Fall’s histories recover the lost stories of Black pioneers; offer new takes on the Revolutionary War, the Middle Ages, the Ottoman Empire, and U.S. pacifism; and reveal secret CIA missions in Africa and Afghanistan.

Top 10

The Cause: The American Revolution and Its Discontents, 1773–1783

Joseph J. Ellis. Liveright, Sept. 21 ($30, ISBN 978-1-63149-898-5)

Ellis’s latest focuses on the brutality of the Revolutionary War and how the founders dealt with the issue of slavery.

Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery

Andrés Reséndez. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sept. 14 ($28, ISBN 978-1-328-51597-1)

National Book Award–finalist Reséndez recovers the lost history of the 16th-century Black mariner who navigated an easterly course across the Pacific Ocean from the Orient to the New World.

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

David Graeber and David Wengrow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct. 19 ($35, ISBN 978-0-374-15735-7)

Anthropologist Graeber, who died in 2020, and archaeologist Wengrow cast doubt on the assumption that civilization could only be achieved by taming humanity’s baser instincts.

Girly Drinks: A Women’s History of Drinking

Mallory O’Meara. Hanover Square, Oct. 19 ($27.99, ISBN 978-1-335-28240-8)

This feminist history features a Sumerian beer goddess and Savoy Hotel bartender Ada Coleman.

The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes

Zoë Playdon. Scribner, Nov. 2 ($27, ISBN 978-1-9821-3946-9)

Medical historian Playdon recounts the life of an aristocratic Scottish trans man whose victory in a 1968 civil case could have protected trans rights—if it hadn’t been kept secret.

Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire

Caroline Elkins. Knopf, Jan. 25 ($30, ISBN 978-0-307-27242-3)

Pulitzer-winner Elkins returns 17 years after Imperial Reckoning to examine how the use of systematic, racialized violence both enabled the British Empire and brought about its downfall.

The Sinner and the Saint: Dostoevsky and the Gentleman Murderer Who Inspired a Masterpiece

Kevin Birmingham. Penguin Press, Nov. 9 ($30, ISBN 978-1-59420-630-6)

Birmingham examines a famous French killer’s influence on Crime and Punishment.

The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped a Nation

Matthew Pearl. Harper, Oct. 5 ($27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-293778-0)

In his first work of nonfiction, novelist Pearl (The Dante Club) recounts the 1776 kidnapping of Daniel Boone’s daughter by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party.

Under Jerusalem: The Buried History of the World’s Most Contested City

Andrew Lawler. Doubleday, Nov. 2 ($32.50, ISBN 978-0-385-54685-0)

Journalist Lawler details how archaeological digs in Jerusalem have fueled religious conflicts, shed light on the ancient world, and helped shape the modern city.

Watching Darkness Fall: FDR, His Ambassadors, and the Rise of Adolf Hitler

David McKean. St. Martin’s, Nov. 2 ($29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-20696-1)

The former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg examines how FDR’s ambassadors in Europe responded to the Nazi threat and shaped the president’s view of it.

History Listings

Atlantic Monthly Press

Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy, from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II by Tracy Borman (Dec. 7, $32, ISBN 978-0-8021-5910-6) profiles the 41 kings and queens who have reigned over Britain since 1066.


The Last Emperor of Mexico: The Dramatic Story of the Habsburg Archduke Who Created a Kingdom in the New World by Edward Shawcross (Oct. 19, $30, ISBN 978-1-5416-7419-6) reveals the story of the European aristocrats who ruled as emperor and empress of Mexico from 1863 until 1867.

The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs by Marc David Baer (Oct. 5, $35, ISBN 978-1-5416-7380-9) documents the Ottoman Empire’s multiethnic origins, influence on the West, and increasing religious and cultural intolerance in the 19th century.


Washington at the Plow: The Founding Father and the Question of Slavery by Bruce A. Ragsdale (Oct. 12, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-674-24638-6) examines how George Washington’s farming practices and innovative land-management techniques influenced his views on slavery.


The Power of Scenery: Frederick Law Olmsted and the Origin of National Parks by Dennis Drabelle (Nov. 1, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4962-2077-6) explores the landscape architect’s influence on the national park movement and the preservation of Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Niagara Falls.


A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next by Tom Standage (Aug. 17, $28, ISBN 978-1-63557-361-9) is, according to PW, a “well-informed look at how innovation, when properly guided, can pave the way to a brighter future.” 125,000-copy announced first printing.


