As with a number of his previous books, former Washington Post journalist Michael Dobbs again portrays a president confronting a grave crisis. This time it’s Richard Nixon. Dobbs focuses on the 100 days after Nixon’s triumphant second inauguration, a period in which the president, having just been re-elected by one of the largest landslides in American history, found himself in the middle of a constitutional crisis. Over those weeks, key figures in the Watergate scandal began to confess, the cover-up started to unravel, and Nixon’s eventual downfall was set in motion. Making deft use of many hours of now-public White House tapes and other material, Dobbs brings to life the full tragedy of Nixon through scene-by-scene reconstructions that form a vivid, riveting, fast-paced, and illuminating narrative.
Gordon-Reed’s brief yet panoramic survey of Texas history succeeds not only as scholarship and personal essay, but as a demonstration of how exposing the racism at the heart of the American saga can open fresh discussions and begin to heal painful legacies. Inserting her family history into the larger narrative that has excluded them, Gordon-Reed shows that being a Black Texan isn’t the contradiction in terms it might seem. In concise accounts of her state’s complicated relationships with the U.S., Mexico, and Indigenous peoples; its quest for independence; and the outsize figures who people its past—from Sam Houston and Jim Bowie to Quanah Parker, Iron Eyes Cody, and Billy Jack of the 1971 Loughlin film—Gordon-Reed expresses both affection for her difficuilt home and a historian’s faith that “observing the process of change over time”—such as the evolution of Juneteenth from private to public celebrations to a nationally recognized event, if not yet a national holiday—can positively affect the lives of the people living in its present and future.
While the strength of the United States as a global force is not a secret, historian Daniel Immerwahr lays bare the breadth and width of America’s might in How to Hide an Empire. His work explores the often extractive relationships of the United States with countries like Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines and how each of these contributed to this country's economic and political growth. He also touches on the tension between America’s expansion and the necessity of maintaining its benevolent image. Tracing a line from America’s birth to the present, Immerwahr’s work is both entertaining and sobering as he brings to light a side of America that is not often covered in history class but most certainly should be.