Feature

Also of interest...in history’s trailblazers

Flappers; The Race Underground; Extreme Medicine; The Monkey’s Voyage

Flappers
by Judith Mackrell (Sarah Crichton, $28)
This “spellbinding” group biography of six jazz-age trendsetters “bubbles with the giddy energy of the era,” said Kate Tuttle in The Boston Globe. The intertwined profiles show how Josephine Baker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, and three other free-spirited women pushed the boundaries of acceptable female behavior. “Their courage took many forms,” but they largely shared the same sad fate: being “thwarted, even crushed,” for having aspired to a life beyond convention.

The Race Underground
by Doug Most (St. Martin’s, $28)
“New York and Boston make an impressive team when they channel their aggression,” said The Economist. In Doug Most’s exciting account of the race to complete America’s first subway, the rival cities actually work collaboratively more than they compete, but the story offers much that’s worth reading. Brothers Henry and William Whitney headed the parallel efforts, each an amazing engineering feat that relieved dangerous overcrowding and opened the way to 20th-century growth.

Extreme Medicine
by Kevin Fong (Penguin, $28)
“Virtually everything we take for granted in lifesaving medical intervention was once unthinkable,” said Laura Landro in The Wall Street Journal. In Extreme Medicine, anesthesiologist Kevin Fong pays tribute to the doctors who pioneered new treatments when history put them to the test. Fong’s “engaging and fast-paced narrative” shows how World War II’s battlefield injuries, a failed 1910 South Pole expedition, and NASA space travel all have begotten major innovations.

The Monkey’s Voyage
by Alan de Queiroz (Basic, $28)
Evolutionary biologist Alan de Queiroz “makes quite a tale” out of a fierce debate that roiled his field a half-century ago, said Jonathan Weiner in The New York Times. Certain plant and animal species—including South America’s monkeys—have close cousins that evolved an ocean away, and the family split can’t always be explained by continental drift. Charles Darwin’s hypothesis that some species rafted across the water may seem far-fetched, but science now backs that odd idea.

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