Hope springs eternal in a season marked by profiles of crusading lawmakers, tributes to female rule breakers, deep dives into landmark protest movements, stories of rescue and survival, and studies of what it means to make amends.
Rachel Swarns. Random House, June 6 ($28, ISBN 978-0-399-59086-3)
Spotlighting one enslaved family sold in 1838 to keep Georgetown University afloat, journalist Swarns investigates the historic links between the Catholic Church and slavery in North America.
A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them
Timothy Egan. Viking, Apr. 4 ($30, ISBN 978-0-7352-2526-8)
The National Book Award winner charts the KKK’s rise to political prominence in 1920s Indiana and reveals how one woman’s testimony against her abuser brought down the organization.
Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope
Sarah Bakewell. Penguin Press, Mar. 28 ($30, ISBN 978-0-7352-2337-0)
Bestseller Bakewell returns after At the Existentialist Café with a survey of humanism and its leading thinkers, including Erasmus, Bertrand Russell, and Zora Neale Hurston.
The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys—and One Senator’s Fight to Save Democracy
James Risen. Little, Brown, May 9 ($30, ISBN 978-0-316-56513-4)
Idaho senator Frank Church’s crusade to expose abuses by the American intelligence community in the wake of the Watergate scandal is documented in this chronicle from a Pulitzer winner.
A Madman’s Will: John Randolph, Four Hundred Slaves, and the Mirage of Freedom
Gregory May. Liveright, Apr. 11 ($30, ISBN 978-1-324-09221-6)
This history unearths the causes and effects of Virginia senator John Randolph’s shocking decision to free all 383 of his slaves at the time of his death in 1833.
Pathogenesis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues
Jonathan Kennedy. Crown, Apr. 18 ($30, ISBN 978-0-593-24047-2)
Pandemics did more to shape the modern world than human intelligence, according to this survey of the role diseases played in the rise of Christianity, the invention of capitalism, and more.
The Plot to Save South Africa: The Week Mandela Averted Civil War and Forged a New Nation
Justice Malala. Simon & Schuster, Apr. 4 ($28.99, ISBN 978-1-98214-973-4)
Journalist Malala examines how the 1993 assassination of one of Nelson Mandela’s protégés by a white supremacist pushed South Africa to the brink of civil war just as apartheid was ending.
The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History
Ned Blackhawk. Yale Univ., Apr. 25 ($35, ISBN 978-0-300-24405-2)
This revisionist history contends that the power, self-determination, and resilience of Native Americans are critical to understanding how America developed over the past 500 years.
The Sullivanians: Sex, Psychotherapy, and the Wild Life of an American Commune
Alexander Stille. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 20 ($30, ISBN 978-0-374-60039-6)
Stille investigates how a famed New York City therapy group devolved into a cult in the 1970s.
You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America
Paul Kix. Celadon, May 2 ($30, ISBN 978-1-250-80769-4)
On the 60th anniversary of the 1963 Birmingham campaign, Kix documents the origins and evolution of the protest and examines its influence on the civil rights movement.
Atlantic Monthly Press
The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention That Changed History by Edward Achorn (Feb. 14, $28, ISBN 978-0-8021-6062-1) recounts how Abraham Lincoln overcame his spotty campaign record and odds-on favorite William Seward to clinch the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1860.
Fragile Cargo: The World War II Race to Save the Treasures of China’s Forbidden City by Adam Brookes (Feb. 14, $28.99, ISBN 978-1-982149-29-1) details how curators from the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City saved jade carvings, jewels, historical documents, and other priceless objects from destruction.
Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right by Matthew Dallek (Mar. 21, $32, ISBN 978-1-5416-7356-4) investigates how the extreme views of the John Birch Society infiltrated the Republican mainstream, setting the stage for Donald Trump’s rise to power.
The Middle Kingdoms: A New History of Central Europe by Martyn Rady (May 2, $36, ISBN 978-1-5416-1978-4) covers 2,000 years of history in central Europe, focusing on the region’s contributions to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, romanticism, and other cultural and political developments.
