True stories of crime and murder dominate the season’s top history books.
100 Amazing Facts About the Negro
Henry Louis Gates Jr. Pantheon, Oct. 24
Gates pens a corrective yet loving homage to a work of the same title published in 1957 by Joel A. Rogers, a largely self-educated black journalist and historian.
The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost
Peter Manseau. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct. 10
The curator of American religious history at the Smithsonian explores the emotional aftermath of the Civil War through the story of a “spirit photographer” who claimed to take portraits of ghosts.
Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City
Kate Winkler Dawson. Hachette, Oct. 17
A serial killer’s murder spree collides with an environmental catastrophe, in journalist Dawson’s account of the 1952 London smog.
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption
Benjamin Rachlin. Little, Brown, Aug. 15
Rachlin reckons with the shortcomings of the American criminal justice system through the story of Willie James Grimes, a North Carolina man wrongfully convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison in 1988, and who was freed in 2012 after his conviction was vacated.
Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919
Mike Wallace. Oxford Univ., Oct. 2
The long-awaited sequel to the Pulitzer Prize–winning first volume in the Gotham Series.
The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution
Yuri Slezkine. Princeton Univ., Aug. 15
Slezkine tells the story of the Russian Revolution through accounts of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived until they were destroyed in Stalin’s purges.
The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery
Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James. Scribner, Aug. 1
The legendary baseball statistician and his daughter cull data from hundreds of thousands of small-town newspapers to identify the culprit of the 1912 Villisca Axe Murders.
Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine
Anne Applebaum. Doubleday, Oct. 10
The author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Gulag explores the catastrophic effects of Stalin’s agricultural collectivization.
The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
Stephen Greenblatt. Norton, Sept. 12
The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian delves into early Renaissance art, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Darwin’s theory of evolution, among other subjects in this ambitious study of the biblical origin story.
The Vietnam War: An Intimate History
Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. Knopf, Sept. 5
The companion volume to the latest multipart documentary from Ward and Burns draws on dozens of interviews in America and Vietnam with people involved at all levels of the war.
Defining Moments in Black History According to Dick Gregory by Dick Gregory (Sept. 19, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0-06-244869-9). The 84-year-old comedian and civil rights activist charts the African-American experience in essays on topics ranging from African ancestry and surviving the Middle Passage to the creation of the Jheri Curl and the headline-making shootings of black men. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison (Jan. 2, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-101-88624-3) looks at the lives of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters, Martha, Maria, and Harriet, two white and free, one black and a slave, and how different their lives were from one another.
The Pentagon’s Wars: The Military’s Undeclared War Against America’s Presidents by Mark Perry (Oct. 24, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-465-07971-1) investigates the internal wars between America’s civilian leaders and its military officers to show how internal strife and deep civilian-military animus shapes America’s policy abroad, often to the nation’s detriment. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Paradise in Chains: The Bounty Mutiny and the Founding of Australia by Diana Preston (Nov. 7, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-63286-610-3) tells of betrayals, escapes, and survival at sea through the stories of two open-boat voyages in the 18th-century era of British exploration and colonization: the mutiny on the Bounty and the flight of convicts from the Australian penal colony.
Steam Titans: Cunard, Collins, and the Epic Battle for Commerce on the North Atlantic by William M. Fowler Jr. (Aug. 8, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-62040-908-4) describes the intense rivalry between shipping magnates in Great Britain and the U.S., Samuel Cunard and Edward Collins, for commercial dominance on the North Atlantic as the opening act in the drama of economic globalization.
The Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History by Joseph A. Williams (Sept. 1, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-61373-758-3) recounts an American naval officer’s obsessive quest to recover 44 tons of gold from a sunken ship off the coast of Ireland during WWI.
Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Jan. 9, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-723-9) peels away the myths of gun culture to expose the true historical origins of the Second Amendment, exposing racial undercurrents connecting the earliest Anglo settlers with contemporary gun proliferation, modern-day policing, and the influence of armed white nationalists. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
Hidden Atrocities: Japanese Germ Warfare and American Obstruction of Justice at the Tokyo Trial by Jeanne Guillemin (Sept. 26, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-231-18352-9). This account of the cover-up at the International Military Tribunal of the Far East, Toyko’s equivalent to the Nuremberg trials, shows how without guarantees of transparency, power politics can jeopardize international justice, with persistent consequences.
