Today’s post is sponsored by Candlewick and Better Than We Found It!
Title Better Than We Found It: Conversations To Help Save The World
Author Frederick Joseph and Porsche Joseph
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Publication Date October 11th 2022 by
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From the New York Times best-selling author of The Black Friend and a seasoned activist comes an indispensable guide to social and political progressivism for young people and anyone wanting to get more involved.
Every generation inherits the problems created by the ones before them, but no generation will inherit as many problems — as many crises — as the current generation of young people. From the devastations of climate change to the horrors of gun violence, from rampant transphobia to the widening wealth gap, from the lack of health care to the lack of housing, the challenges facing the next generation can feel insurmountable. But change, even revolution, is possible; you just have to know where to start.
In Better Than We Found It, best-selling author Frederick Joseph and debut author Porsche Joseph make the case for addressing some of the biggest issues of our day. Featuring more than two dozen interviews with prominent activists, authors, actors, and politicians, this is the essential resource for those who want to make the world better than we found it.
I’ve spoken about this before on Pop! Goes The Reader’s Patreon, but one of my primary reading goals over the last few years has been to pick up more non-fiction. Prior to launching the blog in 2013, I read non-fiction extensively, but when you cover books for a living, I think there’s a subconscious pressure to read as much and as quickly as you can, something that non-fiction doesn’t always lend itself to. That said, I’m trying to break myself of this mindset, and have made non-fiction a priority over the last two years, which has broadened my reading horizons and allowed me to revisit some familiar favourites.
One thing that’s helped me read non-fiction more regularly is the creation of lists like this one, that help me prioritize what I’m most excited about and when they’re being published. If non-fiction is something you’d like to read more of this year, too, I sincerely hope at least one of the books in today’s post catches you eye! If there’s a non-fiction title you’re excited about but don’t see here, I would also love to hear about it!
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Please note: The publication dates listed below might be subject to change.
An enthralling and comprehensive look into the contemporary state of one of the wealthiest — and most misunderstood — family dynasties in the world, perfect for fans of Succession, The House of Gucci, The Cartiers, and Fortune’s Children.
Oil magnate J. Paul Getty, once the richest man in the world, is the patriarch of an extraordinary cast of sons, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. While some have been brought low by mental illness, drug addiction, and one of the most sensational kidnapping cases of the 20th century, many of Getty’s heirs have achieved great success. In addition to Mark Getty, a cofounder of Getty Images, and Anne G. Earhart, an award-winning environmentalist, others have made significant marks in a variety of fields, from music and viniculture to politics and LGBTQ rights.
Now, across four continents, a new generation of lively, unique, and even outrageous Gettys are emerging, and not coasting on the dynasty’s still-immense wealth. August Getty designs extravagant gowns worn by Katy Perry, Cher, and other stars; his sibling, Nats — a fellow LGBTQ rights activist who announced his gender transition following his wedding to transgender icon Gigi Gorgeous — produces a line of exclusive streetwear. Their fascinating cousins include Balthazar, a multi-hyphenate actor-director-DJ-designer, and Isabel, a singer-songwriter-MBA candidate. A far-flung yet surprisingly close-knit group, the ascendant Gettys are bringing this iconic family onto the global stage in the 21st century.
Through extensive research, including access to J. Paul Getty’s diaries and love letters, and fresh interviews with family members and friends, Growing Up Getty offers an inside look into the benefits and burdens of being part of today’s world of the ultra-wealthy.
Drawing upon newly released archives, bestselling biographer Andrew Lownie tells the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s glittering lives after Edward abdicated the throne — a world that was riddled with treachery and betrayal.
11 December 1936. The King of England, Edward VIII, has given up his crown, foregoing his duty for the love of Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée. Their courtship has been dogged by controversy and scandal, but with Edward’s abdication, they can live happily ever after.
But do they? Beginning this astonishing dual biography at the moment that most biographers turn away, bestselling historian Andrew Lownie reveals the dramatic lives of the Windsors post-abdication. This is a story of a royal shut out by his family and forced into exile; of the Nazi attempts to recruit the duke to their cause; and of why the duke, as Governor of the Bahamas, tried to shut down the investigation into the murder of a close friend. It is a story of a couple obsessed with their status, financially exploiting their position, all the while manipulating the media to portray themselves as victims.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were, in their day, the most glamorous exiles in the world, flitting from sumptuously appointed mansions in the south of France to luxurious residences in Palm Beach. But they were spoiled, selfish people, obsessed with their image, and revelling in adulterous affairs. Drawing upon previously unexplored archives, Lownie shows in dramatic fashion how their glittering world was riddled with treachery and betrayal — and why the royal family never forgave the duke for choosing love over duty.
A wholly original history of France, filled with a lifetime’s knowledge and passion―by the author of the New York Times bestseller Parisians.
Beginning with the Roman army’s first recorded encounter with the Gauls and ending in the era of Emmanuel Macron, France takes readers on an endlessly entertaining journey through French history. Frequently hilarious, always surprising, Graham Robb’s France combines the stylistic versatility of a novelist with the deep understanding of a scholar.
Robb’s own adventures and discoveries while living, working, and traveling in France connect this tour through space and time with on-the-ground experience. There are scenes of wars and revolutions from the plains of Provence to the slums and boulevards of Paris. Robb conveys with wit and precision what it felt like to look over the shoulder of a young Louis XIV as he planned the vast garden of Versailles, and the dangerous thrill of having a ringside seat at the French revolution. Some of the protagonists may be familiar, but appear here in a very different light ― Caesar, Charlemagne, Louis XIV, Napoleon Bonaparte, General Charles de Gaulle.
