Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs by Jamie Loftus
Hot dogs. Poor people created them. Rich people found a way to charge fifteen dollars for them. They’re high culture, they’re low culture, they’re sports food, they’re kids’ food, they’re hangover food, and they’re deeply American, despite having no basis whatsoever in America’s Indigenous traditions. You can love them, you can hate them, but you can’t avoid the great American hot dog.
Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs is part investigation into the cultural and culinary significance of hot dogs and part travelog documenting a cross-country road trip researching them as they’re served today. From avocado and spice in the West to ass-shattering chili in the East to an entire salad on a slice of meat in Chicago, Loftus, her pets, and her ex eat their way across the country during the strange summer of 2021. It’s a brief window into the year between waves of a plague that the American government has the resources to temper, but not the interest.
So grab a dog, lay out your picnic blanket, and dig into the delicious and inevitable product of centuries of violence, poverty, and ambition, now rolling around at your local 7-Eleven.
Brave the Wild River: The Untold Story of Two Women Who Mapped the Botany of the Grand Canyon by Melissa L. Sevigny
In the summer of 1938, botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter set off to run the Colorado River, accompanied by an ambitious and entrepreneurial expedition leader, a zoologist, and two amateur boatmen. With its churning waters and treacherous boulders, the Colorado was famed as the most dangerous river in the world. Journalists and veteran river runners boldly proclaimed that the motley crew would never make it out alive. But for Clover and Jotter, the expedition held a tantalizing appeal: no one had yet surveyed the plant life of the Grand Canyon, and they were determined to be the first.
Through the vibrant letters and diaries of the two women, science journalist Melissa L. Sevigny traces their daring forty-three-day journey down the river, during which they meticulously cataloged the thorny plants that thrived in the Grand Canyon’s secret nooks and crannies. Along the way, they chased a runaway boat, ran the river’s most fearsome rapids, and turned the harshest critic of female river runners into an ally. Clover and Jotter’s plant list, including four new cactus species, would one day become vital for efforts to protect and restore the river ecosystem.
When the World Didn’t End by Guinevere Turner
On January 5, 1975, the world was supposed to end. Under strict instructions, six-year-old Guinevere Turner put on her best dress, grabbed her favorite toy, and waited with the rest of her community for salvation—a spaceship that would take them to live on Venus. But the spaceship never came.
Guinevere did not understand that her family was a cult. She spent most of her days on a compound in Kansas, living apart from her mother with dozens of other children who worked in the sorghum fields and roved freely through the surrounding pastures, eating mulberries and tending to farm animals. But there was a dark side to this bucolic existence. Guinevere was part of the Lyman Family, a secluded cult spearheaded by Mel Lyman, a self-proclaimed savior, committed to isolation from a World he declared had lost its way. When Guinevere caught the attention of Jessie, the woman everyone in the Family called the Queen, her status was elevated—suddenly she was traveling with the inner circle among communities in Los Angeles, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard.
But before long, the life Guinevere had known ended. Her mother, from whom she had been separated since age three, left the Family with another disgraced member, and Guinevere and her four-year-old sister were forced to leave with them. Traveling outside the bounds of her cloistered existence, Guinevere was thrust into public school for the first time, a stranger in a strange land wearing homemade clothes, and clueless about social codes. Now out in the World she’d been raised to believe was evil, she faced challenges and horrors she couldn’t have imagined.
Built from the Fire: The Epic Story of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, America’s Black Wall Street by Victor Luckerson
When Ed Goodwin moved with his parents to Greenwood, Tulsa, his family joined a growing community on the cusp of becoming the center of Black life in the West. But, just a few years later, on May 31, 1921, the teenaged Ed hid in a bathtub as a white mob descended on his neighborhood. They laid waste to 35 blocks and murdering as many as 300 people. The Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the worst acts of racist violence in United States history.
The Goodwins and many of their neighbors soon rebuilt the district into “a Mecca,” in Ed’s words, where nightlife thrived, small businesses flourished, and an underworld economy lived comfortably alongside public storefronts. Ed grew into a prominent businessman and bought a community newspaper called the Oklahoma Eagle to chronicle its resurgence and battles against white bigotry. He and his genteel wife, Jeanne, raised an ambitious family, who became literal poster-children for black progress, and their son Jim, an attorney, embodied their hopes for the Civil Rights Movement. But, by the 1970s urban renewal policies had nearly emptied the neighborhood, even as Jim and his neighbors tried to hold onto pieces of Greenwood. Today, the newspaper remains, and Ed’s granddaughter Regina represents the neighborhood in the Oklahoma state legislature, working alongside a new generation of local activists.
In Built from the Fire, journalist Victor Luckerson moves beyond the mythology of Black Wall Street to tell the story of Greenwood, an aspirant black neighborhood that, like so many others, has long been buffeted by racist government policies. Luckerson provides an honest accounting of this potent national symbol of success and solidarity and weaves an epic tale about a neighborhood that refused, more than once, to be erased.