6 Great Non-Fiction Summer Books
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
by Matthew Desmond
Author Matthew Desmond, Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius”, takes us on a harrowing journey through the lives of eight families struggling desperately to maintain a roof over their heads. Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Evicted is a profound, poignant exposé on a growing American epidemic told through the intimate interweaving stories of the people we meet in these pages. This is an unforgettable read and is required reading for America today.
No Friends but the Mountains: Dispatches from the World’s Violent Highlands
by Judith Matloff
With only 10% of Earth’s population residing within mountainous regions, why does an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of the world’s conflicts take place in the highlands? If you’ve ever asked this question, or never thought to ask, here you’ll find an eye opening book on a global crisis that goes largely undiscussed. Here, author and veteran reporter, Judith Matloff travels to some of the most violent regions on Earth in search of answers. We travel from Albania and Kashmir to Chechnya and Columbia meeting locals on both sides of conflicts. No Friends but the Mountains is both a gripping cultural study and a well-reasoned rebuke of past and present policy in how we plains people interact and often restrict communities who call the mountains their home. Our failure in this regard has only brought more conflict, more drugs, and more terrorism. Matloff has delivered an unmissable political report and one we encourage readers to pick up.
Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
An unsettling, unforgettable work of poetic and political brilliance. Beautiful in its prose, unforgiving in its honesty. Between the World and Me is a letter from author Ta-Nehisi Coates (writer for The Atlantic) to his son. It is a warning to his son and to on the dangers of the “American Dream” and the importance of the black body. A body upon which this nation grew and continues to thrive on. This memoir of sorts chronicles the history of black America with unapologetic candor. Reading this book one can feel the blood, tears, and sweat of over 200 years of oppression and brutalization in every word. The author’s heart and soul is etched into every page and lays bare the brutal cultural legacy of being black in the America of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This is not a passive effort at false hope in the “American Dream”, but a gripping portrait of reality and a rejection that such a dream exists for his son.
Everything Under the Heavens: How the past helps shape China’s Push for Global Power
by Howard French
In Everything Under the Heavens, author Howard French masterfully dilutes the murky waters of East Asian geopolitics to give readers a thorough and insightful look into China’s future, by way of its past. Key words that often arise in discussing China (Nine Dash Line, EEZ’s, Ryukyu Islands, etc.) are given fresh understanding for readers with little or no knowledge on the subject. French has crafted a compelling and accessible explanation of China’s cultural, militaristic, and economic legacy. A defining element of the 21st Century is the rise of Chinese power both hard and soft. Understanding a nation so historic, powerful, prideful, and potentially dangerous, is essential in curbing the threat of conflict in Asia and beyond.
How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft
by Edward Jay Epstein
How much do you really know about the most infamous whistleblower in U.S. history? The answer will surprise you. Mainstream perceptions and assumptions of Mr. Snowden are shattered herein with no stone left unturned by author Edward Jay Epstein. While this book reads like a thriller, it is an extremely necessary examination of a man made legend, the ramifications of his actions, espionage of the highest degrees, and the vulnerabilities of America’s national security systems. Where Epstein falls short of proving all his hypothesis, he does a fantastic job of laying out the known facts and letting reader play judge and jury. Block out a weekend because you won’t be able to put down this book until it’s over.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance
The life of Mr. Vance and his family might be the central story of this book, but through their lives readers gain a profound cultural and political insight into the white, working class, or to be more specific in Vance’s case, the Scots-Irish “Hillbillies” of America. Hillbilly Elegy is a compelling story of a poor family and the joys and heartbreaks that follow them. Many readers will find themselves engaging with a culture and a family they rarely would otherwise, and walk away all the better for having done so. On the coattails of a historic election that saw the white, working class upend the political establishment, it is an important time to seek understanding across the socio-economic and racial divide. I found this book to be one of the most enjoyable reads of the last few years and one I’d recommend to anyone on either end of the political spectrum looking for either a compelling story or a fascinating political exposé. •