Sacrifice: My Life in a Fascist Militia by Alessandro Orsini, trans. by Sarah J. Nodes (Sept. 15, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-5017-0983-8). One of Italy’s premier analysts of political extremism describes, from within, the masculine ethos of the militias, the groups’ relations with local police and politicians, and the central role of violence and anticommunist actions in building a sense of fascist community.
The Last Sheriff in Texas by Jim McCollom (Nov. 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-61902-996-5) draws parallels to the 2016 presidential election in telling the 1952 Beeville election: a landmark standoff between old Texas, with its culture of cowboy bravery and violence, and urban Texas, with its lawyers, oil institutions, and a growing Mexican population.
River Master: John Wesley Powell’s Legendary Exploration of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon by Cecil Kuhne (Oct. 31, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-68268-074-2). In 1869, Civil War veteran and amputee Maj. John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the uncharted Colorado River through the then-nameless Grand Canyon. This is the story of what started as a geological survey, but ended in danger, chaos, and blood.
A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949 by Kevin Peraino (Sept. 19, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-307-88723-8) tells the yearlong narrative of America’s response to the 1949 fall of Chiang Kai-shek and Nationalist China to Mao Zedong, and the Communist Party’s rise to power, altering the world’s geopolitical map.
The Vél’ d’Hiv Raid: The French Police at the Service of the Gestapo by Maurice Rajsfus, trans. by Levi Laub (Sept. 12, trade paper, $12.95, ISBN 978-0-9978184-6-8). A micro-history of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, police brutality, and terror through the two-day imprisonment of 13,000 Jews at a Paris sporting arena, the Vélodrome d’Hiver, in the lead up to death in concentration camps.
Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum (Oct. 10, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-53885-5). In this account of the catastrophic damages from Stalin’s agricultural collectivization, Pulitzer Prize–winner Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them.
Why the Vote Wasn’t Enough for Selma by Karlyn Denae Forner (Oct. 13, trade paper, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-8223-7005-5) rewrites the heralded story of Selma, Ala., to show why gaining the right to vote did not lead to economic justice for African-Americans in the Alabama Black Belt.
The Story of the Jews, Vol. 2: Belonging: 1492–1900 by Simon Schama (Oct. 24, hardcover, $39.99, ISBN 978-0-06-233957-7) is the cultural history tie-in to the PBS and BBC series The Story of the Jews. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Ruin of Kasch by Roberto Calasso, trans. by Richard Dixon (Jan. 2, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-374-25210-6), is a new translation of the 1994 classic work on violence and revolution as seen through mythology and art, hailed as one of those rare books that persuade us to see our entire civilization in a new light.
Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry (Sept. 19, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-25397-4) is an intimate account of the epic tragedy of the March 11, 2011, earthquake off the coast of Japan, told through the stories of those who lived through it.
Lincoln & Churchill: Statesmen at War by Lewis E. Lehrman (Jan. 1, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8117-1967-4) compares the leadership of Lincoln in the Civil War with that of Churchill 80 years later during WWII.
Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova (Sept. 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-786-3). In this work of narrative reportage, Kassabova returns to Bulgaria, from where she emigrated 25 years earlier, to explore the border it shares with Turkey and Greece, simultaneously providing a shadow history of the Cold War and a sideways look at the migration crisis troubling Europe.
Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City by Kate Winkler Dawson (Oct. 17, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-316-50686-1) relates the environmental disaster that shut down the city of London in 1952, along with the true story of a serial killer who murdered at least seven women at the same time.
The Naughty Nineties: The Triumph of the American Libido by David Friend (Sept. 12, hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-0-446-55629-3) surveys charged developments in the culture and politics of the 1990s, including the first stirrings of the gay marriage movement, gains in feminist empowerment and its backlash by conservatives and panicked men, the eruption of internet porn, and the introduction of Viagra. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism by Caroline Moorehead (Oct. 3, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-230830-6) tells the story of Amelia Rosselli and her two sons Carlo and Nello, members of the cosmopolitan aristocracy of Florence and leaders of the opposition against Mussolini. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World by Brad S. Gregory (Sept. 12, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-247117-8). Published on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this religious history examines the complicated and unintended legacies of Martin Luther, the epochal movement, and its effects on the world today. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Hill and Wang
Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia by Steven Stoll (Nov. 21, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-8090-9505-6) examines Appalachia and its place in U.S. history, emphasizing how generations of its inhabitants lived, worked, survived, and depended on natural resources held in common.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World by A.J. Baime (Oct. 24, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-544-61734-6) is the story of the four months following the sudden death of F.D.R. at the climatic moments of WWII. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost by Peter Manseau (Oct. 10, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-544-74597-1) is a story of faith and fraud in post–Civil War America, told through the lens of a photographer who claimed he could capture images of the dead. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Johns Hopkins Univ.
