New in Nonfiction: Books on WWII

World War Two ended in Europe on May 7th, 1945. In the Pacific, Japan formally surrendered four months later, on September 2nd, ending the war in Asia. This year, as the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, numerous books on the history of the war were published.

In May, we posted a list of recently published books on military history and WWII in Europe. Here are some recent books about the Pacific front. 

Ian Toll’s Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific 1944-1945 is the final volume of the trilogy on WWII in the Pacific. It begins with a historical meeting between President Roosevelt and major American military leaders, during which strategy and tactics for the rest of the war against Japan were decided.

Other books in the Pacific War Trilogy by Ian Toll are Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 and The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944 (in print and ebook format). It took the author nine years after the publication of the first volume to finish the trilogy. 

All books were extremely well researched, informed by primary documents and official reports, and powerfully written; they have all earned high praise. You can read a New York Times review here.

Operation Vengeance by Dan Hampton (in large print and ebook format) recounts a very secret US operation to assassinate Admiral Yamamoto, a Japanese admiral who was a major force behind the attack on Pearl Harbor. The US Air Force pilots carried out this mission.

The author, a decorated combat pilot who served 20 years in the US Air Force and flew numerous combat missions, became a military historian and writer. He is very well-equipped to recreate the dramatic events in the air moment-by-moment.

The Race of Aces: WWII’s Elite Airmen and the Epic Battle to Become the Masters of the Sky by John Bruning (in print and ebook format) is another recent book about the battles in the Pacific theatre. In this one, a group of five American pilots, inspired and motivated by a legendary WWI pilot Eddie Rickenbacker, started a wild race for the title of America’s Greatest Fighter Pilot during combat against the Japanese air force.

Chris Wallace’s and Lesley Blume’s books examine the bombings of Japanese cities in August 1945. 

Wallace’s Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days that Changed the World (print, ebook, and e-audiobook) explores how and why the decision to use the weapon of mass destruction was made.

Blume’s Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed it to the World (print and ebook) is the story about the aftermath of the bombing, and about American journalist John Hersey, who gained access to Hiroshima in 1946 to see for himself and report on the horrible after-effects of radiation. You can read the New York Times’s splendid review here.

As always, all these titles are able to be checked out in multiple formats. You can acquire digital books through Overdrive/Libby using your library card. 

If you prefer books in print, you can reserve them for pick-up with our Curbside Service. Please carefully read our instructions on how to reserve titles and set up an appointment to pick them up, once all your items come in.

What’s New in Nonfiction Books: History

Recently, many distinguished, interesting, or even outstanding nonfiction books have been published; books that received starred reviews in leading newspapers and captured readers’ interest.

Here are some of the latest library acquisitions of history books.

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson is one of those books that is both hailed by the critics and also has attracted numerous readers.

Deeply researched, the book explores and examines the American caste system that has shaped the country through its history and demonstrates the effects of the system on the country’s culture and politics. You can read a splendid review in The New York Times.

Reserve the print book or book on CD for Curbside Pickup, or the ebook or audiobook on Overdrive.

Isabel Wilkerson is also the author of The Warmth of Other Suns (2010), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize. Publication of Caste revived an interest in her previous work and placed The Warmth of Other Suns on hold shelves again.

Reserve the print book or Playaway (audio format) for Curbside Pickup, or read the ebook on Overdrive. 

also available as a hoopla audiobook

Reaganland: America’s Right Turn 1976-1980 by Rick Perlstein (in print and ebook format) is another book on American history. This is the fourth book by the author, which concludes a saga about the rise of conservatism in modern American politics. The others that come before it are Before the Storm (print and hoopla audiobook), Nixonland, and The Invisible Bridge. The author examines the four years of the Carter administration (1976-1980), and shows how that time period created a Launchpad for conservatism that is still alive today. The New York Times reviewed the book.

The 20TH Annual Massachusetts Book Awards were recently announced, and the books below received nonfiction Honors:

American Radicals: How 19th-Century Protest Shaped the Nation by Holly Jackson explores the turbulent history of the nineteenth-century political activism and activists. Many names are forgotten today, but those people were influential in their time, and their work is associated with reformers such as Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cody Stanton.

