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Acid for the Children: A Memoir

Flea (Grand Central)

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea recalls his youth in this vibrant, enlightening memoir, beginning with his birth in Australia through his high school years in Los Angeles, where he met future bandmate Anthony Kiedis, was introduced to drugs, and started “going primal” on the bass.

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Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation

Andrew Marantz (Viking)

Marantz peers into the vacuum created by Silicon Valley’s subjugation of traditional media and discovers “a motley cadre of edgelords” spreading noxious, conspiracy-addled ideologies in this sharp, character-driven investigation into one of the gravest problems facing American democracy: how to stop the viral spread of misinformation.

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Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America

James Poniewozik (Liveright)

Trump became “a cable news channel in human form: loud, short of attention span, and addicted to conflict,” writes New York Times television critic Poniewozik in this unique and witty analysis of how the fracturing of the TV landscape from the 1950s through the 2010s made the Trump presidency possible.

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Axiomatic

Maria Tumarkin (Transit)

Tumarkin examines themes of trauma and grief in her essay collection, probing the substance of various clichés—“history repeats itself”; “time heals all wounds”—and the subtler points of easily sensationalized subjects, such as teen suicide, making for a work that will remain with readers long after it’s read.

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The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775–1777

Rick Atkinson (Holt)

This first installment in Pulitzer-winning historian Atkinson’s new trilogy is a sweeping yet gritty American Revolutionary epic. With granular detail and refreshingly unfamiliar characterizations—an uncertain George Washington, a thoughtful King George III, a valiant Benedict Arnold—he makes an oft-told national origin story new again.

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Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration

Emily Bazelon (Random House)

Bazelon’s novelistic account follows a Tennessee murder trial and a Brooklyn gun case to explore prosecutors’ “unfettered power” in determining defendants’ fates. This timely, resolute investigation convincingly explains why the criminal justice system needs to be reformed, and how it can happen.

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The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age

Leo Damrosch (Yale Univ.)

Biographer Damrosch profiles a whole slew of prominent figures—including Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, Samuel Johnson, Adam Smith, and the ubiquitous Boswell—in his rollickingly entertaining look at late-18th-century London’s liveliest, most dazzlingly witty social club.

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The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

Margaret O’Mara (Penguin)

O’Mara puts a gloriously human face on the history of American computing by tracking the emergence of today’s Silicon Valley from the once-sleepy college town of Palo Alto, while also capturing the personalities—famous and not—behind this transformation.

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The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

Esmé Weijun Wang (Graywolf)

Wang, author of the novel The Border of Paradise, gives the neurotypical an entry point to understanding one of her life’s defining experiences—dealing with a bipolar-type schizo-affective disorder—in this eye-opening nonfiction debut.

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The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando

William J. Mann (Harper)

Mann, a prolific Hollywood biographer, reintroduces readers to one of the 20th century’s most recognizable performers, depicting a man whose true passion was for activism, not acting, which baffled many of his contemporaries but presciently anticipated 21st-century celebrities’ turn toward the socially conscious.

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Edison

Edmund Morris (Random House)

In this definitive biography of one of America’s most celebrated inventors, Pulitzer-winning author Morris (Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan), who died shortly before the book’s publication, tells an engrossing story of Thomas Edison, expertly setting his greatest achievements—creating the light bulb and phonograph—against a colorful portrait of his eccentricity.

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The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir

Samantha Power (Dey Street)

In exuberant prose, Pulitzer Prize–winner Power (A Problem from Hell) details how her life led her from Yale to becoming the U.S. ambassador to the UN under President Obama, and eloquently argues for the importance of compassion for humanity.

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

Casey Cep (Knopf)

Journalist Cep makes her debut with a brilliant account of Harper Lee’s failed attempt to write a true crime book about the 1977 murder of Alabama preacher and suspected killer Willie Maxwell. This is essential reading for anyone interested in Lee and American literary history.

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Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century

Charles King (Doubleday)

This scintillating group biography restores pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas and his female students, including Margaret Mead and Zora Neale Hurston, to their rightful place among modern society’s most influential critics of white supremacy, gender discrimination, and xenophobia.

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Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS

Azadeh Moaveni (Random House)

Moaveni profiles young Muslim women who left home to join ISIS in Syria, where their romantic dreams met with the grim reality of marriages to abusive men. The vexing question of what happens to these women and their children now lingers over this visceral, deeply reported account.

