The best books about Manhattan 📚

Browse the best books on Manhattan as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Last Flight

The Last Flight

By Julie Clark

Why this book?

Motherhood is not a universal woman's experience: some women don't want to be mothers and some women are unable to be mothers. But being disrespected, overlooked, and exploited is a universal woman's experience. I found this to be a gripping book about women trying to break free from those experiences, in tightly intertwined tales.

From the list:

The best books by women about women, beyond romance, motherhood, or emulating men

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Book cover of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

By Russell Shorto

Why this book?

Yes it’s true, there is no city like New York, but I only understood why after reading Shorto’s meticulously researched book about Dutch Manhattan. New Amsterdam was set up in 1624 by the Dutch West India Company, not as a government colony but as a private financial entity. The Dutch were shrewd businessmen, and their culture astonishingly liberal for the times. (Still is). New Amsterdam existed solely to make money and welcomed immigrants because it was good for business. We owe the Dutch for creating Manhattan’s mad-paced, money-centered, anything-goes ethos, the only place in the world where anybody from anywhere…

From the list:

The best books about terrible, beautiful New York

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Book cover of Hiroshima

Hiroshima

By John Hersey

Why this book?

Originally published in the New Yorker, this is a first-hand account by a skillful reporter of the horrifying aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. Hershey interviews a selection of survivors and takes his reader into the city to see the devastation that the bomb wrought. Hersey portrays the resilience of the Japanese people and their ability to come together as a community to face the unimaginable with courage and resolve.

From the list:

The best books to peer into the traditional and modern Japanese mind

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Book cover of Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

By Dan Zak

Why this book?

Zak is an award-winning reporter for the Washington Post where his gift for prose is on regular display. When he turned his skillful journalist’s eye toward nuclear weaponry and present-day anti-nuclear activism, the result was a book that takes readers through the night and aftermath of a break-in at one of the most secure facilities in the country, and a look at the moments and forces in history that shaped the people involved.

From the list:

The best books on the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb

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Book cover of Day of Trinity

Day of Trinity

By Lansing Lamont

Why this book?

Published in 1965 and written by then Washington and foreign correspondent of Time Magazine Lamont, this book remains for me an exceptionally compelling narrative history. The lens here is focused tightly on the events leading up to the first-ever test of an atomic bomb, which was codenamed “Trinity.” Obsessively researched, yes, but it’s Lamont’s writing that makes readers feel as though they are there, in the vastness of the desert, witnessing a happening that changed the world forever.

From the list:

The best books on the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb

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Book cover of Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing

Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing

By Elissa Altman

Why this book?

There are so many things I loved about Motherland, it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, Elissa Altman is a brilliant writer and a great storyteller. Her portrayal of her dramatic, narcissistic mother created a flawed, human, larger-than-life character I will never forget. Elissa moves us through time effortlessly, at one moment vividly portraying herself as a child and in the next, seamlessly bringing in the voice of wisdom—her adult voice now—as we watch her struggle to make peace with the past. I deeply resonated with the love and hate, attachment and resentment that ricocheted between this…
From the list:

The best books on the drama, conflict, loyalty, and love of the mother-daughter knot

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