1. How to Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives by David Priess (PublicAffairs)
The current occupant of the White House is unmentioned in this even-handed but rich anecdotal history of how incumbent American presidents have been driven from office. Priess, who worked in the CIA during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, looks back into history and focuses on the ways that unfit presidents can be limited if not ejected from office. A wonderful storyteller, Priess relates how unpopular, destructive presidents such as Andrew Johnson could be hamstrung by their opponents, but points out that the founders could not foresee the impact of global technology and social media, so the best option today might be a constitutional amendment.
2. Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts (Viking)
Widely praised as the best single-volume biography of Winston Churchill ever written, historian and commentator Roberts draws on previously unavailable journals and notes for the robust, engrossing, and nuanced history of the great British leader. Churchill, Roberts writes, possessed a belief in his destiny since his teen years, drawing strength and self-confidence from his aristocratic lineage which allowed him to withstand criticism and thus take lonely, courageous stands against fascism and communism. Roberts, a deft writer himself, recounts how, hours after becoming prime minister in 1940 and facing Hitler’s blitzkrieg, Churchill wrote: “I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”
3. God in the Qur’an by Jack Miles (Knopf)
Miles’s unique talent for writing about religion won him a Pulitzer Prize for God: A Biography, and now the scholar has written a study of Allah, the God of Islam. Noting his roots as a Christian believer, Miles reads the Qur’an and compares it with the Jewish/Christian Bible with original insight and genuine curiosity. He takes the approach of a literary critic, leading readers to understand the Koran, the Hebrew Bible, and the New Testament and to acknowledge the majesty shared by these texts. At this moment when Islamophobia seems on the rise and there is so little education about the Muslim faith, Miles’ book is a roadmap toward interfaith understanding.
4. Hardly Children by Laura Adamczyk (FSG Originals)
This debut story collection throbs with intensity as Adamczyk locates the narrow, dangerous precipice between childhood and adulthood. Looming danger takes different forms in each story, from guns and abductions of children to more subtle threats such as childhood memories, and a hug that could be friendly or tilt to creepy. Adamczyk demonstrates enormous stylistic range in these stories, and whether surreal or realistic, she has a knack for evoking the shadowy terror of everyday life.
5. We Can Save Us All by Adam Nemett (The Unnamed Press)
Nemett sets his imaginative debut novel in a fantasy ecosystem of Princeton University in which students in the future gather at a dome-structured research building known as the “Egg,” a bunker and haven when the world ends. Nemett’s focus is on Dave Fuffman, a particularly nerdy student who, like the other Egg dwellers, assumes a superhero persona as a series of disasters begin to devastate the earth. Enter Dave’s high school drug dealer and current love interest, who has a backbone and ethical compass that make her a real standout in the novel, which has a propulsive energy hurtling these self-involved, self-important, and self-righteous radical activists into the future.