In some ways, history buffs are spoiled for choice. Even within our favorite eras of history, there can be so many books to choose from! Luckily, there are always new books hitting the shelves that keep us interested.
If you’ve been looking for the latest research on your favorite time period, look no further than this list! We’ve tracked down the best new releases of January, February, and March 2022. From an award-winning chronicle of Germany after World War II to the little-known story of the founding of Yellowstone National Park, here are some compelling new history books to dive into.
Release date: January 11
Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955
Originally published in 2019, Aftermath spent 48 weeks on the German bestseller list. Now, the English translation of this award-winning book is finally available! How does a country move on from fascism? That is the ultimate question Aftermath seeks to answer by examining the events of the first 10 years after World War II.
At the end of the war, Germany lay in ruins. The country was divided up into four occupied zones, half the population was displaced, and the horrors of the Holocaust were now unavoidable. Using a multitude of first-hand accounts, Harald Jähner traces how Germany took the steps to rebuild as it entered an uncertain future that shaped the country it is today.
Release date: January 25
The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning
In 2018, author Ben Raines explored a shipwreck submerged in the Mobile River in Alabama that archaeologists later confirmed was the wreck of Clotilda. This was the last ship to bring kidnapped Africans to the United States to sell into slavery, over 50 years after the Atlantic slave trade had been outlawed. In The Last Slave Ship, Raines chronicles the history and legacy of Clotilda from that fateful journey in the mid-19th century to the present day, putting emphasis on the people involved with the ship in the past and the people its story affects now.
After Emancipation, several survivors from Clotilda founded a small community called Africatown. The experiences of the residents of Africatown before and during the Jim Crow era were famously chronicled by Zora Neale Hurston, who traveled there in 1927 to interview former slave Cudjo Lewis. In addition to the descendants of the residents of Africatown, Raines also follows the descendants of the Americans who enslaved them and the Africans who sold them. From Raines’s chronicle emerges a picture of a country and a world still struggling to address American slavery and its repercussions.
Release date: February 15
Watergate: A New History
On the morning of June 17, 1972, five men broke into the Watergate Office Building in an attempt to bug the office of the Democratic National Committee. The scandal that erupted over the next two years brought down the Nixon administration and changed American political history forever. In Watergate: A New History, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Garrett M. Graff chronicles the full events that led up to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Beginning with the leak of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, Graff traces how Nixon’s determination to win by any means necessary put a set of dominoes in place that, as they fell, would erode the American public’s trust in their government and their politicians in ways that still reverberate today.
Release date: February 22
April 1945: The Hinge of History
In April 1945, historian Craig Shirley recounts one of the most consequential months in American history. With the end of WWII in sight, several events converged that would shape world history. On April 12, President Franklin D. Roosevelt suddenly died and was succeeded by Harry Truman. By the end of the month, Allied forces were closing in on Berlin and Adolf Hitler was dead.
As the Third Reich crumbled and the horrors of the Nazi regime came to light, Americans turned their eyes to defeating Japan. Unbeknownst to the general public, officials were grappling with whether or not to drop the atomic bomb on Japanese cities. Relying on meticulous research, Shirley paints a picture of America during a month that would shape the rest of the 20th century.
Release date: February 22
The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World
In the Merovingian kingdoms of the sixth century, a feud between two women reshaped medieval Europe. Born to Visigoths in Spain, Brunhild was married to the king of Austrasia and served as regent to her son, grandson, and great-grandson. Although Fredegund began her time at the Neustrian court as a palace slave, she schemed and killed until she became queen herself.
For decades, the women waged a civil war against each other. Their alliances and political maneuvers would set the stage for Charlemagne’s empire to be built less than 200 years later. Despite all their accomplishments, their status as female rulers meant that history slandered them. In The Dark Queens, Shelley Puhak strives to set the record straight.
Release date: March 1
In 1872, Congress passed the Yellowstone Act and created the world’s first national park. In Saving Yellowstone, Pulitzer Prize finalist Megan Kate Nelson puts the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in a larger historical context, pointing to it as a crucial moment during which America tried to escape from the shadow of the Civil War.
She does this by examining the time period through the eyes of three major figures: Ferdinand Hayden, the explorer and geologist that first mapped the Yellowstone Basin in 1871; Jay Cooke, the businessman who knew building the Northern Pacific Railroad through the area would secure his fortune and his reputation; and Sitting Bull, the Lakota leader who refused to back down from American encroachment into indigenous land. Although this is a story of the American West, Nelson reveals how westward expansion was interconnected with racial tensions in the Reconstruction South.
Release date: March 8
Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War
When Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, the United States was not only facing a political crisis but a financial one. There was no federal bank, the government had no authority to raise taxes, and there was no widespread paper currency. In this crisis, Lincoln saw an opportunity to remake America into a country whose government would legislate to create economic opportunities for its citizens. The unprecedented legislation passed by Congress during the Civil War changed the financial and societal structure of America forever and set the Union on the path to victory.
Related: 11 Books About Abraham Lincoln
Release date: March 29
Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire
As the old saying goes, the sun never sets on the British empire. By the end of the First World War, British colonial holdings put over 700 million people under their rule. In Legacy of Violence, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Caroline Elkins examines the race-based ideologies that allowed Britain to justify its violent conquest of a quarter of the world’s landmass. Spanning more than 200 years, she traces how the British empire developed, thrived, and eventually receded and argues that violence was always the driving factor.