From global exploration in the year 1000 to the end of the Gilded Age and Winston Churchill’s dauntless leadership during the blitz, the spring’s notable histories look to the past for insights and inspiration that resonate today.
American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI
Kate Winkler Dawson. Putnam, Feb. 11 ($27, ISBN 978-0-525-53955-1)
Dawson profiles Edward Oscar Heinrich, a Berkeley, Calif., forensic scientist who spearheaded the development of ballistics, blood-spatter analysis, and lie detector tests during the Prohibition era.
The Bohemians: The Lovers Who Led Germany’s Resistance Against the Nazis
Norman Ohler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 14 ($28, ISBN 978-1-328-56630-0)
Ohler narrates the efforts of married resistance leaders Harro Schulze-Boysen and Libertas Haas-Heye to build a network of anti-Nazi fighters among Berlin’s artists and communists.
Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South
Matthew Van Meter. Little, Brown, May 19 ($28, ISBN 978-0-316-43503-1)
Van Meter documents the 1966 arrest and conviction of a black Louisiana teenager for assaulting a white child, and efforts to overturn the case on the grounds that he was denied a trial by jury.
The Golden Thread: The Cold War Mystery Surrounding the Death of Dag Hammarskjöld
Ravi Somaiya. Twelve, July 7 ($28, ISBN 978-1-4555-3654-2)
Investigative journalist Somaiya examines the 1961 plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld for evidence that he was murdered in an assassination plot related to his peacekeeping work in the Congo.
The Man in the Red Coat
Julian Barnes. Knopf, Feb. 18 ($25.95, ISBN 978-0-525-65877-1)
Novelist Barnes chronicles the belle epoque in Paris through the life story of Samuel Pozzi, a pioneering surgeon, gynecologist, and subject of the John Singer Sargent portrait referred to in the title.
Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West
Catherine Belton. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr. 14 ($28, ISBN 978-0-374-23871-1)
Belton charts the rise of the Russian leader and his cadre of oligarchs and ex-KGB officers from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the hacking of the 2016 U.S. elections and the war in Ukraine.
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
Erik Larson. Crown, Feb. 25 ($30, ISBN 978-0-385-34871-3)
Larson recreates the day-to-day experiences of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, his family, and his inner circle of advisers during the German bombing campaign against London in WWII.
Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War, July 1937–May 1942
Richard B. Frank. Norton, Mar. 3 ($40, ISBN 978-1-324-00210-9)
The first in a planned trilogy on the Pacific Theater in WWII covers the Japanese invasion of China; campaigns in the Philippines, Singapore, and Burma; and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again
Robert D. Putnam. Simon & Schuster, June 16 ($27.99, ISBN 978-1-982129-14-9)
Putnam charts how American society became steadily more egalitarian between the Gilded Age and the 1960s, looking for clues as to how reformers might launch a similar trend today.
Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots
Morgan Jerkins. Harper, May 12 ($27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-287304-0)
Jerkins analyzes the period between 1916 and 1970, when six million African-Americans migrated from the rural South, through the lens of her own family history.
Every Drop of Blood: Hatred and Healing at Lincoln’s Second Inauguration by Edward Achorn (Mar. 3, $28, ISBN 978-0-8021-4874-2) examines the scene at Lincoln’s March 1865 inaugural address as a microcosm of the forces that led to the Civil War in an account that also features Andrew Johnson, Walt Whitman, John Wilkes Booth, and Clara Barton.
The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy by Michael Kimmage (Apr. 21, $30, ISBN 978-0-465-05590-6) explores how the concept of the West as a bastion of freedom and democracy came to define U.S. diplomacy for the first half of the 20th century, and why it fell from favor.
The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States by Walter Johnson (Apr. 14, $35, ISBN 978-0-465-06426-7) recounts the history of St. Louis with a focus on the city’s dual role as breeding ground for America’s worst racial abuses and wellspring of its most progressive politics.
The Princess and the Prophet: The Secret History of Magic, Race, and Moorish Muslims in America by Jacob S. Dorman (Mar. 3, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-8070-6726-0) revisits the 1925 founding of the Moorish Science Temple of America, an organization that is a forerunner of the Nation of Islam, and reveals the true identity of its leader, Noble Drew Ali.
The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the People’s War on Corporate Power by Susan Berfield (May 5, $30, ISBN 978-1-63557-249-0) narrates the 1902 showdown between banker J.P. Morgan and President Theodore Roosevelt in a railroad antitrust case that was complicated by a coal miners’ strike.
Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths by Helen Morales (Apr. 14, $26, ISBN 978-1-56858-935-0). Classicist Morales seeks to reclaim examples of feminist resistance embedded within Greek, Roman, and African legends, including the myth of Procne and Philomena, sisters who conspired to expose a rapist’s crimes.