This extraordinary narrative is the fruit of decades of research and thirty thousand miles on a self-propelled, two-wheeled time machine (a bicycle). Even seasoned Francophiles will wonder if they really know that terra incognita on the edge of Europe that is currently referred to as “France.”
Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside them? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them? Based on the hit podcast Cults, this is essential reading for any true crime fan.
Cults prey on the very attributes that make us human: our desire to belong; to find a deeper meaning in life; to live everyday with divine purpose. Their existence creates a sense that any one of us, at any time, could step off the cliff’s edge and fall into that daunting abyss of manipulation and unhinged dedication to a misplaced cause. Perhaps it’s this mindset that keeps us so utterly obsessed and desperate to learn more, or it’s that the stories are so bizarre and unsettling that we are simply in awe of the mechanics that make these infamous groups tick.
The premier storytelling podcast studio Parcast has been focusing on unearthing these mechanics — the cult leaders and followers, and the world and culture that gave birth to both. Parcast’s work in analyzing dozens of case studies has revealed patterns: distinct ways that cult leaders from different generations resemble one another. What links the ten notorious figures profiled in Cults are as disturbing as they are stunning — from Manson to Applewhite, Koresh to Raël, the stories woven here are both spellbinding and disturbing.
Cults is more than just a compilation of grisly biographies, however. In these pages, Parcast’s founder Max Cutler and national bestselling author Kevin Conley look closely at the lives of some of the most disreputable cult figures and tell the stories of their rise to power and fall from grace, sanity, and decency. Beyond that, it is a study of humanity, an unflinching look at what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated and how the things we hold most sacred can be twisted into the lowest form of malevolence.
Singer. Actress. Beauty. Spy. During WW2, Josephine Baker, the world’s richest and most glamorous entertainer, was an Allied spy in Occupied France. This is the story of her heroic personal resistance to Nazi Germany.
Prior to World War II, Josephine Baker was a music hall diva renowned for her singing and dancing, her beauty and sexuality; she was the most highly-paid female performer in Europe. When the Nazis seized her adopted city, Paris, she was banned from the stage, along with all ‘negroes and Jews’. Yet, instead of returning to America, she vowed to stay and to fight the Nazi evil. Overnight she went from performer to Resistance spy.
In Agent Josephine best-selling author Damien Lewis uncovers this little known history of the famous singer’s life. During the years of the war, as a member of the French Nurse paratroopers — a cover for her spying work — she participated in numerous clandestine activities and emerged as formidable spy. In turn, she was a hero of the three countries in whose name she served: the US, the nation of her birth; France, the land that embraced her during her adult career; and Britain, the country from which she took her orders, as one of London’s most closely-guarded special agents. Baker’s secret war embodies a tale of unbounded courage, passion, devotion and sacrifice, and of deep and bitter tragedy, fueled by her own desire to combat the rise of Nazism, and to fight for all that is good and right in the world.
Drawing on a plethora of new historical material and rigorous research, including previously undisclosed letters and journals, Lewis upends the conventional story of Josephine Baker, revealing that her mark on history went far beyond the confines of the stage.
Before Charles Manson, there was Tony Costa ― the serial killer of Cape Cod
1969: The hippie scene is vibrant in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Long-haired teenagers roam the streets, strumming guitars and preaching about peace and love…and Tony Costa is at the center of it all. To a certain group of smitten young women, he is known as Sire ― the leader of their counter-culture movement, the charming man who speaks eloquently and hands out hallucinogenic drugs like candy. But beneath his benign persona lies a twisted and uncontrollable rage that threatens to break loose at any moment. Tony Costa is the most dangerous man on Cape Cod, and no one who crosses his path is safe.
When young women begin to disappear, Costa’s natural charisma and good looks initially protect him from suspicion. But as the bodies are discovered, the police close in on him as the key suspect. Meanwhile, local writers Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer are locked in a desperate race to secure their legacies as great literary icons ― and they both set their sights on Tony Costa and the drug-soaked hippie culture that he embodies as their next promising subject, launching independent investigations that stoke the competitive fires between two of the greatest American writers.
Immersive, unflinching, and shocking, Helltown is a landmark true crime narrative that transports us back to the turbulent late 1960s, reveals the secrets of a notorious serial killer, and unspools the threads connecting Costa, Vonnegut, and Mailer in the seaside city that played host to horrors unlike any ever seen before. New York Times bestselling author Casey Sherman has crafted a stunner.
Renowned historian John Sweet offers a riveting Revolutionary Era drama of the first published rape trial in American history and its long, shattering aftermath, revealing how much has changed over two centuries ― and how much has not.
On a moonless night in the summer of 1793 a crime was committed in the back room of a New York brothel ― the kind of crime that even victims usually kept secret. Instead, seventeen-year-old seamstress Lanah Sawyer did what virtually no one in US history had done before: she charged a gentleman with rape.
Her accusation sparked a raw courtroom drama and a relentless struggle for vindication that threatened both Lanah’s and her assailant’s lives. The trial exposed a predatory sexual underworld, sparked riots in the streets, and ignited a vigorous debate about class privilege and sexual double standards. The ongoing conflict attracted the nation’s top lawyers, including Alexander Hamilton, and shaped the development of American law. The crime and its consequences became a kind of parable about the power of seduction and the limits of justice. Eventually, Lanah Sawyer did succeed in holding her assailant accountable ― but at a terrible cost to herself.
Based on rigorous historical detective work, this book takes us from a chance encounter in the street into the sanctuaries of the city’s elite, the shadows of its brothels, and the despair of its debtors’ prison. The Sewing Girl’s Tale shows that if our laws and our culture were changed by a persistent young woman and the power of words two hundred years ago, they can be changed again.
