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Our Opinionated Look at New Nonfiction Coming in August
Summer is usually a bit slower in the book publishing world, but there are a number of amazing new nonfiction titles of interest to coming out before the fall publishing season kicks in in September. All these titles are available for preorder and will ship on or just before their official publication date. We've got politics, history, and more!
First up is Mary Trump’s The Reckoning: Our Nation's Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal, coming out August 17th. In her previous book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, the clinical psychologist and Donald Trump niece used both her professional training and her family insider perspective to trace how Trump became the dangerous narcissistic sociopath who wrought such toxic consequences on our country and the world. It arguably was one of the books published last summer that helped set up his defeat in November. In this new book, she turns her attention to us and the PTSD we and the nation are dealing with as we grapple with the stress of coming to terms with how Trump sledgehammered the country, the world, and our inner lives. How do we recover from this?
This Tuesday, August 3rd, brings an autobiography by Amy McGrath, the woman who ran against Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky senatorial race last year. In Honor Bound: An American Story of Dreams and Service, you can read about her fighter pilot experience as the first female Marine to fly a combat mission in an F/A-18 and about her political journey. But mostly you can daydream about how much better off we’d be today had she won that election last November.
This new book by historian Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States and An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People, is guaranteed to enrage the idiots frothing at the mouth about the dangers of critical race theory. In Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion, coming out August 24th, Dunbar-Ortiz strikes back at the dominate myths of the United States. From the Beacon Press publisher blurb:
Whether in political debates or discussions about immigration around the kitchen table, many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, will say proudly that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz asserts this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US's history of settler colonialism, genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today.
She explains that the idea that we are living in a land of opportunity--founded and built by immigrants--was a convenient response by the ruling class and its brain trust to the 1960s demands for decolonialization, justice, reparations, and social equality. Moreover, Dunbar-Ortiz charges that this feel good--but inaccurate--story promotes a benign narrative of progress, obscuring that the country was founded in violence as a settler state, and imperialist since its inception.
While some of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, others are descendants of white settlers who arrived as colonizers to displace those who were here since time immemorial, and still others are descendants of those who were kidnapped and forced here against their will. This paradigm shifting new book charges that we need to stop believing and perpetuating this simplistic and a historical idea and embrace the real (and often horrific) history of the United States.
Here are a few more societal paradigm-busters coming out in August:
- Against White Feminism: Notes on Disruption, by Rafia Zakaria, coming out August 17th. “Uncomfortable, often coruscating, always challenging in the best ways and never less than riveting, this book is essential reading, and especially for anyone white who identifies as a feminist.” --Catherine Mayer, author and co-founder of the Women's Equality Party. “Lucid and persuasive argument that feminism must address its "problematic genealogies" of whiteness... Tackling complex philosophical ideas with clarity and insight, Zakaria builds an impeccable case for the need to rebuild feminism from the ground up.” -- Publishers Weekly
- The Choice We Face: How Segregation, Race, and Power Have Shaped America's Most Controversial Education Reform Movement, by John Hale, coming August 10th. This history of the school choice movement traces its origins to the anti-segregation backlash of the 1950s and shows how it continues to privilege middle- to upper-class whites while depleting the resources for students left behind. It is a clarion call to reversing the assault of public education.
- Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, by Rupa Marya & Rajeev Charles Patel, coming out August 3rd. An unusual hybrid of a medical book exploring the workings of our bodies and inflammation, but linking it all to public health, social injustice, economic disparities, climate change, and ancestral trauma. “A critique of the wreckage of capitalism and colonialism for our time--beautifully written, storytelling at its best. This book can change your life.”
-- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- Still Mad: American Women Writers and the Feminist Imagination, by Sandra Gilbert & Susan Gubar, coming out August 17th. Yes, the authors of The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, which electrified literary theory forty years ago, are back with a look at the 20th century. “From its stirrings in the midcentury--when Sylvia Plath, Betty Friedan, and Joan Didion found their voices and Diane di Prima, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Lorde discovered community in rebellion--to a resurgence in the new millennium in the writings of Alison Bechdel, Claudia Rankine, and N. K. Jemisin, Gilbert and Gubar trace the evolution of feminist literature.” — publisher W.W. Norton
I’m a bit of a sucker for histories that zoom in on one aspect to illuminate larger trends. Here are three books in the genre coming out in August:
- Gold, Oil and Avocados: A Recent History of Latin America in Sixteen Commodities, by Andy Robinson, coming out August 17th. An old story, updated with today’s commodity plunders from avocados and quinoa to the rare minerals like lithium, coltan and niobium that power our technology.
- A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next, by Tom Standage, coming out August 17th. Or maybe you’d prefer the audiobook, to ‘read’ while driving.
- About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks, by David Rooney, coming out August 17th. This book moves through time and place, “from from the city sundials of ancient Rome to the medieval water clocks of imperial China, hourglasses fomenting revolution in the Middle Ages, the Stock Exchange clock of Amsterdam in 1611, Enlightenment observatories in India, and the high-precision clocks circling the Earth on a fleet of GPS satellites that have been launched since 1978.”
Here are three picks for current affairs:
- Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights, by Erwin Chemerinsky, coming out August 17th. Aside from a brief period in the 1950s and 1960s under the Warren Court, the Supreme Court has largely sided with the police. This book covers the earlier history as well as the gutting of remedies to combat police misconduct by more recent rulings.
- Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire, by Lizzie Johnson, coming out August 17th. The devastated town of Paradise three years after the tragic wildfire. See also my review of Breathing Fire: Female Inmate Firefighters on the Front Lines of California's Wildfires, by Jaime Lowe, HERE.
- They Knew: The US Federal Governments Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis, by James Gustave Speth, coming August 24th. The starting point of this book is the Juliana vs. the United States lawsuit brought by young climate activists in 2015, which the government continues to fight. James Speth, one of the activists’ expert witnesses, catalogs what the government has known about climate change over the past fifty years, and how they’ve suppressed that knowledge.
There are soooo many more great books to mention, but I’ll stop here. Well, maybe just one more, for the music lovers among you: The History of Bones: A Memoir, by John Lurie, coming out August 17th. The quintessential depiction of 1980s New York and the downtown scene from the artist, actor, musician, and composer.