History

Longlisted for the National Book Award A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life -- and threaten to rip apart our social fabric We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives--where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance--are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they're wrong. 

Also available in: e-book | audiobook

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra , the #1 national bestseller, unpacks the mystery of the Salem Witch Trials. It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic. As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, THE WITCHES is Stacy Schiff's account of this fantastical story-the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.

Featuring a diverse group of writers, War No More gathers the best of America's vibrant tradition of antiwar and peace literature, essays, letters, speeches, memoirs, poems, stories and songs spanning almost three centuries. It offers an unprecedented view of a powerful and perennially relevant American tradition, encompassing five-star generals, theologians, nuclear physicists, folk singers, signers of the declaration, quietists, anarchists, veterans, and Nobel laureates.
 

On December 26, 1941, Secret Service Agent Harry E. Neal stood on a platform at Washington's Union Station, watching a train chug off into the dark. These were dire times: as Hitler's armies plowed across Europe, seizing or destroying the Continent's historic artifacts at will, Japan bristled to the East. The Axis was rapidly closing in. So FDR set about hiding the country's valuables. On the train speeding away from Neal sat four plain-wrapped cases containing the documentary history of American democracy: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and more, guarded by a battery of agents and bound for safekeeping in the nation's most impenetrable hiding place.

Hark! Medieval Day

Knights and King Arthur, damsels and dragons. Celebrate and learn about Medieval culture, crafts, and combat. Armored fighting demonstrations and hands on activities for the whole family will be presented by volunteers from the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international non-profit celebrating over 50 years of medieval interpretation. Find out how you can join the fun with re-enacters from the local Ann Arbor and Detroit chapters.

Upcoming sessions

There are no upcoming sessions available.

Several major films being released this fall and winter are based on true events. Find out more about them in the Library's collection of books and documentaries.

The Birth of a Nation.  Based on Nat Turner's 1831 slave uprising. Starring Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, and Aunjanue Ellis. Release date October 7. Suggested reading: Nat Turner: a slave rebellion in history and memory and The rebellious slave: Nat Turner in American memory by Scot French.

Deepwater Horizon. Based on the 2010 oil rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, and Kate Hudson. Release date September 30. Suggested reading: Drowning in oil: BP and the reckless pursuit of profit by Loren C. Steffy. Suggested viewing: The spill.

There is something about a non-fiction book that challenges people to change, to reflect upon their lives, to explore new worlds...

'Grunt' tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries-- panic, exhaustion, heat, noise-- and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them.

The story of the gene begins in earnest in an obscure Augustinian abbey in Moravia in 1856 where Gregor Mendel, a monk working with pea plants, stumbles on the idea of a "unit of heredity." It intersects with Darwin's theory of evolution, and collides with the horrors of Nazi eugenics in the 1940s. The gene transforms postwar biology. It invades discourses concerning race and identity and provides startling answers to some of the most potent questions coursing through our political and cultural realms. It reorganizes our understanding of sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation, temperament, choice, and free will, thus raising the most urgent questions affecting our personal realms. Above all, the story of the gene is driven by human ingenuity and obsessive minds-- from Mendel and Darwin to Francis Crick, James Watson, and Rosalind Franklin to the thousands of scientists working today to understand the code of codes. Woven through the book is the story of Mukherjee's own family and its recurring pattern of schizophrenia, a haunting reminder that the science of genetics is not confined to the laboratory but is vitally relevant to everyday lives. The moral complexity of genetics reverberates even more urgently today as we learn to "read" and "write" the human genome-- unleashing the potential to change the fates and identities of our children and our children's children .

Also available in: e-book | e-audiobook | large print

"This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can't shake them, even long after the reading's done. In his earlier, award-winning novels, Dominic Smith demonstrated a gift for coaxing the past to life. Now, in The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, he deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth. In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke's in Holland, the first woman to be so recognized. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain--a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibit of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive. As the three threads intersect, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerizes while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present"--.

Also available in: e-book

Advances in technology are creating the next economy and enabling us to make things/do things/connect with others in smarter, cheaper, faster, more effective ways. But the price of this progress has been a decoupling of the engine of prosperity from jobs that have been the means by which people have ascended to (and stayed in) the middle class. Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent four years traveling the country and asking economists, futurists, labor leaders, CEOs, investment bankers, entrepreneurs, and political leaders to help picture the U.S. economy 25 to 30 years from now. He vividly reports on people who are analyzing and creating this new economy--such as investment banker Steve Berkenfeld; David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell International; Andy Grove of Intel; Carl Camden, the CEO of Kelly Services; and Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone. Through these stories, we come to a stark and deeper understanding of the toll technological progress will continue to take on jobs and income and its inevitable effect on tens of millions of people. But there is hope for our economy and future. The foundation of economic prosperity for all Americans, Stern believes, is a universal basic income. The idea of a universal basic income for all Americans is controversial but American attitudes are shifting. Stern has been a game changer throughout his career, and his next goal is to create a movement that will force the political establishment to take action against something that many on both the right and the left believe is inevitable. Stern's plan is bold, idealistic, and challenging--and its time has come.

Nonfiction Book Group October 2016

Please join the Nonfiction Book Group to discuss:

The Vanderbilt family patriarch, the Commodore, built a fortune that made him the world's richest man by 1877. Less than 50 years after his death, not a single Vanderbilt descendent was counted among the world's richest people. As Publisher's Weekly noted in the review of this book, "Stories about the author's ancestors have been told before, but not so vividly as in his evocations of the snobbery, ostentation and profligacy.Today's Vanderbilts are not rich-rich; the money is gone with the clan's grand homes, felled by wrecking balls in New York and elsewhere, leaving only memories of a singular time in the American past."

Upcoming sessions

There are no upcoming sessions available.

In light of the upcoming presidential election, take a look at the lives of past Presidents!

A biography of US president Barack Obama, the first African-American to ever become president. 

George W. Bush by Sally Lee

A biography of George W. Bush, whose response to terrorists forever altered the United States and changed the way security was viewed by the government.

Return to ancient Greece and witness the Bacchanalian excess and raw competition of The First Olympics. While the gods looked down, brutal contests of boxing, wrestling, chariot racing, and an early from of no-holds-barred fighting called Pankration.

Presents the story of the U.S. Olympic hockey team's victory at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

They were billed as the 'Olympics of Peace and Joy' but became the Olympics of terror -- Munich 1972. An extreme Palestinian group called Black September held 11 Israeli athletes hostage in the Olympic village while the world looked on, incredulous. Using extraordinary archive footage, music and interviews with those who took part (including the only surviving member of the Black September group), this film tells the dramatic story of what happened in Munich during those 21 hours.

Subscribe to RSS - History