Obsessive was, still is, my natural state, and I never wondered why. I didn’t mind, didn’t know that other people could feel at peace. I always felt like a raw nerve, but then, I thought that everyone did.
Writer and journalist Marianne Eloise was born obsessive. What that means changes day to day, depending on what her brain latches onto: fixations with certain topics, intrusive violent thoughts, looping phrases. Some obsessions have lasted a lifetime, while others will be intense but only last a week or two.
Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking is a culmination of a life spent obsessing, offering a glimpse into Marianne’s brain, but also an insight into the lives of others like her. From death to Medusa, to Disneyland to fire, to LA to her dog, the essays explore the intersection of neurodivergence, fixation and disorder, telling the story of one life underpinned and ultimately made whole by obsession.
The modern romance novel is elevated to a subject of serious study in this addictively readable biography of pioneering celebrity author Elinor Glyn.
Unlike typical romances, which end with wedding bells, Elinor Glyn’s (1864–1943) story really began after her marriage up the social ladder and into the English gentry class in 1892. Born in the Channel Islands, Elinor Sutherland, like most Victorian women, aspired only to a good match. But when her husband, Clayton Glyn, gambled their fortune away, she turned to her pen and boldly challenged the era’s sexually straightjacketed literary code with her notorious succes de scandale, Three Weeks (1907). An intensely erotic tale about an unhappily married woman’s sexual education of her young lover, the novel got Glyn banished from high society but went on to sell millions, revealing a deep yearning for a fuller account of sexual passion than permitted by the British aristocracy or the Anglo-American literary establishment.
In elegant prose, Hilary A. Hallett traces Glyn’s meteoric rise from a depressed society darling to a world-renowned celebrity author who consorted with world leaders from St. Petersburg to Cairo to New York. After reporting from the trenches during World War I, the author was lured by American movie producers from Paris to Los Angeles for her remarkable third act. Weaving together years of deep archival research, Hallett movingly conveys how Glyn, more than any other individual during the Roaring Twenties, crafted early Hollywood’s glamorous romantic aesthetic. She taught the screen’s greatest leading men to make love in ways that set audiences aflame, and coined the term “It Girl,” which turned actress Clara Bow into the symbol of the first sexual revolution.
With Inventing The It Girl, Hallett has done nothing less than elevate the origins of the modern romance genre to a subject of serious study. In doing so, she has also reclaimed the enormous influence of one of Anglo-America’s most significant cultural tastemakers while revealing Glyn’s life to have been as sensational as any of the characters she created on the page or screen. The result is a groundbreaking portrait of a courageous icon of independence who encouraged future generations to chase their desires wherever they might lead.
An Alexander Hamilton heir, a beautiful female con artist, an abandoned baby, and the shocking courtroom drama that was splashed across front pages from coast to coast — this is the fascinating true story behind one of the greatest scandals of the Gilded Age…
It’s a story almost too tawdry to be true — a con woman prostitute who met the descendant of a Founding Father in a brothel, duped him into marriage using an infant purchased from a baby farm, then went to prison for stabbing the couple’s baby nurse — all while in a common-law marriage with another man. The scandal surrounding Evangeline and Robert Ray Hamilton, though little known today, was one of the sensations of the Gilded Age, a sordid, gripping tale involving bigamy, bribery, sex, and violence.
When the salacious Hamilton story emerged in during Eva’s trial for the August 1889 stabbing, it commanded unprecedented national and international newspaper coverage thanks to the telegraph and the recently founded Associated Press. For the New York dailies, eager to capture readers through provocative headlines, Ray and Eva were a godsend.
As lurid details emerged, the public’s fascination grew — how did a man of Hamilton’s stature become entangled with such an adventuress? Nellie Bly, the world-famous investigative reporter, finagled an exclusive interview with Eva after her conviction. Hamilton’s death under mysterious circumstances, a year after the stabbing, added to the intrigue.
Through personal correspondence, court records, and sensational newspaper accounts, The Scandalous Hamiltons explores not only the full, riveting saga of ill-fated Ray and Eva, but the rise of tabloid journalism and celebrity in a story that is both a fascinating slice of pop culture history and a timeless tale of ambition, greed, and obsession.
The accusations. The suspicions. The devastating impact. This is the true story of the Devils of the Bassa Modenese ― the most notorious Satanic Panic investigation in the history of Italy.
In 1997 a six-year-old boy questioned by authorities relayed disturbing stories of abuse. The more he talked, the more people were implicated in his shocking revelations. And he was only the first child to come forward.
Within a year, fifteen more children with similar tales were transferred out of the Bassa region of Italy to protected locations. Their parents were accused of belonging to a satanic sect that performed sex rituals under the aegis of beloved local priest Don Giorgio Govoni. With each child’s confession, the network of monsters grew. Families were torn apart. Lives were forever destroyed ― and some ended ― as allegations of kidnapping, torture, sacrifice, and murder escalated beyond comprehension.
But what was really happening in the Bassa Modenese?
In this gripping account of the Satanic Panic of the 1990s, investigative journalist Pablo Trincia returns to the scene of the crimes to find the answer. And the truth he uncovers is as terrifying as the lies.
The only biography of one of the most controversial models of the Pre-Raphaelite art scene.
Fanny Cornforth was a Victorian supermodel whose face epitomized the vision and life of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In their twenty-five years together, she played many parts from muse, medium, and lover to housekeeper and nurse. Because of her care of the artist, he was able to create some of the best-known and celebrated artworks of the nineteenth century. Upon his death, however, Fanny became an outcast, accused of stealing, lying, and even murder. Her journey from rural poverty to celebrated beauty gave her a life she could never have dreamed of, but her choice of love above security saw her end her days in an asylum.
