History: May 2023, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

Redefining the West and looking at the last honest man. 

Click here for additional new Prepub Alert columns  

Branigan, Tania. Red Memory: The Afterlives of China’s Cultural Revolution. Norton. May 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781324051954. $29.95. HISTORY/CHINA

The Guardian’s former China correspondent, Branigan argues that today’s China cannot be understood without understanding the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), during which two million people died and tens of millions were ostracized or imprisoned amid accusations that they were class enemies. Here she focuses on the long-term trauma and the burdens of enforced silence.

Brewster, Todd. American Childhood: A Photographic History. Scribner. May 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781501124884. $35. HISTORY/UNITED STATES

A veteran journalist who coauthored the No. 1 New York Times best-selling The Century, Brewster raided the collections of the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Magnum Photo Agency, while storming through dozens of other archives, flea markets, and antique shops, to find the 200 images from which this photographic history of U.S. childhood was built. The children represented range widely across race, class, and location.

Holley, Santi Elijah. An Amerikan Family: The Shakurs and the Nation They Created. Mariner: HarperCollins. May 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780358588764. $32.50. CD. HISTORY/UNITED STATES

Journalist Holley investigates the Black liberation movement in the United States during the last half-century through one of its most activist groups: the Shakur family. Readers will be familiar with author and thinker Assata Shakur, living for three decades in Cuban exile, and the late rapper Tupac. But the family—and its influence—is much more extensive. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Kix, Paul. You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America. Celadon: Macmillan. May 2023. 416p. ISBN 9781250807694. $30. Downloadable. HISTORY/UNITED STATES

Looking at footage of George Floyd’s death, Black journalist Kix was reminded of the famous image taken in 1963 in Birmingham, AL, showing a white policeman whose dog is leaping ferociously at a Black teenager. That made him ponder the consequences of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s 10-week campaign in 1963 to end segregation in Birmingham, the most segregated city in United States. With a 60,000-copy first printing.

Kroeger, Brooke. Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism. Knopf. May 2023. 592p. ISBN 9780525659143. $35. Downloadable. HISTORY/JOURNALISM

From Margaret Fuller to Nellie Bly, Ida Tarbell, and Ida B. Wells to the women who reported major news from the Civil War, World War II, and beyond to more recent stars like Joan Didion, Cokie Roberts, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and those following the #MeToo movement, veteran journalist Kroeger sweepingly chronicles the women who have shaped journalism in the United States.

Mac Sweeney, Naoíse. The West: A New History in Fourteen Lives. Dutton. May 2023. 416p. ISBN 9780593472170. $28. HISTORY/WORLD

A University of Vienna archaeology professor, Mac Sweeney argues that Western civilization is not a single culture stretching back to ancient Greece, a concept conjured by collective imagination. She makes her case by portraiture, moving from multiracial Greek historian Herodotus and influential poet Phyliss Wheatley, born in Africa and enslaved in the British colony of Massachusetts, to medieval Arab scholar Al-Kindi and British statesman William Gladstone.

Risen, James. The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys—and One Senator’s Fight To Save Democracy. Little, Brown. May 2023. 480p. ISBN 9780316565134. $30. HISTORY/UNITED STATES

With the national security state growing ever larger, two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Risen (Pay Any Price) tracks back to the 1970s, when Idaho senator Frank Church challenged intelligence abuses following the Watergate scandal. In the process, he uncovered assassination plots by the CIA, links between the Kennedys and the Mafia, and the surveillance of civil rights activists by the NSA and FBI.

Click here for additional new Prepub Alert columns  

Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing