If you’re looking for an escape reading, the books recommended this week won’t help. But if you want a lucid and at times thrilling look at the state of the world today, sit straight in: we have books on the Mexican drug trade and America’s efforts to combat it (“The Dope” , by Benjamin T. Smith), as well as an argument that modern warfare is too easy (“Humane” by Samuel Moyn) and the memoirs of a key figure from Donald Trump’s first impeachment (“Here, Right Matters By Alexander Vindman). We have a memoir on immigration by Qian Julie Wang, “Beautiful Country”, and two books exploring aspects of technology: “God, Human, Animal, Machine” by Meghan O’Gieblyn and “A Brief History of Motion” by Tom Standage. And in fiction, we recommend three early novels about characters trying to make the most of sometimes dire circumstances: “Paris Is a Party, Paris Is a Ghost” by David Hoon Kim, “Three Rooms” by Jo Hamya and “The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois”, by accomplished poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.
Senior Editor, Books
HUMAN: how the United States abandoned peace and reinvented war, by Samuel Moyn. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $ 30.) In his clever and provocative new book, Moyn suggests that making war less cruel distracts Americans from pursuing the more radical goal of genuine peace. Dramatic technological advances have reduced casualties – at least compared to conventional warfare – but they have also opened up new ethical puzzles. Our reviewer Jennifer Szalai writes: “Coming 20 years after 9/11, when the United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, ‘Humane’ encourages readers to ask central questions too often lost amid the gossip of the establishment of foreign policy. “
GOD, HUMAN, ANIMAL, MACHINE: Technology, Metaphor and Search for Meaning, by Meghan O’Gieblyn. (Double day, $ 28.) In clever and loosely related chapters, O’Gieblyn eloquently dissects the elevation of data and quantification of our tech-obsessed culture over qualitative experience, detecting in our relentless turn to machines the remnants of a more human, even spiritual reality. The book is a “hybrid beast, a remarkably scholarly work of history, criticism and philosophy, but it is also, crucially, a memoir,” writes Becca Rothfeld in her review, applauding O’Gieblyn for speaking from a frankly personal point of view. : “Despite all our postures, people like us could hardly hope to speak of anywhere else. “
WEB DU BOIS LOVE SONGS, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. (HarperCollins, $ 28.99.) This triumphant debut novel follows a young black woman who discovers how to live happily in the modern American South. The novel switches between the past and the present, alternating the history of the heroine with those of her ancestors. “‘The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois’ is simply the best book I’ve read in a long, long time,” writes Veronica Chambers in her review. “I will avoid the cliché of calling it ‘a great American novel.’ Perhaps the truest thing I can say is that this is an epic adventure tale reminiscent of characters you never forget: Meg Murry in “A Wrinkle in Time”, Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Huckleberry Finn. “