We always expect big history books in September, but this year's crop is also a diverse one. It's not just books about deceased old men (although we have those, too). In the history books featured below, you'll find a groundbreaking work that explains how constitutional amendments from the Reconstruction era committed into law the ideal of human equality. You'll find a book about a rich, code-breaking math genius who solved the markets and built a fortune. You'll find a moving oral history of 9/11. And you'll learn the fascinating, often shocking, true origin story of Uber.
And you can see all of our picks for the Best history books of September here. Enjoy.
During Reconstruction, amendments were added to the Constitution that abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection under the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. The federal government, rather than the states, was newly charged with enforcement—Pulitzer-winner Eric Foner likens this to a "second founding." But Foner goes on to point out that the Supreme Court passed laws that narrowed those rights, leading to Jim Crow. And challenges continue to this day.
Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream by Nicholas Lemann
Jim Simons has made more money than Warren Buffet. This world-class mathematician and former code breaker mastered the market though a data-driven, algorithmic approach that made his company Renaissance a powerful market force in its own right. Simons became a major figure in scientific research, education, and liberal politics. And yet senior executive Robert Mercer is more responsible than anyone else for the Trump presidency, placing Steve Bannon in the campaign and funding Trump's victorious 2016 effort. Veteran Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Gregory Zuckerman paints a portrait of a modern-day Midas who remade markets in his own image, but failed to anticipate how his success would impact his firm and his country.
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff
In The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and bestselling historian Garrett Graff tells the story of 9/11 as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet. More than simply a collection of eyewitness testimonies, The Only Plane in the Sky is the historic narrative of how ordinary people grappled with extraordinary events in real time.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
Senior Editor Seira Wilson had this to say about Super Pumped, which we selected as a Best Book of September: "Love it or hate it, Uber changed the way we use transportation in the U.S. and beyond. The story of this Silicon Valley start-up and its maverick founder Travis Kalanick is utterly riveting, and in Super Pumped author Mike Isaac gives readers an insider’s view of the stunning highs and catastrophic lows of what Isaac calls one of the first mobile unicorns."
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