Bancroft Prize for History Is Awarded to 2 Scholars

David W. Blight, whose book was called “a definitive portrait” of Frederick Douglass. Credit Willy Sanjuan/Invision, via Associated Press

A mammoth biography of Frederick Douglass and a new study of the 17th-century colonial American conflict known as King Philip’s War have won this year’s Bancroft Prize, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in the field of American history.

David W. Blight’s “Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom,” published by Simon and Schuster, was cited for offering “a definitive portrait” of the 19th-century former slave, abolitionist, writer and orator “in all his fullness and imperfection, his intellectual gifts and emotional needs.”

Lisa Brooks, whose “Our Beloved Kin” was praised for how it “imaginatively illuminates submerged indigenous histories.”Credit John Weller

Lisa Brooks’s “Our Beloved Kin,” published by Yale University Press, was praised for how it “imaginatively illuminates submerged indigenous histories,” drawing readers into “a complex world of tensions, alliances and betrayals” that fueled the conflict between Native Americans in New England and European colonists and their Indian allies.

The Bancroft, which includes an award of $10,000, was established in 1948 by the trustees of Columbia University, with a bequest from the historian Frederic Bancroft.

By Jennifer SchuesslerMarch 7, 2019, first appearing on NYT > Books

 

All the World’s a Crime: Thrillers From Around the Globe

Pick up a book, burrow into an armchair and take yourself on some literary excursions to places like Laos, Poland, Chile and South Africa.

Africa, Australia, Asia & Europe

Credit: The New York Times

Africa

Botswana

[01] Gaborone: Alexander McCall Smith, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”

Ghana

[02] Accra: Kwei Quartey, “Children of the Street”

Kenya

[03] Nairobi: Mukoma Wa Ngugi, “Nairobi Heat”

Morocco

[04] Tangier: Christine Mangan, “Tangerine”

South Africa

[05] Johannesburg: Jassy Mackenzie, “Random Violence”

Zimbabwe

[06] Harare: C.B. George, “The Death of Rex Nhongo”

Australia

[07] Sydney: Susan Geason, “Dogfish”

[08] Melbourne: Peter Temple, “Bad Debts”

Europe

Belgium

[17] Bruges: Pieter Aspe, The “Midas Murders”

Denmark

[18] Copenhagen: Jussi Adler-Olsen, “The Scarred Woman”

Finland

[20] Helsinki: Matti Joensuu, “The Priest of Evil”

France

[21] Fred Vargas, “Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand”

Germany

[22] Frankfurt: Nele Neuhaus, “Bad Wolf”

Britain

[23] Ludlow: Elizabeth George, “The Punishment She Deserves”

[24] Glasgow: Denise Mina, The Red Road

Greece

[25] Tinos: Jeffrey Siger, “Target”

Netherlands

[26] Amsterdam: Janwillem de Wetering, “The Corpse on the Dike”
Editors’ Picks

Iceland

[27] Reykjavik: Arnaldur Indridason, “The Shadow Killer”

Ireland

[28] Dublin: Tana French, “In the Woods”

Italy

[29] Michael Dibdin, “End Games”

Norway

[30] Trondheim: Jorgen Brekke, “The Fifth Element”

Poland

[31] Marek Krajewski, “The Minotaur’s Head”

Russia

[32] Siberia: Lionel Davidson, “Kolymsky Heights”

[33] Moscow: Stuart M. Kaminsky, “The Dog Who Bit a Policeman”

Slovakia

[34] Bratislava: Michael Genelin, “Dark Dreams”

Spain

[35] Barcelona: Alicia Giménez-Bartlett, “Dog Day”

Sweden

[36] Goteborg: Helene Tursten, “The Torso”

Middle East

Israel

[37] Jerusalem: Joel Stone, “The Jerusalem File”

Saudi Arabia

[38] Jeddah: Zoe Ferraris, “City of Veils”

Asia

Afghanistan

[39] Christopher Reich, “Rules of Betrayal”

China

[40] Shanghai: Qiu Xiaolong, “When Red is Black”

[41] Beijing: Wang Shuo, “Playing for Thrills”

India

[42] Bombay: Vikram Chandra, “Sacred Games”

