Countdown 1945 by Chris Wallace is an account of the development of the atomic bomb and the secrecy surrounding its development. Even Vice President Harry Truman didn't know about it until President Roosevelt died. The anguish of the scientists who worked on the bomb was matched by those who thought it would not work. For months, the Army Air Corps trained selected crews on the island of Tinian, in the Northern Mariana Islands, on the precise tactics for delivery of the bomb and kept them secluded from other crews. The delivery of the bomb to Hiroshima (Wallace doesn't tell much about Nagasaki) and the devastation of its impact are narrated in detail. Interviews with some survivors highlight the imperative to never again use this weapon of destruction.
Another great Lincoln read is Lincoln on the Verge by Ted Widmer. It is about Lincoln's whistle-stop train trip from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C., in February 1861 after a highly contested election. It is a time like our own in many ways, full of recognizable American characters, noble and ignoble. At 467 pages, it's still an easy read and available from the Baltimore County Public Library.
Although published in 2008, The Given Day by Dennis Lehane deals with critical topics that face us today: an epidemic (the 1918 influenza pandemic), unrest in the police department (the Boston Police strike of 1919), and racism when a Black man leaves the Midwest to seek a more tolerant environment in New England. The central character is Danny Coughlin, an Irish Boston cop in a family of Irish Boston cops. As the flu rages through Boston and Danny walks his beat, he questions why his fellow dedicated officers are paid so little and required to work long hours with no additional compensation. This question looms larger and larger until, despite dire warnings from the mayor and the governor, Danny leads the cops to go on strike. Don't be put off by Babe Ruth's antics in Chapter 1, because it serves to introduce Luther Lawrence, the Midwesterner who is befriended by Danny in Boston. There we have it: the flu, police defiance, Black Lives Matter—written in 2008 and on target for 2020. I have a copy of the book to lend.
Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle is a great read, featuring four well-drawn main characters, sympathetic but not perfect. Lil and Frank are a couple in their 80s, and Shelley is a young woman who lives with her son Harvey in Frank's childhood home. The story takes place over a period of years, starting in the 1940s, and goes back and forth among the characters and among the years. Family secrets are the heart of the plot. I was way down the list to borrow it from the library, so I bought a hard cover edition to read for my book group. It is available to lend.
The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America's Future by Jonathan Cahn really held my attention. Nouriel is given nine small clay seals (harbingers) by a "prophet," which serve to unfold the mystery and history one event at a time. The secret of America's future is involved and it begins to be evident with the 9/11 catastrophe. Twenty-five hundred years ago, the same events occurred in the same order in Israel. The prophetic books of Elijah, Hosea, and Amos speak of the warnings given to Israel, and the author writes that America reflects them again, down to the very same time intervals. A second book, The Harbinger II: The Return, was recently released. It reflects what is happening today in America. I was unable to put it down.