Next year brings the 100th anniversary of American women winning the right to vote, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and the 50th anniversaries of the moon landing and the Stonewall uprising—and lots of books on each.
American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race
Douglas Brinkley. Harper, Apr. 2 (hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-06-265506-6)
Bestselling historian Brinkley spins a political, cultural, and scientific history of the U.S. victory in the 1960s space race that includes new primary source material and interviews with participants.
El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America
Carrie Gibson. Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 5 (hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-8021-2702-0)
Gibson traces the Spanish history of the continent, which began more than 100 years before the Plymouth Rock landing, with Ponce de León’s 1513 arrival in Florida.
Maria Popova. Pantheon, Feb. 5 (hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-5247-4813-5)
Popova, who trawls through history and literature seeking pearls of wisdom for her website Brain Pickings, spins a poetic, philosophical history that interweaves the lives, loves, and ideas of four centuries of notable scientists, artists, and writers to explore what makes a fulfilled, happy life.
How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States
Daniel Immerwahr. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb. 19 (hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-374-17214-5)
Immerwahr looks at the U.S. through the unusual lens of its nonstate territories, such as Puerto Rico and Guam, and its vast global network of military bases.
Nature’s Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age of the Long 17th Century Transformed the West and Shaped the Present
Philipp Blom. Liveright, Feb. 12 (hardcover, $36.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-404-8)
Blom examines the effects of a historical climate crisis on Europe, including decimated crop yields, mass migration, and the beginnings of capitalism and the Enlightenment.
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century
George Packer. Knopf, May 7 (hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-307-95802-0)
New Yorker staff writer Packer serves up a biography of larger-than-life diplomat Richard Holbrooke that views him as emblematic of America’s post-WWII foreign policy: ambitious, driven to lead, and sometimes overconfident and overreaching. 125,000-copy announced first printing.
Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
Christina Thompson. Harper, Mar. 12 (hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-206087-7)
With palpable appreciation and respect for Polynesian culture, Thompson traces the evolution of modern understandings of the ancient Polynesian migrations, as informed by Tahitian oral tradition, mathematics, archaeology, linguistics, and latter-day recreations of Polynesian voyages.
Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis
Jared Diamond. Little, Brown, May 7 (hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-316-40913-1)
The author of Guns, Germs, and Steel returns with a comparison of nations’ abilities to recover from cataclysms, arguing that countries that survive do so by self-reflecting and adapting.
Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter
Tom Clavin. St. Martin’s, Feb. 5 (hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-17379-9)
Clavin profiles fabled troublemaker Wild Bill Hickok, who cut a swath through the Wild West; worked as a Union spy, lawman, and actor; and crossed paths with famous figures of the day.
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
Sonia Purnell. Viking, Apr. 9 (hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-7352-2529-9)
Part of a minitrend of books about woman spies in WWII, Purnell’s tells of Virginia Hall, a prosthetic-legged American who spied for the British in occupied France, reporting on enemy troop movements, recruiting and training Resistance fighters, and blowing up bridges.
Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day by Peter Ackroyd (May 14, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-4197-3514-1) explores gay and lesbian experience in the city it considers the epicenter of English-speaking gay culture, from the days of Londinium through 19th-century executions for sodomy, 1960s Soho, and the AIDS epidemic.
Normandy ’44 by James Holland (June 4, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-8021-2942-0). Historian Holland sets out to challenge myths and incorrect ideas about D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, for example that the U.S. contributed the most among the Allies or that ground power mattered more than air power.
In the Cradle of Storms: The Epic Story of One Diary, Two Soldiers, and the Forgotten Battle of WWII by Mark Obmascik (Mar. 5, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4516-7837-6). Pulitzer Prize–winner Obmascik relates the epic of the diary of a Japanese medic killed in battle that, years later, spurred the diarist’s daughter and the American soldier who killed him to embark on parallel quests to find the truth.