Stunner separates the truth from the lies in telling the life story of one of the most infamous women of Bohemian London, from canvas to asylum.
A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor — including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother — and how she retook control of her life.
Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail — just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.
Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.
A deeply compelling exploration of the death industry and the people ― morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, executioners ― who work in it and what led them there.
We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what we’re so afraid of, when we are never given the chance to look?
Fueled by a childhood fascination with death, journalist Hayley Campbell searches for answers in the people who make a living by working with the dead. Along the way, she encounters mass fatality investigators, embalmers, and a former executioner who is responsible for ending sixty-two lives. She meets gravediggers who have already dug their own graves, visits a cryonics facility in Michigan, goes for late-night Chinese with a homicide detective, and questions a man whose job it is to make crime scenes disappear.
Through Campbell’s incisive and candid interviews with these people who see death every day, she asks: Why would someone choose this kind of life? Does it change you as a person? And are we missing something vital by letting death remain hidden? A dazzling work of cultural criticism, All The Living and The Dead weaves together reportage with memoir, history, and philosophy, to offer readers a fascinating look into the psychology of Western death.
A moving, unflinching memoir of hard-won success, struggles with addiction, and a lifelong mission to give back — from the late iconic actor beloved for his roles in The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and Lovecraft Country.
When Michael K. Williams died on September 6, 2021, he left behind a career as one of the most electrifying actors of his generation. From his star turn as Omar Little in The Wire to Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire to Emmy-nominated roles in HBO’s The Night Of and Lovecraft Country, Williams inhabited a slew of indelible roles that he portrayed with a rawness and vulnerability that leapt off the screen. Beyond the nominations and acclaim, Williams played characters who connected, whose humanity couldn’t be denied, whose stories were too often left out of the main narrative.
At the time of his death, Williams had nearly finished a memoir that tells the story of his past while looking to the future, a book that merges his life and his life’s work. Mike, as his friends knew him, was so much more than an actor. In Scenes From My Life, he traces his life in whole, from his childhood in East Flatbush and his early years as a dancer to his battles with addiction and the bar fight that left his face with his distinguishing scar. He was a committed Brooklyn resident and activist who dedicated his life to working with social justice organizations and his community, especially in helping at-risk youth find their voice and carve out their future. Williams worked to keep the spotlight on those he fought for and with, whom he believed in with his whole heart.
Imbued with poignance and raw honesty, Scenes From My Life is the story of a performer who gave his all to everything he did — in his own voice, in his own words, as only he could.
For readers of Prairie Fires and The Peabody Sisters, a fascinating, insightful biography of the most famous sister novelists before the Brontës.
Before the Brontë sisters picked up their pens, or Jane Austen’s heroines Elizabeth and Jane Bennet became household names, the literary world was celebrating a different pair of sisters: Jane and Anna Maria Porter. The Porters – exact contemporaries of Jane Austen – were brilliant, attractive, self-made single women of polite reputation who between them published 26 books and achieved global fame. They socialized among the rich and famous, tried to hide their family’s considerable debt, and fell dramatically in and out of love. Their moving letters to each other confess every detail. Because the celebrity sisters expected their renown to live on, they preserved their papers, and the secrets they contained, for any biographers to come.
But history hasn’t been kind to the Porters. Credit for their literary invention was given to their childhood friend, Sir Walter Scott, who never publicly acknowledged the sisters’ works as his inspiration. With Scott’s more prolific publication and even greater fame, the Porter sisters gradually fell from the pinnacle of celebrity to eventual obscurity. Now, Professor Devoney Looser, a Guggenheim fellow in English Literature, sets out to re-introduce the world to the authors who cleared the way for Austen, Mary Shelley, and the Brontë sisters.
Capturing the Porter sisters’ incredible rise, from when Anna Maria published her first book at age 14 in 1793, through to Jane’s fall from the pinnacle of fame in the Victorian era, and then to the auctioning off for a pittance of the family’s massive archive, Sister Novelists is a groundbreaking and enthralling biography of two pioneering geniuses in historical fiction.
Dispelling the myths around this legendary queen, this biography of Henrietta Maria, queen consort of King Charles I, retells the dramatic story of the English Civil War from the perspective of this dynamic woman.
Henrietta Maria is British history’s most reviled queen consort. Condemned in her lifetime as the “Popish brat of France,” an adulteress, and a traitor, she remains in popular memory the wife who wore the breeches in her marriage, the woman who turned her husband Catholic (and so caused the English Civil War), and a cruel and bigoted mother.
This clear-eyed biography unpicks the myths and considers the story from Henrietta Maria’s point of view. A portrait emerges of a woman whose closest friends included Puritans as well as Catholics, who crossed swords with Cardinal Richelieu, and led the anti-Spanish faction at the English court. A witty conversationalist, Henrietta Maria was a patron of the arts and a champion of the female voice, as well as a mediatrix for her persecuted fellow Catholics.
During the civil war, the queen’s enemies agreed that Charles would never have survived as long as he did without the “She Generalissimo.” Seeing events through her gaze reveals the truth behind the claims that she caused the war, explains her estrangement from her son Henry, and diminishes the image of the Restoration queen as an irrelevant crone. In fact, Henrietta Maria rose from the ashes of her husband’s failures — a “phoenix queen” — presiding over a court judged to have had “more mirth” even than that of the Merry Monarch, Charles II.
It is time to look again at this often-criticized queen and determine if she is not, in fact, one of British history’s most remarkable women.
New York Times bestselling author and Edgar Award-winner Daniel Stashower returns with American Demon, a historical true crime starring legendary lawman Eliot Ness.
Boston had its Strangler. California had the Zodiac Killer. And in the depths of the Great Depression, Cleveland had the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.
On September 5th, 1934, a young beachcomber made a gruesome discovery on the shores of Cleveland’s Lake Erie: the lower half of a female torso, neatly severed at the waist. The victim, dubbed “The Lady of the Lake,” was only the first of a butcher’s dozen. Over the next four years, twelve more bodies would be scattered across the city. The bodies were dismembered with surgical precision and drained of blood. Some were beheaded while still alive.
Terror gripped the city. Amid the growing uproar, Cleveland’s besieged mayor turned to his newly-appointed director of public safety: Eliot Ness. Ness had come to Cleveland fresh from his headline-grabbing exploits in Chicago, where he and his band of “Untouchables” led the frontline assault on Al Capone’s bootlegging empire. Now he would confront a case that would redefine his storied career.
Award-winning author Daniel Stashower shines a fresh light on one of the most notorious puzzles in the annals of crime, and uncovers the gripping story of Ness’s hunt for a sadistic killer who was as brilliant as he was cool and composed, a mastermind who was able to hide in plain sight. American Demon reconstructs this ultimate battle of wits between a hero and a madman.
Sex, corruption, and power: the rise and fall of the Red Widow of Paris.
Paris, 1889: Margeurite Steinheil is a woman with ambition. But having been born into a middle-class family and trapped in a marriage to a failed artist twenty years her senior, she knows her options are limited.
Determined to fashion herself into a new woman, Meg orchestrates a scandalous plan with her most powerful resource: her body. Amid the dazzling glamor, art, and romance of bourgeois Paris, she takes elite men as her lovers, charming her way into the good graces of the rich and powerful. Her ambitions, though, go far beyond becoming the most desirable woman in Paris; at her core, she is a woman determined to conquer French high society. But the game she plays is a perilous one: navigating misogynistic double-standards, public scrutiny, and political intrigue, she is soon vaulted into infamy in the most dangerous way possible.
A real-life femme fatale, Meg influences government positions and resorts to blackmail ― and maybe even poisoning ― to get her way. Leaving a trail of death and disaster in her wake, she earns the name the “Red Widow” for mysteriously surviving a home invasion that leaves both her husband and mother dead. With the police baffled and the public enraged, Meg breaks every rule in the bourgeois handbook and becomes the most notorious woman in Paris.
An unforgettable true account of sex, scandal, and murder, The Red Widow is the story of a woman determined to rise ― at any cost.
Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo investigates the notorious 1922 double murder of a high-society minister and his secret mistress, a Jazz Age mega-crime that propelled tabloid news in the 20th century.
On September 16, 1922, the bodies of Reverend Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills were found beneath a crabapple tree on an abandoned farm outside of New Brunswick, New Jersey. The killer had arranged the bodies in a pose conveying intimacy.
The murder of Hall, a prominent clergyman whose wife, Frances Hall, was a proud heiress with illustrious ancestors and ties to the Johnson & Johnson dynasty, would have made headlines on its own. But when authorities identified Eleanor Mills as a choir singer from his church married to the church sexton, the story shocked locals and sent the scandal ricocheting around the country, fueling the nascent tabloid industry. This provincial double murder on a lonely lover’s lane would soon become one of the most famous killings in American history — a veritable crime of the century.
The bumbling local authorities failed to secure any indictments, however, and it took a swashbuckling crusade by the editor of a circulation-hungry Hearst tabloid to revive the case and bring it to trial at last.
Blood & Ink freshly chronicles what remains one of the most electrifying but forgotten murder mysteries in U.S. history. It also traces the birth of American tabloid journalism, pandering to the masses with sordid tales of love, sex, money, and murder.
Greg King and Penny Wilson turn the original crime of the century on its head in Nothing But The Night, a riveting new exploration of the murder trial of Leopold and Loeb.
Nearly a hundred years ago, two wealthy and privileged teenagers ― Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb ― were charged and convicted in a gruesome crime that would lead to the original “Trial of the Century”. Even in Jazz Age Chicago, the murder was uniquely shocking for the motive of the killers: well-to-do Jewish scions, full of promise, had killed fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks for the thrill of it. The trial was made even more sensational by the revelation of a love affair between the defendants and by defense attorney Clarence Darrow, who delivered one of the most famous defense summations of all time to save the boys from the death penalty. The story of their mad folie a deux, with Loeb portrayed as the psychopathic mastermind and Leopold as his infatuated disciple, has been endlessly repeated and accepted by history as fact. And none of it is true.
Using twenty-first century investigative tools, forensics, and a modern understanding of the psychology of these infamous killers, Nothing But The Night turns history on its head. While Loeb has long been viewed as the architect behind the murders, King and Wilson’s new research points to Leopold as the dominant partner in the deadly relationship, uncovering a dark obsession with violence and sex.
Nothing But The Night pulls readers into the troubled world of Leopold and Loeb, revealing a more horrifying tale of passion, obsession, and betrayal than history ever imagined.
From the winner of the Edgar Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize, a cultural history of “everyday madness”
The Book of Phobias and Manias is a thrilling compendium of 99 obsessions that have shaped us all, the rare and the familiar, from ablutophobia (a horror of washing) to syllogomania (a compulsion to hoard) to zoophobia (a fear of animals).
Phobias and manias are deeply personal experiences, and among the most common anxiety disorders of our time, but they are also clues to our shared past. The award-winning author Kate Summerscale uses rich and riveting case studies to trace the origins of our obsessions, unearthing a history of human strangeness, from the middle ages to the present day, and a wealth of explanations for some of our most powerful aversions and desires.