Asian Armageddon, 1944–1945 by Peter Harmsen (Aug. 31, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-61200-627-7). The final installment of the three-volume War in the Far East covers the battles of Leyte Gulf, Manila, and Iwo Jima, as well as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Custom House

N-4 Down: The Hunt for the Arctic Airship Italia by Mark Piesing (Aug. 31, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-285152-9) chronicles the 1928 crash of an Italian airship near the North Pole and the rescue mission led by famous polar explorers, including Roald Amundsen.


Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders

by Walter Pincus (Nov. 2, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-63576-801-5) documents the literal and metaphorical fallout from the 67 nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government in the Marshall Islands in the 1950s.


Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution by H.W. Brands (Nov. 9, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-385-54651-5) recounts the clash between colonists who called for revolution and those who remained loyal to the British Empire.


Rogues’ Gallery: The Birth of Modern Policing and Organized Crime in Gilded Age New York by John Oller (Sept. 21, $32, ISBN 978-1-5247-4565-3) details the innovations that improved New York City policing in the 1870s, and the concurrent rise of more sophisticated criminal enterprises, including the Mafia.

Europa Compass

A Short History of Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce by Massimo Montanari, trans. by Gregory Conti (Nov. 16, $18, ISBN 978-1-60945-709-9), investigates how national identities form by tracing the cultural exchanges among Asia, America, Africa, and Europe that produced one of Italy’s signature dishes.

Faber & Faber

Britain Alone: The Path from Suez to Brexit by Philip Stephens (Sept. 7, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-571-34177-1) puts Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in the context of its struggles to adapt to the loss of its empire after WWII.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Transcendentalists and Their World by Robert A. Gross (Nov. 9, $40, ISBN 978-0-374-27932-5). The Bancroft Prize–winning author of The Minutemen and Their World returns to Concord, Mass., in this study of how changes in the community and its place in the wider world contributed to the rise of transcendentalism.

Grand Central

Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came to Matter in America by Curtis Bunn et al. (Oct. 5, $30, ISBN 978-1-5387-3782-8). Five journalists examine the history of racial inequality in America and the cultural shift that resulted from the killing of George Floyd in 2020. 75,000-copy announced first printing.


The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe by Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry (Dec. 7, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-298089-2) recasts the Middle Ages as a 1,000-year period of innovation and cultural exchange, as well as superstition and brutality.

Harper Paperbacks

The Sisters of Auschwitz: The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters’ Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory by Roxane van Iperen, trans. by Joni Zwart (Aug. 31, $17.99 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-06-309762-9). Starred by PW, this “spellbinding story of resistance and survival during WWII... isn’t to be missed.”


To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change by Alfred W. McCoy (Oct. 5, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-64259-578-9) surveys the history of such world-altering events as the Black Plague and national revolutions and imagines how the climate crisis will shape the future.

Lawrence Hill

Power Hungry: Women of the Black Panther Party and Freedom Summer and Their Fight to Feed a Movement by Suzanne Cope (Nov. 9, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-64160-452-9) discloses why civil rights activists Cleo Silvers and Aylene Quin were targeted by the FBI for feeding members of their communities.


From Warsaw with Love: Polish Spies, the CIA, and the Forging of an Unlikely Alliance by John Pomfret (Oct. 26, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-29605-4) traces the history of cooperation between U.S. and Polish intelligence services, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the “war on terror.”


Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945–1955 by Harald Jähner, trans. by Shaun Whiteside (Jan. 11, $30, ISBN 978-0-593-31973-4) sets the lives of ordinary Germans against the backdrop of major political events in order to examine the national mindset in the decade after WWII.

The Education of Corporal John Musgrave: A Memoir by John Musgrave (Nov. 2, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-451-49356-9) narrates the author’s enlistment in the Marine Corps at age 17; tour of duty in Vietnam, where he nearly died of a chest wound; and work with fellow veterans to bring the war to an end.

Little, Brown

First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11 by Toby Harnden (Sept. 7, $32, ISBN 978-0-316-54095-7) relates the Taliban prisoner uprising that resulted in the death of CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann, the first American casualty in the invasion of Afghanistan.


Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War by Howard W. French (Oct. 12, $35, ISBN 978-1-63149-582-3) places the West’s exploitation of Africa at the center of the Enlightenment, the birth of American democracy, and other milestones of modernity.

Eight Days in May: The Final Collapse of the Third Reich by Volker Ullrich, trans. by Jefferson Chase (Sept. 7, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-827-5), recreates the chaotic eight days between Adolf Hitler’s suicide and Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allies.

Melville House

War by Other Means: The Pacifists of the Greatest Generation Who Revolutionized Resistance by Daniel Akst (Nov. 9, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-61219-924-5) profiles four pacifists who advocated against America’s entry into WWII and their influence on protest movements.


