Key American History Titles | Nonfiction Previews, May 2018

Abrams, Dan & David Fisher. Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency. Hanover Square: Harlequin. May 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781335424693. $26.99. HISTORY
The only case in a two-decades-long career for which we have an almost complete transcript, Abraham Lincoln’s last big trial before his run for the presidency was deeply personal: the victim, whom he had mentored, trained in his office, while the accused, whom he would defend, was the son of a close friend. In addition, losing the case would diminish the bright light cast on Lincoln after his success in debating Sen. Stephen Douglas. Abrams (Man Down), CEO of Abrams Media and the chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News, joins with New York Times best-selling author Fisher to tell the story. With an 80,000-copy first printing.

DeFelice, Jim. West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express. Morrow. May 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780062496768. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062496799. HISTORY
Conceived in 1860 as a means of getting mail across America despite the 1,500 miles of searing deserts, snow-glazed mountains, and understandably angry Indians dominating the American West, the Pony Express delivered tens of thousands of letters in lightning-fast time and quickly became a part of America’s mythology. It lasted barely two years (the telegraph took over), but it was a glorious demonstration of American vitality. Coauthor of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling American Sniper and author of several thriller series, DeFelice traveled the route of the Pony Express and raked through numerous primary sources to tell the story. With a 75,000-copy first printing; originally scheduled for July 2017.

Guthman, Edwin O. & C. Richard Allen, eds. RFK: His Words for Our Times. Morrow. May 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780062834102. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062834119. HISTORY
Published 25 years after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, RFK: Collected Speeches here receives a thorough reediting and updating to honor the 50th anniversary of his death. Along with the speeches, commentary about Kennedy’s legacy from major historians and public figures, from Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to Elie Wiesel and Desmond Tutu.

Lewis, David Levering. The Improbable Wendell Willkie: The Businessman Who Saved the Republican Party and His Country, and Conceived a New World Order. Liveright: Norton. May 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780871404572 . $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631493744. HISTORY
A Pulitzer Prize winner for each volume of his monumental W.E.B. Du Bois biography, Lewis refines our perception of Wendell Willkie, the Republican candidate for president in 1940. Not only was Willkie an opponent of isolationism and the first presidential candidate to speak before the NAACP but he advocated the bipartisanship sorely in need today.

Roker, Al. Ruthless Tide: The Tragic Epic of the Johnstown Flood. Morrow. May 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780062445513. $28.99. lrg. prnt. HISTORY
The winner of 13 Emmys, mostly for his work on NBC’s Today show, New York Times best-selling author Roker (The Storm of the Century) returns to the topic of David McCullough’s 1968 book, The Johnstown Flood. That flood was set off in 1889 when a foot of rain fell in a day, swelling the Little Conemaugh River in Pennsylvania, which eventually breached the South Fork Dam. More than 2,200 people were killed in what remains the deadliest flood in U.S. history. With a 50,000-copy first printing; originally scheduled for August 2017.

Stark, Peter. Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father. Ecco. May 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780062416063. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780062416087. HISTORY
In the 1750s, a callow, emotionally volatile George Washington learned valuable lessons while fighting for the British in the Ohio valley. Extreme weather taught him resilience, leading troops taught him to put comradeship above ambition, and negotiating military strategies with British and colonial allies taught him diplomacy. From the author of the New York Times best-selling Astoria; with a 200,000-copy first printing.

Wren, Christopher S. Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom: Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys and the American Revolution. S. & S. May 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781416599555. $26. HISTORY
Former New York Times reporter/editor Wren blows holes in our sunny, school-days image of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont, shown by archival research to be more opportunistic than patriotic. In fact, Allen never served in the Continental Army—George Washington refused to give him troops—and tried to capture Montreal despite orders to desist from the commanding general. A chance to consider what patriotism really means.

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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