Madison’s Hand; Revising the Constitutional Convention. By Mary Sarah Bilder. Harvard University Press, 2015. A serious investigation of the notes kept by James Madison’s during the Constitutional Convention that he “edited” several years later. Bancroft Prize.
The Saltwater Frontier; Indians and the Contest for the American Coast by Andrew Lipman. Yale University Press, 2015. A reminder of the importance of English and Dutch settlements in New England and New York, the importance of the Atlantic trade in the conflict, and also the alliances of Native Americans with the European empires. Bancroft Prize.
Border Law; The First Seminole War and the American Nationhood by Deborah Rose. Harvard University Press, 2015. Warfare between post-colonial American and the Native Americans in Georgia and Florida from 1816 to 1818. The role it played in shaping subsequent events along the southern border. Bancroft Prize.
Deepa Iyer We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer. The New Press, 2016. Authors looks at Islamophobia in America’s Bible Belt and provides us with a new framework for the discussion of race in post-9/11. America. American Book Award.
F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature by William Maxwell. Princeton University, 2016 paper. How the FBI threatened the international travels of African American writers and prepared to jail them in times of national emergency. America. American Book Award.
Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy. Counterpoint, 2016 paper. A mosaic of journeys and historical inquiry across the time and the American continent in search of a national history that reveals the often unvoiced presence of the past. America. American Book Award.
The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by Ned Sublette & Constance Subletter. Lawrence Hill Books, 2017 paper. How the slave business in the American South made the reproductive labor of “breeding women” essential to the expansion of the ultimately the American economy. America. American Book Award.
Tomorrow’s Battlefield; U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa by Nick Turse Haymarket Books, 2015 paper. The U.S. is fighting a new shadow war in Africa, destabilizing countries and regions in order to justify our later interventions. America. American Book Award.
SPQR; A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. Liveright, 2016 paper. Beard spends considerable time describing the period of the Roman kings before going on to the republic and empire. National Book Critics Award.
Give Us the Ballot; The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman. Picador, 2016, paper. The struggle to see that the voting rights acts continue to be enforced, despite efforts to restrict access to the ballot. National Book Critics Award.
Ghettoside; A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy. Spiegel & Grau, 2015 paper. The story of an often ignored but common murder, one young black man slaying another. National Book Critics Award.
Dreamland; The True Story of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. Bloomsbury Press, 2016 paper. The widespread prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s resulted in many new addicts. And the traffic in heroin from Mexico facilitated that addiction. Two classic instances of capitalism meeting a demand. National Book Critics Award.
What the Eye Hears; A History of Tap Dancing by Brian Seibert. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016 paper. Tap dancing began as a hybrid of jig and clog dancing brought to North America by African slaves. National Book Critics Award.