Albright, King, Moore, Pardlo, & Snyder | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Apr. 2018

Albright, Madeleine. Fascism: A Warning. Harper. Apr. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780062802187. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062802231. lrg. prnt. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Having grown up in Czechoslovakia under the Nazi and Communist regimes, former Secretary of State Albright can give context to her discussion of the rise of reactionary tendencies in the world today, from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Marine Le Pen, Brexit, and Donald Trump. Here she explains why these views are bursting forth, how they can be countered, and what the consequences will be if they aren’t. With a 150,000-copy first printing; a ten-city tour to Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami/Palm Beach, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

King, Gilbert. Beneath a Ruthless Sun. Riverhead. Apr. 2018. 416p. ISBN 9780399183386. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780399183430. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. HISTORY
King follows up his Pulitzer Prize–winning The Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America with a narrative of sex, race, and corruption in 1957 Florida that must be read to be believed. The rape of a wealthy citrus grower’s wife led to the arrest of several African Americans by the county’s virulently racist sheriff, who quickly (and inexplicably) released them and turned his attention to Jesse Daniels, a sweet-natured white teenager with the mental capacity of a ten-year-old. That’s when journalist Mabel Norris Reese enters the picture, and the conspiracy she finally uncovers is twisted indeed.

Moore, Lorrie. See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary. Knopf. Apr. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9781524732486. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781524732493. ESSAYS/LITERATURE
Famed especially for her short fiction—she’s won the Rea Award for outstanding achievement in the genre—and the author of novels like the Pen/Faulkner finalist A Gate at the Stairs, Moore offers her first-ever collection of prose pieces, published over the last three decades in places like the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and Harper’s magazine. She considers the art of fiction and its connection to life by reflecting on favorite authors (e.g., Alice Munro, Don DeLillo), addresses crucial issues like racial inequality, the environment, and terrorism, entertains us with diversions into celebrity marriage and television, and more.

Pardlo, Gregory. Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America. Knopf. Apr. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781524731762. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781524731779. Downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR
After winning the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize for his poetry collection, Totem, Pardlo followed up with Digest and won the Pulitzer Prize. So expect only the best writing from this memoir about a father’s legacy, a son’s struggles, and the burdens of African American manhood. Pardlo’s middle-class African American family was reasonably well off until his father lost his job after participating in the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Strike of 1981 and sank into addiction. Greg Jr. wended his way from marine boot camp to college (several tries) to alcohol before love and parenthood set him straight. Excerpted earlier this year on

Snyder, Timothy. The Origins of Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America. Tim Duggan: Crown. Apr. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9780525574460. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525574484. Downloadable: Random Audio. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Celebrated for books like On Tyranny and Bloodlands, the multi-award-winning Snyder builds on his considerable knowledge of Eastern Europe and the Holocaust to explore the return of authoritarianism today, starting with Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power in Russia. Since then, as he chronicles here, authoritarian tendencies have moved west to Poland and Hungary and have cast a shadow on recent events in the United States and the United Kingdom, where deep-seated liberal values are being challenged. Especially relevant as President Trump’s ties to Russia are more closely examined, and fruitfully read with Madeleine Albright’s Fascism (see above).

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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