The book was named one of Ten Best History Books of 2019. Check it out in ebook or audiobook format. 

Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter by Kerri K. Greenidge is a very well researched, meticulously documented, and well-written biography of William Monroe Trotter, a Harvard-educated Black radical, and the founder, editor, and publisher of the weekly Boston Guardian that launched in 1901. Written by a Tufts University professor, the book offers a fresh perspective on African-American history.

Check out Black Radical in print, Overdrive ebook, Overdrive audiobook, or hoopla ebook

And here is yet another history book, which explores a fascinating subject: the history of hurricanes.

It is a particular pleasure to introduce this book, written by Eric Dolin, who is a successful nonfiction writer and resident of Marblehead. The Abbot Public Library has hosted several of his book presentations, including talks about his books Black Flags, Blue Waters and Brilliant Beacons.

A Furious Sky is Dolin’s latest book, which earned him very positive reviews, including from The New York Times. The author chronicles the history of American hurricanes from the 16th century through 2017, discusses their nature, and traces the development of hurricane science. He reflects on the American history and shows how hurricanes impacted it.

Reserve A Furious Sky in print, book on CD, or ebook format. He will be speaking about this book at the local Jewish Book Month, sponsored by the JCCNS, which will be held online starting on Tuesday, October 6th!

Other books by Eric Dolin include:

All books are available in print format or digital, very frequently both. Browse Dolin’s books in the library catalog or on Overdrive or hoopla

The library’s digital nonfiction collection has grown significantly in the last few years, and even more so in the past 6 months. You can access the collection through Overdrive/Libby or hoopla with your library card.

Currently, almost every book published on paper is also available in digital format, as the library strives to satisfy public demand, and purchase books to appease diverse tastes and interests.

If you have a choice between print and digital formats, please know that digital books circulate much faster, since they cannot be kept overdue, and do not need to be quarantined. You can reserve print books to pick up in our Curbside Service – please read our instructions carefully about how to reserve titles and set up an appointment once all your items come in.

Creating an Independence Day Celebration!

Yesterday, we shared a post with some cookbooks for grilling and dessert-making to help you prepare for today. But no celebration is complete without music or decorations! 

Check out this book of 4th of July crafts you can do with your kids to show off your red, white, and blue patriotic pride. While you’re crafting, or during the cookout, listen to some patriotic music on hoopla. Classics for the 4th of July has quintessential American songs such as “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “America (My Country ‘Tis Of Thee),” and “This Land is Your Land.” The appropriately named 4th July Cook Out – 30 Tracks for Your Barbeque Celebrations will have you singing along to “We Are Young,” “You Belong with Me,” and, of course, at least one patriotic song: “Star-Spangled Banner.” It will be the “Greatest Day” (track 5)! Now That’s What I Call The U.S.A. features such well-known artists as Brooks & Dunn, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, and more! 

For more kid-friendly titles, try Sing About America, with songs that will help teach kids facts about the United States, including the names of all the states and their capitals. For something more fun, check out Fourth of July – Children’s Party, including patriotic titles such as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and more general titles such as “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and “We Are the Champions.”

For a soundtrack to play if you’re having drinks in the backyard with your buddies, listen to the adult-oriented Acoustic Backyard BBQ with titles such as “Drink a Beer,” “The Lazy Song,” and “Sweet Caroline.” 

Before you enjoy your cookout, or after you have eaten, you can even learn the history of the American Revolution and the struggle towards independence with titles on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. You can read historical American texts in The Declaration of Independence and Other Great Documents of American History. The British Are Coming is an audiobook that contains a bonus introduction read by the author. The first in a trilogy about the American Revolution, it recounts the first 21 months of the violent war for American Independence. Find out about the events of 1774, from the Boston Tea Party to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, in acclaimed colonial historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist Mary Beth Norton’s 1774: The Long Year of Revolution. These ebooks on hoopla contain more nonfiction titles, as well as fiction ebooks set during the Revolutionary Period (1775 – 1800).