In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918–1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust by Jeffrey Veidlinger (Oct. 12, $35, ISBN 978-1-250-11625-3) documents the wave of violence in Poland and Ukraine that resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 Jews and set the stage for the Holocaust.

New Press

Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia by Gregg Mitman (Oct. 12, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-62097-377-6) catalogs the economic, environmental, and political toll Firestone’s rubber plantations have taken on the West African nation.

One Signal

There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America by Amy Argetsinger (Sept. 7, $28, ISBN 978-1-9821-2339-0) chronicles the evolution of the contest and its place in American culture over the past 100 years.

Other Press

Trace and Aura: The Recurring Lives of St. Ambrose of Milan by Patrick Boucheron, trans. by Lara Vergnaud and Willard Wood (Jan. 18, $38, ISBN 978-1-63542-006-7), tracks how changing perceptions of

St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan who baptized St. Augustine, helped shape the city from the fourth to the 14th centuries.

Oxford Univ.

The Secret Listener: An Ingenue in Mao’s Court by Yuan-Tsung Chen (Jan. 5, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-19-757334-1). A woman who was close to the seat of power in Mao Zedong’s China discloses her experiences during the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and other critical moments.


Blood and Iron: The Rise and Fall of the German Empire by Katja Hoyer (Dec. 7, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-64313-837-4) depicts the tumultuous years between the founding of the German Empire in 1871 and its defeat in WWI.

Penguin Press

The Greek Revolution: 1821 and the Making of Modern Europe by Mark Mazower (Nov. 16, $35, ISBN 978-1-59184-733-5) surveys how Greece’s uprising against the Ottoman Empire captured the imagination of Europe and altered the continent’s politics.

Princeton Univ.

Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern by Mary Beard (Oct. 12, $35, ISBN 978-0-691-22236-3) delineates how images of Julius Caesar, Nero, and other Roman emperors have influenced representations of authority and power for more than 2,000 years.


Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution by Mike Duncan (Aug. 24, $30, ISBN 978-1-5417-3033-5). From the Battle of Yorktown in 1781 to the July Revolution of 1830, this “sympathetic portrait illuminates the complexities of Lafayette and his revolutionary era,” according to PW.

White Malice: The CIA and the Covert Recolonization of Africa by Susan Williams (Aug. 10, $35, ISBN 978-1-5417-6829-1) documents how the U.S. government and the CIA undermined the pan-African independence movement in the 1950s and ’60s.


The Approaching Storm: Roosevelt, Wilson, Addams, and Their Clash over America’s Future by Neil Lanctot (Oct. 26, $29, ISBN 978-0-7352-1059-2) delves into disagreements among three of America’s leading progressives—Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jane Addams—over U.S. involvement in WWI.


The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone by Edward Dolnick (Oct. 19, $28, ISBN 978-1-5011-9893-9) sketches the rivalry between British polymath Thomas Young and French scholar Jean-François Champollion in their efforts to unlock the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics.


The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul by Brian Kilmeade (Nov. 2, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-54057-1) charts the evolution of Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with Frederick Douglass and their views on how best to bring about the end of slavery. 500,000-copy announced first printing.

Seven Stories

634 Ways to Kill Fidel by Fabian Escalante (Sept. 21, $18.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64421-098-7). The former head of the Cuban State Security Department details how the CIA and other groups plotted to assassinate Fidel Castro with poison-laced cigars, plastic explosives, and bazookas.

Simon & Schuster

Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution by Woody Holton (Oct. 19, $37.50, ISBN 978-1-4767-5037-8) reassesses the Revolutionary War from the perspective of enslaved Africans, Native Americans, religious dissenters, and other marginalized groups.


The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II by Mari Eder (Aug. 3, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-7282-3092-4). PW says this “brisk and informative survey is a worthy tribute to the trailblazing women of WWII.”

St. Martin’s

Innovation: The History of England, Vol. VI by Peter Ackroyd (Sept. 28, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-00366-9) covers watershed events of the 20th century in England, including the accession of Edward VII, two world wars, the rise of Margaret Thatcher, and the advent of punk rock.


Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages by Dan Jones (Oct. 26, $35, ISBN 978-1-9848-8087-1) examines how climate changes, pandemics, and technological upheavals shaped the medieval world and spurred the rise of the West.

Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy by Nathaniel Philbrick (Sept. 14, $30, ISBN 978-0-525-56217-7) retraces George Washington’s presidential travels from 1789 to 1791 in what PW calls an “entertaining mix of history, travel, and memoir.”

Yale Univ.

The Short History of War by Jeremy Black (Oct. 26, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-25651-2) details specific conflicts in ancient Rome, Napoleonic France, and modern-day Afghanistan, as well as the cultural, political, and religious implications of warfare.

Return to the main feature.