Nonfiction Recommended By Smithsonian

All of these books have appeared in, and been highly rated by, Smithsonian Magazine. From tales of King Tut’s mummy to the story of a math savant, there’s something to captivate everyone here.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

 

The Shadow King (5/5 stars, currently priced at $14.99)

More than 3,000 years ago, King Tutankhamun’s desiccated body was lovingly wrapped and sent into the future as an immortal god. After resting undisturbed for more than three millennia, King Tut’s mummy was suddenly awakened in 1922. Archaeologist Howard Carter had discovered the boy-king’s tomb, and the soon-to-be famous mummy’s story—even more dramatic than King Tut’s life—began.

The mummy’s “afterlife” is a modern story, not an ancient one. Award-winning science writer Jo Marchant traces the mummy’s story from its first brutal autopsy in 1925 to the most recent arguments over its DNA. From the glamorous treasure hunts of the 1920s to today’s high-tech scans in volatile modern Egypt, Marchant introduces us to the brilliant and sometimes flawed people who have devoted their lives to revealing the mummy’s secrets, unravels the truth behind the hyped-up TV documentaries, and explains what science can and can’t tell us about King Tutankhamun.

 

Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math (4/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

“Englarges one’s wonder at Tammet’s mind and his all-embracing vision of the world as grounded in numbers.” –Oliver Sacks, MD

THINKING IN NUMBERS is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write.

In Tammet’s world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes, everyday examples, and ruminations on history, literature, and more, Tammet allows us to share his unique insights and delight in the way numbers, fractions, and equations underpin all our lives.

Inspired by the complexity of snowflakes, Anne Boleyn’s eleven fingers, or his many siblings, Tammet explores questions such as why time seems to speed up as we age, whether there is such a thing as an average person, and how we can make sense of those we love.

THINKING IN NUMBERS will change the way you think about math and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes.

 

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story (4/5 stars, currently priced at $11.99)

As America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.

Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK’s favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other’s children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.

As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.

WITH 50 EXCLUSIVE BONUS PHOTOS

 

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