School Clothes: A Collective Memoir of Black Student Witness by Jarvis R. Givens (Feb. 7, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-8070-5481-9) draws on more than 100 firsthand accounts—including those of Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X, and Angela Davis—to document the educational experiences of Black students in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Fearless Women: Feminist Patriots from Abigail Adams to Beyoncé by Elizabeth Cobbs (Mar. 7, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-25848-8). Bestselling novelist Cobbs traces the roots of the women’s movement in America back to the country’s founding and profiles key figures including Abigail Adams, Angelica Grimké, and Susan B. Anthony.
The World of Sugar: How the Sweet Stuff Transformed Our Politics, Health, and Environment Over 2,000 Years by Ulbe Bosma (May 9, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-27939-1) examines how granulated sugar, which was first produced in India in the sixth century BCE, helped spark the slave trade, the obesity epidemic, and more.
Brooding Over Bloody Revenge: Enslaved Women’s Lethal Resistance by Nikki M. Taylor (June 30, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-00-927684-9) documents acts of violent resistance—including organized revolts and revenge killings—committed by enslaved women in the U.S. from the colonial through the antebellum era.
Gangbuster: One Man’s Battle Against Crime, Corruption, and the Klan by Alan Prendergast (Mar. 28, $28, ISBN 978-0-8065-4212-6) showcases D.A. Philip Van Cise’s use of cutting-edge surveillance techniques to battle organized crime and white supremacy in Denver, Colo., in the 1920s.
Vote Gun: How Gun Rights Became Politicized in the United States by Patrick J. Charles (May 2, $35, ISBN 978-0-231-20884-0) tracks the increasing stridency of the anti–gun control movement from the early 20th century through Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980.
Satellite Boy: The International Manhunt for a Master Thief That Launched the Modern Communication Age by Andrew Amelinckx (Mar. 21, $27, ISBN 978-1-64009-480-2) reveals the role that the world’s first 24-hour commercial communications satellite, launched in 1965, played in capturing a notorious Canadian bank robber.
Beyond the Shores: A History of African Americans Abroad by Tamara J. Walker (June 20, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-13905-9) interweaves the author’s family history and her own experiences abroad with portraits of Josephine Baker in Paris, Richard Wright in Argentina, and other Black Americans who sought to escape the racism of the U.S.
The Curse of the Marquis de Sade: A Notorious Scoundrel, a Mythical Manuscript, and the Biggest Scandal in Literary History by Joel Warner (Feb. 21, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-593-13568-6) charts the turbulent history of the scroll on which the Marquis de Sade wrote 120 Days of Sodom while imprisoned in the Bastille.
The West: A New History in Fourteen Lives by Naoíse Mac Sweeney (May 23, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-47217-0) spotlights 14 historical figures who helped give shape to the modern idea of the West, including enslaved poet Phyllis Wheatley, medieval Arab scholar Al-Kindi, and British prime minister William Gladstone.
To the End of the Earth: The U.S. Army and the Downfall of Japan, 1945 by John C. McManus (May 2, $35, ISBN 978-0-593-18688-6) is the final volume of the author’s trilogy on the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater of WWII, focusing on the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the plan to invade the Japanese home islands.
The Diary Keepers: World War II in the Netherlands, as Written by the People Who Lived Through It by Nina Siegal (Feb. 21, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-06-307065-3). Drawn from journals kept during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, this is “an essential contribution to the history of WWII,” according to PW’s starred review. 125,000-copy announced first printing.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Wounded World: W.E.B. Du Bois and the First World War by Chad L. Williams (Apr. 4, $30, ISBN 978-0-374-29315-4) revisits Du Bois’s unfinished history of African American participation in WWI and his struggles to come to terms with the racist treatment Black soldiers endured. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Crooked: The Roaring ’20s Tale of a Corrupt Attorney General, a Crusading Senator, and the Birth of the American Political Scandal by Nathan Masters (Mar. 21, $30, ISBN 978-0-306-82613-9) depicts the battle between U.S. senator Burton “Boxcar Burt” Wheeler and Attorney General Harry Daugherty that helped pave the way for J. Edgar Hoover’s rise to power.
Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It by Janina Ramirez (Feb. 28, $32.99, ISBN 978-1-335-49852-6) restores to prominence the women not included in histories of the Middle Ages, including Jadwiga, the first female ruler of Poland, and Christian mystic Margery Kempe.
Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge: from Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic by Simon Winchester (Apr. 25, $35, ISBN 978-0-06-314288-6) surveys technological advancements in the attainment, storage, and distribution of information and asks what the internet has done to human thinking. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson by Patrick Weil (May 16, $35, ISBN 978-0-674-29161-4) unearths the psychological profile of Woodrow Wilson written by U.S. diplomat William C. Bullitt and Sigmund Freud in 1932.
A Brutal Reckoning: Andrew Jackson, the Creek Indians, and the Epic War for the American South by Peter Cozzens (Apr. 25, $35, ISBN 978-0-525-65945-7) recounts the 1813–1814 clash between “Red Stick” Creek Indians and future U.S. president Andrew Jackson in present-day Alabama and Georgia. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
The Long Reckoning: A Story of War, Peace, and Redemption in Vietnam by George Black (Mar. 28, $35, ISBN 978-0-593-53410-6) documents the efforts of a small group of activists to hold the U.S. government accountable for the aftereffects of the Vietnam War on the Vietnamese people. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class by Blair Kelley (June 27, $30, ISBN 978-1-63149-655-4) surveys the origins and evolution of the Black working class over the past 200 years and its influence on U.S. politics and the fight for racial equality.
The Ship Beneath the Ice: The Discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance by Mensun Bound (Feb. 28, $32.99, ISBN 978-0-06-329740-1) chronicles the loss of the Endurance during the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and its discovery on the floor of the Weddell Sea in 2022.
The Angel Makers: Arsenic, a Midwife, and Modern History’s Most Astonishing Murder Ring by Patti McCracken (Mar. 14, $32.99, ISBN 978-0-06-327503-4) resurfaces the story of a village midwife in 1920s Hungary who helped women murder at least 160 men.
When the Smoke Cleared: The 1968 Rebellions and the Unfinished Battle for Civil Rights in the Nation’s Capital by Kyla Sommers (Apr. 25, $28.99, ISBN 978-1-62097-747-7) details how the uprising in Washington, D.C., after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination sparked a reform movement that was extinguished by the Nixon administration.
Culture: The Story of Us, from Cave Art to K-Pop by Martin Puchner (Feb. 7, $35, ISBN 978-0-393-86799-2) is a one-volume history of world culture and the role of the arts and humanities in passing along knowledge about the meaning and purpose of life.
Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera (Feb. 28, $29, ISBN 978-0-593-31667-2) identifies the legacy of imperialism in the National Health Service, Brexit, distrust of public intellectuals, the early response to Covid-19, and other aspects of modern British life.
Goodbye, Eastern Europe: An Intimate History of a Divided Land by Jacob Mikanowski (Apr. 25, $30, ISBN 978-1-5247-4850-0) spans 1,000 years of history in Eastern Europe, from pagan rituals to the rise and fall of Ottoman and Hapsburg empires through the end of communism.
The Collaborators: Three Stories of Deception and Survival in World War II by Ian Buruma (Mar. 7, $30, ISBN 978-0-593-29664-6) spotlights a trio of historical figures, including Heinrich Himmler’s personal masseur, who have been alternately lauded and condemned for their actions during WWII.
Seventy Times Seven: A True Story of Murder and Mercy by Alex Mar (Mar. 28, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-52215-7) recounts the case of a 16-year-old Black girl who was sentenced to die for the 1985 murder of an elderly white woman in Gary, Ind., and the campaign to spare her life.
