History Books

You’ve read your last “beach read.”

Heartbreak by the hammock is over. You’ve read boy-meets-girl by the barbecue, now you want something you can sink your teeth into, something to keep your summer going. So why not check out these great new history books?

With the 50th anniversary of Watergate in the news, it’s interesting to see those historic events from a different perspective. ”Scorpion’s Dance: The President, the Spymaster, and Watergate” by Jefferson Morley (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) uses “forgotten” evidence to show that Watergate was not just a break-in. It was, Morley claims, a power struggle between Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms. If you’ve become obsessed with Watergate all over again, this book should be in your hands now.

If there’s a little part of you that still wants a relationship book to read this summer, look for ”Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America” by Michael Benson (Kensington, $27.00). Yes, indeed, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky and their associates worked hard to stomp out Nazism in America during World War II. Yes, this story helps you see how Nazism was established here and how it was squashed. And yes, the real story is much more fascinating than you can imagine.

Another intriguing hidden tale is that of President Lincoln’s Civil War activism. In ”A House Built by Slaves” by Jonathan W. White (Roman & Littlefield, $26.00), you’ll read about how and why Lincoln invited African American abolitionists, leaders, thinkers, and others to the White House during the Civil War, and how it affected what happened in America then. Lincoln was a complex man; this is a great book for Civil War buffs, as well as anyone who loves to read about Black history or social history of the 1800s.

Sometimes, when you think about the 1950s, nostalgia and fun, fun, fun comes to mind, but ”The Fifties: An Underground History” by James R. Gaines (Simon & Schuster, $27.00) shows that the decade was full of serious business. From gay rights to Civil Rights, feminism to ecology, Gaines shows readers the turning points and the people who changed the world and influenced nearly everything that happened in the forty years after the ‘50s were over.

And finally, because the documents our forefathers signed on are everybody’s mind in one way or another these days, ”The Constitution Explained: A Guide for Every American” by David L. Hudson, Jr., J.D. (Visible Ink Press, $24.95) is a book to keep handy this summer. In easy-to-understand terms, this book breaks down every one of the articles in the Constitution, with examples, relevant side-information, and explanations of the small details. It’s a handy reference, but also just plain fun to read, too.

If these history books don’t quite fit what you want this summer, be sure to ask your favorite librarian or bookseller for more. They’ll take you to their history section and help you find the book you want for your patio, easy chair, deck, balcony, or your big, colorful beach blanket.

History Books for Summer Reading, c.2022, various publishers, $24.95-$29.99, various page counts

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