The lag between current events and current events books has never felt longer, but this fall authors are tackling many issues at play in the Covid-19 crisis, including job insecurity, social inequality, and the spread of misinformation.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson. Random House, Aug. 4 ($32, ISBN 978-0-593-23025-1)
Pulitzer-winner Wilkerson investigates the rigid social hierarchy that has shaped American history and the lives of individuals including Martin Luther King Jr., Satchel Paige, and Wilkerson herself.
The Churchill Complex: The Curse of Being Special, from Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit
Ian Buruma. Penguin Press, Sept. 1 ($27, ISBN 978-0-525-52220-1)
Buruma views the “special relationship” between Britain and America and its impact on world history through the lens of president–prime minister pairings.
Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women
Kate Manne. Crown, Aug. 11 ($27, ISBN 978-1-984826-55-8)
Philosopher Manne examines Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the viral New Yorker short story “Cat Person,” among other topics, in this inquiry into the dangers posed by male entitlement.
Having and Being Had
Eula Biss. Riverhead, Sept. 1 ($26, ISBN 978-0-525-53745-8)
Biss, who drew on her experiences as a new mother to explore the vaccination debate in On Immunity, now uses the occasion of buying her first home as a launching point to investigate the impact of capitalism on human value systems.
Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains
Kerri Arsenault. St. Martin’s, Sept. 1 ($27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-15593-1)
Though the local paper mill employed most people in Arsenault’s hometown, it also gave the region its nickname: Cancer Valley. She explores the mill’s complicated legacy.
On Corruption in America: And What Is at Stake
Sarah Chayes. Knopf, Aug. 11 ($28.95, ISBN 978-0-525-65485-8)
Self-dealing networks of public officials, private interests, and outright criminals have operated in America from the Gilded Age to the Trump presidency, according to Chayes’s investigation.
A Peculiar Indifference: The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America
Elliott Currie. Metropolitan, Sept. 15 ($27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-76993-0)
Criminologist Currie delves into the disparities between rates of violent injury and death in black and white communities in America, and condemns the lack of attention paid to the crisis.
Red Line: The Unraveling of Syria and America’s Race to Destroy the Most Dangerous Arsenal in the World
Joby Warrick. Doubleday, Oct. 6 ($29.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54446-7)
Two-time Pulitzer-winner Warrick reveals the unintended geopolitical consequences of the 2013 American-led mission to remove 1,300 tons of chemical weapons from Syria.
The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?
Michael J. Sandel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 15 ($27, ISBN 978-0-374-28998-0)
Philosopher Sandel probes the dark side of meritocracy, exploring how resentments generated by stalled upward mobility have fueled the resurgence of populism in American politics.
We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State
Kai Strittmatter. Custom House, Sept. 1 ($28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-302729-9)
Journalist Strittmatter examines how the Chinese government has exploited technology to surveil and imprison its citizens and strengthen totalitarian rule.
Republic of Wrath: How American Politics Turned Tribal, from George Washington to Donald Trump by James A. Morone (Sept. 8, $30, ISBN 978-0-465-00244-3) tracks the history of tribalism in American politics and examines how shifts in the constituencies and policy agendas of Democratic and Republican parties have contributed to today’s rancor.
Worked Over: How Round-the-Clock Work Is Killing the American Dream by Jamie K. McCallum (Sept. 8, $28, ISBN 978-1-5416-1834-3) follows the significant increase in work hours since the 1970s, examines how unpredictable schedules affect low-wage laborers, and offers ideas for regaining control of how much time Americans spend on the job.
Voice, Choice, and Action: The Potential of Young Citizens to Heal Democracy by Felton Earls and Mary Carlson (Sept. 15, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-674-98742-5). Two Harvard Medical School professors draw on their fieldwork in Brazil, Romania, Tanzania, and the U.S. to showcase strategies for promoting democracy and confronting social challenges by harnessing the power of children’s interest in the common good.
In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action by Vicky Osterweil (Aug. 25, $28, ISBN 978-1-64503-669-2) pursues the history of violent protest in America from slave revolts to the present and contends that rioting and looting are some of the most powerful weapons poor and marginalized people have in confronting the status quo.
Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone by Sarah Jaffe (Jan. 26, $28, ISBN 978-1-56858-939-8) undercuts the idea that people should be willing to earn less and work longer hours in order to do what they love.
Trump’s Democrats by Stephanie Muravchik and Jon A. Shields (Sept. 15, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-8157-3863-3). Muravchik and Shields lived in three different communities that flipped from blue to red in the 2016 presidential election in order to better understand Trump’s appeal to Democratic voters, and how the party can win them back.
White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad (Oct. 6, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-948226-74-5) delves into how the legacy of white supremacy has pitted white women against women of color in Australia, Zimbabwe, and the U.S. from the slave era to the present day.
A User’s Guide to Democracy: How America Works by Nick Capodice and Hannah McCarthy, illus. by Tom Toro (Sept. 8, $16.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-250-75184-3). Capodice and McCarthy, cohosts of New Hampshire Public Radio’s Civics 101, and New Yorker cartoonist Toro offer a primer on the workings of the U.S. government.
Dispatches from the Race War by Tim Wise (Dec. 1, $17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-87286-809-0). This essay collection explores the “birther” controversy, the killing of Trayvon Martin, the rise of white nationalism, and other racial flashpoints of the Obama and Trump presidencies.
This Is Ohio: The Overdose Crisis and the Front Lines of a New America by Jack Shuler (Sept. 8, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-355-3). According to PW’s review, Shuler’s “deeply felt” account of the opioid epidemic in Licking County, Ohio, “does a devastating job of personalizing the failures of U.S. drug policy.”
Liar’s Circus: A Strange and Terrifying Journey into the Upside-Down World of Trump’s MAGA Rallies by Carl Hoffman (Sept. 1, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-300976-9). In 2019, Hoffman immersed himself in the rituals and culture of Trump’s rallies and attempts to explain what they reveal about Trump’s rise and the impact of his presidency on American politics.
True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump by Jeffrey Toobin (Aug. 4, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-53673-8). CNN legal analyst Toobin’s behind-the-scenes account of the Mueller investigation and the 2020 impeachment trial considers reasons why efforts to hold President Trump accountable for various alleged crimes have failed.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History by Paul Farmer (Nov. 17, $40, ISBN 978-0-374-23432-4). Harvard Medical School professor Farmer, subject of Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, examines the origins of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and chronicles his public health organization’s efforts to stem the tide of the epidemic.
Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant (Nov. 24, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-26850-1). Clark and Bryant, cohosts of the Stuff You Should Know podcast, dive into the origins of the Murphy bed, the history of facial hair, and the psychology of being lost, among other subjects.
Head, Hand, Heart: Why Intelligence Is Overrated, Manual Workers Matter, and Caregivers Deserve More Respect by David Goodhart (Sept. 8, $27, ISBN 978-1-982128-44-9). The British political analyst tracks the changing status and influence of knowledge workers, manual laborers, and caregivers in recent decades and argues that democratic societies must respect and reward qualities other than intelligence.
Culture Warlords: My Journey into the Dark Web of White Supremacy by Talia Lavin (Oct. 13, $27, ISBN 978-0-306-84643-4). Journalist Lavin goes undercover to infiltrate extremist communities online, including a whites-only dating site, “incel” chat forums, and a YouTube channel run by a 14-year-old white supremacist with 800,000 followers.
Rise Up: Confronting a Country at the Crossroads by Al Sharpton (Sept. 29, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-335-96662-9). The civil rights leader looks back on the Obama presidency and the 2016 election and spotlights new political movements that have materialized in response to the Trump administration.
Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies by Barry Meier (Jan. 26, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-295068-0). Investigative reporter Meier connects the dots between the Steele dossier, the Theranos scandal, and Harvey Weinstein’s intimidation campaign against the press and his accusers to shine a light on the billion-dollar business of private spying.
Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes by Elizabeth Lesser (Sept. 15, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-288718-4). Omega Institute cofounder Lesser explores how hero myths and other cultural origin stories have marginalized women and upheld masculine value systems, and offers a corrective based on finding the balance between courage and compassion.
Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction by Arundhati Roy (Sept. 1, $22, ISBN 978-1-64259-260-3). In this essay collection, novelist Roy examines Hindu nationalism and the Kashmiri independence movement, as well as the meaning of freedom and the role of fiction in an era of rising authoritarianism.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen (Sept. 22, $26, ISBN 978-0-358-31507-0). Expanding on her viral BuzzFeed article from 2019, Peterson contends that burnout is endemic among millennials and investigates the causes and consequences of the phenomenon.
Library of America
American Democracy: 21 Historic Answers to 5 Urgent Questions, edited by Nicholas Lemann (Oct. 6, $21.95, ISBN 978-1-59853-662-1), collects essential writings from American history that speak to today’s hot-button issues, including immigration, inequality, the influence of special interests on politics, and the powers of the federal government.
Counting: How We Use Numbers to Decide What Matters by Deborah Stone (Oct. 6, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-592-2). Political scientist Stone probes the relationship between quantifying and classifying to show that numbers are not as objective as they seem, and explains how the act of counting shapes public policy and daily life.
Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina by Sandy Rosenthal (Aug. 11, $19.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64250-327-2) documents the author’s battle to hold the Army Corps of Engineers to account for the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia by Thomas Healy (Jan. 12, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-62779-862-4) chronicles civil rights leader Floyd McKissick’s efforts to build a new, primarily African American city in rural North Carolina, and the unlikely alliance between Republican senator Jesse Helms and liberal newspaper editors that doomed those plans.
Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto by Julia Lane (Sept. 1, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-262-04432-5). NYU professor Lane highlights the importance of high-quality public data for the functioning of democratic societies and suggests ways to improve the usefulness and accessibility of data produced by the U.S. government.
A Perfect Phone Call: The Impeachment of Donald Trump by Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian (Sept. 8, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-304079-3). Washington Post congressional reporters Bade and Demirjian take a behind-the-scenes look at how Trump’s impeachment over the Ukraine affair unfolded.
Andrea Dworkin: The Feminist as Revolutionary by Martin Duberman (Sept. 8, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-62097-585-5). According to PW’s review, this “empathetic and approachable” biography will give readers “a new appreciation for Dworkin’s ‘combative radicalism’ and the lifelong, unsteady truce she made with the feminist mainstream.”
City of Champions: A History of Triumph and Defeat in Detroit by Stefan Szymanski and Silke-Maria Weineck (Oct. 13, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-62097-442-1) intertwines sports, sociology, and economics in a work described by PW’s review as “a sophisticated yet entertaining history that captures both Detroit’s colorful peculiarities and the deep tectonic forces shaping them.”
Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret by Catherine Coleman Flowers (Nov. 17, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-62097-608-1). The environmental justice activist documents her life’s work to expose the dangers of poor sanitation and ensure that impoverished rural Americans have the means to dispose of their waste cleanly.
Mistrust: Why Losing Faith in Institutions Provides the Tools to Transform Them by Ethan Zuckerman (Nov. 10, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-324-00260-4). MIT media scholar Zuckerman examines the loss of faith in America’s civic institutions and explores ways to stimulate active participation in public life.
Why Didn’t We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland by Issac J. Bailey (Oct. 6, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-63542-028-9). In this essay collection, South Carolina journalist Bailey addresses Confederate monuments, media bias, police brutality, poverty, white supremacy, and other divisive issues of the Trump era.
Crackup: The Republican Implosion and the Future of Presidential Politics by Samuel L. Popkin (Sept. 1, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-19-091382-3) traces the roots of Trump’s electoral win to the unintended consequences of campaign finance reforms that fueled the rise of super PACs and sowed divisions within the Republican Party.
The Middle Way: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Leadership by Derek Chollet (Jan. 2, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-19-009288-7). A foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama revisits the Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, and Obama presidencies to make the case for the power and efficacy of a measured, centrist approach to international affairs.
Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It by Erin Brockovich (Aug. 25, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-5247-4696-4). The environmental activist raises questions about the cleanliness and safety of America’s water supply and profiles individuals working to fix the problem.
One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger by Matthew Yglesias (Sept. 15, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-19021-0). Vox cofounder Yglesias contends that the U.S. population needs to reach one billion in order for America to stay on top of the world order while fixing public transportation, improving public education and the social safety net, and mitigating climate change.
White House, Inc.: How Donald Trump Turned the Presidency into a Business by Dan Alexander (Sept. 22, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-18852-1). Forbes senior editor Alexander scrutinizes Trump’s business portfolio and the conflicts he and wealthy associates such as Carl Icahn and Jared Kushner have created between their private interests and public roles.
Collateral Damage: Britain, America, and Europe in the Age of Trump by Kim Darroch (Sept. 15, $30, ISBN 978-1-5417-5101-9) reveals the inside story behind the author’s 2019 resignation as British ambassador to the U.S., and offers his perspective on the Brexit referendum, the rise of populism, and the Trump White House.
October Surprise: How the FBI Tried to Save Itself and Crashed an Election by Devlin Barrett (Sept. 29, $28, ISBN 978-1-5417-6197-1). Washington Post reporter Barrett takes a critical look at the FBI’s October 2016 decision to reopen the Hillary Clinton email server investigation after initially concluding that no crime had been committed.
Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World by Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West (Aug. 4, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-50918-9). Two University of Washington science professors critique the presentation of misinformation in the language of math, science, and statistics, and offer tools to recognize problems with data.
The Modern Detective: How Corporate Intelligence Is Reshaping the World by Tyler Maroney (Sept. 29, $27, ISBN 978-1-59463-259-4). Private investigator Maroney contends that he and his colleagues are taking the place of traditional law enforcement in rooting out sophisticated corporate fraud and political corruption, and presents case studies from his work in the field.
Our Bodies, Their Battlefields: War Through the Lives of Women by Christina Lamb (Sept. 22, $17 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-5011-9917-2). War correspondent Lamb documents the lives of women in wartime, including Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram and Rohingya women fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
Black Women, Black Love: America’s War on African American Marriage by Dianne M. Stewart (Oct. 6, $30, ISBN 978-1-58005-818-6) examines how mass incarceration, racial violence, slavery, and the welfare system have contributed to low marriage rates in the black community and makes suggestions for change.
All Lara’s Wars by Wojciech Jagielski, trans. by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Oct. 13, $23.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64421-016-1). Polish war correspondent Jagielski chronicles the radicalization of two Chechen brothers who joined ISIS in Syria and their mother’s quest to bring them home.
Simon & Schuster
Monopolies Suck: 7 Ways Big Corporations Rule Your Life and How to Take Back Control by Sally Hubbard (Oct. 13, $24, ISBN 978-1-982149-70-3). A director at the antitrust think tank Open Markets Institute ties many of today’s social ills to the power of unchecked monopolies, and issues a call for Americans to protest mega-corporations.
What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era by Carlos Lozada (Oct. 6, $28, ISBN 978-1-982145-62-0). Washington Post book critic Lozada surveys the mountain of books that attempt to explain Trump’s election and the issues his presidency raises for America.
Liberty from All Masters: The New American Autocracy vs. the Will of the People by Barry C. Lynn (Sept. 29, $28.99, ISBN 978-1-250-24062-0) diagnoses the dangers monopolies such as Amazon and Google pose to individual liberties, including how and where people work and how they raise their families.
Losing the Long Game: The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East by Philip H. Gordon (Oct. 6, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-21703-5). A foreign policy official in the Obama administration scrutinizes American interventions in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria over the past two decades to understand why they failed and what unintended consequences they unleashed.
Guilty Admissions: The Bribes, Favors, and Phonies Behind the College Cheating Scandal by Nicole LaPorte (Sept. 8, $28, ISBN 978-1-5387-1709-7) recounts the story behind Operation Varsity Blues—the U.S. Justice Department’s 2018–2019 investigation into conspiracy by college admissions counselors, school officials, and wealthy parents to manipulate the admissions process at elite universities.