RaveBookPageIt’s clear from Fallen Idols that there are many reasons to tear down a statue. Removing Stalin’s statue in Budapest was the start of a revolution. Pulling down Saddam Hussein’s statue was a symbolic end to the Iraq War—a symbol that turned out to be disastrously wrong. Taking down a statue can also be an act of truth telling ... In discussing these and other statues, Tunzelmann invites us to consider all public monuments. What are these statues commemorating? What are they hiding? ... Fallen Idols is an illuminating guide to a much-needed discussion about history and how it is represented.
PositiveBookPageAdlington does an excellent job of telling the story of Marta and all the other women whose lives were spared because they had the skills to work in the comparative safety of the Upper Salon. She also provides the greater historical context of how the Nazi government viewed fashion as both a powerful propaganda weapon and an important tool for funding the Holocaust ... This information is helpful in understanding the journeys these designers, seamstresses and cutters took to Auschwitz and the Upper Salon, and overall Adlington weaves historical information into the individual dressmakers’ stories well. But the most powerful lesson from The Dressmakers of Auschwitz is how the bonds of friendship, family and skill allowed these women to survive with humanity while resisting the brutality around them.
RaveBookPageThis is not an abstract book of ideas ... The Gallery of Miracles and Madness is profoundly heartbreaking, unexpectedly redeeming and immensely important.
RaveBookPageLooking at Bonaparte through the lens of his passion for gardens brings out new and fascinating details about his life, including his love of science and engineering, his obsession with botany and especially his desire to stamp order upon an unruly natural and political world. Gardens, as this book makes clear, are the ultimate symbol of Bonaparte’s life—especially at its end, when every attempt to bring life and beauty to his final exile ended in dust and futility ... What makes Napoleon so satisfying is that it illuminates not only the emperor but also people from his life who in other accounts are, at best, mere witnesses to the man’s ambitions and exploits ... a rewarding book that gives intriguing and novel insight into a man about whom we thought everything had already been said.
RaveBookPage... written on a smaller and more personal scale than [Gordon-Reed\'s] previous work, but it is no less powerful. Gordon-Reed’s essays seamlessly merge history and memoir into a complex portrait of her beloved, turbulent Texas, revealing new truths about a state that, more than any other, embodies all the virtues and faults of America.
PositiveBookPageMasur’s scholarly but accessible history demonstrates how thoroughly racism pervaded both the North and the South during the 19th century ... Most importantly, Until Justice Be Done demonstrates that the fight for equality and justice is as old as the republic itself. With meticulous research, Masur lays out the history of Black Americans’ struggle to be recognized as citizens—a struggle that started before the ink on the Constitution was dry ... Masur’s book is both instructive and inspiring as it charts the path to freedom from the 1800s to today.
RaveBookPage... eloquent ... a thoughtful and far-reaching investigation of the importance of racial identity, covering a wide variety of issues including identity theft, the perils and pluses of DNA analysis, how beauty standards are used to repress women of color and the soul-destroying effects of microaggressions. Lawton writes about her journey with passion, erudition and more than a touch of sass. Most of all, she writes with searing honesty—about herself, her family and our society ... Ultimately Lawton’s story is one of reconciliation and redemption, which can only ever be achieved with truthfulness, and of the limitations of love ... Beautifully and movingly written, Raceless is an important book about the cost of deception and the value of identity.
RaveBookpageAuthor Alex Tresniowski weaves together the stories of two people who never met but who would have a tremendous impact on Williams: Ida B. Wells, an African American journalist, and Raymond Schindler, probably the most famous private detective in 20th-century America. Tresniowski traces how Wells was impelled by the brutal murder of a dear friend to evolve from a reporter into an anti-lynching activist of extraordinary courage, determination and effectiveness. Her work eventually results in the NAACP’s intervention in Williams’ case. Schindler’s involvement in the Williams case is more direct, as he is hired to find the true killer. Rejecting the racist assumptions of the Asbury Park police, Schindler relentlessly employs psychological insight and intellect to solve the crime. Wells and Schindler are utterly dissimilar people except that they shared a firm belief in the value of every human—and the courage to act on that belief ... full of rich historical detail, forensic insight and, most especially, a keen understanding of human motivations. It is also a timely reminder that justice is best served when it is compassionate and unbiased.
