In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Hitchens shows a side of Henry Kissinger few would have imagined possible. He delves into the dark side of American foreign policy and shows first-hand examples of Kissinger’s criminal activities in Vietnam, Bangladesh and East Timor, and of his human rights violations and war crimes.
One Summer (2013) tells the story of the summer of 1927, a particularly pivotal three months in American history. The summer of 1927 marked the emergence of the United States as a major power on the international scene and set the stage for the Great Depression of the ‘30s. One Summer takes a closer look at a number of 1927’s important events, such as Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Babe Ruth’s recording-breaking 60 home runs in a season and the execution of Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti.
Unfair (2015) outlines the major flaws inherent to the United States’ justice system. In addition to the unreliability of eyewitness testimony or the arbitrary nature of many judges’ decisions, every actor in the entire justice system – cops, lawyers, jurors and judges alike – is fundamentally, yet unconsciously, biased. Ultimately, the author argues that addressing these blind biases is the key to reforming our justice system.
When it was originally published, Common Sense (1776) came in the form of a pamphlet, which George Washington read to his troops during the American Revolutionary War. These blinks are a window into the political mind of one of America’s founding fathers, and will explain the logic that led to the American revolution, as well as to the establishment of an entirely new government.
Bourbon Empire (2015) takes you on an exciting journey through time, revealing the complex history of America’s famous corn-based whiskey. Learn how this tipple survived the dry period of Prohibition, numerous corruption scandals and competition from overseas spirits while making its mark in politics and society.
Two Nations Indivisible (2013) tells the story of the United States’ relationship with its neighbor to the south: Mexico. These blinks explain the profound connections between the two countries as well as the misunderstandings that keep them apart, with an emphasis on political and economic relations.
With unprecedented access to declassified documents, Back Channel to Cuba (2014) reveals the long and bumpy road of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Find out how 50 years of unsuccessful foreign policy have kept Cuba and the United States at odds despite the efforts of secret, back-channel negotiations that have been taking place since the Eisenhower administration.
In America’s Bank (2015), you’ll discover the gripping story of the US Federal Reserve, or “Fed.” These blinks trace the history behind the development and unification of the American banking system and show the complex web of interests and players that continue to shape the system today.
From Silk to Silicon (2016) tells the stories of several key figures who influenced the globalization of the world economy, from Andrew Grove to Genghis Khan. These blinks take you through centuries of history to meet the major players who shaped the development of human societies, employing everything from unbridled free trade to iron-fisted authoritarian rule.
The Looming Tower (2006) is all about al-Qaeda, its formation, and the personalities behind it. These blinks detail the route taken to power by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the run-up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack that devastated the United States.
Killing Lincoln (2011) tells the story behind the assassination of president Abraham Lincoln, which took place in 1865, shortly after the Confederate army had surrendered, effectively putting an end to the US Civil War. Learn all about the conspirators who plotted the killing, what their motives were and the details surrounding the fateful night at Ford’s Theater.
The WikiLeaks Files (2015) provides fascinating and digestible insights from WikiLeaks, the organization that came to worldwide prominence with the release of 251,287 US State Department cables in 2010. These blinks paint a bleak picture of an American empire and its machinations.
Sea Power (2017) provides an enlightening look at the role Earth’s oceans have played over the course of human history. From early voyagers who sailed into the vast unknown, to the tens of thousands of commercial ships now traversing the globe on a daily basis, our oceans have always been a powerful force that we’ve longed to tame and control. While we’ve come a long way, we still find ourselves faced with immense challenges that we’ll only overcome by working together.
Barbarians at the Gate (1989) tells the story of one of the largest corporate deals in US history, the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco. These blinks provide a gripping portrait of the extreme and extravagant behavior in corporate America during the 1980s.
A People’s History of the United States (2015, first edition 1980) walks you through the United States’ past from the perspective of the marginalized, the disenfranchised and the oppressed. These blinks describe a history of uprisings, protests and activism in the face of a government built for the rich.