Japan

[43] Hideo Yokoyama, “Six Four”

Laos

[44] Vientiane: Colin Cotterill, “Anarchy and Old Dogs”

Philippines

[45] Manila: Miguel Syjuco, “Ilustrado”

South Korea

[46] Seoul: Martin Limón, “Slicky Boys”

Thailand

[47] Bangkok: Timothy Hallinan, “For the Dead”

The Americas, Caribbean & Greenland

Credit: The New York Times

North America

Canada

[54] Ontario: Giles Blunt, “By the Time You Read This”

[55] Vancouver: Elisabeth Bowers, “Ladies’ Night”

[56] Quebec: Louise Penny, “A Rule Against Murder”

United States

[48] Texas: James Lee Burke, “Rain Gods”

[49] Alaska: Stan Jones, “Village of the Ghost Bears”

[50] Colorado: Nevada Barr, “Ill Wind”

[51] Montana: Christine Carbo, “The Weight of Night”

[52] Arizona/New Mexico: Tony Hillerman, “The First Eagle”

[53] Florida: John Lutz, “Burn”

Mexico

[14] Fictional city of Paracuán: Martín Solares, “The Black Minutes”

[15] Mexico City: Paco Ignacio Taibo II, “Return to the Same City”

Caribbean, Central & South America

Argentina
[09] Buenos Aires, Ernesto Sabato, “The Tunnel”

Brazil

[10] Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, “Southwesterly Wind”

[11] Brasilia: Leighton Gage, “Every Bitter Thing”

Chile

[12] Santiago: Antonio Skármeta, “The Dancer and the Thief”

Cuba

[13] Havana: Leonardo Padura, “Havana Black”

Peru

[16] Mario Vargas Llosa, “Who Killed Palomino Molero?”

Greenland

[19] Peter Hoeg, “Smilla’s Sense of Snow”

By Tina Jordan, Aug. 10, 2018, first appearing on NYT > Books

Best Sellers Update: February ’19

New York Times Combined Print & E-Book Fiction Best Sellers List

  1. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens

36809135For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

  1. CRUCIBLE by James Rollins (NEW)
  2. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris
  3. PLAYING FOR KEEPS by Jill Shalvis (NEW)
  4. AN ANONYMOUS GIRL by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
  5. THE RECKONING by John Grisham
  6. THE GOLDEN TRESSES OF THE DEAD by Alan Bradley (NEW)
  7. THE RULE OF LAW by John Lescroart (NEW)
  8. EYE OF THE NEEDLE by Ken Follett (NEW)
  9. WE SHOULDN’T by Vi Keeland (NEW)
  10. LIAR LIAR by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  11. TURNING POINT by Danielle Steel
  12. ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman
  13. AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones
  14. A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness

Best Sellers Update: New Year ’19 Ed.

New York Times: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction Best Sellers

  1. LONG ROAD TO MERCY by David Baldacci

39088984Atlee Pine, an FBI special agent assigned to the remote wilds of the western United States. Ever since her twin sister was abducted by a notorious serial killer at age five, Atlee has spent her life hunting down those who hurt others. And she’s the best at it. She could be one of the Bureau’s top criminal profilers, if she didn’t prefer catching criminals in the vast wilderness of the West to climbing the career ladder in the D.C. office. Her chosen mission is a lonesome one–but that suits her just fine.

  1. THE RECKONING by John Grisham
  2. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
  3. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris
  4. FIRE AND BLOOD by George R.R. Martin
  5. EVERY BREATH by Nicholas Sparks
  6. BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman (NEW)
  7. TARGET: ALEX CROSS by James Patterson
  8. A DOG’S WAY HOME by W. Bruce Cameron
  9. PAST TENSE by Lee Child
  10. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty
  11. ONE DAY IN DECEMBER by Josie Silver
  12. THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn
  13. ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman
  14. CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan

The 10 Best Books of 2018

The editors of The Times Book Review choose the best fiction and nonfiction titles this year.