PositiveBookPageIn this magisterial and informative book, Falk makes a convincing argument that The Light Ages gave birth to our own age
Jonathan Daniel Wells
RaveBookpage... an eye-opening history of antebellum New York. Wells...meticulously details two of New York City’s dirtiest secrets: the city’s illicit backing of the illegal transatlantic slave trade and the Kidnapping Club that helped reinforce it ... There are many villains in this thoroughly researched and fascinating history, including police officers Tobias Boudinot and Daniel Nash, Judge Richard Riker and Mayor Fernando Woods. Yet The Kidnapping Club is more than a story of villainy. It’s also a history of heroes ... Most important of all, The Kidnapping Club restores the names of the abducted: Ben, Hester Jane Carr, Isaac Wright, Frances Shields, John Dickerson and countless others whose lives were destroyed and humanity erased—until now.
RaveBookPagePulitzer Prize finalist Brands is a master storyteller ... Brands uses his lucid writing to explore the rich ironies that surrounded Lincoln and Brown ... Brands uses original sources and narrative flair to illuminate how Brown’s fierce moral clarity eventually forced Lincoln to confront the sins of slavery. The result is an informative, absorbing and heartbreaking American story, the reverberations of which are still felt today.
PositiveBookPageDeborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, is an expert on how we use words to both reveal and hide ourselves from the people who mean the most to us ... Finding My Father is a beautifully constructed patchwork that Tannen has pieced together from her father’s words ... Finding this Eli allows Tannen to see herself, her family and most especially her mother in a new and conciliatory light. Memory doesn’t only reconstruct the past, Tannen reminds us; it can also forge a new present.
RaveBookPageSellers’ story is remarkable ... Sellers beautifully evokes the South Carolina low country, the haunted landscape of his childhood, to explain how its backbreaking poverty and history of relentless racism molded him ... The fact that many people have not heard of the Orangeburg Massacre is in itself an excellent reason to read My Vanishing Country. Sellers meticulously recounts how and why eight South Carolina highway patrol officers fired upon a crowd of black student protesters at South Carolina State University, killing three students and wounding 27 others ... My Vanishing Country is more than a memoir. It’s a loving celebration of a father’s gift of fortitude and determination to his son.
PositiveBookPageWeinman has curated an excellent anthology of 13 of the best articles and essays on true crime. These stories are all great reads—they have enough detail, human interest and forensic insight to delight even the most discriminating true crime connoisseur—but Weinman has done more than create entertainment. By organizing the essays thematically, she challenges the reader to use true crime as a lens to explore the world around us ... All of the essays are thought provoking ... invites readers to consider true crime not only as a literary genre but also as a gateway to understanding our society and ourselves. It is an invitation well worth accepting
PositiveBookPageCohen is uniquely qualified to write this book ... Cohen’s lucid writing makes even the most difficult court cases understandable as he expertly details the evolution of the law in areas as diverse as the workplace, criminal law, campaign contributions and the corporate boardroom. Cohen’s greatest strength, however, is his ability to explain clearly and urgently how the court, supposedly the least political of the three branches of the government, has relentlessly pursued a political agenda that has made Americans less equal and less secure ... If nothing else, Supreme Inequality reveals the extensive role the court plays in everyday American life. More importantly, it is a sobering history of how the court has disregarded precedent, statutory law and common sense to achieve its political agenda. The only question that remains is if it’s too late to do anything about it.
Bart D. Ehrman
PositiveBookPageEhrman’s subtitle is a bit misleading, since it’s not an actual history of these places ... This is a complex history, and it could easily become confusing or, worse, boring. But Ehrman has avoided both pitfalls ... Ehrman has the expertise necessary to make this difficult subject comprehensible. Even better, his witty, self-deprecatory style makes Heaven and Hell an enjoyable read. Most importantly, this is an optimistic book.
