Geography & Travel
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide
to the World’s Hidden Wonders. By
Joshua Foer and others. Workman, $35
A sophisticated adult answer to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, this unusual atlas details wonders
of the natural world, architecture, sculptures,
museums, festivals, and general curiosities.
Health & Medicine
Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and
Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital.
By David Oshinsky. Doubleday, $30
Historian Oshinsky splendidly captures
the essence of nearly 300-year-old Bellevue
Hospital and its commitment to serving
those in need, especially immigrants and the
poor, infusing his account with the history
of American medicine, the growing pains of
New York City, and captivating characters.
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes within
Us and a Grander View of Life. By Ed Yong.
Ecco, $27.99 (9780062368591).
Yong casts light on the dazzling and dynamic, pliable and evolving menagerie of
microorganisms—known as the microbiome
or microbiota—that exists within every human being, keeping us healthy by supporting
the immune and digestive systems.
The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story
of the Indian Wars for the American
West. By Peter Cozzens. Knopf, $35
Cozzens offers a beautifully written and
compassionate account of the violent conquest of the trans-Mississippi West, examining
the various Indian tribes and subgroupings,
conveying their complexity and political divisions, and portraying significant figures, both
iconic and rarely remembered.
Millennium: From Religion to Revolution;
How Civilization Has Changed over a
Thousand Years. By Ian Mortimer. Pegasus,
In this stimulating historical inquiry, Mor-
timer tracks the transformations that turned
Europe from a feudal patchwork held to-
gether by the Catholic Church in the
eleventh century to a secular confederation
of nations united by international law, mass
communication, and cybertechnology in the
On Trails: An Exploration. By
Robert Moor. Simon & Schuster, $25
In this deeply informed study of the
nature and history of trail making, Moor
literally walks the walk, limning faint fossil trails on the Newfoundland coast and
hiking an old Cherokee trail along a North
Pumpkinflowers. By Matti Friedman.
Algonquin, $25.95 (9781616204587).
Friedman’s compelling narrative of what
he learned by serving in the late 1990s
as an Israeli soldier assigned to a vulnerable hilltop fortress in Lebanon, called the
Pumpkin, is freighted with explosive geopolitical implications.
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets.
By Svetlana Alexievich. Tr. by Bela Shayevich.
Random, $30 (9780399588808).
Nobel laureate Alexievich seeks understanding of the nuances of life in Russia under
Gorbachev and Putin by gathering a plethora of revealing remarks by onetime Soviet
citizens who now must adjust to life in a nonCommunist Russian nation.
Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern
World. By Steven Johnson. Riverhead, $30
In this “history of what we do for fun,”
popular PBS host Johnson goes back in time
to examine small moments of curiosity, serendipity, and delight that led to unexpected and
World War II: The Definitive Encyclopedia
and Document Collection. Ed. by Spencer
C. Tucker and Priscilla Roberts. ABC-CLIO,
Noted war historian Tucker has assembled
an outstanding five-volume set of more than
1,700 succinct entries and 241 primary
documents selected by Roberts, all covering
significant places, battles, key figures, and
weapons, while encompassing the cultural,
political, and social issues of the era.
George Washington. By Adam
Fitzgerald. Norton/Liveright, $25.95
With high-spirited virtuosity, Fitzgerald
invokes the name of the celebrated war hero,
founding father, and first president as emblematic of the kitsch and ephemera of life
in the U.S., combining a tallying of cultural
artifacts with keen social insights.
Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones.
By Lucia Perillo. Copper Canyon, $23
In this arresting and resonant collection of
new and selected poems, MacArthur fellow
Perillo boldly and imaginatively asks how can
we meet the demands of life while marveling
at the wonders all around us and seeking “
Science & Technology
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the
Harvard Observatory Took the Measure
of the Stars. By Dava Sobel. Viking, $30
Sobel offers a compelling and witty history
of the exceptionally gifted, long-overlooked
women who once worked in critical positions
I did not want to
accept the random
disorder of a world
without narrative. That
is what magic was for
me: meaning superimposed on chaos.
They had inquiring minds. They were voracious readers. They loved poetry,
and they loved to write. They were unpre-
tentious, and they conveyed a seriousness
of purpose that made them seem humor-
less, which was not the case. Both endured
ridicule––Murray for her boyish physique,
ER for her protruding teeth. They had pres-
ence and phenomenal energy.
From The Firebrand and the First Lady: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roo-
sevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice, by Patricia Bell-Scott.