The variety of books in the category is on full display in this season’s top history titles, with biographies of Renaissance princes, family histories, war journalism, Soviet spy thrillers, and true crime accounts.
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst
Jeffrey Toobin. Doubleday, Aug. 2
New Yorker writer Toobin examines the SLA, a ragtag radical group active in the 1970s, and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst.
American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1804
Alan Taylor. Norton, Sept. 6
A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize provides a new type of creation story in this revisionist history of America’s founding.
Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital
David Oshinsky. Doubleday, Nov. 15
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Polio: An American Story chronicles the history of America’s oldest hospital, charting the path of American medicine from quackery to a professional and scientific endeavor.
The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici
Catherine Fletcher. Oxford Univ., Sept. 1
Fletcher’s biography of Alessandro de’ Medici combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today.
The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran
Andrew Scott Cooper. Holt, Aug. 2
Written with the cooperation of the late shah’s widow, Cooper traces the rise and fall of Iran’s glamorous Pahlavi dynasty, whose unseating helped set the stage for the current state of the Middle East.
Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom
Jack Weatherford. Viking, Oct. 25
Weatherford’s study of 13th-century Mongolia reveals how Genghis harnessed the power of religion to rule the largest empire the world has ever known, and draws parallels to religious extremism today.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Margot Lee Shetterly. Morrow, Sept. 6
The story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians and the crucial role they played in America’s space program is set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South.
In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine
Tim Judah. Crown/Duggan, Oct. 11
This boots-on-the-ground dispatch from the conflict in Ukraine provides the context for understanding the conflict’s roots in local history and its import in international politics.
Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War
Chandra Manning. Knopf, Aug. 16
Manning explores the lasting effects of the alliance between former slaves seeking refuge behind Union lines and Union soldiers.
True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy
Kati Marton. Simon & Schuster, Sept. 6
Marton’s real-life spy thriller tells the story of Noel Field, an Ivy League–educated U.S. State Department employee, who spied for Stalin during the 1930s and ‘40s.
Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers by Bobby Seale, photos by Stephen Shames (Oct. 18, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-4197-2240-0), chronicles the civil rights efforts of the American radical political party, written by the party’s cofounder and published to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of its founding. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn by Frederick Douglass, edited by Theodore Hamm (Jan. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-485-2). A fascinating collection of Frederick Douglass’s controversial speeches in Brooklyn, N.Y., this volume compiles original source material that illustrates the relationship between the abolitionist and the then city of Brooklyn.
Blitzkrieg: Myth, Reality, and Hitler’s Lightning War: France 1940 by Lloyd Clark (Sept. 6, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-2513-2) is a detailed reassessment of the famous German tactic, and one of the most shocking military victories, the fall of France to the Nazis.
The Man with the Poison Gun: A Cold War Spy Story by Serhii Plokhy (Dec. 6, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-465-03590-8) offers insight into the shadowy world of Cold War espionage through the story of Bogdan Stashinsky, a KGB assassin, whose defection to the West changed the face of Cold War spying. 15,000-copy announced first printing.
Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life by Philippe Girard (Nov. 22, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-465-09413-4) shows how Louverture transformed himself from lowly freedman into revolutionary hero as the mastermind of the bloody slave revolt of 1791, the only successful slave rebellion in world history. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters’ Eyes by Paul Staiti (Oct. 18, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-63286-465-9) follows the lives of the five great American artists of the Revolutionary period—Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart—to show how their works contributed to America’s founding spirit.
The Carnival Campaign: How the Rollicking 1840 Campaign of “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” Changed Presidential Elections Forever by Ronald G. Shafer (Sept. 1, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-61373-540-4) tells the story of the presidential campaign of Gen. William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, and argues that the campaign marked a series of “firsts” that changed presidential politicking into the circuslike, big-money campaigns that emphasize style and image over substance as a matter of course.
The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill by Greg Mitchell (Oct. 18, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-101-90385-8) relates two harrowing attempts to rescue East Germans by tunneling beneath the Berlin Wall, the U.S. television networks that financed and filmed them, and the Kennedy administration’s attempt to suppress both films.
In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah (Oct. 11, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-451-49547-1) unpacks a century of conflict to lay bare the events and misunderstandings that have turned neighbors against one another and mired Europe’s largest country in a conflict that seems without end.
Honor Before Glory: The Epic World War II Story of the Japanese American GIs Who Rescued the Lost Battalion by Scott McGaugh (Oct. 11, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-306-82445-6) is the story of the Japanese-American “Go for Broke” unit that rescued an American battalion trapped in France, and went on to become the most decorated unit of its size in WWII. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin (Aug. 2, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-385-53671-4) recounts the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, a senior in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, in 1974 by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky (Nov. 15, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-52336-3) chronicles the history of America’s oldest hospital, charting the path of American medicine from butchery and quackery to a professional and scientific endeavor, and the growth of a civic institution.
The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands (Oct. 11, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-54057-5) tells how President Harry Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur squared off to decide America’s future in the aftermath of WWII.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Incarnations: India in Fifty Lives by Sunil Khilnani (Sept. 20, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-374-17549-8) provides a history of the world’s largest democracy through portraits of emperors, warriors, philosophers, film stars, and corporate titans—some famous, some unjustly forgotten—bringing feeling, wry humor, and uncommon insight to dilemmas that extend from ancient times to our own.
Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs by Douglas Smith (Nov. 1, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-374-24084-4). Published on the centenary of his death, this biography presents Rasputin in all his complexity—man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard.
Worst. President. Ever: James Buchanan, the POTUS Rating Game, and the Legacy of the Least of the Lesser Presidents by Robert Strauss (Oct. 1, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-4930-2483-4) flips the great presidential biography on its head with this account of James Buchanan’s presidency that argues few leaders could have done worse.
The Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman (Jan. 3, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-2599-6). The author of Thomas Cromwell and Elizabeth’s Women takes readers behind the closed doors and into the intimate lives of the Tudor monarchs, delving deep into their education, upbringing, sexual lives, and into the kitchens, bathrooms, schoolrooms, and bedrooms of court.
A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family’s Quest for Justice by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan (Nov. 29, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-06-240551-7) unravels the mysteries of Pearl Harbor to expose the scapegoating of Adm. Husband Kimmel, who was in command the day 2,000 Americans died. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion by Gareth Stedman Jones (Aug. 29, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-97161-5) returns Karl Marx to his 19th-century world, before later inventions transformed him into communism’s patriarch and fierce lawgiver, and shows how Marx adapted the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, and others.
Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America by David J. Silverman (Oct. 10, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-73747-1) reframes our understanding of Indians’ historical relationship with guns, arguing against the notion that they prized these weapons more for the pyrotechnic terror guns inspired than for their efficiency as tools of war.
Vanishing America: Species Extinction, Racial Peril, and the Origins of Conservation by Miles A. Powell (Nov. 14, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-674-97156-1) explores how early conservationists became convinced that the vitality of America’s white races depended on preserving the wilderness, and shows how although these activists laid the groundwork for the modern environmental movement and its many successes, the consequences of their racial anxieties persist.
Hill and Wang
Three-Fifths a Man: A Graphic History of the African American Experience by Sid Jacobson, illus. by Ernie Colón (Jan. 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-8090-9368-7), highlights key events in African-American history, taking us from the 16th-century Atlantic slave trade to the election of Barack Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Victorian Master Criminal: Charles Peace and the Murders of Cock and Dyson by David C. Hanrahan (Oct. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-7509-6297-1) reveals the tie between two sensational Victorian murder cases—one a tale of illicit romance and a nationwide hunt for Britain’s most wanted man; the other an infamous landmark in British legal history.
The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present by John Pomfret (Nov. 29, hardcover, $37, ISBN 978-0-8050-9250-9) takes the myriad historical milestones of two of the world’s most powerful nations and turns them into one fluid, fascinating story, leaving us with a nuanced understanding of where these two nations stand in relation to one another and the rest of the world.
The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran by Andrew Scott Cooper (Aug. 2, hardcover, $36 ISBN 978-0-8050-9897-6) delivers the story of the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty through the eyes of those who were there: leading Iranian revolutionaries; President Jimmy Carter and White House officials; U.S. Ambassador William Sullivan and his staff in the American embassy in Tehran; American families caught up in the drama; even Empress Farah herself, and the rest of the Iranian Imperial family.
Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Sept. 13, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-62779-062-8) takes readers to the bloody tropical-island battlefields of Peleliu and Iwo Jima and to the embattled Philippines, where Gen. Douglas MacArthur made a triumphant return and plotted a full-scale invasion of Japan.
Johns Hopkins Univ.
The Notorious Mrs. Clem: Murder and Money in the Gilded Age by Wendy Gamber (Aug. 21, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-4214-2020-2) chronicles the life and times of Nancy Clem, a housewife who became famous not only as an accused murderess but also as an itinerant peddler of patent medicine and the supposed originator of the Ponzi scheme.
Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It by Larrie D. Ferreiro (Nov. 15, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-101-87524-7). In this revisionist history, Ferreiro argues that without the extensive military and financial support of the French and Spanish, the American cause would never have succeeded in defeating the British in the Revolutionary War, and the author places the birth of the American nation as the centerpiece of an international coalition fighting against a common enemy.
The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars by Daniel Beer (Jan. 3, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-307-95890-7) sheds light on how the massive penal colony, a project of correction and colonization, became an incubator for the radicalism of revolutionaries who would one day rule Russia.
Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War by Chandra Manning (Aug. 16, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-307-27120-4) is a portrait of the escaped-slave refugee camps and how they shaped the course of emancipation and black citizenship.
Filthy Rich by James Patterson, with John Connolly (Aug. 29, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-27405-0). The popular thriller writer forays into nonfiction with the white collar true crime story of billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found guilty of soliciting sex from under-age girls. 500,000-copy announced first printing.
Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy (Oct. 18, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-33754-0) is the story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped in 1899 and displayed as circus freaks, and their mother, who endured a 28-year struggle to get them back. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (Sept. 6, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-236359-6) portrays NASA’s African-American female mathematicians, who played a crucial role in America’s space program. 125,000-copy announced first printing.