PositiveBookPageLike a well-designed game, A Game of Birds and Wolves is fun, informative and intense. Parkin naturally focuses much of his attention on Roberts, whose story of triumph over adversity and skepticism is a great read. But the book really shines when Parkin reclaims the history of the Wrens. Although women played a vital role in the war, their work was often undervalued, and much of this history was lost or destroyed. The Wrens, working with Roberts, were instrumental to an Allied victory, but few among us know what we owe to them. Parkin’s respect and affection for these women is apparent on every page, and his extensive research and excellent storytelling go a long way toward paying that debt.
PositiveBookPageThere is plenty of suspense as Frenkel describes her brushes with disaster—but the title A Bookshop in Berlin instead emphasizes her improbable bookstore, illuminating a deeper truth about Frenkel’s experiences ... ultimately, a story of liberation and redemption.
RaveBookPagePhelps-Roper is a masterful writer. She writes movingly about the searing pain of separation from those she continues to love, and beautifully about how freeing herself from a theology of hate has given her life greater meaning and purpose. In a time of growing intolerance, Unfollow is essential reading.
RaveBookPage[Pazson] pieces together her own memories, observations from her life among the inhabitants of the plateau and, especially, the details of Daniel Trocmé’s life and death. Paxson’s beautiful writing threads these stories together so exquisitely that at times I had to stop and take a breath, even cry, before carrying on. Although it has elements of memoir, biography and anthropological fieldwork, The Plateau is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a complex portrait of a place whose inhabitants have made a commitment to loving the stranger who arrives at their door, even when to do so demands the greatest sacrifice. Paxson acknowledges the difficulty and danger that this kind of love demands, but ultimately The Plateau demonstrates that it isn’t an impossible ideal to achieve. It is real and attainable, because it has been and continues to be practiced on the plateau.
PositiveBookPageThrough Dobbs’ richly detailed narrative, we come to care deeply for the Wachenheimers, Valfers, Wertheimers and Auerbachers as they confront each new barrier to their salvation ... This is more than the history of one town: Kippenheim stands in for the thousands upon thousands of other villages, shtetls and neighborhoods that disappeared in the wake of the Holocaust. Dobbs’ book reminds us that the Nazis and their allies murdered not only individuals but also the webs of friendship, commerce, culture and religion that make a community. This is also a cautionary tale of what happens when human lives are sacrificed in the name of political ideology and bigotry—a lesson that resonates today.
Aeham Ahmad, Trans. by Emanuel Bergmann
PositiveBookPageIn The Pianist from Syria, Ahmad tells the story of his family’s terrible deprivations during the civil war. His losses are profound, and it was truly miraculous that he and his family were finally able to escape to safety in Germany. Yet the true hero of this story is Ahmad’s music ... Written in an open, honest style, The Pianist from Syria is a testament to the resilience and beauty of ordinary people with simple dreams.
PositiveBookPage\"... a collection of hard-hitting essays that leave the reader in no doubt that he is a writer of considerable talent ... Crenshaw... writes honestly, luminously and unsparingly ... These essays are written with poetic stoicism. Paradoxically, this is precisely this quality that makes Crenshaw’s essays powerfully redemptive. Like the tornadoes he describes, This One Will Hurt You reveals that it is the harshness of life that creates its beauty and gives it meaning.\
Kevin M Kruse
PositiveBookPage\"Fault Lines started as a series of lectures by Kruse and Zelizer offered at Princeton. Judging from the resulting book, the class was no doubt a wonderful introduction to a critical era in our history. Even for those who lived through these events, Fault Lines gives brilliant context to help us understand how Americans have become so fragmented and rigid in our beliefs.\
RaveBookpageAs explained by Octavio Solis, a distinguished Latino author who has written over 20 plays, a retablo is a small votive painting commonly associated with Latin American cultures. It’s usually painted on cheap, reused metal, and it tells the story of a near-disaster that was survived only by the grace of God. By commemorating the event, the retablo can transform that story of salvation into a myth. But memory is slippery, and retelling a story, even on a buckled sheet of metal, results in embellishments and refinements. Facts become murky as names are forgotten and events misremembered. Yet despite its imprecision, the retablo expresses a profound truth not only about its maker but also the world he or she lives in. As a result, the retablo itself becomes a part of the myth as well ... It is a distinctly Latino experience in a distinctly Latino world. But this story is universal—we all grow up, and we all need to reconcile who we are with who we were. Like the images he emulates, Solis’ stories transcend the limits of borders and time.
Stephen L. Carter
PositiveBookpageIn Invisible, Yale law professor and bestselling author Stephen L. Carter meticulously details his grandmother’s accomplishments and her disappointments. His admiration for this remarkable woman is infectious. Ultimately, the reader is forced to ask, \'What if?\' What if Hunton Carter had lived in a world where race and gender were irrelevant? What else would she have accomplished? And what would we have gained?
Javier Cercas, trans. by Frank Wynne
PositiveBookPageCercas, an author of both fiction and nonfiction, including the acclaimed novel The Soldiers of Salamis, struggles to disentangle the strands of truth from Marco’s web of lies ... Trying to understand Marco is like looking for a phantom in a house of mirrors, but Cercas’ attempt is an important investigation of the role of the writer, the nature of truth and the battle between memory and history.
PositiveBookpageOn Election Day in 2016, pundits were confident that Wisconsin would be a \'blue wall\' that would lead Hillary Clinton to victory. The next day, however, revealed a different story. Instead of showing Clinton the same support they had given Obama in the previous two presidential elections, Wisconsin went for Trump by 22,748 votes ... Political commentators were flummoxed. How could Wisconsin, historically the most progressive state in the Union, have turned overnight to the right? ... According to journalist Dan Kaufman, the answer is that the shift did not occur overnight. A native Wisconsinite now based in New York, Kaufman argues that Wisconsin’s swing to Trump is the product of a decades-long effort by conservative think tanks, PACs and donors to dismantle Wisconsin’s progressive ethos and replace it with a right-to-work, anti-regulatory government. The result, according to Kaufman, is a gerrymandered state with weakened environmental laws, poor educational results and increased poverty ... Kaufman weaves recent political events, Wisconsin history and the stories of real people caught in the political whirlpool—union leaders, Native Americans, grassroots organizers—into a meticulous and compelling exploration of a consequential political metamorphosis. It is essential reading to understand how we arrived where we are today.
RaveBookPageThis book does not dawdle. Holt is a complex and rigorous writer examining complex and rigorous subjects. Readers whose mathematical and analytical logic skills are a tad rusty might need to google Gödel’s incompleteness theorem or the Riemann zeta conjecture. Trust me, it’s worth the effort. As his subtitle suggests, Holt is pushing us to explore the ideas that have revolutionized how we see the world, the universe and truth itself. They are messy, complicated affairs, but Holt’s intellectual clarity and lucid writing illuminate them.
Anthony Ray Hinton, co-written with Lara Love Hardin
RaveBookPageThis book is filled with questions that infuriate ... Yet The Sun Does Shine is also filled with grace. Through his faith in God, the love of his friends and mother, his commitment to the other inmates on death row and the unstinting support of his appellate attorney (Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercyand executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative), Hinton maintained his soul in a soulless world. His experience gives him a peerless moral authority on the death penalty, and he raises powerful questions about the practice. Hinton’s voice demands to be heard.
Radley Balko & Tucker Carrington
PositiveBookPage\"This is a true crime story, but it is more than a report of the tragic murders of two young girls ... Compellingly written, The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist is a chilling reminder of what happens to the rule of law when the law forgets the rules.\
RaveBookPageThe importance of cræft is demonstrated by the devastating effects its absence can have: The modern tendency to favor mechanization over cræft, Langlands posits, has resulted in flooding, soil degradation and global warming. In a world with diminishing resources, it might be wise to tap into cræft to ensure a sustainable future. Langlands has written an excellent introduction to guide us.
RaveBookPageKix’s sharp, well-paced writing is perfect for telling La Rochefoucauld’s story. But this is more than a gripping yarn of daring-do. La Rochefoucauld was a complex character, and Kix’s portrait is nuanced and moving … We are fortunate to have Kix’s richly detailed book so we can remember the remarkable courage of an extraordinary man.
RaveBookPageSometimes it takes a newcomer to point out the beauty that old-timers take for granted. America, more than any other country, was founded upon ideals: individual freedoms, equal protection and due process of law. Khan reminds us that these ideals are worth fighting—and even dying—for. The Khans truly are the most American of families.