Stephen Doyle

Asymmetry
By Lisa Halliday

In “Asymmetry,” two seemingly unrelated sections are connected by a shocking coda. The first, “Folly,” is the story of a love affair. It narrates the relationship between Alice, a book editor and aspiring writer in her mid-20s, and Ezra Blazer, a brilliant, geriatric novelist who is partly modeled on Philip Roth. The second section — “Madness” — belongs to Amar Jaafari, an Iraqi-American economist who is being detained at Heathrow. Halliday’s prose is clean and lean, almost reportorial in the style of W.G. Sebald. This is a first novel that reads like the work of an author who has published many books over many years, and it manages to be, all at once, a transgressive roman à clef, a novel of ideas and a politically engaged work of metafiction.

 

The Great Believers
By Rebecca Makkai

Set in the Chicago of the mid-80s and Paris at the time of the 2015 terrorist attacks, Makkai’s deeply affecting novel uses the AIDS epidemic and a mother’s search for her estranged daughter to explore the effects of senseless loss and our efforts to overcome it. Her portrait of a group of friends, most of them gay men, conveys the terrors and tragedies of the epidemic’s early years and follows its repercussions over decades. Empathetic without being sentimental, her novel amply earned its place among the contenders for the Booker Prize and the National Book Award.

 

The Perfect Nanny
By Leila Slimani

We know from the outset of this unnerving cautionary tale (winner of the Goncourt Prize) that a beloved nanny has murdered the two children in her care; but what’s even more remarkable about this unconventional domestic thriller is the author’s intimate analysis of the special relationship between a mother and the person she hires to care for her offspring. Slimani writes devastating character studies, and she also raises painful themes: the forbidden desires parents project onto their nannies, racial and class tensions. In this mesmerizingly twisted novel, only one thing is clear: Loneliness can drive you crazy.

 

There There
By Tommy Orange

Orange’s debut is an ambitious meditation on identity and its broken alternatives, on myth filtered through the lens of time and poverty and urban life. Its many short chapters are told through a loosely connected group of Native Americans living in Oakland, Calif., as they travel to a powwow. They are all, as in Chaucer, pilgrims on their way to a shrine, or, as in Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” an extended family crossing the landscape. The novel is their picaresque journey, allowing for moments of pure soaring beauty to hit against the most mundane, for a sense of timelessness to be placed right beside a cleareyed version of the here and now.

 

Washington Black
By Esi Edugyan

This transcendent work of empathy and imagination, the 2018 winner of Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize, opens on a sugar plantation in British Barbados in the waning days of slavery and, against that backdrop of unconscionable brutality, quickly tips us into a new world of possibility: one in which men take to the skies in hot-air balloons, dive to mysterious ocean depths and cross the Arctic on foot. Most daringly, it is a world in which a white slave master’s brother and a young black slave can forge an indelible bond. With subtlety and eloquence, Edugyan unfolds a wondrous tale of exploration and discovery.

 

American Prison
By Shane Bauer

Bauer moved to rural Louisiana in 2014 to work undercover as a guard at the Winn Correctional Center, a privately run prison. He lasted four months before his deception was discovered, but that turned out to be more than sufficient to write a searing exposé for Mother Jones, which earned him a National Magazine Award and an invitation to speak to officials in Washington about problems in for-profit prisons. With this book, Bauer has expanded his article into a comprehensive analysis impossible to ignore. His book is a meticulous catalog of horrors, from the historical precursors — the practice of convict-leasing at Southern prisons after the Civil War, in which inmates were rented out to companies as a captive work force — to the rampant violence, neglect and incompetence that pervade a multibillion-dollar industry.

 

Educated
By Tara Westover

Westover’s extraordinary memoir is an act of courage and self-invention. The youngest of seven children, she grew up in Idaho, in a survivalist family who lived so far off the grid that she lacked even a birth certificate and did not attend school until she went to college. Getting in wasn’t obvious: At home, reading meant studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and much of her childhood was spent helping her mother, an unlicensed midwife, and her father, a paranoid man who maintained a scrap-metal junkyard. In recounting her upbringing and her triumph over it — she would earn a Ph.D. in history at Cambridge — Westover took great risks and alienated family members. The reward is a book that testifies to an irrepressible thirst to learn.

