Nonfiction Favs for May

American Heroes, Edmund S. Morgan

From his Pulitzer-winning work on Benjamin Franklin to this expansive review of men and women who created early America, Morgan has provided readers with a rich historical understanding of events that have shaped lives today. Each chapter in Morgan’s latest is one of a group of essays written over a 50-year span chronicling early explorers, Native Americans, Puritans, Quakers, and revolutionary leaders. At age 93, Morgan continues to consider past lives and offers thoughtful arguments as to their influence on politics and religion in this unique country. – Sue Fleming, Norton, $27.95

Columbine, Dave Cullen

Cullen has been following the tragedy at Columbine since the day it happened. He recounts the movements of the killers on that grisly day, and then digs deep into the stories of all those involved. Mis-reporting, myths and gossip drove the story for a very long time, and some of that still exists in the world, but Cullen very carefully peels all of that away and leaves the reader with a clear and disturbing picture. His reporting will change the way we look at and deal with these terrible events, and might even prevent a future catastrophe. – Margaret Brennan Neville, Hachette, $26.99

The Food of a Younger Land, Mark Kurlansky

In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt offered work and self-respect to millions of people through his New Deal Program. The Federal Writers Project was part of this initiative and “America Eats” was chosen as the topic to chronicle the eating habits, traditions and struggles of local people. The country was divided into five sections and anyone who could write was offered pay for manuscripts. Zora Neale Huston, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, and others who were not writers, but could type, were encouraged to participate. Unfortunately, World War II began before the project could be finished, so incomplete and unedited manuscripts were stored in the Library of Congress, forgotten for decades. Kurlansky has taken these essays, recipes, anecdotes and photographs and has completed the project as intended. A remarkable piece of Americana; a must for historians and foodies. – Sue Fleming, Riverhead, $27.95

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