In historic times like these, it's sometimes nice to realize there were other historic times where people came together to overcome obstacles.
It certainly feels like we are living in historic times, and in times like these it's sometimes nice to realize that there were other historic times where people were able to come together to overcome obstacles. For more on that, I point you to the first book on this list. The other three books are examples of the topical variety and great writing that characterize the Best History Books of March. Be sure to check out the full list.
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
In his latest book, Erik Larson provides an intimate portrait of Winston Churchill, his family, and his advisors as Britain struggles with the aggressive actions of Nazi Germany. There is the wide sweep of history here, but it is painted through the characters who lived it. The Splendid and the Vile is an enlightening, uplifting piece of history and a profound statement on character.
MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman by Ben Hubbard
Here's a guy who is making the news these days. Mohammed bin Salman rose to power swiftly, painting himself as a reformer, and drawing positive attention from many corners of the world. But the 34-year-old prince has since complicated his reputation by starting a war, turning increasingly autocratic, and literally getting away with murder. Ben Hubbard goes deep in examining his rise, his leadership, and the man himself.
Yellow Bird by Sierra Crane Murdoch
Yellow Bird was a top 10 Best Book of March for us. Here is Amazon Senior Editor Vannessa Cronin's review: "Three stories overlap in Yellow Bird and any one of the three would make for an interesting book on its own. Primarily it’s a true crime story about the disappearance and murder of an oil-worker named K.C. Clarke and the investigation by Lissa Yellow Bird—a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes—who, obsessively some would say, hunted his killer for years. But author Sierra Crane Murdoch also lays out the history of oil drilling on the reservation, the booms and the busts, and the complex legacy of exploitation that shackled the fate of the tribe to that of Big Oil. And finally, Yellow Bird is also about addiction and recovery, zooming in on the way Lissa, a meth addict fresh out of prison, channeled the same addictive impulses that landed her in prison into the search for K.C. Clarke. And how a case she took on while newly-sober gave her additional purpose: Lissa ended up traveling to conferences across America, calling attention to the high rates at which Indigenous people went missing and to the low resolution rate for such missing person cases. Murdoch’s seven years of research allow for an intimate portrait of a resilient woman who believes she’s 'paying a debt to society, making up for the harm she had caused,' making this fascinating story so much more than a true crime tale." —Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Book Review
Last Subway: The Long Wait for the Next Train in New York City by Philip Mark Plotch
The New York subway system is one of the world's greatest. But how does something like that get built, especially in a city with so much pre-existing infrastucture, so much political churn, and so many competing priorities? Short answer: it's not easy. Long answer: read this book. As a longtime New Yorker and subway rider myself, I want Philip Mark Plotch's book—which is the story behind New York City's struggle to build a new subway line under Second Avenue—to sit on my bookshelf next to The Death and Life of Great American Cities and The Power Broker.