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Five Nonfiction Books You Should Read This Month

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CrimeReads editors select the month’s best new nonfiction crime books. 



Daniel Levin, Proof of Life: Twenty Days on the Hunt for a Missing Person in the Middle East

Levin, a lawyer whose career has taken him into war zone mediation, chronicles the harrowing search for a missing person in the Middle East. The story begins with a dinner in Paris, during which he’s told of a young man who has disappeared in Syria. From there, Levin goes on a dark odyssey through an underworld of fixers, informants, people who want to help and those who want to take advantage, or worse. A portrait of a contemporary morass in the Middle East emerges, as Levin thoughtfully interrogates the signs of hope and hopelessness.


Simon Kuper, Spies, Lies, and Exile: The Extraordinary Story of Russian Double Agent George Blake
(The New Press)

George Blake, notorious in most accounts, emerges as one of the Cold War’s most interesting figures in Simon Kuper’s fascinating new account of his life and exploits, Spies, Lies, and Exile. Blake was an MI6 agent posted to Seoul. Captured and imprisoned by North Koreans, he was eventually sent back to Britain, where he was hailed as a hero, but had secretly converted to the Soviet cause, which he would pursue for years as a double agent. Later, he escaped from a London prison and lived out his days outside Moscow. Kuper was given the exceedingly rare opportunity to interview Blake before his 2020 death, and his account of the man’s double life and intensely complex identity makes for compelling, provocative reading.


Daniel Barbarisi, Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death, and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt

Somewhere in the New Mexico desert, there is a fortune hidden by an eccentric millionaire who left behind a poem with intricate clues as to the fortune’s location. In short, a modern treasure hunt, one that has inspired a community of devoted treasure seekers, who meet annually to swap stories and debate theories. The journalist Daniel Barbarisi has now written a rollicking, engaging, mystery-laden adventure story about his own committed attempts to solve the Forrest Fenn riddles and to find the legendary treasure.


Christopher M. Elias, Gossip Men: J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and the Politics of Insinuation
(Univ. of Chicago Press)

Gossip Men presents a fascinating view on midcentury America and three figures who helped shape our current paranoid, bitterly distrustful political world. Focusing on J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, and Roy Cohn, Elias examines how rumors and innuendo about all three men’s sexuality drove them to perform a new kind of masculinity, and to beef up the surveillance state, weaponizing secrets and tabloid-style intelligence against political enemies. The result, in Elias’ coinage, is the emergence of a “surveillance state masculinity,” an identity still demonstrated today by politicians eager to prove themselves to the public.


Jacqueline Rose, On Violence and On Violence Against Women

Rose’s new study of violence against women—its many forms and consequences—is an insightful portrait of the contemporary world and its dangerous, insidious treatment of women. Rose’s critical eye spans the globe, modes of thought, and historical eras, always with an incisive consideration of the deeper ramifications of our ingrained prejudices and assaults. The violence is intense and ubiquitous, and Rose shows how it colors the fabric of our communities and finds itself passed down one generation to the next.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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