ notes, trial and prison records, local newspapers, and other archival documents to reconstruct this ghastly who-done-it true crime in all its scandalous detail.
The Brazen Age: New York City and the American Empire; Politics, Art, and Bohemia by David Reid (Mar. 22, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-394-57237-6) delivers a sweeping history of the extraordinarily rich culture and turbulent politics that defined New York City in the mid-20th-century and ensured its place on the world stage.
(dist. by Norton)
Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder by Paul Thomas Murphy (Apr. 11, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-68177-120-5) investigates the first unsolved murder case of the Victorian era; by the author of Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy.
Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas (Apr. 5, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-59420-463-0) sketches an intimate portrait of Louisa Catherine Adams, the British-born American wife of John Quincy Adams.
Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table—an American Story by Ellen Wayland-Smith (May 3, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-250-04308-5) reports on the American religious community led by John Humphrey Noyes amid the religious fervor of the Second Great Awakening, whose radical notions of equality, sex, and religion transformed into a symbol of American middle-class respectability.
We Are as Gods: Back to the Land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America by Kate Daloz (Apr. 26, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-61039-225-9). Between 1970 and 1974, 10 million Americans abandoned the city, the commercialism, and all the inauthentic bourgeois comforts of the Eisenhower-era America of their parents. Daloz follows the dreams and ideals of a small group of back-to-the-landers to tell the story of a nationwide movement and moment.
In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond by Robert D. Kaplan (Feb. 9, hardcover, $28 ISBN 978-0-8129-9681-4) illuminates the fusion of the Latin West and the Greek East that created Romania, the country that gave rise to Ion Antonescu, Hitler’s chief foreign accomplice during WWII, and later became home to the most brutal strain of communism under Nicolae Ceausescu.
Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior by Arthur Herman (Jun. 14, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-8129-9488-9) delivers a biography of Gen. Douglas MacArthur that peels back the layers of myth, both pro and con, and exposes the marrow of the man beneath.
The Bridgebusters: The True Story of the Catch-22 Bomb Wing by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver (May 9, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-62157-488-0) delves into the true story of the men who inspired Joseph Heller’s classic novel, Catch-22, the men of the 57th Bomb Wing stationed in Corsica.
Rowman & Littlefield
A Long Dark Night: Race in America from Jim Crow to World War II by J. Michael Martinez (Apr. 15, hardcover, $42, ISBN 978-1-4422-5994-2) provides a bold history of an often overlooked period of African-American history that followed the collapse of Reconstruction—from the beginnings of legal segregation through the end of WWII.
Simon & Schuster
The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe: A Biography by Elaine Showalter (Mar. 8, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4516-4590-3) is the first full biography of Julia Ward Howe, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and an early and powerful feminist pioneer—a groundbreaking figure in the abolitionist and suffrage movements.
The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government by Fergus M. Bordewich (Feb. 9, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4516-9193-1) relates the dramatic story of the two remarkable years when Washington, Madison, and their dedicated colleagues struggled to successfully create the U.S. government, an achievement that has lasted to the present day.
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years by John Guy (May 3, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-670-78602-2) narrates an intimate and surprising biography drawing on a trove of new archival material that shows the Tudor queen at the height of her power by the bestselling, Whitbread Award–winning author of Queen of Scots.
The Last Days of Stalin by Joshua Rubenstein (May 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-19222-3) recounts the months before and after Stalin’s death and how his demise reshaped the course of 20th-century history.