Last of The Breed by Louis L’Amour (recommended by Mark, General Services Section)
Last of the Breed, a 1987 book by Louis L’Amour, tells the fictional story of Native American United States Air Force pilot Major Joseph Makatozi, who was shot down by the Soviets over the ocean between Russia and Alaska, captured and then escaped.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (recommended by David, Consulate in Krakow)
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist. This American author spent part of her childhood in Africa and beautifully describes the smells and sounds and feel of Africa (in this case, the Congo). The book is historical fiction in which an American missionary family moves to live and work in the Congo and encounters beauty, challenge, heartbreak and sometimes joy. It’s a real page-turner.
Some Luck by Jane Smiley (recommended by Christine, Political Officer)
Some Luck is a 2014 novel by Jane Smiley. It is the first in a trilogy of novels about an Iowa family over the course of generations. It was longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award. The first novel is “Some Luck” followed by “Early Warning” and “The Last Hundred Years.” The books illustrate how history shaped the family and their experiences, and also demonstrates the shift in the American experience as the family transitions an agricultural lifestyle to working in the cities. It is a microcosm of the American experience over 20th century.
How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto (recommended by Angela, Consulate in Krakow)
When I read this book I really loved the way that the writer used so much detail to set up the scenes. I could easily imagine that I was there in the town she wrote about. This was very nostalgic for me as it reminded me of my Grandmother, mother, and aunts working on quilts together when I was a child. This book describes many different hardships and struggles that women went through during this period of dramatic social changes in America, including difficult struggles with self-identity, families, parenting and friendships. This was a time when slavery had ended but many African Americans still struggled with acceptance in society. In addition, it was a period when sons were being sent to fight in a war. During all of these difficult times the women in the story were resilient and compassionate. It was an inspiration to remember that America has overcome so many social struggles. The author also linked the culture and art of American quilting in to the story.
Jazz by Toni Morrison (recommended by Sean, Press Unit)
I recommend this book because it shares great insight into the lives of African Americans in 20th century America, and uses jazz music as a theme and symbol throughout the book. Jazz is a historical novel by Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning American author Toni Morrison. The majority of the narrative takes place in Harlem during the 1920s; however, as the pasts of the various characters are explored, the narrative extends back to the mid-19th century American South.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (recommended by Angela, Consulate in Krakow)
The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of African-American women in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis (recommended by Sophie, age 10)
The Watsons Go to Birmingham is a book with much feeling and is very informative of life in the United States in 1963. While Kenny and his older brother Byron argue and offend each other, Joetta, their little sister, tries to protect Byron as he always gets into trouble. One day the whole family sets off on a long car trip to Birmingham, Alabama, hoping to fix their lives in what people call a “more peaceful place”. We laughed till we cried at some of the jokes they told. I enjoyed reading this book very much!