Spearhead: The World War II Odyssey of an American Tank Gunner by Adam Makos (Feb. 19, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8041-7672-9) follows Clarence Smoyer, gunner in a Pershing “super tank” who led U.S. forces into battle for control of Cologne, through a war experience that culminates in a face-off with his counterpart in a German Panzer tank and leads him to return to Cologne many years later.
Origins: How Earth’s History Shaped Human History by Lewis Dartnell (May 14, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-5416-1790-2) argues that the physical world has shaped human civilization, from the importance of mountains to the democratic government of ancient Greece to the correlation between sediment patterns and voting trends in the contemporary U.S. South.
As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Apr. 2, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-8070-7378-0). The indigenous researcher and activist introduces indigenous resistance to the unfamiliar reader, detailing struggles to fend off treaty violations, protect sacred places, ensure water security, and more.
Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Susan Ware (May 6, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-674-98668-8). Historian Ware goes beyond the typical histories of the most famous suffragettes to profile 19 lesser-known advocates for women’s right to vote, including a bilingual African-American woman, a labor activist, and a Mormon wife.
Black Dog & Leventhal
The Amusement Park: 900 Years of Thrills and Spills, and the Dreamers and Schemers Who Built Them by Stephen M. Silverman (May 7, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-316-41648-1). Starting with the Middle Ages, Silverman traces the path from European “pleasure gardens” to Universal Studios, profiling the colorful characters who created amusement parks and the rides that drew customers.
América: The Epic Story of Spanish North America, 1493-1898 by Robert Goodwin (Mar. 5, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-63286-722-3) is a chronicle of conquistadors, missionaries, and other Spaniards, as well as their Mexican allies and indigenous adversaries, from Columbus’s claiming Puerto Rico for the empire to its end in the 19th century. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
D-Day: The Daring Gamble That Decided World War II by Steve Smith (Mar. 19, trade paper, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-61200-717-5) surveys the planning of Operation Overlord, the Allied landing on Normandy beaches now known as D-Day, and the on-the-ground experience of soldiers.
Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer by Sue Nelson (Mar. 5, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-64160-130-6) weaves the story of Wally Funk—she came close to being a NASA astronaut before her program was canceled, but became a trailblazing civilian flight instructor—with the travels of space enthusiasts Funk and Nelson in 2016 and 2017.
D-Day Girls: The Untold Story of the Female Spies Who Helped Win World War Two by Sarah Rose (May 7, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-451-49508-2) tells of the women recruited to spy for Britain, sabotage the Nazis, and shore up the Resistance during WWII. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World by Dianne Hales (Apr. 16, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-451-49916-5). Seeking the secrets of the Italian approach to life and culture, Hales embarks on a tour of Italian art, film, opera, architecture, food, wine, cars, fashion, and festivals and introduces the reader to Italian chefs, winemakers, couturiers, and others.
Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill and the Road to War by Tim Bouverie (June 4, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-451-49984-4) argues that British prime minister Neville Chamberlain’s diplomatic failures and upper-crust British support for Hitler paved the way for WWII, and only Winston Churchill and a few other Conservative politicians saw the danger. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
Honorable Exit: How a Few Brave Americans Risked All to Save Our Vietnamese Allies at the End of the War by Thurston Clarke (Apr. 30, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-53964-7) challenges the popular perception that America abandoned its Vietnamese allies at war’s end, chronicling the heroic efforts of American diplomats, military personnel, businesspeople, and others to evacuate 130,000 South Vietnamese, who were later resettled and became U.S. citizens.
The Shortest History of Germany: From Julius Caesar to Angela Merkel—A Retelling for Our Times by James Hawes (Mar. 19, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61519-569-5) provides a whirlwind history of Germany. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Topgun: An American Story by Dan Pedersen (Mar. 5, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-41626-9). Pederson looks back at his experience cofounding the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, aka “Topgun,” to develop a new style of aerial warfare that would protect American jet pilots in Vietnam.
Freedom’s Detective: The Secret Service, the Ku Klux Klan and the Man Who Masterminded America’s First War on Terror by Charles Lane (Apr. 9, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-335-00685-1) follows the chief of the Reconstruction-era United States Secret Service, Hiram C. Whitley, in his covert campaign against America’s first domestic terrorists: the Ku Klux Klan.
