Custer’s Trials; The Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles. Vintage, 2016 paper. Best known for his exploits on the western frontier, Custer also played a central role during the American civil war, slave emancipation, the brutal resettlement of Native Americans, and the American industrial revolution. Pulitzer Prize.
Barbarian Days; A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. Penguin Press, 2016. A “surfing book” but also a clear-eyed vision of American boyhood in the twenty-first century. Pulitzer Prize.
Black Flags; The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick. Anchor, 2016 paper. Critics say that Warrick has mastered the tradecrafts of a spy, investigative report, and master story-teller. Pulitzer Prize.
Pastrami on Rye; An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli by Ted Merwin. New York University Press, 2015. The Jewish deli reached its full flowering in the interwar era when the children of Jewish immigrants left for the suburbs but wanted cheesecake and other Jewish delicacies to maintain a connection with their heritage. National Jewish Book Awards.
Doomed to Succeed; The U.S. – Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama by Dennis Ross. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016 2016. The bond between the two countries and our commitment to Israeli security seems solid. But that wasn’t always so and Administrations from Truman to Obama differed. National Jewish Book Award.
The Crime and the Silence; Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne by Anna Bikont & Alissa Valles, trans. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016, paper. Bikont was part of the uncovering of the story of this massacre in Jedwabne, told earlier with Jan Gross’s Neighbors. National Jewish Book Award.
What’s Divine about Divine Law? Early Perspectives by Christine Hayes. Princeton University Press, 2015. For the Greeks, divine law was divine by virtue of its inherent qualities of intrinsic rationality, truth, and universality. Biblical divine law was grounded on revelation with no assumption of rationality or immutability. National Jewish Book Award.
Birth, Sex and Abuse; Women’s Voices under Nazi Rule by Beverley Chalmers. Grosvenor House, 2016 paper. Giving birth during the Nazi era was particularly dangerous. National Jewish Book Award.
The Burdens of Brotherhood; Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France by Ethan Katz. Harvard University Press, 2015. With collective similarities and differences, Muslims and Jews found common cause in the North African setting. World War II and the Holocaust altered that collectivity. National Jewish Book Award.