1. Nicholas Hewitt, Wicked City: The Many Cultures of Marseille. Every city should have a good book about it, and now Marseille does. I would say you have to already know the city, however, to appreciate this one.
2. Peter Johnson, Quarantined: Life and Death at William Head Station, 1872-1959. British Columbia had a quarantine station that late, and this is its story. Leprosy, smallpox, and meningitis are a few of the drivers of the narrative. It continues to startle me how much pandemics and quarantines are a kind of lost history, though they are extremely prominent in 19th century fiction.
3. Steven Levy, Facebook: The Inside Story. Probably the best history of the company were are going to get, at least for the earlier years of the company. Even the jabs at the company seem perfunctory, for the most part this is quite objective as a treatment.
4. Katie Roiphe, The Power Notebooks. Power, sex, dating, and romance, but surprisingly substantive. Much of it is written in paragraph-long segments, and willing to be politically incorrect. “Rebecca West: “Since men don’t love us nearly as much as we love them that leaves them a lot more spare vitality to be wonderful with.”
5. Sean Masaki Flynn, The Cure That Works: How to have the World’s Best Healthcare — at a Quarter of the Price. A look at how to translate ideas from Singapore’s health care system into the United States. It overreaches, but still a useful overview and analysis.
6. Paul R. Josephson, New Atlantis Revisited: Akademgorodok, The Siberian City of Science. Imagine the Soviets trying to build a “city of science,” and meeting problem after problem. Yet “Marchuk acknowledged that in a number of fields researchers had contributed to…the speeding up of scientific technological progress. The physicists built synchroton radiation sources with broad applications; the biologists tacked plant and animal husbandry with vigor; the mathematicians, computer specialists, and economists were engaged in modeling and management systems.”