The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn (2006)
Author Mendelsohn searches out the history of his great uncle, aunt, and their four daughters who perished in the Holocaust. His travels take him to the Ukraine, Israel, Australia, and Scandinavia trying to locate survivors of the small town where his family lived. Finally, the author does find out what were the likely deaths of his six relatives, even standing in the root cellar some of them had hidden in. Mendelsohn believes that these personal stories must be told; otherwise these individual lives are lost to us forever.

Read an excerpt, listen to an interview on Boston's local NPR, get more details from NPR's Fresh Air, and read a New York Times review.

Our Town by Cynthia Carr

Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America by Cynthia Carr (2006)
The last public lynching in the North took place in 1930 in Marion, Indiana, hometown of the author's father. Carr moved to Marion for a year to research the lynching and to see if her beloved grandfather could have taken part. What she discovers is the truth about race relations in Marion and the U.S. today, the history of blacks in the county, the state of the current Klan, and the history of her own family. A long but rewarding book. The Other Side of the River by Alex Kotlowitz explores a modern day suspicious death of a black man in Michigan.

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (2006)
The author explores the settling of the southern plains in the early 1900s and the farming methods used to turn grasslands into a wasteland. When the drought of the late 1920s and 1930s comes, the Dust Bowl was created. This book follows several families who only wanted a small piece of land for themselves and their families. The reality of living day after day in the nightmare of blowing wind and dust comes to life in this National Book Award winner.

The Children's Blizzard by David Lasking (2004) tells the true story of a similar misunderstanding of land in the northern plains a generation earlier. Novels about the dust bowl include The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939) and The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas (1996). The documentary The Plow that Broke the Plains (1934) was filmed during the dustbowl.

Our Mother’s War by Emily Yellen

Our Mother’s War by Emily Yellen (2004)

An excellent history of WWII and women’s roles in the United States – all phases of society. Visit the author's website for more about the book, a discussion guide, and further resources. Read a New York Times review or listen to an interview with the author.

Our Mother's War is suggested as related reading to this year's Big Read -- Dream When You're Feeling Blue. Do you have tickets yet to see Elizabeth Berg? She's speaking at Ashton Place on Thursday, May 8. Go to the Readers Services desk to get your tickets before we run out!

Make Believe by Ethan Mordden

Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s by Ethan Mordden (1997)
This is the first in a series of eight books Mordden wrote on the history of the American musical. This is a book for the true lover of the musical who wants to hear every story and relishes the development of the musical from reviews and operettas to what we recognize today. Silly plots, the great stars, the "new dance sensation" wedged into every musical and the wonderful music (and some not so wonderful) written by the likes of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and the Gershwins.

For more on this topic, there's a PBS documentary series called, "Broadway: The American Musical" (hosted by Julie Andrews), available for checkout at the library. The companion site has a wealth of information, including biographies of influential performers and composers, milestones by era, and memorable musicals.

Martha Washington by Patricia Brady

Martha Washington by Patricia Brady (2005)
It was a good read – well written. It’s about a beautiful, elegant young woman who marries George Washington. It’s a good combination of social history and biography.

Visit the publisher's website for a discussion guide that has a description of the book, an author biography, an interview with Brady, and discussion questions.

Steel Boat, Iron Hearts by Hans Goebeler

Steel Boat, Iron Hearts by Hans Goebeler (1999)
Written by a submariner in Hitler’s Navy, he relates his account of serving aboard the U-505 submarine as it prowled the Atlantic and ended up being captured by the U.S. (The first ship captured at sea since the War of 1812!) The U-505 is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry. It is interesting to read about those events from the perspective of the “enemy.”

A Stronger Kinship by Anna-Lisa Cox

A Stronger Kinship by Anna-Lisa Cox (2006)
This is the story of Covert Township in Southwest Michigan from the 1860s to the early 1900s. Although blacks were always a relative small percentage of the already small population of the area, they were completely integrated into the educational, social, business, and religious lives of the community. Several blacks held elected public offices. The author explores why, in a time when the local people had to go against state law and general national attitude to treat all of their neighbors as equals, they chose to do so.

The author's website contains an 1873 map of Covert Township along with other great information. On NPR's site, you can read or listen to the December 2006 story and view several pictures.

John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams by David McCullough (2001)
One of America’s best loved biographers, David McCullough, gives us an intimate picture of one of America’s overshadowed presidents. Adams’ life of integrity, heroism, and warmth shine through is this personal story.

Starting on Sunday, March 16, HBO will air a seven part miniseries based on the book. The drama stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, with Tom Hanks serving as executive producer. Go to the movie's website to watch video previews, listen to conversations with the actors or with Tom Hanks and David McCullough, and read descriptions of each of the seven parts of the series.

For more on this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, visit the publisher's website to read a Q&A about the book, listen to a podcast, check out a reading guide, read an excerpt, and much more. The News Hour on PBS has video, audio, and text of McCullough's July 4, 2001, appearance. The New York Times website includes a book review and a list of articles and books about John Adams.

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg (2001)
Author Bragg tells the story of his maternal grandfather, a man he never met, who kept a family going during the depths of the Depression in the deep South.

Check out the New York Times book review. You can also reserve Bragg's latest book -- The Prince of Frogtown -- which will be released in May.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (2001)
Laura Hillenbrand makes horseracing fans out of everyone. More than simply a biography of a horse, this book portrays the spirit of a sport as it tells the tale of an owner, a jockey and a thoroughbred champion that captivated the nation.

Check out the 2003 movie based on the book and the PBS website that features original radio broadcasts, an interview with Hillenbrand, and more.

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger (1997)
October 1991 produced one of the most devastating storms to hit the North Atlantic. Follow the crew of the Andrea Gail as it struggles for survival in tumultuous seas and learn how the rescue attempts of other ships caught in the Perfect Storm went horribly wrong. Also check out the 2000 movie based on the book.

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb (2004)
They said that the four minute mile could never be broken, that it just was not physically possible. Three athletes competing from separate corners of the globe raced against the clock and each other to prove them wrong.

Listen to an interview with the author and Roger Bannister (NPR) or watch the memorable races from May 6, 1954 (BBC) and August 7, 1954 (CBC).

Monster of the Midway by Jim Dent

Monster of the Midway: Bronko Nagurski, the 1943 Chicago Bears, and the Greatest Comeback Ever by Jim Dent (2003)
Before multimillion dollar contracts, television and injured reserve lists, professional football players often played while hurt for little money with no motivation other than the desire to win. Monster of the Midway traces the history of a fledgling league struggling to survive through the exploits of one of its toughest competitors.

Check our catalog for other books and movies about the Chicago Bears.

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson (2007)
This nonfiction book is a snapshot of the summer of 1911. That summer, Kaiser Wilhelm comes to the coronation of his cousin George V, as King of England. The upper classes were indulging in balls and love affairs and the working classes were becoming increasingly disgruntled. A surprisingly quick and entertaining read.