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How to Be an Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi (One World)

Weaving together autobiography, history, and cultural theory, Kendi nimbly dissects racist thinking and provides an essential framework for dismantling it. From “colorism” to the racialization of negative behaviors, he diagnoses “internalized racism” as “the true Black-on-Black crime,” offering his own life story to showcase the liberating power of antiracism.

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How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States

Daniel Immerwahr (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

This incisive, stylish history brings much-deserved attention to America’s overseas territories. Immerwahr details how Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, among others, fell under U.S. control, and explores the many ways their citizens have borne the high cost of American imperialism.

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How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir

Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster)

In this unflinching memoir, poet Jones discusses his coming-of-age as a gay African-American boy growing up in Texas, and of his difficult emergence into adulthood. Above all, he writes beautifully of his single mother who struggled financially and loved him unconditionally.

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The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation

Brenda Wineapple (Random House)

Wineapple’s lucid, revelatory history revisits the 1868 impeachment of President Andrew Johnson and discovers that, contrary to previous scholarly opinion, it was less a political grudge match between rival Republicans than a necessary effort to limit executive overreach and uphold the Constitution.

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In the Dream House: A Memoir

Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)

Noting that queer women endure abuse in their relationships just as heterosexual women do, National Book Award–finalist Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) discusses in haunting detail the mental and physical cruelty she was subjected to by her girlfriend. This is an affecting, haunting memoir.

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Janis: Her Life and Music

Holly George-Warren (Simon & Schuster)

Music writer George-Warren paints a masterful, moving portrait of musician Janis Joplin—emphasizing that the lonely Joplin spent the last year of her life “trying to find a way to reconcile her ambitions as a singer with her desire for some kind of loving attachment.”

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The Lives of Lucian Freud: The Restless Years, 1922–1968

William Feaver (Knopf)

Art critic and curator Feaver captures the artistically fertile years of British painter Lucian Freud, grandson of psychologist Sigmund Freud. The result is an immensely entertaining narrative that immerses readers in the artist’s enchanting world.

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Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative

Jane Alison (Catapult)

Alison, a novelist and creative writing teacher, takes aim at the dominant paradigm of the dramatic arc in her manifesto, which argues that “fundamental patterns in nature”—waves, meanders, spirals—can be equally useful ways of giving shape to a story.

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No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

Rachel Louise Snyder (Bloomsbury)

Snyder combines startling statistics (50 women in the U.S. are shot and killed by their partners every month) and harrowing personal stories to deliver the definitive portrait of domestic violence in America. Her artfully written, deeply researched account is journalism par excellence.

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Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century

George Packer (Knopf)

At a tumultuous time for the U.S. foreign policy establishment, Packer’s mesmerizing, warts-and-all biography of diplomat Holbrooke, architect of the 1995 Dayton Accords, serves as a fitting tribute to America’s superpower era, and a warning that hubris and ambition can lead even the greatest minds astray.

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Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir

Deirdre Bair (Doubleday/Talese)

In this simultaneously scholarly and salacious “bio-memoir,” Bair—the biographer for Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir—details her visits to Paris interviewing both writers, beginning in 1971, as she balanced being a wife, mother, and writer.

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She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (Penguin Press)

In what amounts to a gripping journalistic thriller, New York Times reporters Kantor and Twohey recount how their months-long probe into claims of abuse from numerous women against Harvey Weinstein exposed a culture that enables sexual misconduct.

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Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11

James Donovan (Little, Brown)

In a year dotted with celebrations of the first manned lunar landing’s 50th anniversary, Donovan’s magisterial history of the U.S.-Soviet space race is set apart by the light it trains on the thousands of engineers and technicians involved, and the thousands of technical challenges overcame, in the process of landing a man on the moon.

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Solitary

Albert Woodfox, with Leslie George (Grove)

Framed for the 1972 murder of a correctional officer at Louisiana’s Angola prison, Woodfox, a member of the Black Panther Party, spent the next 40 years in solitary confinement. His enthralling memoir recounts how he survived with the help of two fellow Panthers, and makes a powerful case for prison reform.

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Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Robert Macfarlane (Norton)

Macfarlane takes readers into the “worlds beneath our feet” in a simultaneously meditative and adventurous exploration of subterranean spaces both human-made—a laboratory, half a mile beneath the Yorkshire countryside, dedicated to the search for dark matter—and natural—the vast “wood wide web” of tree roots busily communicating with each other underground.

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