The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (Nov. 1, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-59240-900-6) provides an account of the FBI’s hunt for Brian Regan, the man who nearly collapsed America’s military security with a security breach, whose intricate espionage scheme and complex system of coded messages were made even more baffling by his apparent dyslexia.
American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1804 by Alan Taylor (Sept. 6, hardcover, $37.50, ISBN 978-0-393-08281-4). The American Revolution is often portrayed as a high-minded, orderly event whose capstone, the Constitution, provided the ideal framework for a democratic, prosperous nation. A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize gives us a different creation story in this history of America’s founding.
Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips (Sept. 20, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-29301-2). In 1912, a young girl’s murder rocked the rural community of Forsyth County, Ga., and led a mob of whites to lynch a black man on the town square. Patrick Phillips breaks the century-long silence of his hometown and uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the 21st century.
The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici by Catherine Fletcher (Sept. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-19-061272-6) reveals how Alessandro de’ Medici, the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent, carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in the 16th century.
In the Land of Giants: A Journey Through the Dark Ages by Max Adams (Oct. 11, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-68177-218-9) explored Britain’s Dark Ages through material remnants: architecture, books, metalwork, and, above all, landscapes, and provides insight into the lives of peasants, drengs, ceorls, thanes, monks, knights, and kings from the end of Roman Britain to the death of Alfred the Great.
1956: The World in Revolt by Simon Hall (Sept. 6, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-68177-205-9) tells the story of that year’s global struggles from the point of view of the freedom fighters, dissidents, and countless ordinary people who worked to overturn oppressive and authoritarian systems in order to build a brave new world.
Summer of Blood: England’s First Popular Revolution by Dan Jones (Nov. 15, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-14-311175-7). The author of The Plantagenets and top authority on the historical antecedents of Game of Thrones offers a blood-soaked account of the first mass uprising by the people of England against their feudal masters in the summer of 1381.
Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn (Sept. 27, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-59420-540-8) is an account of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok—a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women’s lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.
American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice by Albert J. Raboteau (Sept. 27, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-16430-4) sheds light on the lives and thought of seven major prophetic figures in 20th-century America—A.J. Muste, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Thomas Merton, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Martin Luther King Jr. Their social activism was motivated by a deeply felt compassion for those suffering injustice.
Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff by Edward J. Balleisen (Jan. 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-691-16455-7) traces the history of fraud in America—and the evolving efforts to combat it—from the age of P.T. Barnum through the eras of Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff, to show how Americans have struggled to foster a vibrant economy without enabling a corrosive level of fraud.
Battle of Wills: Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and the Last Year of the Civil War by David Alan Johnson (Oct. 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-63388-245-4) concentrates on the characters of the two opposing generals—Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant—showing how their different temperaments ultimately determined the course of the war.
Rowman & Littlefield
Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie by Will Bashor (Dec. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-4422-5499-2) recreates the 76-day period of the ex-queen’s incarceration in what was known as the “waiting room for the guillotine” because prisoners only spent a day or two there before their conviction and subsequent execution.
Simon & Schuster
True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy by Kati Marton (Sept. 6, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-4767-6376-7). The life of Noel Field, an Ivy League–educated U.S. State Department employee, who joined the secret underground of the international communist movement in the 1930s and went on to become a hardcore Stalinist is relevant today as a tale of fanaticism and the lengths it can take one to.
Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry (Aug. 9, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-08710-2). Chaudry, an attorney and friend of the Syed family, uses her unique perspective to craft an account of the investigation into Adnan Syed’s involvement in the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend, which was the focus of the first season of the podcast Serial.
The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith (Sept. 6, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-5011-1496-0) is a biography of Marguerite “Missy” LeHand, F.D.R.’s de facto chief of staff, that argues its subject has been misrepresented, mischaracterized, and overlooked throughout history.
Univ. of Chicago
The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan by Gisli Palsson (Sept. 27, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-226-31328-3) is the little-known story of Hans Jonathan, a free black man who lived and raised a family in early 19th-century Iceland.
The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation by Randall Fuller (Jan. 24, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-525-42833-6) examines the effect of Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species on a diverse group of American writers, abolitionists, and social reformers, and provides new perspectives on America before the Civil War, showing how Darwin’s ideas become potent ammunition in the debate over slavery and helped advance the cause of abolition by giving it scientific credibility.
Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom by Jack Weatherford (Oct. 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-7352-2115-4) reveals how Genghis harnessed the power of religion to rule the largest empire the world has ever known.
True South: Henry Hampton and the Legacies of “Eyes on the Prize” by Jon Else (Jan. 24, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-101-98093-4). The inside story of the influential TV show and how it reframed the history of the civil rights movement is published on the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast.
Pax Romana: War, Peace, and Conquest in the Roman World by Adrian Goldsworthy (Aug. 23, hardcover, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-300-17882-1). One of the leading historians of the ancient world examines how the Romans came to control so much of the world and asks whether traditionally favorable images of the Roman peace are true.
The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952–1961 by Irwin F. Gellman (Oct. 25, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-22352-1) offers a fresh and surprising account of the Eisenhower presidency.