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Culture Books

Recent nonfiction


Recent nonfiction

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

John Carreyrou

Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou covered Elizabeth Holmes and her Silicon Valley startup, Theranos. Here he tells the story of a charismatic and attractive female CEO who raised piles of money, attracted prominent supporters like former Defense Secretary James Mattis and former Secretary of State George Shultz, and sold her idea to companies like Walgreens. One problem: Her product—a blood testing method requiring tiny bits of blood—didn’t work. Carreyrou shows how Theranos began with a promising idea that proved hard to execute, which allegedly led the company to embark upon a massive fraud.

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

David McCullough

Drawing from diaries and other primary documents, McCullough takes the reader back to the 18th and 19th centuries when the U.S. opened the Northwest Territory to settlement. Through the lives of colorful individuals—including Manasseh Cutler, a congregational minister and scientist from Massachusetts—he tells about the settlement of Marietta, Ohio. Christian belief motivated many of the settlers, and McCullough shows how these beliefs led to a ban on slavery and support for public education. Critics note that McCullough skips the Native American perspective, but this settler story highlights other underreported aspects of history.

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

Tom Wright & Bradley Hope

Two Wall Street Journal reporters tell the stranger-than-fiction story of Malaysian Jho Low and how he pulled off one of the biggest heists in history, siphoning $5 billion from Malaysia’s state-owned investment fund, 1MDB. With the help of Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions, Low funneled money into private Swiss bank accounts and used it to party with celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, buy properties in New York and Los Angeles, and finance movies like The Wolf of Wall Street. The book follows his meteoric rise and then rapid descent as scrappy investigative journalists unraveled the con. To this date, Low is still on the run. —reviewed by Angela Lu Fulton

One Life at a Time: An American Doctor’s Memoir of AIDs in Botswana 

Daniel Baxter

Daniel Baxter has spent his medical career caring for people with AIDS, first in New York and for two periods in Botswana. When he first went to Africa in 2002, the epidemic was in full swing. He left in 2008 but returned in 2013, with many sufferers receiving anti-viral drugs. With sensitivity and a fine eye Baxter paints a ground-level picture of AIDS, focusing on individual stories. The book recounts his changing perspective as he cares for patients and families with attitudes and beliefs far different from those of his patients in the U.S. 



Who Loves? by Jami Kaeb (The Forgotten Initiative, 2018) is a series of three books dealing in age-appropriate ways with how it feels to be in foster care. Who Loves Baby? is a board book with illustrations showing “Judge loves Baby” and “Community Workers love Baby.” Though sad, it’s good to know that resources exist to help children talk about their hard reality. Who Loves Me? offers slightly more information for a pre-K or kindergarten-age child. I Am Loved offers short chapters and more detail, especially about emotions, for elementary-aged children.

Our Baby Will Be Different by Beverly Jacobson (CreateSpace, 2017) is a hopeful book for preparing children for the birth of a baby with disabilities. “Most babies have busy little hands that open and close. … Our baby will be different. … But after she is born we can still hold her hands and kiss her fingers.” —S.O.