Killing the Rising Sun (2016) tells the story of the Pacific War, which took place between 1941 and 1945, and its main belligerents, the United States and Japan. From the attack on Pearl Harbor to bloody invasions of Japan to the development of the world’s first atomic bomb, the book portrays the brutality of World War II from a US perspective, and describes how the war was eventually won.
The Vietnam War is remembered as one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts of the twentieth century. At the end of 1967, the US government was assuring the public the war was almost won; by February 1968, that was no longer the case. In Hue 1968 (2017) Mark Bowden examines the battle in the city of Hue which changed the way the American public viewed the war.
The Soul of America (2018) takes readers on an enlightening tour of America’s tumultuous past. From the final moments of the Civil War to the long overdue civil rights and voting legislation of the 1960s, the book reveals the United States for what it has always been: a nation of deep and lasting conflict. By looking to America’s past, we can see both where today’s political divides stem from and why the nation will likely be able to persevere.
The First Conspiracy (2019) explores the shocking 1776 plot to kidnap, and possibly assassinate, George Washington. Washington was not yet president of the United States, but general of the colonies’ army. Using fascinating anecdotes and insights from this period of history, these blinks examine the suspicions, uncertainty and betrayals in the period leading up to the Revolutionary War.
The Doomsday Machine (2017) follows famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on his journey from learning about nuclear bombs in school to rewriting the national security policy for the United States of America. It explores the use of nuclear systems throughout history and how close we came to ending the human race.
Presidents of War (2018) is a panoramic study of eight US presidents and the conflicts into which they led their country. Detailing each POTUS’ motivations for war, their decisions once hostilities began, and the mood of the press and public at home, these absorbing portraits of wartime leaders look at American history on the grandest of scales – from the War of 1812 to Vietnam.
Upheaval (2019) takes us through some of modern history’s biggest national crises to find out how each nation ended up in such trouble, and how they managed to get out of it. Looking at seven different nations, author Jared Diamond reveals how some of the same problems and solutions have emerged time and again, whether we’re looking at Chile and Indonesia in the 1970s, or Australia and Germany after WWII.
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (2019) is a vivid history of Native America since the 1890 massacre at South Dakota’s Wounded Knee Creek. These blinks show that – contrary to popular opinion – in the twentieth century, Native Americans did not slide into obscurity and achieve nothing of note. On the contrary, this was a time filled with momentous and extraordinary events.
Siege (2019) gives a detailed account of Donald Trump’s presidency between 2017 and early 2019, portraying a White House that always seems to be on the brink of collapse. In a blow-by-blow description of the seismic events of Trump’s second and third years in office, Michael Wolff evokes an administration under siege.
American Carnage (2019) details the ideological battle at the heart of the Republican Party over the last decade. From George Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” to the Tea Party’s right-wing fervor, Tim Alberta covers the ideological metamorphosis that led to Donald Trump’s presidency.
Mindf*ck (2019), written by a whistleblower, tells the story of the largest data crime in history to date. On the eve of the 2016 United States presidential election, consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested the Facebook data from 87 million people and used it to conduct a mass disinformation campaign. Now, the full story has finally come to light.
Narrated by Oliver Mains
Music by Federico Coderoni
Shoot for the Moon (2019) provides a riveting, wide-ranging account of the early space race. It guides you through the historic Apollo 11 mission which first landed humans on the moon, and sheds light on the legacy of the preceding missions that paved its way.
Crime in Progress (2019) is the thrilling inside story of the intelligence agency that first started investigating the links between Donald Trump and Russia. Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch of Fusion GPS relate how they commissioned the infamous Steele Dossier, which alleged that the Russians had leverage over Trump, and the astonishing series of events to which this led.
The Conscience of a Conservative (1960) is a classic statement of the conservative mindset. Penned in an age of bipartisan support for big government, Barry Goldwater’s manifesto rekindled a conservative movement committed to shrinking the state. Over the next 20 years, Goldwater’s positions on topics such as taxation, education, and welfare became commonsensical on the American right, laying the foundations for the 1980s Reagan revolution.
Code Girls (2017) is about the thousands of American women who worked as code breakers during World War II. Informed by interviews with over 20 surviving women, archived documents, and recently declassified oral histories, author Liza Mundy details the unprecedented lives of female code breakers in Washington, DC and beyond as well as the American intelligence that led to the success of the Allied war efforts.
Dark Towers (2020) is a heavily researched look into the ignominious rise and devastating fall of Deutsche Bank. Over the course of 150 years, the bank helped build the American railroad system, funded Nazi genocide, schmoozed Russian oligarchs, and had a hand in the election of President Donald Trump. When Deutsche executive Bill Broeksmit killed himself in 2014, he came to symbolize the destructive power of the bank’s institutional greed.
A Very Stable Genius (2020) is the definitive account of Donald Trump’s time in the White House. After three years of silence, dozens of public officials and other first-hand witnesses familiar with the workings of the Trump administration went on record with reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. Their testimony forms the backbone of these blinks, which reveal the forty-fifth president of the United States up close.
Figuring (2019) traces the intricate web that connects important figures from human history, from German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and inventor Nikola Tesla to America’s first female astronomer Maria Mitchell and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. These blinks pick up the tapestry of these different lives, trace the impact that they had on the course of history, and reveal the secret driving force that unites them all.
The Lincoln Conspiracy (2020) tells the story of the first assassination attempt on America’s 16th president – before he was even president. Organized by a secret cabal of pro-slavery Southern secessionists, the plot was foiled by famous private detective Allan Pinkerton, as well as Kate Warne, one of his agents, and the first female detective in America.
Hawai’i (2019) is a detailed history of the economic forces that have shaped Hawaiian society. Author Sumner La Croix traces the arc of commerce, from traditions first established in the twelfth century by Polynesian colonists to the modern Hawaiian state. Along the way, he examines what has changed and what has stayed the same.
Americana (2017) traces the history of the USA from one key perspective: capitalism. Bhu Srinivasan shows how the development of the country has been closely bound up with the development of capitalism, from the New England colonies’ earliest days to the most recent innovations of Silicon Valley or Wall Street.
Named by The Economist as one of the best books of 2017
Fall and Rise (2019) recounts the morning of September 11, 2001, a date when the world changed forever. Operating under the direction of Osama bin Laden, terrorists seized control of four commercial airliners, crashing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It tells a story of fear, courage, and strength through the eyes of just a few of the men, women, and children who were there.
The Code (2019) examines the remarkable history of Silicon Valley, the lush Californian valley that became synonymous with tech startups and the creation of some of our society’s most disruptive inventions like the internet. With a curious, critical gaze, The Code uncovers the reality behind the myths, and shows that while entrepreneurship and technical genius were important to the valley’s rise, none of its most famous achievements would have been possible without military collaborations and enormous amounts of federal funding.
Stonewall (1994) is the definitive history of the 1969 uprising that catalyzed the gay rights movement in the United States. By examining the lives of six gay and lesbian people involved in the movement, author Martin Duberman sheds light on the systems of oppression – as well as the incredible dedication and bravery – that led to mainstream society’s greater acceptance of the gay and lesbian community.
Isaac’s Storm (1999) is a gripping account of the hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900. Just as Galveston was becoming a world-class city, a storm arrived with little warning and crushed many of the community’s hopes and ambitions.
Four Hundred Souls (2021) is an innovative and insightful recounting of African American history. This collection brings together ninety different authors to reflect on four-hundred years of struggle, oppression, and hope.
Undaunted (2020) sketches the life of former CIA director John Brennan, from his humble beginnings in a blue-collar New Jersey household to his rise through the ranks of the CIA. Packed with political intrigue and personal anecdotes, it’s a remarkable and surprising look at a man who has dedicated his life to keeping America safe.
Shakespeare in a Divided America (2020) offers a new perspective on American history. In looking back at eight instances where Shakespeare’s plays have been politicized by those on both sides of the political spectrum, we can see how the playwright's work has remained highly relevant over the years.
Modern Warriors (2020) is a collection of gut-wrenching yet heartfelt stories about US war veterans’ years in service. These tales expose the harsh realities of combat, as well as the cherished moments of love and companionship that saw these soldiers through the hardest times.
Speaking for Myself (2020) is an insider’s account of Donald Trump’s first two years in office by the woman whose job it was to present the president’s thinking to the world – press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Alongside fascinating snapshots of Trump’s decision-making process, values, and sense of humor, Sanders offers readers a glimpse of the inner workings of the White House and the role of the press in American political life.
The Economists’ Hour (2019) is a compact history of how economists came to dominate our political discourse. This work traces the rise of neoliberal ideology from the 1960s to today.
What Unites Us (2017) is an ode to American traditions, ideals, and solidarity. Drawing on Dan Rather’s long career as a political reporter, it appeals to all that is good and enduring in US culture and politics.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (2020) is an introduction to race and race-related issues in America. Talking about these issues can be uncomfortable, but by being unafraid of dialogue, we can learn that the difficulties Black people in America face today are best understood through US history.
How To Destroy America in Three Easy Steps (2020) is an account of the political forces threatening to tear America in two. Drawing on history, philosophy, and politics past and present, this book emphatically argues that Americans should remember exactly what it is that unites them.
Minor Feelings (2020) is poet Cathy Park Hong’s searing account of life as an Asian American. Drawing on her own experiences alongside penetrating insights, it paints a picture of the purgatorial status that Asian Americans still face.
Over the years, much has been made of the influence of Enlightenment ideas – particularly those of English philosopher John Locke – on America’s founding fathers. First Principles (2020) takes a different approach. It focuses instead on the ways in which Greek and Roman history and philosophy profoundly shaped the values and goals of America’s first four presidents, and how classical ideas are embedded in the nation to this day.
The Power of Giving Away Power (2021) explains how leaders, organizations, and businesses can harness power by giving it away. By replacing traditional ideas of hierarchy with a mindset centered around constellations, we can create flexible networks that allow us to get big things done, better.
The Dying Citizen (2021) explores the ways in which modern American democracy is being weakened. Touching on issues like globalization and identity politics, it discusses how left-wing progressives are damaging the foundations of the United States.
Zero Fail (2021) is a no-nonsense account of the ineptitude and recklessness that have plagued the US Secret Service in recent decades. From Kennedy to Trump, the Service has continually covered up for, and even promoted, agents who made impulsive, ill-considered and simply bad decisions.
How the Word Is Passed (2021) is a travelogue that underscores how slavery has shaped America’s collective history and its reality today. Nine locations serve as gateways to important stories that are hidden in plain sight. They exemplify how communities have reckoned, or not, with their roles in the history of slavery and invite us all to dig deeper into what we believe – and why.
Richard Nixon: The Life (2017) is a thorough biography of one of the most controversial American presidents. Tracing Nixon’s life from his humble upbringing through his meteoric political ascent to his crashing downfall in the Watergate scandal, it reveals a complex, troubled, and sentimental man.
Killing the Mob (2021) explores America’s uneasy relationship with organized crime. It exposes the shocking influence of the Mafia on twentieth-century history and culture and reveals the outrageous exploits of America’s most notorious gangsters.
The Reckoning (2021) is an unflinching look at contemporary American society. This sharp treatise draws informative connections between the nation’s traumas and its current issues.
Abortion and the Law in America (2020) offers a comprehensive legal history of abortion rights in the US. It highlights the social and cultural shifts that have contributed to the abortion debate and looks closely at the types of arguments invoked by both sides.
The 1619 Project (2021) is an anthology of essays investigating the origins of the slave trade in America, and how it has shaped what the country would become. It’s also an exploration of how we create history, and how these stories shape our political present. The essays are accompanied by fictional excerpts and poetry, bringing to life the experiences of enslaved people in America.
The American War in Afghanistan (2021) is an in-depth look at one of the defining conflicts of the twenty-first century. This exhaustively-researched analysis dives into the details of this protracted and complex military occupation.
Reagan (2015) is the definitive account of the life of a towering figure in American history. Starting with his childhood in Illinois, the narrative follows the course of Ronald Reagan’s life, from his charmed days in Hollywood to his time as governor of California and, finally, from the White House to the world stage of the Cold War.
1491 (2005) is a study of the Western Hemisphere before 1492, the year in which an Italian sailor employed by the Spanish empire first set foot in the Americas. Within a century of Columbus’s “discovery” of the New World, some of humanity’s most sophisticated cultures had all but disappeared. In 1491, Charles Mann sets out to recover their ways of life and remarkable achievements.
Founding Brothers (2002) complicates and enriches our understanding of the American revolution. The men who founded America lived and worked in uncertain times. The future was far from certain, and even the truths they held to be self-evident often led to strikingly different conclusions. But they clung to one another – as friends, as rivals, and even as enemies. Together, they formed a fraternity of remarkable minds that could collectively solve the problems each of them on their own could not.
Forget the Alamo (2021) charts the history of the Alamo, both real and imagined. It looks at how a popular, heroic mythology sprung from the events of 1836 and came to represent both a noble version of Texas independence and a metaphor for American valor. Find out how the Alamo became a touchstone in American culture wars, and discover how the real story paints a not-so-virtuous picture of American history.
Empire of Pain (2021) follows the rise and fall of the elusive Sacklers, the billionaire family behind Purdue Pharma. Its blockbuster drug, OxyContin, was aggressively marketed as safe, but would go on to spur a devastating opioid crisis that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Yet the Sacklers’ fortress of lawyers, political connections and a philanthropic name would, time and again, protect them from responsibility.
The Forgotten 500 (2007) tells the story of Allied airmen who were trapped behind enemy lines in World War II and the courageous citizens of Yugoslavia who risked everything to help them get home. For political reasons, the story remained classified for decades until the 1980s. But now, the events leading to the largest rescue operation of the war are available to us all.
Dear America (2021) is a call to action for Americans. It implores them to unite despite differences – and preserve their nation before it’s too late.
The Cold War (2003) provides an overview of the conflict that defined the second half of the twentieth century. Beginning in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, it traces the Cold War’s development through the rest of the century, laying out its underlying causes and overall contours.
And There Was Light (2022) is a biography of Abraham Lincoln that takes a nuanced look at a complex leader. Focusing especially on Lincoln’s evolving views on and actions around slavery, it’s a picture of a man who wrestled with his moral convictions while attempting to hold together a divided nation. Echoes of that struggle still ring out today, making it essential to keep Lincoln’s story at the forefront of American consciousness.
G-Man (2022) is a thorough and comprehensive biography of J. Edgar Hoover and the history of the FBI. Drawing from established history as well as newly uncovered documents, it covers the entire timeline of Hoover’s personal life as well as his role in shaping America as we know it.
The Revolutionary (2022) offers a nuanced look at one of the most central figures in the lead-up to the American War of Independence. It reveals a man of character and contradiction, whose revolutionary thinking and deep commitment to civil liberties came to define a revolution.
Mayflower (2006) tells the epic story of the 1620 voyage to establish a colony of religious separatists on North American shores, and the astonishing aftermath of their fateful trip. From life-or-death struggle to peaceful coexistence with native peoples to devastating war just a half century later, it tells the unvarnished truth of the people and politics that went on to shape a nation.
Fifth Sun (2019) recounts the epic rise and tragic fall of the Aztec Empire. Using powerful, firsthand accounts written by the Aztecs themselves as its source material, this Blink provides a new narrative of the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica. It is the story of a people who resisted colonization and, although defeated militarily, never fully relinquished their indigenous identity.
The Fourth Turning (1997) presents a fascinating picture of history, past, present, and future. Though the people of modern Western societies tend to view history as a linear process, the reality might instead be cyclical, repeated regularly and predictably. By studying the ways in which history does indeed repeat itself, we can better prepare ourselves for what is likely to come in the future.
The Catcher in the Rye (1951) is J. D. Salinger’s classic coming-of-age novel, telling the story of the troubled young Holden Caulfield. Holden has just been expelled from school, and spends several days traversing New York City, sharing his opinions of the world around him.
Of Mice and Men (1937) is a poignant tale that traces an unlikely friendship between two impoverished workers in California during the Great Depression: compact, quick-witted George Milton, and huge, childlike Lennie Small.
