1. The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst, by Kenneth Whyte. A detailed revisionist account, arguing Hearst was a better progressive and better journalist than his reputation.
2. Tim Blanning, The Triumph of Music: The Rise of Composers, Musicians and Their Art. An overview of the history of music, with many insights from an economic point of view.
3. Elsewhere, U.S.A., by Dalton Conley. Everything by Conley is worth reading. The subtitle to this one is: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, Blackberry Moms, and Economic Anxiety. The focus is on technology and markets. Here are numerous earlier posts on Dalton Conley.
4. The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America (these subtitles are getting more and more all-encompassing!). The author is Steven Johnson, another author always worth reading. The topic is Joseph Priestley. Here is Johnson’s blog. Here is a good review.
5. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. I’ve long resisted Steinbeck, so we’ll see how far I get in this one.