1. Robert Knapp, The Dawn of Christianity: People and Gods in a Time of Magic and Miracles. Jews, Christians, and polytheists, mostly in the first century after the birth of Christ. Strongly conceptual, rather than a string of hard-to-remember facts and citations. Here is a useful summary review.
2. Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream. A well-known Argentinean novel, finally available in English. A kind of ghost story, imagining wondering if the soul of your dying child really has been transferred to another person. Short and very powerful. Here is one very good review.
2. Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers. Plenty of libertarian thought in here, and many historical tidbits of interest, for instance Julia Caldwell-Frazier, “The Decisions of Time” (1889) p. 486:
What obstacles and failures Prof. Morse encountered when he completed his rough model of the recording electro-magnetic telegraph; but see of what inestimable value his invention has been to mankind! Was not public opinion opposed to the telephone?—styled it “a useless thing.” But within a decade the telephone has become the most patronized means of urban intercommunication. Through all the innumerable obstacles and oppositions, we see, by the decisions of time, science tracing the wild comet in its vast eccentric course through the heavens; we see science bringing down the very lightning from the clouds, making it a remedial agent and a messenger, quick as light, to carry our thoughts.
Here is useful NYT coverage. There is also:
Michael Vatikiotis, Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia, a useful introduction to why that part of the world has not turned into paradise.
Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman, A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age, is a quality treatment of its topic material.
Jesse Eisinger, The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives, is a useful look at why so many cases are leveled against the company rather than the CEO. I found the book worthwhile, but don’t think he offered much of an argument as to why that should be bad.
Bradley M. Gardner, China’s Great Migration: How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation, is a good introduction to what the title promises.