VC: An American History by Tom Nicholas (June 3, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-98800-2) traces venture capital’s development from the 19th-century whaling industry to contemporary Silicon Valley, characterizing it as a peculiarly American form of financing born from the national predilection for entrepreneurial risk-taking.
The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775–1777 by Rick Atkinson (May 14, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-62779-043-7). The Pulitzer Prize winner opens a new trilogy about the American Revolution, covering 21 months of war from both the British and colonists’ perspectives.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad by Gordon H. Chang (May 7, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-328-61857-3) uncovers the experiences of the unsung and largely historically ignored Chinese workers and their role in creating the industrialized United States.
War and Peace: FDR’s Final Odyssey: D-Day to Yalta, 1943–1945 by Nigel Hamilton (May 7, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-544-87680-4) concludes Hamilton’s three-part work about FDR at war, contesting Winston Churchill’s version of events to argue that Roosevelt was WWII’s key strategist, even when terminally ill. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
The White Devil’s Daughters: The Fight Against Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown by Julia Flynn Siler (May 7, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-101-87526-1) focuses on Chinese girls enslaved in 19th- and 20th-century San Francisco and the tenacious female abolitionists who rescued children from brothels and ships, helped bring down their captors, and ran the Occidental Mission Home safe house. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan (Mar. 12, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-316-34178-3). Bestseller Donovan draws on new interviews to recreate the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions through the experiences of astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers.
Ungovernable: The Victorian Parent’s Guide to Raising Flawless Children by Therese Oneill (Apr. 16, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-316-48190-8). Oneill pores over Victorian child-rearing manuals and presents selections of their advice, linking their contents to contemporary anxieties about creating perfect children.
If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How It Might Be Saved by Michael Tomasky (Feb. 5, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-63149-408-6) posits that political polarization has actually been more common throughout American history than bipartisan consensus, and suggests various reforms, like ranked-choice voting, to reduce it to manageable levels.
The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by Greg Grandin (Mar. 5, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-250-17982-1) argues that the concept of the “frontier” symbolized for Americans a future of endless geographic and economic expansion, forestalling internal conflicts over resources until recent events punctured belief in outward expansion and contributed to the embrace of reactionary politics.
In Honored Glory: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington Cemetery by Tom Cotton (May 14, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-286315-7). Republican senator Cotton recounts his time as a platoon leader in Arlington National Cemetery’s Old Guard, the ceremonial unit of the U.S. Army, participating in such rituals as soldiers’ funerals and Flags In (the placing of flags on hundreds of thousands of graves). 150,000-copy announced first printing.
No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History by Dane Huckelbridge (Feb. 5, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-267884-3) chronicles the suspenseful tale of the hunt for the Champawat Tiger, which killed more than 400 people in northern India and Nepal in the early 20th century. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today by Pamela Nadell (Mar. 5, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-393-65123-2) looks at notable American Jewish women—many of them activists—from Grace Nathan, Emma Lazarus’s great-grandmother, to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, positing that what unites them is a strong sense of identity and a commitment to improving the world.
Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era, edited by Jason Baumann (Mar. 5, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-324-00206-2), is a collection of photographs of midcentury LGBTQ history, especially protests, from photojournalists Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies, with context from the editor and an introduction by Roxane Gay.
Holding the Line: The Naval Air Campaign in Korea by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver (Mar. 19, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4728-3172-9) depicts frontline combat, technical developments in aircraft and ships, and overall strategy in the Korean War. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (Feb. 1, hardcover, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-19-062536-8) considers notable thinkers from religion, philosophy, political thought, social theory, and the arts, including Thomas Jefferson, W.E.B. DuBois, Jane Addams, and Richard Rorty, and the influence of their ideas about freedom, community, the market, and truth on American history.
Nuking the Moon:And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board by Vince Houghton (May 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-525-50517-4) surveys 24 of the more outlandish abandoned plans of U.S. military and intelligence agencies, such as building ships out of ice and sawdust, using cats implanted with recording devices as spies in Russia, and, yes, nuking the moon.