Teach your kids Symbols of U.S. Independence, about the American flag and the Articles of Confederation. American Independence is an interactive workbook that will teach kids history with bold colors. Judy Dodge Cummings’ and Tom Casteel’s The American Revolution even has some activities kids can do to learn in an interactive way. Take those extra marshmallows from making s’mores and build a marshmallow cannon!

Kids can also read about some of the key players in the Revolution – Alexander Hamilton, Anna Strong, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and more! 

Browse through these other titles for kids about the American Revolution on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. No matter how you spend the holiday, we hope you have a Happy Independence Day!

A Trip In Time – YA Historical Fiction

A great way to learn about history is to read stories set during times past. From 1955 Virginia to 18th century Europe, the books listed below will take you on a trip exploring people’s yesterdays.

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, Overdrive audiobook, and hoopla audiobook

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography—and fate—introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War—as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and Overdrive audiobook.

Flygirl by Sheryl Smith

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot, and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla audiobook.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this year long escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, Overdrive audiobook, hoopla ebook, and hoopla audiobook.

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, hoopla ebook, and hoopla audiobook.

Happy Pride! – Nonfiction and True Stories of the LGBTQ Community

Celebrate and commemorate the LGBTQIA+ Pride Month with the library’s resources and a curated reading list. Here, you will find books on the tumultuous history of the LGBT+ community’s struggle for equal rights, its disappointments and victories; you will learn about the evolving perspectives on homosexuality, and about pivotal events in the LGBT+ movement. 

All books are free and accessible through Overdrive/Libby:

A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski, winner of the Stonewall Award in nonfiction, covers the entire LGBT+ history from 1492 (!) to the present. Based on primary cultural and historical sources, the author shows how the American culture affected the LGBT+ experience, and how the LGBT+ experience shaped the cultural and societal history of the country. The starred review calls it “equally intellectually rigorous and entertaining.”

The Stonewall Reader, edited by New York Public Library, came out last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the epoch-making event in the fight for equality in the LGBTQ movement that began in the early hours of June 28, 1969. A collection of first accounts, diaries, and periodic literature that came from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers in the library’s archives, the book carefully chronicles the tumultuous fight for LGBTQ rights from five years leading up to through five years following the riots. The book was named one of the best books of 2019 on the subject.

The Stonewall uprising of 1969 was pivotal in the history of the LGBTQ+ community, and marks the start of the Gay Liberation Movement. Before Stonewall is a 1984 documentary about the LGBT community in America prior to 1969, decade by decade, and events that led to the Stonewall uprising.

A companion documentary, made fifteen years later in 1999, After Stonewall captures the lives of the LGBTQ community after the event through the end of the century.

You will find these documentaries in hoopla, free of charge and accessible at any time with your library card.

We Are Everywhere by Matthew Riemer is another book that came out in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The book is a photographic history of the LGBTQ+ movement and features the turbulent history of queer activism from its start at the end of the 19th century in Europe to the present. The book contains more than 300 images from various photographers and archives.

The Deviant’s War by Eric Cervini is the story of resistance and a secret fight for gay rights that started more than a decade before Stonewall. Franklin Kameny, a brilliant astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department, was fired on suspicion of being a homosexual, like so many men and women before him. He fought back.

The book demonstrates a huge intellectual role that Kameny played in the gay liberation movement that triggered fundamental social changes in the post-war America.

Very well-researched and brilliantly written, the book received starred reviews in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

How to Survive a Plague by David France is another story of civil activism, this one taking place during the AIDS epidemic. It is a social and scientific history of AIDS, and a story of the AIDS movement and its activists who took their salvation into their own hands. Not only did their work expedite drug development, but it also transformed the entire medical system and cardinally changed the direction of the movement.

Prior to writing the book How to Survive a Plague, journalist David France created a documentary with the same title. The film received numerous awards and became the 2012 Academy Award nominee in documentary feature.

Race Relations: Historical Resources

In light of current events, we would like to remind you that the Abbot Public Library offers a multitude of resources with current, reliable, regularly updated information, which is easily accessible and available at any time.

