Also of interest...in island-hopping
The Not Quite States of America
by Doug Mack (Norton, $27)
Doug Mack’s “dandy” new travelogue reveals an America that many readers won’t recognize, said Michael Upchurch in The Seattle Times. Realizing that most people know little about Guam, American Samoa, and other U.S. territories or affiliated states, Mack logged 31,000 miles to visit each one. With his “sharp eye for local color,” he makes every stop fun. But he also details the odd particulars of each territory’s legal status, shedding “unexpected light” on America’s true history.
by Jan Rüger (Oxford, $35)
“More people should know Heligoland’s story,” said The Economist. The tiny North Sea archipelago never has held strategic significance, but Jan Rüger’s engaging book shows how little that matters when rival powers take a shine to the same lump of rock. As allies, Germany and England graciously shared Heligoland; when their interests split, it became a tool for provocation. Observers of recent China- U.S. bickering should take note, because “geopolitics has a habit of repeating itself.”
The True Flag
by Stephen Kinzer (Holt, $28)
You may not know it, but we’re all still arguing about the events of 1898, said David Walton in The Dallas Morning News. Stephen Kinzer’s “lively and very readable” history returns us to summer of that year, when the U.S. seized Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines, becoming an imperial power overnight. Mark Twain was soon jousting with Teddy Roosevelt about the wisdom of reshaping America’s role, and it’s striking how pertinent their debate still feels today.
What You Break
by Reed Farrel Coleman (Putnam, $27)
Reed Farrel Coleman’s current mystery series unfolds in a Long Island, N.Y., far from Jay Gatsby’s West Egg, said Patrick Anderson in The Washington Post. Gus Murphy, the retired-cop hero of 2016’s Edgar Award–nominated Where It Hurts, spends his days in a corrupt, blue-collar landscape where it’s no surprise that an ex-priest pal needs protection from a Russian assassin. Coleman needlessly makes Murphy a Casanova, but that’s the only real flaw in this “gracefully gritty” tale.