1. It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America by David Cay Johnston (Simon and Schuster)
Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, has covered Donald Trump for three decades, and his last book, The Making of Donald Trump, comprehensively detailed his family background and business practices. Now Johnston turns to an analysis of President Trump’s first 100 days in office and demonstrates that beyond Trump’s provocative language and public spectacle, his administration is dramatically reshaping government by annihilating agencies that serve ordinary people, destroying public records, and enriching him, his appointees, and their family members by ignoring conflicts of interest.
2. The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers (Alfred A. Knopf)
Champion of underdogs, Eggers has a knack for humanizing resilient new immigrants, such as the Lost Boys of Sudan (What Is the What) and a Syrian-American survivor of Hurricane Katrina (Zeitoun). Now he tells the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a son of Yemeni immigrants, who grew up in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district and is working as a doorman until he learns of coffee’s origins in Yemen five centuries ago under the auspices of a Sufi holy man. Alkhanshali sets off on an entrepreneurial odyssey to revive the failing coffee industry in his native land as it devolves into civil war. Eggers has written a new twist on the American dream, capturing the full spectrum of feeling about exile, arrival, and success.
3. Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison (Ballantine)
In this fascinating book, Villanova University historian Kerrison focuses on Thomas Jefferson’s daughters Martha and Maria, born to his wife, and Harriet Hemings, his child with the enslaved Sally Hemings, and illuminates post-Revolutionary American life for Southern women – whites, free blacks, and enslaved. Annette Gordon-Reed masterfully documented Jefferson’s long relationship with Sally Hemings in her Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, and now Kerrison considers the next generation, the trio of Jefferson daughters: First-born Martha served as her father’s first lady, Maria died young in childbirth, and unrecognized Harriet, who suffered on the plantation, found her way to Washington, D.C., where she probably passed as a white woman but vanished into history without a trace.
4. Munich by Robert Harris (Alfred A. Knopf)
This engrossing thriller set during the 1938 Munich Agreement negotiations between Hitler and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, is told through the eyes of two young men – one German and the other English – who had been once been students together at Oxford. Reunited at the summit, the two young civil servants work together behind the scenes to thwart Hitler’s war machine. Harris brings history to life, particularly the diplomatic bargaining on the eve of World War II, and he introduces a revisionist view of Chamberlain, suggesting that he was not an appeaser but rather may have played a critical role in engineering Hitler’s downfall.
5. This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins (Harper Perennial)
In her political and personal debut essay collection, written with a clarity of voice, Jerkins reflects on being a black, female feminist in America today. As a child, she wanted to be a white cheerleader, and she recalls her pain upon first realizing the division between black and white girls. She writes an open letter to Michelle Obama describing her as a beacon; is wry and ironic in the essay “How to Be Docile,” on how to act for men; and writes candidly about her labiaplasty – providing an important reminder of the knotty complications of Jerkins’ experience.