The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad by Thomas Hegghammer (Feb. 29, $35, ISBN 978-0-521-76595-4) traces the Palestinian cleric’s journey from West Bank villager to cofounder of al-Qaeda and orchestrator of a global jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Just Like Us: The American Struggle to Understand Foreigners by Thomas Borstelmann (May 5, $32, ISBN 978-0-231-19352-8) charts changing notions of “foreignness” throughout U.S. history and argues that American society has grown steadily more inclusive since the Cold War.
Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude (Apr. 21, $27, ISBN 978-0-525-57532-0) relates the current political moment to the period following the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, when James Baldwin wrestled with disillusionment yet recommitted to the struggle for civil rights.
140 Days to Hiroshima: The Untold Story of Japan’s Last Chance to Surrender by David Dean Barrett (Apr. 7, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-63576-581-6) toggles back and forth between Washington, D.C., and Tokyo to chronicle the decision-making that led to the end of WWII in the Pacific.
Citizen Reporters: S.S. McClure, Ida Tarbell, and the Magazine That Rewrote America by Stephanie Gorton (Feb. 18, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-279664-6) profiles the Gilded Age magazine McClure’s and its role in breaking up the Standard Oil company and introducing American readers to writers including Willa Cather, Joseph Conrad, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America by Eric Cervini (June 2, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-13979-7) delves into the story of astronomer Frank Kameny’s campaign against the federal government following his 1957 dismissal from a Defense Department job on the basis of suspected homosexuality.
The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice by David Hill (July 7, $28, ISBN 978-1-250-08611-2) resurrects the period from the 1930s through the ’60s when Hot Springs, Ark., was a gambling mecca where celebrities and baseball players rubbed shoulders with gangsters, prostitutes, and bootleggers.
The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt by Jill Watts (May 12, $30, ISBN 978-0-8021-2910-9) profiles a group of prominent African-Americans, including newspaper publisher Robert Vann and economist Robert Weaver, who lobbied President Franklin Roosevelt on civil rights issues in the 1930s.
Bloody Okinawa: The Last Great Battle of World War II by Joseph Wheelan (Mar. 3, $30, ISBN 978-0-306-90322-9) documents the April 1945 assault on Okinawa—a campaign so costly it helped to convince U.S. military leaders to forgo the planned invasion of Japan and drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki instead.
The S.S. Officer’s Armchair: Uncovering the Hidden Life of a Nazi by Daniel Lee (June 16, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-50909-1) draws on documents hidden within a chair for 70 years and discovered by an Amsterdam upholsterer to reconstruct the life of SS officer Robert Griesinger, a Stuttgart lawyer whose family had roots in the American South.
Ride the Devil’s Herd: Wyatt Earp’s Epic Battle Against the West’s Biggest Outlaw Gang by John Boessenecker (Apr. 7, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-335-01585-3) narrates the Earp brothers’ two-year campaign against the Cowboys, an outlaw gang that terrorized the Arizona-Mexico border in the late 19th century.
Dead Reckoning: The Story of How Johnny Mitchell and His Fighter Pilots Took on Admiral Yamamoto and Avenged Pearl Harbor by Dick Lehr (May 12, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-244851-4) chronicles the April 1943 U.S. military mission to kill the Japanese admiral who orchestrated the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Winter of 1933: A World Coming Apart by Paul Jankowski (Apr. 28, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-243352-7) studies the collective delusions and popular beliefs that gripped Germany, Japan, the U.S., and France during the six months between November 1932 and April 1933, and argues that they made WWII possible.
Katrina: A History, 1915–2015 by Andy Horowitz (June 16, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-97171-4) tracks a century’s worth of economic, social, political, environmental, and cultural history in search of the factors that made Hurricane Katrina so devastating for New Orleans.
Seven Seven: The Untold Story of the Deadliest Assault on Law Enforcement Since 9/11 by Jamie Thompson (July 7, $28, ISBN 978-1-250-20421-9) reconstructs the July 7, 2016, assassination of five Dallas police officers at a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the controversial methods used to take out the sniper.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
12 Seconds of Silence: How a Team of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Spies Took Down a Nazi Superweapon by Jamie Holmes (June 2, $27, ISBN 978-1-328-46012-7) details the efforts of American scientists during WWII to develop the proximity fuse, a device that made it possible for artillery shells to detonate the optimal distance from enemy aircraft.
1774: The Long Year of Revolution by Mary Beth Norton (Feb. 11, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-385-35336-6) chronicles the period between December 1773 and April 1775, when British loyalists in America tried to salvage the colonies’ relationship with King George III before accepting the inevitability of war.
Humankind: A New History by Rutger Bregman (May 19, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-41853-9) revisits 200,000 years of human history to dispute the accepted wisdom that people are by nature selfish and self-interested, and to make the case that humans have evolved to cooperate rather than to compete with each other.
Europe Against the Jews, 1880–1945 by Götz Aly (Apr. 7, $32.50, ISBN 978-1-250-17017-0) posits that the Holocaust wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of thousands of non-Germans. Aly examines the factors, including competition over new socioeconomic opportunities and the creation of new nation-states, that led to a surge in anti-Semitism throughout Europe in the decades before WWII.