Acclaimed crime historian, podcaster, and author of American Sherlock Kate Winkler Dawson tells the thrilling story of Edward Rulloff — a serial murderer who was called “too intelligent to be killed” — and the array of 19th century investigators who were convinced his brain held the key to finally understanding the criminal mind.
Edward Rulloff was a brilliant yet utterly amoral murderer — some have called him a “Victorian-era Hannibal Lecter” — whose crimes spanned decades and whose victims were chosen out of revenge, out of envy, and sometimes out of necessity. From his humble beginnings in upstate New York to the dazzling salons and social life he established in New York City, at every turn Rulloff used his intelligence and regal bearing to evade detection and avoid punishment. He could talk his way out of any crime…until one day, Rulloff’s luck ran out.
By 1871 Rulloff sat chained in his cell — a psychopath holding court while curious 19th-century “mindhunters” tried to understand what made him tick. From alienists (early psychiatrists who tried to analyze the source of his madness) to neurologists (who wanted to dissect his brain) to phrenologists (who analyzed the bumps on his head to determine his character), each one thought he held the key to understanding the essential question: is evil born or made? Eventually, Rulloff’s brain would be placed in a jar at Cornell University as the prize specimen of their anatomy collection…where it still sits today, slowly moldering in a dusty jar. But his story — and its implications for the emerging field of criminal psychology — were just beginning.
Expanded from season one of her hit podcast on the Exactly Right network (7 million downloads and growing), in All That Is Wicked Kate Winkler Dawson draws on hundreds of source materials and never-before-shared historical documents to present one of the first glimpses into the mind of a serial killer — a century before the term was coined — through the scientists whose work would come to influence criminal justice for decades to come.
The incredible story of a 1958 murder that ended with the last woman to ever be executed in California — a murder so twisted it seems ripped from a Greek tragedy.
Deborah Larkin was only ten years old when the quiet calm of her California suburb was shattered. Thirty miles north, on a quiet November night in Santa Barbara, a pregnant nurse named Olga Duncan disappeared from her apartment. The mystery deepens when it is discovered that Olga’s mother in-law — a deeply manipulative and deceptive woman — had been doing everything in her power to separate Olga and her son, Frank, prior to Olga’s disappearance.
From a forged annulment to multiple attempts to hire people to “get rid” of Olga, to a faked excoriation case, Elizabeth seemed psychopathically attached to her son. Yet she denied having anything to do with Olga’s disappearance with a smile.
But when Olga’s brutally beaten body is found in a shallow grave, apparently buried alive, a young DA makes it his mission to see that Elizabeth Duncan is brought to justice. Adding a wrinkle to his efforts is the fact that Frank — himself a defense attorney — maintained his mother’s innocence to the end.
How does a young girl process such a crime along with the fear and disbelief that rocked an entire community? Decades later, Larkin is determined to revisit the case and bring the story of Olga herself to light. Long overshadowed by the sensationalism and scandal of Elizabeth and Frank, A Lovely Girl seeks to reveal Olga as a woman in full. Someone who was more than the twisted family that would ultimately ensnare her.
As we follow the heart-pounding drama of the case through Larkin’s young eyes — her father was the court reporter — A Lovely Girl is by turns page-turning yet poignant, and makes the reader reexamine how we handle fear, how we regard mental illness, and how we understand family as we carve our own path in a dangerous world.
A stunning counternarrative of the legendary abolitionist Grimke sisters that finally reclaims the forgotten Black members of their family.
The Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, have been highly revered figures in American history, lauded for leaving behind their lives as elite, slave-owning women on a plantation in South Carolina to become firebrand abolitionists in the North. Yet the focus on their story has obscured the experiences of their Black relatives, the progeny of their brother, Henry, and one of the enslaved people he owned, a woman named Nancy Weston. In The Grimkes, award-winning historian Kerri K. Greenidge recovers the larger Grimke clan, demonstrating that the Black Grimke women ― including Angelina Weld Grimke and Charlotte Forten ― created a vast network of friends, kin, and lovers as they reimagined Blackness and womanhood in terms far more radical than their white relatives would have allowed.
A stunning counternarrative, The Grimkes shows that, just as the Hemingses and Jeffersons personified the racial myths of America’s founding generation, the Grimkes embodied the legacy ― both traumatic and generative ― of those myths.
A rich exploration of the importance of books and libraries in the ancient world that highlights how humanity’s obsession with the printed word has echoed throughout the ages — from one of Spain’s most celebrated authors.
Long before books were mass-produced, scrolls hand-copied on reeds pulled from the Nile were the treasures of the ancient world. Emperors and Pharaohs were so determined to possess them that they dispatched emissaries to the edges of earth to bring them back. When Mark Antony wanted to impress Cleopatra, he knew that gold and priceless jewels would mean nothing to her. So, what did her give her? Books for her library — 200,000 in fact. The long and eventful history of the written word shows that books have always been and always will be a precious — and precarious — vehicle for civilization.
Papyrus is the story of the book’s journey from oral tradition to scrolls to codices, and how that transition laid the very foundation of Western culture. Luminous and brilliantly discursive, award-winning author Irene Vallejo evokes the great mosaic of literature in the ancient world from Greece’s itinerant bards to Rome’s multimillionaire philosophers, from opportunistic forgers to cruel teachers, erudite librarians to defiant women, all the while illuminating how ancient ideas about education, censorship, authority, and identity still resonate today. Crucially, Vallejo also draws connections to our own time, from the library in war-torn Sarajevo to Oxford’s underground labyrinth, underscoring how words have persisted as our most valuable creations.
