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A People's History of American Empire

Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki and Paul Buhle
Metropolitan Books, $30/hardcover
From the man who's sold almost 2 million copies of his 1980 work, A People's History of the United States, comes this graphic novel adaptation. It features excerpts of "the most immediate and relevant" chapters, with updates on current events and an author's biography. Zinn and Co. bring the story of American imperialism to life from Wounded Knee to Vietnam to the war in Iraq through easy-reading, black-and-white comic panels. In some frames, the artists embellish archival photos, while in others they draw exaggerated, menacing faces on U.S. presidents and other bad guys. Most importantly, the stories are clearly told and the messages are readily available to anyone who desires a non-sugar-coated account of America's foreign and domestic policies throughout history. Matthew Schniper


To Get the Book: People's History


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Unaccustomed Earth

Jhumpa Lahiri
Alfred A. Knopf, $25/hardcover
Jhumpa Lahiri's new collection of stories continues the sensitive examination of Indian-American life she began with her Pulitzer-winning debut, Interpreter of Maladies. Unaccustomed Earth takes its title from a passage by Nathaniel Hawthorne that states human nature, like plants, only flourishes if planted in new or "unaccustomed" earth. It's a metaphor for the Indian experience in America and the great expectations one generation has for the next. Lahiri's protagonists are the offspring of Indian immigrants, whose sense of self-worth is measured by their children's success. Though they are raised to be overachievers and intermediaries between their parents and mainstream American culture, they don't always follow the script. Lahiri maps this emotionally fraught terrain of cultural disconnect between generations with documentary-like precision. Archana Pyati


To Get the Book: Unaccustomed Earth


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Puppy Chow is Better than Prozac

Bruce Goldstein
Da Capo Press, $25/hardcover
Over and over, research studies show that having a pet in your life can improve your mental health. Puppy Chow is Better than Prozac puts a face to this research. Having been diagnosed with manic depression in the early '90s, author Bruce Goldstein explains, in sometimes excruciating detail, how loving a black Labrador Retriever puppy quieted the voices in his head, leveled his mood swings, made him challenge his fear of death and brought him back from the brink of suicide. The pace of Goldstein's words alone will suck you in to his story. His descriptions are so vivid you'll feel as if you've taken up residence in his brain, riding the raging storm within him. Your heart will race with his, and your breathing will slow when he is calm. Perhaps most importantly, you'll come to love Ozzy (his "furry antidepressant") as much as Goldstein does. Kirsten Akens


To Get the Book: Puppy Chow

  • Howard Zinn, Jhumpa Lahiri, Bruce Goldstein.

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