Nonfiction Roundup: October 2023

Below I’m highlighting some nonfiction books coming out in October. All of the mentioned titles are available to put on hold in our catalog and will also be made available via the library’s Overdrive website on the day of publication in eBook and downloadable audiobook format (as available). For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month, check our online catalog.

Top Picks

The Sisterhood by Liza Mundy book coverThe Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA” by Liza Mundy (Oct 17)
Created in the aftermath of World War II, the Central Intelligence Agency relied on women even as it attempted to channel their talents and keep them down. Women sent cables, made dead drops, and maintained the agency’s secrets. Despite discrimination — even because of it — women who started as clerks, secretaries or unpaid spouses rose to become some of the CIA’s shrewdest operatives. They were unlikely spies — and that’s exactly what made them perfect for the role. Because women were seen as unimportant, pioneering female intelligence officers moved unnoticed around Bonn, Geneva and Moscow, stealing secrets from under the noses of their KGB adversaries. Back at headquarters, women built the CIA’s critical archives — first by hand, then by computer. And they noticed things that the men at the top didn’t see. As the CIA faced an identity crisis after the Cold War, it was a close-knit network of female analysts who spotted the rising threat of al-Qaeda — though their warnings were repeatedly brushed aside. After the 9/11 attacks, more women joined the agency as a new job, targeter, came to prominence. They showed that data analysis would be crucial to the post-9/11 national security landscape — an effort that culminated spectacularly in the CIA’s successful effort to track down bin Laden in his Pakistani compound.

The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts by Gregg Hecimovich book cover
The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of The Bondwoman’s Narrative” by Gregg Hecimovich (Oct 17)
In 1857, a woman escaped enslavement on a North Carolina plantation and fled to a farm in New York. In hiding, she worked on a manuscript that would make her famous long after her death. The novel, “The Bondwoman’s Narrative,” was first published in 2002 to great acclaim, but the author’s identity remained unknown. Over a decade later, Professor Gregg Hecimovich unraveled the mystery of the author’s name and, in “The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts,” he finally tells her story. In this remarkable biography, Hecimovich identifies the novelist as Hannah Bond “Crafts.” She was not only the first known Black woman to compose a novel but also an extraordinarily gifted artist who honed her literary skills in direct opposition to a system designed to deny her every measure of humanity. After escaping to New York, the author forged a new identity — as Hannah Crafts — to make sense of a life fractured by slavery. Hecimovich establishes the case for authorship of “The Bondwoman’s Narrative” by examining the lives of Hannah Crafts’ friends and contemporaries, including the five enslaved women whose experiences form part of her narrative. By drawing on the lives of those she knew in slavery, Crafts summoned into her fiction people otherwise stolen from history.

Endangered Eating by Sarah Lohman book coverEndangered Eating: America’s Vanishing Foods” by Sarah Lohman (Oct 24)
American food traditions are in danger of being lost. How do we save them? Apples, a common New England crop, have been called the United States’ “most endangered food.” The iconic Texas Longhorn cattle is categorized at “critical” risk for extinction. Unique date palms, found nowhere else on the planet, grow in California’s Coachella Valley — but the family farms that caretake them are shutting down. Apples, cattle, dates — these are foods that carry significant cultural weight. But they’re disappearing. In “Endangered Eating,” culinary historian Sarah Lohman draws inspiration from the Ark of Taste, a list compiled by Slow Food International that catalogues important regional foods. Lohman travels the country learning about the distinct ingredients at risk of being lost. Readers follow Lohman to Hawaii, as she walks alongside farmers to learn the stories behind heirloom sugarcane. In the Navajo Nation, she assists in the traditional butchering of a Navajo Churro ram. Lohman heads to the Upper Midwest, to harvest wild rice; to the Pacific Northwest, to spend a day wild salmon reefnet fishing; to the Gulf Coast, to devour gumbo made thick and green with filé powder; and to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, to taste America’s oldest peanut — long thought to be extinct. Lohman learns from those who love these rare ingredients: shepherds, fishers, and farmers; scientists, historians, and activists. And she tries her hand at raising these crops and preparing these dishes. Each chapter includes two recipes, so readers can be a part of saving these ingredients by purchasing and preparing them. Animated by stories yet grounded in historical research, “Endangered Eating” gives readers the tools to support community food organizations and producers that work to preserve local culinary traditions and rare, cherished foods — before it’s too late.

More Notable Releases for October

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