People rarely look for history… when picking a beach book. But as the final days of Summer wind down, and Labor Day weekend looms on the horizon, here are some historical companion reads to the hottest page turners seen on the beach.
- 50 Shades of Grey – Love it or hate it, this book is flying of the shelves. No doubt clandestine copies can be found in beach bags around the coast lines of America. How did relationships in our society get to this point? Try From the Front Porch to the Back Seat, by Beth Bailey. A compelling look at how courtship in America was changed by technology, civil rights, and changing norms. You will never look at the “good ‘ole days” the same way again.
- The Help- Many considered Kathryn Stockett’s book true history; sassy characters, dramatic relationships – all told in the smoldering racism of 1960’s Mississippi. Cliches, two-dimensional characters, and unlikely outcomes made the story a sure thing for Hollywood. Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865-1960, by Rebecca Sharpless is a scholarly examination of black domestic servants in the segregated south. Sharpless uses mountains of primary documentation to avoid the many traps that weakened Stockett’s novel.
- Killing Lincoln- Commentator Bill O’Reilly’s odd telling of Lincoln’s assassination continues to reside on the non-fiction best-seller list. Typically, history writing requires citation of sources, not just a half-hearted promise research was done. James Swanson’s riveting Manhunt; The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer is accurate, well documented, and everything O’Reilly’s book tries to be. Swanson proves that compelling history can be crafted into a page turner.