The Heartland: An American History by Kristin L. Hoganson (Apr. 23, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-59420-357-2) examines the cultural concept of the heartland, finding that the mythical pristine, isolated rurality the author expected when moving there was far from the reality.
The Dictionary Wars: The American Fight over the English Language by Peter Martin (May 28, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-18891-1) recounts the conflicts between early American lexicographers about whether the country’s English should distinguish itself from British English, whose dictionaries dominated the market, and whose version of American language would reign supreme.
Syria’s Secret Library: Reading and Redemption in a Town Under Siege by Mike Thomson (May 7, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-5417-6762-1). The author interviewed and corresponded with readers who used the literally underground library in the rebel-held Syrian town of Darayya, which held books rescued from destroyed buildings that people risked their lives to read until the town fell in 2016.
The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple (May 21, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-8129-9836-8). NBCC Award–winning historian Wineapple recounts how Congress worked to stop Andrew Johnson, who ascended to the presidency after Lincoln’s assassination, from undermining the goals of post–Civil War Reconstruction.
Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson (May 7, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-8129-9476-6). Bestseller Olson delivers the derring-do of Hedgehog, the glamorous French mother who led the large-scale French Resistance operation Alliance, moving her headquarters and changing her identity monthly and twice escaping from Nazis.
Revolutionary: George Washington at War by Robert L. O’Connell (Apr. 2, hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-0-8129-9699-9) looks at Washington as a young soldier making disastrous mistakes in the Seven Years’ War; a new politician cajoling and manipulating in the service of the country; and a moderating force in the Revolution.
Rowman & Littlefield
Dateline—Liberated Paris: The Hotel Scribe and the Invasion of the Press by Ronald Weber (Apr. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-5381-1850-4) follows the exploits of the Allied reporters—such as Walter Cronkite, Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway, Marguerite Higgins, and Ernie Pyle—who lived in the rooms, worked feverishly in the dining area, and played in the basement bar and fashionable environs of Paris’s legendary Hotel Scribe.
The Guarded Gate: Patricians, Eugenicists, and the Crusade to Keep Jews, Italians, and Other Immigrants out of America by Daniel Okrent (May 7, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4767-9803-5). Okrent (Last Call) chronicles 40 years of the American eugenics movement starting in 1895, when powerful Bostonians undertook an anti-immigrant campaign, through the enactment of restrictive immigration laws in 1924 to the movement’s influence on Nazism.
Simon & Schuster
The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light by Jean Edward Smith (July 23, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-5011-6492-7). Historian Smith recounts how general Eisenhower defied the advice of his senior staff to help liberate Paris and how German commandant von Choltitz defied orders so as to surrender the city intact, instead of ruined.
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham (Feb. 12, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-5011-3461-6) draws on 10 years of interviews and newly declassified documents to narrate the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station in northern Ukraine, challenging the Soviet government’s version of the story.
The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home by Heath Hardage Lee (Apr. 2, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-1-250-16110-9) relates the work done by wives of American prisoners of war in Vietnam, who tirelessly lobbied the government to ensure their husbands’ release and even sent encoded secret letters to their husbands.
Cities: The First 6,000 Years by Monica L. Smith (Apr. 16, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-7352-2367-7) draws upon archaeology and history to recreate daily life in ancient cities and argues that the development of urban living is responsible for humans’ global dominance.
The Ghost Ships of Archangel: The Arctic Voyage of an Allied Convoy That Defied the Nazis by William Geroux (May 14, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-55746-3) discloses the tale of four Allied ships carrying supplies across the Arctic to the Soviet Union while trying to avoid icebergs, Nazi bombers, and the German battleship known as the Big Bad Wolf.
Culture in Nazi Germany by Michael H. Kater (May 14, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-21141-2) delves into the influence of Nazi power on the artists, composers, filmmakers, and writers in Germany, putting their work to propagandistic uses and limiting artistic freedom.
This article has been updated to reflect the new title for The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History.