Through nimble interpretations of the classics, playful and moving anecdotes about her own encounters with the written word, and fascinating stories from history, Vallejo weaves a marvellous tapestry of Western culture’s foundations and identifies the humanist values that helped make us who we are today. At its heart a spirited love letter to language itself, Papyrus takes readers on a journey across the centuries to discover how a simple reed grown along the banks of the Nile would give birth to a rich and cherished culture.
From the host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking — called “a gift” by the New York Times — a raw and humorous essay collection in the spirit of Little Weirds and Everything Happens For A Reason.
Nora McInerny does not dance like no one is watching. In fact, she dances like everyone is watching, which is to say, she does not dance at all. As a bestselling author and host of the beloved podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, she has captured the hearts of millions by discussing grief and loss with wit and warmth. Now, with Bad Vibes Only, she turns her eye on our aggressively, oppressively optimistic culture, our obsession with self-improvement, and what it really means to live our lives online.
In a series of essays that span her childhood to present, Nora introduces us to her mind and her world while inviting us to more closely observe our own. We meet the people that challenge, question, and make Nora reflect on her own life, habits, and personality: her children, and their homework meltdowns, job searches, and online personalities; her college friend Kathleen, who now lives as a cloistered nun; and her uncle, a philosopher who has never used the internet (gasp!).
Bad Vibes Only is not only a response to a society that tells us to live, laugh, love — it’s a reminder that in a world where we are more connected to and observed by our peers than ever before, we still deserve the freedom to be ourselves.
In The Women of Rothschild, Natalie Livingstone reveals the role of women in shaping the legacy of the famous Rothschild dynasty, synonymous with wealth and power.
From the East End of London to the Eastern seaboard of the United States, from Spitalfields to Scottish castles, from Bletchley Park to Buchenwald, and from the Vatican to Palestine, Natalie Livingstone follows the extraordinary lives of the Rothschild women from the dawn of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twenty-first.
As Jews in a Christian society and women in a deeply patriarchal family, they were outsiders. Excluded from the family bank, they forged their own distinct dynasty of daughters and nieces, mothers and aunts. They became influential hostesses and talented diplomats, choreographing electoral campaigns, advising prime ministers, advocating for social reform, and trading on the stock exchange. Misfits and conformists, conservatives and idealists, performers and introverts, they mixed with everyone from Queen Victoria to Chaim Weizmann, Rossini to Isaiah Berlin, and the Duke of Wellington to Alec Guinness, as well as with amphetamine-dealers, suffragists and avant-garde artists. Rothschild women helped bring down ghetto walls in early nineteenth-century Frankfurt, inspired some of the most remarkable cultural movements of the Victorian period, and in the mid-twentieth century burst into America, where they patronized Thelonious Monk and drag-raced through Manhattan with Miles Davis.
Absorbing and compulsive, The Women of Rothschild gives voice to the complicated, privileged, and gifted women whose vision and tenacity shaped history.
A celebration of magical women and nonbinary people in American history, from Salem to WitchTok.
Meet the mystical women and nonbinary people from US history who found strength through the supernatural — and those who are still forging the way today. From the celebrity spirit mediums of the nineteenth century to contemporary activist witches hexing the patriarchy, these icons have long used magic and mysticism to seize the power they’re so often denied.
Organized around different approaches women in particular have taken to the occult over the decades — using the supernatural for political gain, seeking fame and fortune as spiritual practitioners, embracing their witchy identities, and more — this book shines a light on underappreciated magical pioneers, including:
● Dion Fortune, who tried to marshal a magical army against Adolf Hitler
● Bri Luna, the Hoodwitch, social media star and serious magical practitioner
● Joan Quigley, personal psychic to Nancy Reagan
● Marie Laveau, voodoo queen of New Orleans
● Elvira, queer goth sex symbol who defied the Satanic Panic
● And many more!
A gripping story of a family tragedy brought about by witch-hunting in Puritan New England that combines history, anthropology, sociology, politics, theology and psychology.
In Springfield, Massachusetts in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails, property vanishes, and people suffer convulsions as if possessed by demons. A woman is seen wading through the swamp like a lost soul. Disturbing dreams and visions proliferate. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics and the community becomes tangled in a web of distrust, resentment and denunciation. The finger of suspicion soon falls on a young couple with two small children: the prickly brickmaker, Hugh Parsons, and his troubled wife, Mary.
Drawing on rich, previously unexplored source material, Malcolm Gaskill vividly evokes a strange past, one where lives were steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in omens, curses and enchantments. The Ruin of All Witches captures an entire society caught in agonized transition between superstition and enlightenment, tradition and innovation.
This scintillating and glittery look at the darkly intertwined fates of infamous socialite Ann Woodward and literary icon Truman Capote sweeps us to the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society — where even the richest cannot escape murder and infamy.
When Ann Woodward shot her husband, banking heir Billy Woodward, in the middle of the night in 1955, her life changed forever. Though she claimed she thought he was a prowler, few believed the woman who had risen from charismatic showgirl to popular socialite. Everyone had something to say about the scorching scandal afflicting one of the most rich and famous families of New York City, but no one was more obsessed with the tale than Truman Capote.
Acclaimed for his bestselling nonfiction book In Cold Blood, Capote was looking for new material and followed the scandal from beginning to end. Like Ann, he too had ascended from nobody to toast of the town, but he always felt like an outsider, even among the exclusive coterie of high society women who adored him. He decided the story of Ann’s turbulent marriage would be the basis of his masterpiece — a novel about the dysfunction and sordid secrets revealed to him by his high society “swans” — never thinking that it would eventually lead to Ann’s suicide and his own scandalous downfall.
Page-turning and deliciously fascinating, Deliberate Cruelty is a haunting cross between true crime and literary history that is perfect for fans of Furious Hours, Empty Mansions, and Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil.
