U.S. History: Jun. 2023, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

U.S. journeys, including key titles on Indigenous and Black history. 

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Blackhawk, Ned. The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History. Apr. 2023. 612p. ISBN 9780300244052. $35. HISTORY/INDIGENOUS

A Western Shoshone and professor of history and American studies at Yale University, Blackhawk argues that U.S. history cannot be understood without understanding how Indigenous and settler histories are interwoven. Among his points: European colonization was not a foregone conclusion, Indigenous nations helped shape England’s empire, Indigenous affairs were closely linked to the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Indigenous peoples of California were among the first casualties of the Civil War, and Indigenous activism in the 20th century reshaped U.S. law and policy. Oxford scholar Pekka Hämäläinen’s Indigenous Continent is getting lots of deserved attention, but here is a voice from within.

Davis, Wes. American Journey: On the Road with Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and John Burroughs. Norton. Jun. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781324000327. $30. HISTORY

Nineteenth-century naturalist John Burroughs and inventors Henry Ford and Thomas Edison would not seem to have much in common, but they were good friends. Here is an account of the various road trips they took together, from Transcendentalist New England all the way to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. In a Ford Model T, of course.

Grant, Will. The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-mile Horseback Journey into the Old West. Little, Brown. Jun. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780316422314. $30. Downloadable. HISTORY

Much has been written about the fabled Pony Express, which delivered mail in relays across the western United States in 1860–61, covering a distance equivalent to riding from Madrid to Moscow. But as recounted here, Outside magazine writer Grant actually rode the entire trail himself (with his horses Chicken Fry and Badger). Fortunately, he’s an expert horseman, having cowboyed in Texas and raced the nearly 900-mile Mongol Derby. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Kahn, Mattie. Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions. Viking. Jun. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780593299067. $29. HISTORY/SOCIAL ACTIVISM

From Black 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, who refused to relinquish her seat on a segregated Montgomery, AL, bus nine months before Rosa Parks took her stand, to teenage Chinese immigrant Mabel Ping-Hua Lee leading a suffrage march up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in 1912, teenage girls have often been crucial to social justice movements in the United States. Even when sidelined by prejudice, argues Kahn, a former cultural director at Glamour, they found ways to operate effectively behind the scenes.

Kelley, Blair. Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class. Liveright: Norton Jun. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781631496554. $30. HISTORY/BLACK

Amid current conversations about the fate of the white working class, Kelley provides an important reminder that the Black working class has been central to the story of labor in the United States. Her assessment covers two centuries, from her earliest known ancestor, an enslaved blacksmith, to laundresses, Pullman porters, and domestic maids, to the essential workers of the COVID pandemic. Kelley is director of the Center for the Study of the American South.

Kendi, Ibram X. (text) & Joel Christian Gill (illus.). Stamped from the Beginning: A Graphic History of Racist Ideas in America. Ten Speed. Jun. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781984859433. $29.99. HISTORY/GRAPHIC NOVEL

Here is a graphic-format version of MacArthur fellow Kendi’s groundbreaking best seller, Stamped from the Beginning, with art furnished by Gill, chair of the MFA in Visual Narrative at Boston University and creator of the award-winning graphic novel series Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History.

McGill, Joseph Jr. & Herb Frazier. Sleeping with the Ancestors: How I Followed the Footprints of Slavery. Hachette. Jun. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780306829666. $29. Downloadable. HISTORY

As founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, McGill—a former field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation—travels throughout the entire country to spend the night in former slave dwellings. His efforts, and the events surrounding them, are meant to deepen our understanding of enslavement in the United States and highlight often hidden history. With a 25,000-copy first printing.

Martin, Rachel Louise. A Most Tolerant Little Town: A Forgotten Story of Desegregation in America. S. & S. Jun. 2023. 400p. ISBN 9781665905145. $29.99. HISTORY

As a graduate student participating in a Southern oral history project, Martin visited the small town in Tennessee whose school became the first in the former Confederacy to undergo court-mandated desegregation. She found to her dismay that people weren’t eager to talk. Years later, she returned, interviewing over 60 townsfolk—including some of the first students to desegregate the school—to ferret out secrets and discover what really happened in 1956.

Michaud, Jon. Last Call at Coogan’s: The Life and Death of a Neighborhood Bar. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781250221780. $29. HISTORY

From its opening in 1985 to its pandemic-driven demise in 2020, Coogan’s Bar and Restaurant in New York City’s Washington Heights was a mainstay in a multiethnic, mostly immigrant community countering discrimination and gentrification. Lin-Manuel Miranda led the opposition when efforts were made to close the bar in the 2010s. Collection Management Librarian at the Millburn Free Public Library, NJ, Michaud (When Tito Loved Clara) recounts the bar’s history and introduces us to its owner and regulars.

Stille, Alexander. The Sullivanians: Sex, Psychotherapy, and the Wild Life of an American Commune. Farrar. Jun. 2023. 432p. ISBN 9780374600396. $30. HISTORY

Founded in 1950s New York, the Sullivan Institute for Research in Psychoanalysis espoused ideals of creative expression, sexual liberation, and freedom from society’s norms, starting with the dismantling of the nuclear family. Its famous patients ranged from Jackson Pollack to Judy Collins. By the 1970s, its therapists had become abusive tyrants, and it was shuttered in the 1990s. Stille (Excellent Cadavers) tells the story. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Swarns, Rachel. The 272. Random. Jun. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780399590863. $28. HISTORY

In 2016, journalist Swarns (American Tapestry) broke the story about the Jesuit priests who sold 272 enslaved people in 1838 to save their mission, the newly founded Georgetown University. Here she expands on the story of the 272 through the history of one family divided by the sale, moving back to the 1600s, when free Black woman Ann Joice arrived as an indentured servant and was subsequently enslaved, then forward to two descendants reunited by her reporting and current efforts at reparation.

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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.

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