The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos by Judy Batalion (June 23, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-287421-4) profiles a group of Jewish women in occupied Poland who transformed their religious youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis.
Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation by Raja Shehadeh (Mar. 10, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-62097-577-0). The author travels through his hometown of Ramallah on the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and explores how the city’s architecture, geography, and culture have changed over the past half-century.
The Apocalypse Factory: Plutonium and the Making of the Atomic Age by Steve Olson (July 28, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-63497-6) recounts the Manhattan Project’s research, development, and production of plutonium and the role the Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington State played in ending WWII and maintaining America’s nuclear arsenal during the Cold War.
Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory by Claudio Saunt (Mar. 24, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-60984-4) studies the origins and consequences of the 1830 Indian Removal Act authorizing the expulsion of 80,000 Native Americans from their ancestral homelands in the South.
How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America by Heather Cox Richardson (Apr. 1, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-19-090090-8) contends that the ideology of the Old South found a new home in the American West after the Civil War, as white settlers cemented racial hierarchies in territories seized from Mexico.
Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and a Story of Reconciliation by J. Chester Johnson (May 5, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-64313-466-6) recounts the 1919 Elaine Race Massacre, in which more than a hundred African-Americans were killed by white vigilantes in rural Arkansas, and the author’s attempts to atone for his grandfather’s participation in the carnage.
Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick (Apr. 7, $30, ISBN 978-1-59420-615-3) traces the divide between the countries that produce coffee and those that consume it back to El Salvador at the turn of the 20th century, where Scotsman James Hill applied the methods of the industrial revolution to plantation agriculture.
Ghost Flames: Life and Death in a Hidden War, Korea 1950–1953 by Charles J. Hanley (May 5, $32, ISBN 978-1-5417-6817-8) examines the destructive legacy of the Korean War through the stories of 21 individuals who experienced it firsthand, including soldiers, refugees, and prisoners of war.
Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World by Michael Schuman (June 9, $30, ISBN 978-1-5417-8834-3) relates the history of China from the Chinese perspective, focusing on the 5,000 years when it had the world’s richest economy and strongest military, and analyzes how that viewpoint shapes the country’s current domestic and foreign policies.
This Is Chance! The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice That Held It Together by Jon Mooallem (Mar. 24, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-50991-2) narrates the 1964 earthquake that shook Anchorage, Alaska, and the efforts of a working mother and part-time radio host named Genie Chance to keep the community together.
Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch (Feb. 25, $28, ISBN 978-0-399-58915-7) investigates the 2012 death of an oil worker on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota and the efforts of a local Arikara woman to solve his murder.
Promised Land: How the Rise of the Middle Class Transformed America, 1929–1968 by David Stebenne (June 23, $28, ISBN 978-1-982102-70-8) examines how the New Deal, WWII, and the G.I. Bill expanded America’s middle class until it dictated national politics and culture during the mid-20th century, and how the era of middle-class dominance came to an end.
The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World—And Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen (Apr. 14, $30, ISBN 978-1-5011-9410-8) portrays the end of the first millennium as an age of exploration, documenting points of contact between societies on at least five continents, including the possibility that Vikings traveled to the Americas during the height of the Mayan empire.
Simon & Schuster
Miami 1980 by Nicholas Griffin (June 16, $26.99 ISBN 978-1-5011-9102-2) follows a journalist, a homicide detective, and a politician as Miami, in the course of one year, contends with a race riot, a 150% increase in the murder rate brought on by the cocaine trade, and the influx of 125,000 Cuban refugees.
Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote by Ellen Carol DuBois (Feb. 25, $28, ISBN 978-1-5011-6516-0) charts the history of the suffrage movement from its pre–Civil War roots in the abolitionist cause to its re-emergence in the Progressive Era, and the victories in Congress and state legislatures that set the stage for the 19th Amendment.
Univ. of California
Taking Children: A History of American Terror by Laura Briggs (May 12, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-520-34367-2) documents the historical antecedents to the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents, including slave auctions, Native American boarding schools, racial bias in the foster care system, and the moral panic over “crack babies.”
Univ. of North Carolina
From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century by William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen (Apr. 20, $28, ISBN 978-1-4696-5497-3) attempts to assign a monetary value to historical wrongs, including slavery, housing discrimination, and mass incarceration, and offers a road map for economic reparations to U.S. descendants of slavery.
Migrant City: A New History of London by Panikos Panayi (Apr. 7, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-21097-2) studies the impact of London’s immigrants, including German and Jewish newcomers who arrived during the Victorian era and the Windrush generation that traveled from the Caribbean in the mid-20th century, on the city’s economic, social, political, and cultural development.
Mission France: The True History of the Women of SOE by Elizabeth Kate Vigurs (July 28, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-20857-3) profiles all 39 female agents who were sent by the British Special Operations Executive into occupied France during WWII and documents the similarities and differences between their missions.