The Soviet Century: Archaeology of a Lost World by Karl Schlögel, trans. by Rodney Livingstone (Mar. 14, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-691-18374-9). According to PW’s starred review, this “vast and vivid montage” of everyday life in the Soviet Union “casts a lost world in a new light.”
The Peking Express: The Bandits Who Stole a Train, Stunned the West, and Broke the Republic of China by James M. Zimmerman (Apr. 4, $30, ISBN 978-1-5417-0170-0) recounts the 1923 kidnapping of wealthy passengers aboard an express train between Shanghai and Beijing and the ensuing hostage crisis.
There Will Be Fire: Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, and Two Minutes That Changed History by Rory Carroll (Apr. 4, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-41949-6) recreates the 1984 assassination attempt against British prime minister Margaret Thatcher at a hotel in Brighton, England.
Built from the Fire: The Epic Story of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, America’s Black Wall Street by Victor Luckerson (May 23, $30, ISBN 978-0-593-13437-5) traces the history of one Black family in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Okla., from the 1921 race massacre to present-day battles to preserve the neighborhood’s historic character.
Empress of the Nile: The Dare-devil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction by Lynne Olson (Feb. 28, $32, ISBN 978-0-525-50947-9) showcases French archaeologist Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt’s efforts to save a dozen ancient Egyptian temples from destruction during the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s.
Without Children: The Long History of Not Being a Mother by Peggy O’Donnell Heffington (Apr. 18, $30, ISBN 978-1-5416-7557-5) identifies the historical reasons why women did not have children, including lack of support and environmental worries, and analyzes how society has worked to make childless women seem abnormal.
21st Century Voices of a People’s History of the United States: Documents of Resistance and Hope, 2000–2023, edited by Anthony Arnove and Haley Pessin (Apr. 25, $19.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64421-297-4), gathers pieces on Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and other social justice movements of the past two decades.
Simon & Schuster
Saying It Loud: 1966—The Year Black Power Challenged the Civil Rights Movement by Mark Whitaker (Feb. 7, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-98211-412-1). This “eye-opening history” of civil rights activism in 1966 is a “comprehensive and character-driven portrait of the ‘first Black Power generation,’ ” according to the PW review. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
India Is Broken: A People Betrayed, Independence to Today by Ashoka Mody (Feb. 14, $35, ISBN 978-1-5036-3005-5) surveys the history of India since 1947, revealing how leaders’ failure to contend with the country’s economic woes paved the way to a rise in violent Hindu nationalism and other social ills.
Africatown: America’s Last Slave Ship and the Community It Created by Nick Tabor (Feb. 21, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-76654-0) tracks the legacy of the Clotilda, the last ship to bring enslaved people to the U.S. from West Africa, and the evolution of the community they founded near Mobile, Ala.
The Dirty Tricks Department: Stanley Lovell, the OSS, and the Masterminds of World War II Secret Warfare by John Lisle (Mar. 7, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-28024-4). “Espionage buffs will be enthralled” with this “knowledgeable and entertaining study of the R&D Branch within the Office of Strategic Services,” said PW’s review.
Univ. of North Carolina
Dreamland: America’s Immigration Lottery in an Age of Restriction by Carly Goodman (May 2, $30, ISBN 978-1-4696-7304-2) revisits the creation of the United States Diversity Visa in 1990, a lottery system that granted winners a path to permanent residency and helped increase African immigration to the country.
Battle of Ink and Ice: A Sensational Story of News Barons, North Pole Explorers, and the Making of Modern Media by Darrell Hartman (June 6, $30, ISBN 978-0-593-29716-2) chronicles the feud between polar explorers Robert Peary and Frederick Cook in the early 20th century and the rival newspapers that championed them.
Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions by Mattie Kahn (June 13, $28, ISBN 978-0-593-29906-7) spotlights the young women who kicked off America’s most potent social justice movements, including the 1,500 mill workers who launched one of the country’s first labor strikes in 1830s Lowell, Mass.