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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Carnegie Medal Read-alikes, 2018
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, by Daniel Ellsberg (Bloomsbury), is one of the most alarming books to appear in this altogether alarming time. Ellsberg’s revelations, both personal and professional, uncloak a litany of disregarded protocol, erroneous assumptions, and near misses pertaining to the start of the nuclear arms race, the buildup of the nuclear arsenal, and the control of nuclear weapons. The books below provide further illumination on this urgent subject.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. By Eric Schlosser. 2013. Penguin.
Nuclear bombs must be handled with the proper care, yet that is not always the case, as Schlosser emphasizes in this detailed account of the accidental 1980 explosion of a Titan II missile after a dropped tool punctured its shell. Schlosser also offers an extensive look at nuclear-weapon design and further reporting of other cases of dropped, burned, or lost bombs.
The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb. By Philip Taubman. 2012. Harper.
In 2007, four former Cold Warriors who helped build up the nation’s nuclear arsenal—Henry Kissinger and George Schultz (former secretaries of state), William Perry (former defense secretary), and Sam Nunn (former head of the Senate Armed Services Committee), joined by nuclear physicist Sidney Dell—stunned the world by advocating for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Taubman chronicles their journeys to advocating for nuclear disarmament and analyzes how the threats have multiplied and changed over the decades.
The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World without Nuclear Weapons. By Richard Rhodes. 2010. Knopf.
Each title in Rhodes’ invaluable nuclear series—The Making of the Atom Bomb (1986); Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (1995); Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (2007); and this volume—are worthy read-alikes for The Doomsday Machine. Here Rhodes chronicles major developments in nuclear weaponry since the Cold War ended, and, guided by his conviction that the atomic bomb is so dire a hazard it must be abolished, he interviews politicians, diplomats, and technicians involved in nuclear disarmament.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann (Doubleday), immerses readers in a devastating episode in U.S. history in which dozens of members of the Osage Indian Nation were systematically murdered for their oil wealth. Grann is dazzling in his painstaking research and skillfully constructed narrative, which incorporates the parallel story of the conception of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Here are three other books that represent the best of historical true crime.
At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic. By Lawrence Millman. 2017. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne.
Millman investigates a disturbing series of murders, in which both victims and perpetrators were Inuit, that occurred in Canada’s remote Belcher Islands in 1941. Digging deeply into both the historical record and the memories of witnesses, he explains how the resulting investigation revealed an epic amount of cultural confusion and collision and analyzes the tragedy’s lingering trauma.
Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris. By David King. 2011. Crown.
In Nazi-occupied Paris, respected doctor Marcel Petiot tortured and dismembered tens of victims, many of them Jews who came to him seeking refuge from the Gestapo. King follows Petiot’s insidious crimes and the ensuing homicide investigation with the immediacy of a top-notch thriller.
Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. By Erik Larson. 2003. Crown.
Larson’s masterpiece, which intertwines the tales of sadistic serial killer H. H. Holmes and the development of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the busyness of which Holmes exploited for cover, remains a widely read classic of the genre.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie, is a courageously candid, expressive, funny, and hard-hitting memoir, told in prose and poetry, in which Alexie pays deep tribute to his Spokane Indian mother, Lillian, and reveals many tragic dangers and traumas of reservation life, along with his own health struggles and path to becoming a writer. The memoirs below also offer richly illuminating inquiries, both personal and cultural, as the authors consider their Native American heritage.
Muscogee Daughter: My Sojourn to the Miss America Pageant. By Susan Supernaw. 2010. Univ. of Nebraska.
Supernaw’s background—a mélange of Muskogee Creek and Munsee Native American on her dad’s side, along with Scottish and English immigrants on her mother’s—forms the foundation for her refreshingly honest memoir about her path from a childhood marked by abuse and poverty to academic success, knowledge of and love for Native traditions, and recognition as the first Native American to win the title of Miss Oklahoma.
Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey through Reservation Life. By David Treuer. 2012. Atlantic Monthly.
Treuer, an Ojibwa who grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota, presents a lively, incisive, and brilliant amalgam of historical research and personal memoir in which he elucidates the origins of reservations; shares interviews with friends, family, teachers, BIA officials, lawyers, and tribal-court judges; and looks to the future.
The Turquoise Ledge. By Leslie Marmon Silko. 2010. Viking.
Silko reflects on her complex Laguna Pueblo, Cherokee, Mexican, and European ancestry in this richly veined and dramatic self-portrait, telling gripping stories of suffering and wisdom that reveal the consequences of racism, the war against Native Americans, and the abuse of nature.
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