Rainy Lake House: Twilight of Empire on the Northern Frontier by Theodore Catton (Sept. 10, hardcover, $32.95, ISBN 978-1-4214-2292-3) tells the history of the U.S. northern frontier through perspectives of three men—American, British, and Native American—who cast their fortunes in different ways with the western fur trade, but crossed paths in September 1823 at the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.
Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands by Roger D. Hodge (Oct. 10, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-307-96140-2) fuses memoir and history to tell the story of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of the author’s ranching family.
The Vietnam War: An Intimate History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (Sept. 5, hardcover, $60, ISBN 978-0-307-70025-4). The companion volume to the multipart PBS film seeks to understand why the Vietnam War happened the way it did, and to clarify its complicated legacy 40 years after it ended.
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin (Aug. 15, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-316-31149-6) tells the story of a wrongfully imprisoned man, Willie J. Grimes, his 24-year-long road to justice, and the founding of North Carolina’s Innocence Inquiry Commission, a model organization now responsible for a growing number of exonerations. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
New World, Inc.: How England’s Merchant Adventurers Created America by John Butman and Simon Targett (Jan. 9, hardcover, $29, ISBN 978-0-316-30788-8). Targett and Butman reveal America’s forgotten origins as a business-driven enterprise through the story of investors creating new financial instruments with which to build early import and export business in the precolonial period. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat by Jonathan Kauffman (Nov. 14, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-243730-3). A line cook turned journalist traces the colorful origins of once unconventional foods and the diverse fringe movements, charismatic gurus, and counterculture elements that brought them to the mainstream and created a distinctly American cuisine. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone (Aug. 8, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-243048-9) chronicles the life of Elizebeth Smith and her husband, William Friedman, inventors of modern cryptology, which they used to solve puzzles that unmasked Nazi spies and helped win WWII. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits: The Crime Spree That Gripped Belle Epoque Paris by John Merriman (Oct. 3, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-56858-988-6) is the story of the Bonnot Gang, a band of anarchist bank robbers whose crimes terrorized belle époque Paris, and whose escapades reflected the fast-paced, dizzyingly modern, and increasingly violent period on the eve of WWI. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Bondage and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya Miles (Oct. 3, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-62097-231-1). Many believe slavery was only in the South, and that the North aided fugitive slaves on their way to Canada. In this paradigm-shifting book, historian Tiya Miles reveals that slavery was at the heart of a major Northern city: Detroit.
The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt (Sept. 12, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24080-1). The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Swerve explores the value of the humanities through the life of one of humankind’s greatest stories.
The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition by Linda Gordon (Oct. 24, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-369-0) examines the 1920s revival of the Ku Klux Klan, and how the rejuvenated Klan became mainstream, attracting middle-class men and women before collapsing amid revelations of sordid sex scandals, financial embezzlement, and Ponzi-like schemes.
A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from History’s Most Orthodox Empire by Anthony Kaldellis (Oct. 2, hardcover, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-19-062594-8). Stories of saints, relics, and their miracles—from the hilarious to the revolting—abound in this collection of zany tales and trivia about the political and religious life of Byzantium.
Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919 by Mike Wallace (Oct. 2, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-19-511635-9). The second volume in the Pulitzer Prize–winning history of New York captures the swings of prosperity and downturn, from the 1898 skyscraper-driven boom to the Bankers’ Panic of 1907, labor upheaval, and violent repression during and after WWI.
100 Amazing Facts About the Negro by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Oct. 24, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-307-90871-1). Riffing off a book published in 1957 by Joel A. Rogers, a largely self-educated black journalist and historian, Gates provides a romp through African-American history and gossip in question-and-answer format.
How to Plan a Crusade: Religious War in the High Middle Ages by Christopher Tyerman (Oct. 3, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-68177-524-1) provides a sweeping account of how the crusades really worked—and a revolutionary attempt to rethink how we understand the Middle Ages.
Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism by Bhu Srinivasan (Sept. 26, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-399-56379-9) is an entertaining history of American capitalism, told through the inventions, techniques, and industries that drove American history : from the telegraph, railroad, guns, radio, and banking to flight, suburbia, and sneakers, culminating with the internet and mobile technology at the turn of this century.
Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon S. Wood (Oct. 24, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-7352-2471-1) is a dual biography of the intertwining lives of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, whose partnership helped birth a nation, and whose subsequent falling out did much to fix its course.
The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution by Yuri Slezkine (Aug. 15, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-691-17694-9) weaves together biography, literary criticism, architectural history, and new theories of revolutions, millennial prophecies, and reigns of terror into this account of the Russian Revolution told through the story of an enormous apartment building where Communist true believers resided.
A Murder in Music City: Corruption, Scandal, and the Framing of an Innocent Man by Michael Bishop (Sept. 5, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-63388-345-1) builds the case that a circle of powerful Nashville citizens were key participants in the 1964 murder of co-ed Paula Herring and the subsequent coverup.
Dr. Death and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Corruption and Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington (Oct. 24, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-61039-691-2) illustrates the persistent plague of institutional racism and junk forensic science on our criminal justice system through the story of two death row inmates finally freed after their wrongful conviction. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassination Program by Ronen Bergman (Jan. 23, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4000-6971-2). In this insider account of Israel’s state-sponsored assassination programs, a national security reporter in Israel traces the events and ethical questions, which have influenced the course of history and in many ways shaped the Israeli nation itself.
Rowman & Littlefield
Al Capone and the 1933 World’s Fair: The End of the Gangster Era in Chicago by William Elliott Hazelgrove (Oct. 16, hardcover, $36, ISBN 978-1-4422-7226-2) reveals the story of six millionaire businessmen, dubbed the Secret Six, who beat Al Capone at his own game, ending the gangster era as Prohibition was repealed.
The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James (Aug. 1, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4767-9625-3). The legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applies his analytical acumen to crack an century-old unsolved mystery surrounding the deadly spree of serial killers in the Midwest at the dawn of the 20th century.
The Odyssey of Echo Company: The Tet Offensive and the Epic Battle of Echo Company to Survive the Vietnam War by Doug Stanton (Sept. 19, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4767-6191-6) is a redemptive account of an American Army platoon that survived 60 days on the run from the enemy during the Tet offensive, at the height of the Vietnam War.
Simon & Schuster
The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World by Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro (Sept. 12, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-5011-0986-7) tells the provocative history of the men who fought to outlaw war and how an often overlooked treaty signed in 1928 was among the most transformative events in modern history.
State Univ. of New York/Excelsior
The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote by Brooke Kroeger (Sept. 1, trade paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4384-6630-9) tells the story of how and why a group of prominent and influential men in New York City came together to help women gain the right to vote.
Revolution: The Battle of the Boyne to the Battle of Waterloo by Peter Ackroyd (Oct. 10, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-00364-5). The fourth volume of Ackroyd’s history of England begins in 1688.
Univ. of California
From Fascism to Populism in History by Federico Finchelstein (Sept. 26, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-520-29519-3) draws on an expansive history of transnational fascism and postwar populist movements to give us insight into new ways to think about the state of democracy and political culture on a global scale.
Univ. Of Chicago
The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World by John Davies and Alexander J. Kent (Oct. 6, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-226-38957-8) includes more than 350 extracts from these surprising Cold War maps, exploring their provenance and cartographic techniques, as well as what they can tell us about their makers and Soviet initiatives of the time.
Univ. of Georgia
The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam by Paisley Rekdal (Sept. 15, trade paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8203-5117-9) uses a violent incident that took place in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2012 as a springboard for examining the dislocations suffered by both Vietnamese and Americans following the Vietnam War..
Univ. of North Carolina
Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South by Karen L. Cox (Oct. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4696-3503-3) highlights two eccentrics, Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery, at the center of a 1932 murder and robbery in Natchez, Miss., providing a view into the transformation of the plantation South into the gothic South.
The Great Cowboy Strike: Bullets, Ballots & Class Conflicts in the American West by Mark Lause (Nov. 21, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-78663-196-1) argues that the American cowboy was a grossly exploited and underpaid seasonal worker, who waged a series of militant strikes in the generally isolated and neglected corners of the Old West.
Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States by James C. Scott (Aug. 29, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-300-18291-0) looks at surprising evidence now available about the beginnings of the earliest civilizations that contradict the standard narrative.
Iran: A Modern History by Abbas Amanat (Oct. 10, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-300-11254-2). This history of Iran from 1501 to 2009 is layered with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage.
This article has been updated with new title information.