 

Frederick Douglass
By David W. Blight

A monumental work about a monumental figure. The charismatic Douglass was Abraham Lincoln’s conscience, so to speak, and Blight’s detailed, cinematic biography is the result of a lifetime of engagement with his subject. Douglass wrote three autobiographies himself, describing his rise from slavery to a role as one of the greatest figures of the 19th century, but Blight’s work is fuller than any of those, relating both the public and private life in a way that Douglass either could not or would not undertake. The result is a portrait that is likely to stand as the definitive account for years to come.

 

How to Change Your Mind
By Michael Pollan

Best known for his work on the ethics of eating, Pollan delivers his most personal book yet, one that demanded he drop acid in full view of the reader. Exploring the history and science of psychedelics, he tells of the rise and fall and rise again of our societal interest in these drugs, which are now thought to have many benefits, from helping with addiction to easing the terror of the terminally ill. The book hits its high point when he examines the mysticism and spirituality of the psychedelic experience. What can we learn about ourselves when the part of our mind controlling the ego drops away? What is this older, more primitive part of the brain, which connects us to how a child sees the world? It’s a trip that leads him to wonder about how, ultimately, we can get the most out of our existences as conscious beings in the world.

 

Small Fry
By Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Brennan-Jobs grew up shuttling between two starkly different worlds: the bohemian, peripatetic world of her mother, an unstable and impoverished artist, and the luxurious world of her cruel and increasingly wealthy father, Steve Jobs. She provides indelible portraits of both parents, recreating the fraught landscape of her childhood in Palo Alto through the careful accretion of exquisitely granular detail. Her memoir is a work of uncanny intimacy, the debut of a singular literary sensibility. Ultimately, though, it is her portrayal of Jobs as a man prone to mind-boggling acts of emotional negligence and abuse that gives this book its overlay of devastation.

First appearing on NYT > Books

Wish List for Readers

Grant Snider. New York Times Book Review: Sketchbook, 11/30/18

We completely understand. But don’t forget that you can find many of those at the library for free.

Best Sellers Update: Read a New Book Month Edition!

December is Read a New Book Month (unless you find a website that says it is September, but just go with us here).

The weather outside is… let’s say sub-optimal. Still, there is no better time to curl up with a new book. How can you make the most of Read a New Book Month?

Well, reading a new book would be a good place to start.

‘When you say ‘new,’ do you mean ‘new‘ as in recently published or ‘new‘ as in we’ve never read it before?’ you ask.

Yes.

Also, for those of you feeling adventurous, you can read something new AND different. Safe bet books, that you know you’ll love are, of course, a wonderful thing, but sometimes it is exciting to mix things up.

Regardless of what you choose to do, here are the current NYT Best Sellers (Fiction and Non-Fiction) to give you some inspiration.

NYT Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. FIRE AND BLOOD by George R.R. Martin (NEW)

39943621Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

  1. TARGET: ALEX CROSS by James Patterson (NEW)
  2. THE RECKONING by John Grisham
  3. DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly
  4. LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE by Janet Evanovich
  5. PAST TENSE by Lee Child
  6. EVERY BREATH by Nicholas Sparks
  7. LONG ROAD TO MERCY by David Baldacci
  8. BEAUCHAMP HALL by Danielle Steel (NEW)
  9. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty
  10. THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON by Julia Quinn (NEW)
  11. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
  12. ELEVATION by Stephen King
  13. THE NEXT PERSON YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom
  14. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris

 

NYT Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Non-Fiction

  1. BECOMING by Michelle Obama

BecomingIn a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

  1. KILLING THE SS by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
  2. EDUCATED by Tara Westover
  3. SHIP OF FOOLS by Tucker Carlson
  4. FACTFULNESS by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund
  5. SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari
  6. FEAR by Bob Woodward
  7. CHURCHILL: WALKING WITH DESTINY by Andrew Roberts (NEW)
  8. LEADERSHIP by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  9. IN PIECES by Sally Field
  10. SHADE by Pete Souza
  11. THE FIFTH RISK by Michael Lewis
  12. THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean
  13. BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS by Stephen Hawking
  14. BEASTIE BOYS BOOK by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz