The best books on US Militarism, recommended by Stephen Glain

American presidents may not want to send troops into battle or militarise foreign policy but, in the end, most of them do. The author and journalist explains how this happens, and why it’s not even the military that’s to blame. He picks the best books on American militarism.

The Best American Stories, recommended by Simon Winchester

Modern America is a story of expanding frontiers, says bestselling author Simon Winchester. He tells us about five novels that shed light on the social history of his adopted homeland, from the late 19th century to the Great Depression.

Fran Lebowitz on New York Writers

‘The authors of these five books are people who came to New York for freedom – not so they could get rich, but so they could be free to pursue their interests and live their lives the way they wanted.’ New Yorker par excellence Fran Lebowitz recommends the writers who best capture her immutably mutable city.

The Best 9/11 Literature, recommended by Amy Waldman

Amy Waldman reported on the aftermath of 9/11 for the New York Times, but when it came to writing a book about it, she wrote a novel. The Submission was hailed as one of the best novels to come out of the tragedy, including by the Financial Times. Here, she chooses some of the best literature inspired by 9/11, including novels, a memoir and a book of poetry.  

The best books on Texas, recommended by Attica Locke

The author of the acclaimed noir novels Black Water Rising and The Cutting Season, Attica Locke, tells us about stories of freed slaves, oil barons and gangsters on the run – books that capture the outlaw spirit of her home state.

The Best Vietnam War Books, recommended by Karl Marlantes

In 1968 Karl Marlantes was a 22-year old Rhodes scholar and did not have to go to Vietnam. He nonetheless joined the US Marine Corps, ending up with multiple medals but also lifelong PTSD. In this interview, he recommends the best Vietnam War books, exploring its moral ambiguities, the warrior mentality and the humanity of ‘the enemy.’

The best books on Hollywood, recommended by Marina Hyde

The best books on Hollywood. ‘Smart people went to the ballet and opera, and what the poor and lower middle classes did with their time didn’t matter. But these men in Hollywood had a vision and were creating this product that was loved by everybody of all different backgrounds.’