I think it’s no secret that I favor modern history…that’s the whole premise of this blog! If you’re into the 20th century, check out these books! This post contains affiliate links but I wholeheartedly recommend the books in this post.
Can’t Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age by Martin Torgoff
I came across this book years ago (actually, probably about a decade ago!) via a documentary series VH1 and The Sundance Channel produced called “The Drug Years.” It chronicled drug use in American history and its impact on our history. Martin Torgoff was a frequent commentator on the series and it was so fascinating to me, I ordered a copy of his book. It did not disappoint. If you’re at all interested in the ways that drugs have impacted our society, this book is for you.
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
It turns out that the summer of 1927 was kind of a big one for America. Lucky Lindy made his historic flight across the Atlantic, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed, Babe Ruth beat his own home run record, and President Coolidge tried to busy himself during the Roaring 20s. It’s a lot but it’s all very interesting and Bill Bryson is such a good writer that he had me, emphatically not a baseball fan, excitedly reading about the Yankees’ 1927 season.
1969: The Year Everything Changed by Rob Kirkpatrick
Like One Summer: America, this book takes a look at 1969 as a whole. It’s the year we reached the moon and the year the counterculture reached its zenith with Woodstock and died with the Manson murders. 1969 also saw the Chappaquiddick incident, Richard Nixon becoming president, and the truth about the My Lai massacre coming to light. There is a lot to unpack but it’s all fascinating and important.
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine by Howard Markel
This is not strictly US history, as you probably guessed by Freud’s name in the title. But William Halsted was one of the founders of Johns Hopkins and instrumental in bringing sanitary surgical procedures to the US. If you’ve ever had surgery and not died of infection, you should thank Halsted. Like Freud, he experimented with cocaine’s medical usage, specifically its use as an anesthetic. Unfortunately, this led to a serious addiction. An Anatomy of Addiction chronicles the theories and experiments both men put forth and conducted, as well as their careers as a whole. It’s a fascinating and, at times, horrifying, look at 19th-century medical practice.
When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins
Ok, maybe you have read this since it was in my “What I Read in August” post. If not, what are you waiting for? As I said in my previous post, it’s eye-opening and should make every woman thankful for the strides that have been made. (I must have eye-rolled a hundred times while reading this book, though. Women have heard every excuse in the book while being denied equal rights.)
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