Whether you’re looking to broaden your understanding of American history or just want to savor a good story, these six recent books will keep you riveted from start to finish.
“Never Caught” by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Ona Judge was one of many slaves owned by founding father George Washington and his wife. After living the first 22 years of her life in bondage, Judge made her escape during Washington’s presidency. In “Never Caught,” historian Erica Armstrong tells the gripping and deeply researched story of Ona Judge’s life and her getaway, and recounts Washington’s dogged efforts to recapture and re-enslave her.
“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” by David Treuer
Native American history after the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre is often portrayed as a long, slow decline into hopelessness and irrelevance. However, in “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” writer David Treuer presents a very different narrative. Combining historical research and on-the-ground reporting, Treuer shows how Native Americans adapted and fought back in the 20th century, displaying resilience in difficult times and preserving their cultural heritage in the face of oppression and injustice.
“The Woman’s Hour” by Elaine Weiss
For more than 70 years, American women engaged in an intense and often bitter struggle to win voting rights. In “The Woman’s Hour,” journalist Elaine Weiss spotlights the culmination of those efforts — the 1920s battle to amend the Constitution and enshrine women’s right to vote. Weiss follows the remarkable efforts of activists and leaders as they wage a make-or-break political struggle in Tennessee, the 36th and final state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment.
“Hitler in Los Angeles” by Steven J. Ross
In the 1930s, fascist ideology was gaining a foothold in America. The Nazis sought to take advantage of this, conspiring to commit sabotage, assassinate political leaders and slaughter Jews throughout the Los Angeles region. “Hitler in Los Angeles” uncovers the story of this chilling plot and the heroic amateur spy ring that stopped it. Thoroughly researched by historian Steven J. Ross, this little-known story reads like a real-life thriller.
“The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B. Tyson
The horrific 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmitt Till in Mississippi shocked the nation and galvanized the civil rights movement. In “The Blood of Emmett Till,” historian Timothy B. Tyson examines Till’s short life, unearths new evidence about what led to his murder and provides insight into how his death connects to larger themes of racism and white supremacy in American history.
“Fault Lines” by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer
People across the political spectrum agree that America has become a deeply polarized nation, but how did it get that way? Historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer argue that today’s divisions stem from 1974, a year that shook America with numerous political, racial and environmental crises. In “Fault Lines,” Kruse and Zelizer trace the repercussions of this pivotal year and the ensuing changes that led to the conditions we see today.
After spending some time in the pages of these six fascinating history books, you’ll come away with a deeper knowledge of America’s past and an expanded insight into its present challenges.