Under the Banner of Heaven (2003) traces the roots of contemporary Mormon fundamentalism through the lens of a horrendous double murder. The devotion of the Lafferty brothers is a gateway into core tenets that include divine revelation, polygamy, blood atonement, and the way Mormons act in their unique role as God’s chosen.
Little Women (1868-1869) tells the story of the four March sisters, and the struggles and day-to-day obstacles they faced while becoming young adults. While the story takes place in the American Northeast, it’s a universal coming-of-age story that has been appreciated around the world.
Saving Aziz (2023) is the story of how one man’s daring rescue of his friend and brother-in-arms turned into a multi-organizational effort that has resulted in rescuing over 17,000 allies from Afghanistan.
Picasso’s War (2022) reveals the fascinating story behind America’s rocky relationship with modern art. It shows how a small group of individuals were able to overcome ridicule and accusations of “degenerate art” in order to turn the country into a haven for the world’s most progressive artists.
The Mosquito Bowl (2022) tells the story of American football stars going to war and playing one more game when they get there. It details a nation divided by bigotry but united by sport and a common enemy.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) is the first part of a critically acclaimed seven-volume autobiography by the American writer and poet Maya Angelou. A vivid account of growing up in America during the Depression, it documents Maya’s life between the ages of three and sixteen. Hailed for its unflinching portrayal of displacement, discrimination, and trauma, it is also a life-affirming study of how hope can prevail amidst death and despair.
Death of a Salesman (1949) is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest plays. A poignant critique of the promises and pitfalls of capitalism and the American Dream, it follows the salesman Willy Loman, his increasingly tense relationships with his family and colleagues, and his tragic, hallucinatory descent into fantasy and madness.
LBJ is the story of its namesake – Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States – from birth to death. Looking with a sympathetic, though not uncritical, eye on one of the nation’s most maligned and misunderstood leaders, it analyzes the dynamics that shaped him in his youth, the causes he championed, and the presidential decisions that turned him into an icon. By the end, you’ll come away with a much deeper, more nuanced understanding of this controversial, yet titanic, twentieth-century leader.
Myth America (2022) is a collection of essays that examine and dismantle some of the most pervasive myths about America: how it was founded, who’s allowed to be here, and how we define a ‘real’ American or American family.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) is often considered a landmark, if controversial, work in the history of American literature. It tells the story of a young teenager who runs away from an abusive, alcoholic father by fleeing in a raft down the Mississippi River. Along the way, he befriends a man running from slavery and becomes a reluctant accomplice to a pair of con artists.
The Alignment Problem (2021) is both a history of the development of AI as well as a prophetic warning about what is to come. From the inherent bias in training data to the extreme speed of progress, Brian Christian details the potential dangers of and solutions to the AI problem.
Innovation in Real Places (2021) argues that the prevailing Silicon Valley model of growth creation has failed most cities and regions. Rather than chasing the chimera of becoming the next tech hub, communities should focus on identifying their niche in the global production process and fostering innovation based on their existing strengths.
American Prometheus (2005) captures Oppenheimer’s life in a way that echoes Prometheus’s audacity in gifting fire. From atomic breakthroughs to ethical entanglements, this is a nuclear narrative of epic proportions.
King (2023) is a compelling biography of Martin Luther King. It tells the story of a man, not a saint, who had a remarkable career. His life was cut short at the age of 39, but in his 13-year career King’s vision of a United States based on equality and justice for all, lives on.
What Napoleon Could Not Do (2023) explores the contrasting experiences of two Ghanaians, Jacob and Belinda, and their aspirations in the United States. Jacob, an awkward computer programmer who still lives with his father, wants to join his wife in America but is foiled by visa denials. His sister, Belinda, meanwhile, has studied in the US and married an American – Wilder, a prosperous Black Texan businessman. But she, too, contends with disappointment: as she waits for her green card, her perception of America is soured by racism. Their journeys reflect the allure and letdowns of life in a foreign land, and the narrative insightfully captures how each grapples with dreams both realized and thwarted.
All the Sinners Bleed (2023) is a work of crime fiction, focused on main character Titus Crown’s efforts to investigate several recent killings in his hometown. To solve the crime, Crown must contend with the town’s racist history, a far-right group, and a long-undiscovered serial killer.