The world’s most renowned art forger reveals the secrets behind his decades of painting like the masters — exposing an art world that is far more corrupt than we ever knew while providing an art history lesson wrapped in sex, drugs, and Caravaggio.
The art world is a much dirtier, nastier business than you might expect. Tony Tetro, one of the most renowned art forgers in history, will make you question every masterpiece you’ve ever seen in a museum, gallery, or private collection. Tetro’s “Rembrandts,” “Caravaggios,” “Miros,” and hundreds of other works now hang on walls around the globe. In 2019, it was revealed that Prince Charles received into his collection a Picasso, Dali, Monet, and Chagall, insuring them for over 200 million pounds, only to later discover that they’re actually “Tetros.” And the kicker? In Tony’s words: “Even if some tycoon finds out his Rembrandt is a fake, what’s he going to do, turn it in? Now his Rembrandt just became motel art. Better to keep quiet and pass it on to the next guy. It’s the way things work for guys like me.” The Prince Charles scandal is the subject of a forthcoming feature documentary with Academy Award nominee Kief Davidson and coauthor Giampiero Ambrosi, in cooperation with Tetro.
Throughout Tetro’s career, his inimitable talent has been coupled with a reckless penchant for drugs, fast cars, and sleeping with other con artists. He was busted in 1989 and spent four years in court and one in prison. His voice — rough, wry, deeply authentic — is nothing like the high society he swanned around in, driving his Lamborghini or Ferrari, hobnobbing with aristocrats by day, and diving into debauchery when the lights went out. He’s a former furniture store clerk who can walk around in Caravaggio’s shoes, become Picasso or Monet, with an encyclopedic understanding of their paint, their canvases, their vision. For years, he hid it all in an unassuming California townhouse with a secret art room behind a full-length mirror. (Press #* on his phone and the mirror pops open.) Pairing up with coauthor Ambrosi, one of the investigative journalists who uncovered the 2019 scandal, Tetro unveils the art world in an epic, alluring, at times unbelievable, but all-true narrative.
A fascinating journey into the scientific and cultural history of the female butt, for fans of Mary Roach and Leslie Jamison.
Whether we love them or hate them, think they’re sexy, think they’re strange, consider them too big, too small, or anywhere in between, humans have a complicated relationship with butts. It is a body part unique to humans, critical to our evolution and survival, and yet it has come to signify so much more: sex, desire, comedy, shame. A woman’s butt, in particular, is forever being assessed, criticized, and objectified, from anxious self-examinations trying on jeans in department store dressing rooms to enduring crass remarks while walking down a street or high school hallways. But why? In Butts: A Backstory, reporter, essayist, and RadioLab contributing editor Heather Radke is determined to find out.
Spanning nearly two centuries, this vivid cultural history takes us from the performance halls of 19th-century London to the aerobics studios of the 1980s, the music video set of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and the mountains of Arizona, where every year humans and horses race in a feat of gluteal endurance. Along the way, she meets evolutionary biologists who study how butts first developed; models whose measurements have defined jean sizing for millions of women; and the fitness gurus who created fads like “Buns of Steel.” She also examines the central importance of race through figures like Sarah Bartmann, once known as the “Venus Hottentot,” Josephine Baker, Jennifer Lopez, and other women of color whose butts have been idolized, envied, and despised.
Part deep dive reportage, part personal journey, part cabinet of curiosities, Butts is an entertaining, illuminating, and thoughtful examination of why certain silhouettes come in and out of fashion — and how larger ideas about race, control, liberation, and power affect our most private feelings about ourselves and others.
A poignant and ruthlessly honest journey through cultural expectations of size, race, and gender — and toward a brighter future — from National Book Award nominee Evette Dionne.
My body has not betrayed me; it has continued rebounding against all odds. It is a body that others map their expectations on, but it has never let me down.
In this insightful, funny, and whip-smart book, acclaimed writer Evette Dionne explores the minefields fat Black woman are forced to navigate in the course of everyday life. From her early experiences of harassment to adolescent self-discovery in internet chatrooms to diagnosis with heart failure at age twenty-nine, Dionne tracks her relationships with friendship, sex, motherhood, agoraphobia, health, pop culture, and self-image.
Along the way, she lifts back the curtain to reveal the subtle, insidious forms of surveillance and control levied at fat women: At the doctor’s office, where any health ailment is treated with a directive to lose weight. On dating sites, where larger bodies are rejected or fetishized. On TV, where fat characters are asexual comedic relief. But Dionne’s unflinching account of our deeply held prejudices is matched by her fierce belief in the power of self-love.
An unmissable portrait of a woman on a journey toward understanding our society and herself, Weightless holds up a mirror to the world we live in and asks us to imagine the future we deserve.
Sarah Gristwood’s The Tudors In Love offers a brilliant history of the Tudor dynasty, showing how the rules of romantic courtly love irrevocably shaped the politics and international diplomacy of the period.
Why did Henry VIII marry six times? Why did Anne Boleyn have to die? Why did Elizabeth I’s courtiers hail her as a goddess come to earth?
The dramas of courtly love have captivated centuries of readers and dreamers. Yet too often they’re dismissed as something existing only in books and song – those old legends of King Arthur and chivalric fantasy.
Not so. In this ground-breaking history, Sarah Gristwood reveals the way courtly love made and marred the Tudor dynasty. From Henry VIII declaring himself as the ‘loyal and most assured servant’ of Anne Boleyn to the poems lavished on Elizabeth I by her suitors, the Tudors re-enacted the roles of the devoted lovers and capricious mistresses first laid out in the romances of medieval literature. The Tudors In Love dissects the codes of love, desire and power, unveiling romantic obsessions that have shaped the history of the world.