Salem Press (introduced in a previous post) is the latest acquired reference database, with a very large history section, where you can search for particular events or names, or just browse through American history, decade by decade, learning about critical events and influential people.

You can browse through another section, Milestones Documents of American History, to get a better understanding of the most important documents and primary sources.

In addition to browsing and searching, Salem Press offers curated content to explore current events, which is a unique feature of this database. 

To help explore and better understand current events, you can browse through selected essays on several subjects, which are, presently: race relations, social justice, violent demonstration, civil disobedience, and others.

EBSCO History Reference Center, a database which you will find listed under the EBSCOhost, offers full text from reference books, encyclopedia, leading history periodicals, and biographies. The database also has historical photos and maps, as well as archival videos to offer.

Gale Biography is a well-organized database, where you can browse or search for biographies of influential people of their time. 

All these digital databases are free and accessible with your library card through the Digital Resources page on the library blog.

The New York Times published a list of the most influential books on race and the black experience, created by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history at the University of Florida and a published author. Here are some of the titles mentioned in that NYT list:

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi won the national Book Award. In his deeply researched book, the author gives an account of the history of racist ideas and thoughts and shows their power through the course of American history.

The New Jim Crow was named the most influential book of the last decade and collected numerous awards, inspiring criminal justice reform activists and organizations. Its tenth anniversary edition was reprinted recently.

Dreams from My Father, published in 1995, is a memoir by Barack Obama that looks at the problem of race, class, and color.

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award; it is also on the PBS Great American Read Top 100 list.

Beloved by Toni Morrison also won the Pulitzer and was adapted as a movie with the same title.

You can also check out the following titles from the list (click the cover image):

The ebook format
The audiobook format

All these ebooks and audiobooks are available through Overdrive/Libby with your card.

History: New Books on WWII

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, which ended in Europe on May 7th after Germany’s unconditional surrender, but was not officially over in Asia until September 2nd, when Japan formally surrendered in a ceremony aboard USS Missouri.

For history buffs, military history buffs, and WWII buffs, as well as those wanting to learn more about the previous major historical event that affected the whole world, we created a curated collection of new books:

The latest Eric Larson’s book is about Winston Churchill as the newly appointed Prime Minister in the early days of the war.

Though Churchill is the main character of this story, the book is more about the country and, especially, London and its denizens during the Blitz. The inclusion of witness accounts, taken from the diaries of those who tried to survive the horrors, lend a particularly chilling and poignant tone to the narrative. It’s on the NYT Bestseller List. Accessible as an ebook or audiobook

Sinclair McKay’s book is about the bombing of Dresden by Allied forces, which occurred in February 1945 and is considered one of the most controversial actions during WWII. Was it a war crime against German civilians or a calculated step to a victorious end?

The book was reviewed as “well researched, powerfully written and balanced.”

In the Pacific theatre, a group of five American pilots, inspired and motivated by legendary WWI pilot Eddie Rickenbecker, started a wild race for the title of America’s greatest fighter pilot during combat against the Japanese air force. Read about it in Race of Aces by John R. Bruning.

ebook format
ebook format
audiobook format

Martha Maccallum also writes about the Pacific and its battles, and the heroic and courageous men that fought them. Her book, Unknown Valor, is accessible as an ebook and audiobook.

The Battle of Normandy was the epic invasion by the Allied forces that marked the beginning of the end of war in Europe. Begun on June 6th,1944, it was known as D-Day.

Lately, a number of books were published on the incredible contribution of women to the war effort, and the role they played in the Allied path to victory. These are books about women who became spies and operated in Europe. True stories, based on exhaustive research, all these books gained much praise and became bestsellers.

As always, all these titles are available through Overdrive/the Libby app with your library card. Click the book covers above to access the titles in Overdrive.

Keep the Home Fires Burning: Audio and Video for Lockdown

So, here we are. Still (mostly) at home. Hoping that our domestic self-quarantining will help win the war against our invisible enemy. We might like to imagine ourselves as citizens of a contemporary home front–the ones making it possible for front-liners to do their jobs, chiefly by cheering them on, wearing our masks, and staying out of the way.

Even so, it may all feel somewhat less than heroic. To bolster morale, you might turn to APL’s new hoopla collection of home-themed listens: 2020 APL At Home: Domestic Listens for Lockdown. Here, you’ll find a variety of approaches to the idea of “home”: biographies imagining life as a metaphorical journey from–or return to–home (see Josh Grogan’s The Longest Trip Home and Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight), or perhaps a history of early American women’s domestic lives in the newly-released Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England. Also set close to our home here in the Northeast is an autobiography of boyhood that documents farm life during the last great world conflict–Home Front: A Memoir from World War II by C. D. Peterson.

You can also explore “home” as a cultural concept in Domesticity, where “Ann Tudor examines the joy and the sorrow, the guilt and the satisfaction of domestic life, all of it related in her usual wry voice.” 

Or, if you’re in a philosophical frame of mind, try New York Times-bestselling author Erica Bauermeister’s House Lessons: Renovating a Life, a collection of biographical essays that “takes listeners on a journey to discover the ways our spaces subliminally affect us.” 

If you’d like to enjoy a bit of Bill Bryson’s brilliant-but-curmudgeonly humor as he ranges through an eccentric history of domestic architecture and culture, have a listen to At Home: A Short History of Private Life on Overdrive or through the Libby app. For this book, Bryson challenged himself to “write a history of the world without leaving home.”

For a spot of escape from your own humdrum domestic sphere, tune in to several of Acorn TV’s documentary offerings showcasing the home life of days gone by–and modern attempts to relive or conserve those realities: 1900 Island, Victorian House of Arts & Crafts, or Keeping the Castle.

And keep those home fires burning!

*Quoted material from authors and/or publishers.

What’s New in Our Digital Resources

If you’ve scanned our digital resources recently, you may have seen a slight change in our list! While you’ve always been able to explore encyclopedic texts from each decade from the 1920s to the 1990s, you’re now able to go beyond the 80-year span in American history. 

Newly labeled as Salem Press in our Digital Resources tab, you have access to the Encyclopedia of American Immigration, Milestone Documents in American History, and information ranging from social justice, to pandemics, to treaties in the news. Salem Press also provides information in science and health for students and general readers alike!

Library card holders are able to access the essential coverage of all major aspects of the Earth’s solar system in a completely revised and updated way. For information on health, feel free to explore the 8th edition of Magill’s Medical Guide, or learn more topics on cancer, psychology, and mental health. Whether you have a research project or just want to learn, Salem Press might have the right information for you!

Library of Congress Historic Film Archive

While responsibly staying at home and keeping abreast of developments, we can choose to focus some of our attention on other pictures and other times. It might actually be healthy to do so! One of the constants in the last century or so of American history has been our fascination with moving pictures. And now, we have unprecedented access to one of our nation’s most revered archives of film documentation–the Library of Congress

According to a recent article in The New York Times featuring this exceptional streaming option, “the astonishment of riches includes up-close looks at our history in hundreds of films. And they’re all free.” That’s right! You can dip into snippets of life at the turn of the last century at no cost. Escape today’s pressures with some lighthearted film shorts here–you’ll find everything from a glimpse of the America’s Cup defender in 1899, to a fanciful “life drawing” session, to a spirited clip of women on horseback in full-on Victorian riding gear. Explore the LOC’s 7000+ film offerings (ranging from the 19th century to more recent times) and exist in a different world for a while! If you like, you can also sample the collection at the LOC YouTube channel.

Or perhaps you’d just like to hark back to the relative “normalcy” of last spring. If so, you’re in luck! Some of the top most-circulated films at the APL in March and April 2019 are currently available to watch or re-watch on hoopla. Take a privileged peek at the life of a storied hotel with Always at the Carlyle. Watch Emma Thompson do her best for justice in the complex, suspenseful film The Children Act. Visit the streets of Tokyo with a look at the Academy Award- nominated Shoplifters.Or try one of our library’s own 2020 “Oscar nominees” set in another of history’s dramatic moments: 1945.

So if you like your escapism tempered with a dash of past reality, you might just grab some popcorn and give these options a whirl!