CrimeReads editors select the month’s best new nonfiction crime books.
H.W. Brands, Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution
Brands’ latest history is an engaging, provocative look at the American Revolution and the largely forgotten battle lines it drew within the colonies: dividing neighbors, families, and communities. Our First Civil War is a study of the schism between Americans who wanted to throw off British rule and those who stayed loyal to the crown. Centuries later, the American Revolution is often taught as a great swelling of popular unrest, but Brands shows how fine the distinctions were, and how the build-up toward war tore societies apart and created resentments and differences that would be passed down through generations.
Casey Michel, American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History
Michel, a dogged investigative reporter, is as knowledgeable as they come on financial corruption in and around the United States. In American Kleptocracy, he brings it all together: the shell company hubs like Delaware, the real estate bubbles propped up by dirty money, the armies of lobbyists paid to do the bidding of .corrupt foreign nationals looking to park their spoils in U.S. assets. Michel makes a convincing case that there has never been an illicit financial system as robust and versatile as the one the U.S. has created, a shadow economy servicing financiers, lobbyists, old money and the newly corrupted.
Faith Jones, Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God, a Wild, Radical Religious Cult
In this moving memoir of her childhood, Faith Jones recalls growing up in in a religious cult with deeply disturbing attitudes towards childhood and sexuality. Jones became estranged from her close-knit family when she left the cult to head to college, but reconnected with her parents later on as the family all worked together to process their trauma after the Children of God fell apart. Harrowing, but also fierce and inspiring. –Molly Odintz, CrimeReads Senior Editor
Kevin Birmingham, The Sinner and the Saint: Dostoevsky and the Gentleman Murderer Who Inspired a Masterpiece
The Sinner and the Saint is a meticulously researched and compellingly crafted history of a literary masterpiece, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Birmingham traces the many influences and inspirations (obsessions, really) that drove Dostoevsky along his path, from his early days of radical politics to his Siberian exile, where he met and studied criminals and busied himself breaking down their psychologies, to his return to St. Petersburg, where he began finally to write the story of Raskolnikov, his murderer. The story also covers Pierre François Lacenaire, the notorious gentleman killer whose exploits in Paris lit up the news in Russia and captured Dostoevksy’s imagination as he created his own distinctly Russian version of the would-be nihilist.
Sam Quinones, The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth
Quinones’ Dreamland was as powerful as any portrait of America in the throes of the opioid epidemic. Now, with his follow-up, he examines the aftershocks of mass fentanyl production and rock-bottom meth prices, twin developments that have further torn at the fabric of so many communities. The epidemic is still raging, Quinones argues, and its newest evolutions are particularly insidious, leading to ever more overdoses, homelessness, mental illness, and devastated families. His new book offers a few glimmers of hope, but the fight is a bleak one, and it’s going to take a dedicated community effort to sustain that hope.