One lucky winner will get their hands on four enthralling books about periods of social upheaval in the U.S. Even self-proclaimed history buffs are bound to learn something new, as these books explore the home front during World War II, the assimilation of Nazis into America, the clash between railroad workers and titans of industry, and the morally dubious implementation of lobotomies.
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About the Books
The Darkest Year
For Americans on the home front, the twelve months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor comprised the darkest year of World War Two. Despite government attempts to disguise the magnitude of American losses, it was clear that the nation had suffered a nearly unbroken string of military setbacks in the Pacific; by the autumn of 1942, government officials were openly acknowledging the possibility that the United States might lose the war.
Appeals for unity and declarations of support for the war effort in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor made it appear as though the class hostilities and partisan animosities that had beset the United States for decades ― and grown sharper during the Depression ― suddenly disappeared. They did not, and a deeply divided American society splintered further during 1942 as numerous interest groups sought to turn the wartime emergency to their own advantage.
Blunders and repeated displays of incompetence by the Roosevelt administration added to the sense of anxiety and uncertainty that hung over the nation.
The Darkest Year focuses on Americans’ state of mind not only through what they said, but in the day-to-day details of their behavior. Klingaman blends these psychological effects with the changes the war wrought in American society and culture, including shifts in family roles, race relations, economic pursuits, popular entertainment, education, and the arts.
The Edge of Anarchy
The Edge of Anarchy by Jack Kelly offers a vivid account of the greatest uprising of working people in American history. At the pinnacle of the Gilded Age, a boycott of Pullman sleeping cars by hundreds of thousands of railroad employees brought commerce to a standstill across much of the country. Famine threatened, riots broke out along the rail lines. Soon the U.S. Army was on the march and gunfire rang from the streets of major cities.
This epochal tale offers fascinating portraits of two iconic characters of the age. George Pullman, who amassed a fortune by making train travel a pleasure, thought the model town that he built for his workers would erase urban squalor. Eugene Debs, founder of the nation’s first industrial union, was determined to wrench power away from the reigning plutocrats. The clash between the two men’s conflicting ideals pushed the country to what the U.S. Attorney General called “the ragged edge of anarchy.”
Many of the themes of The Edge of Anarchy could be taken from today’s headlines―upheaval in America’s industrial heartland, wage stagnation, breakneck technological change, and festering conflict over race, immigration, and inequality. With the country now in a New Gilded Age, this look back at the violent conflict of an earlier era offers illuminating perspectives along with a breathtaking story of a nation on the edge.
In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison—who suffered from severe epilepsy—received a radical new version of the then-common lobotomy, targeting the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today.
Patient H.M. is, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison—and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation—experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves.
Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world.
Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide.
Spies, Lies, and Citizenship
In the 1970s news broke that former Nazis had escaped prosecution and were living the good life in the United States. Outrage swept the nation, and the public outcry put extreme pressure on the U.S. government to investigate these claims and to deport offenders. The subsequent creation of the Office of Special Investigations marked the official beginning of Nazi-hunting in the United States, but it was far from the end.
Thirty years later, in November 2010, the New York Times obtained a copy of a confidential 2006 report by the Justice Department titled “The Office of Special Investigations: Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust.” The six-hundred-page report held shocking secrets regarding the government’s botched attempts to hunt down and prosecute Nazis in the United States and its willingness to harbor and even employ these criminals after World War II.
Drawing from this report as well as other sources, Spies, Lies, and Citizenship exposes scandalous new information about infamous Nazi perpetrators, including Andrija Artuković, Klaus Barbie, and Arthur Rudolph, who were sheltered and protected in the United States and beyond, and the ongoing attempts to bring the remaining Nazis, such as Josef Mengele, to justice.
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Note: The sweepstakes is open to all legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. who are 18 years of age and older by January 18, 2019.