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YALSA RECOMMENDATIONS: Outstanding Books for the College Bound: History & Cultures

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King Leopold's ghost : a story of greed, terror, and heroism in Colonial Africa

Hochschild, Adam.

967.5102 HOCHSCH

History echoes across time, and nowhere is this clearer than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa. The brutality of Belgium’s colonial occupation of the Congo is a surprisingly unknown and ugly historical interlude and resulted in the first ever human rights campaign.

Claudette Colvin : twice toward justice

Hoose, Phillip M., 1947-


Months before the landmark 1955 Montgomery bus boycott began, one fifteen-year-old girl refused to give up her seat and became a key part of the legal battle to overturn segregation.

Town of evening calm ; Country of cherry blossoms

Kono, Fumiyo, 1968-


A poignant and delicate look at the lingering effects during the weeks, years, and decades after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Salt : a world history

Kurlansky, Mark.

333.8563 KURLANS

War. Empire. Revolution. Currency. Table salt? Explore the history of the world through this surprisingly complex condiment that has enabled exploration, caused wars, and driven empires.

March. Book one

Lewis, John, 1940 February 21-

328.7309 LEWIS

This remarkable graphic memoir charts John Lewis’s progress from a young man preaching to his chickens to joining the nonviolent Civil Rights movement to his seat in the United States Congress.

Malcolm X : a life of reinvention

Marable, Manning, 1950-2011.


A nuanced and thoughtful examination of a complex man who was both a powerful advocate for social change in America and a controversial public figure shrouded in competing myths.

The Black Count : glory, revolution, betrayal, and the real Count of Monte Cristo

Reiss, Tom.


Everyone knows The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, but few realize the inspiration for these action-packed tales was Dumas’s own real-life hero: his father, a mixed-race soldier who rose to become a general in Napoleon’s army.

The notorious Benedict Arnold : a true story of adventure, heroism, & treachery

Sheinkin, Steve.


This action-packed story reveals how a Revolutionary War hero became the most famous traitor in American history.

Well-behaved women seldom make history

Ulrich, Laurel.

305.4209 ULRICH

The historian to whom this oft-quoted maxim is attributed provides intriguing examples of women’s contributions to history.

Triangle : the fire that changed America

Von Drehle, Dave.

974.7104 VON DRE

In 1911 New York, a fire in a shirtwaist factory staffed mostly by women trapped and killed 123 working there. Von Drehle uses this disaster as the focal point for a history of the rise of unions in the U.S. during this era.

Turn me loose : the unghosting of Medgar Evers : poems

Walker, Frank X., 1961- author.

811.6 WALKER

The tragedy of Evers’s death is revealed through poems in the voice of his widow, brother, the wives of his killer, and the killer himself.

Code name Verity

Wein, Elizabeth.


The Nazis catch a female spy during World War II in occupied France. To save her life, she slowly reveals her mission and in the process discloses the story of the relationship between herself and her best friend, whose life and mission become entwined with hers in the strong bonds of friendship and trust.

Alif the unseen

Wilson, G. Willow, 1982-


In an unnamed Middle Eastern country, computer hacker Alif falls for the wrong girl and runs afoul of her fiancé, the vicious head of state security. The bigger problem is there is only one ally who can save him: a deadly world-weary jinni.

The watch that ends the night : voices from the Titanic

Wolf, Allan.


A retelling of the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic, from many points of view, including all classes of people on the ship, telegraph messages, and even the iceberg itself.

A people's history of the United States, 1492-present

Zinn, Howard, 1922-2010.

973 ZINN

A comprehensive history of the United States, from the impact of Columbus’s and others’ arrival in the New World through modern times. This is the history that is usually not told, about America’s misuses of African Americans, Native Americans, and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.

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