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9 New Books We Recommend This Week


GRINNELL: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West, by John Taliaferro. (Liveright, $35.) This biography restores fascinating life to one of the least remembered but most important 19th-century conservationists, George Bird Grinnell, who was a key figure behind the creation of the Audubon Society, some of the world’s most iconic national parks and several encyclopedic studies of Native Americans. Taliaferro illustrates how “Grinnell’s attitude evolved from the romantic to the pragmatic,” Timothy Egan writes in his review. “His fighting words kept the timber, mining and grazing interests from getting total control over our public lands. Grinnell’s memory lives on in the wild. And with this book, he is given the fresh look that he deserves.”

THE PATIENT ASSASSIN: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge, and India’s Quest for Independence, by Anita Anand. (Scribner, $30.) An account of the life of a peripatetic Indian laborer, Udham Singh, who waited decades for a chance to kill the Raj official Michael O’Dwyer in retaliation for the 1919 massacre of Indian protesters. “Anand does a stellar job of sketching Singh’s trajectory from orphanage to hangman’s noose, and from obscurity into the pantheon of Indian heroes,” Yudhijit Bhattacharjee writes in his review. The book also “offers a crisp portrait of O’Dwyer, … reconstructing its key events in compelling, vivid prose.”

ESCALANTE’S DREAM: On the Trail of the Spanish Discovery of the Southwest, by David Roberts. (Norton, $26.95.) The author and his wife retrace the 1,700-mile journey of an expedition led by two Spanish friars in the 18th-century Southwest. The trip is a wistful one, partly because the friars are less well known than they should be, and partly because Roberts (a legendary adventure writer) is facing the ailments of age. “The book that results,” Philip Connors writes in his review, “is an amiably discursive, often beguiling entry in what has become a venerable literary form: the expedition in pursuit of an expedition. Roberts knows his Southwestern history, and he knows how to craft an artful sentence.”

THIS LAND IS OUR LAND: An Immigrant’s Manifesto, by Suketu Mehta. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) This is a meticulously researched and deeply felt corrective to the public narrative of who today’s migrants are, why they are coming and what economic and historical forces have propelled them from their homes. The book “reads like an impassioned survey course on migration, laying bare the origins of mass migration in searing clarity,” our reviewer, Lauren Markham, writes. “The book makes a convincing argument that contemporary migration is a direct descendant of colonialism. Europeans and Americans stole gold, silver, cash crops and human beings from the places people are now fleeing en masse. … Put another way, ‘They are here because you were there.’”

COPPERHEAD, by Alexi Zentner. (Viking, $26.) With visceral prose as taut as his teenage linebacker protagonist, Zentner has written a novel about white supremacy that invites us to see how bigotry operates in real life. “The chapters pop in expert jabs, two or three pages at a time,” Smith Henderson writes in his review. “As complications mount, Zentner remains true to his generous depiction of Jessup and his world, the forces that presumably engender racism. … The deplorables cling to their God and their guns, and we’re made to see how and why.”


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