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Nonfiction Books and Essays

Featuring good writing for serious readers, Now and Then short-form nonfiction books and essays are available exclusively as Kindle booksNook BooksiPad books or ebooks for other popular mobile devices.  

Each week, we publish original titles, excerpts from forthcoming books, and reprints of work worthy of being read again. We focus on writing that is historically based but also has relevance for present day events.

Our latest titles can be found in the list below.

On the Plains with General Custer

Selections from Boots and Saddles Or, Life in Dakota with General Custer

by Elizabeth B. Custer

American History

Libbie Custer’s Boots and Saddles, published in 1885, offers not only an intimate portrait of her husband George Armstrong Custer, the tragic commander of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. It also vividly records the dangers and hardships of life on the Western frontier for those army wives who followed their husbands from one post to another. Such accounts are scarce. The existence Libbie relates was difficult and sometimes precarious, and when the soldiers left for campaigns against the Indians, the wives waited uneasily at home for news. 

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Darwin Changes His Mind

His Findings in the Galapagos Islands Lead Him to the Theory of Evolution

by Charles Darwin

History, Natural History

In 1831, Charles Darwin, twenty-two years old and a student of the ministry at Cambridge University, signed on to accompany the captain of the HMS Beagle on a voyage to survey the poorly known coastal areas of South America. Young Darwin’s account of this five-year journey became one of the world’s great travel books—The Voyage of the Beagle—but his experience also led him toward a theory of evolution that overthrew the most fundamental beliefs of man’s place in the world. And a key encounter in this regard was Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos Islands with its myriad species.

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An Eye for an Eye

by Simone de Beauvoir

Translated from the French with an introduction by Lisa Lieberman

European History, Philosophy, Military History

Where does vengeance end and justice begin? In Simone de Beauvoir’s compelling essay, written in the aftermath of World War II, she explains why she refused to call for the pardon of a prominent right-wing collaborator with the Nazis. 

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The Influence of Democracy on the Feelings of Americans

by Alexis de Tocqueville

American History

In this excerpt from his classic analysis of American political life, Tocqueville seeks to understand why democracy causes Americans to feel the way they do about equality, freedom, individualism, religion, associations, and physical pleasures.

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Selections From: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

An American Slave, Written by Himself

by Frederick Douglass

American History

The story of Frederick Douglass’s struggles as a slave, his desire to learn to read and write, his yearning to be a free man, and his escape to freedom is compactly but passionately related in this Narrative, first published in 1845. The book became one of the great autobiographical statements in the history of American reform.  

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The Color Line

Four Selections from The Souls of Black Folk

by W. E. B. Du Bois

American History, United States History

Four essays, provocative and often poetic, about the black experience in America and the quest for equality at the turn of the twentieth century. The most celebrated essay is Du Bois’s attack on Booker T. Washington’s approach to the improvement of American Negroes, a powerful objection to Washington’s leadership. The other three selections concern the Freedmen’s Bureau after the Civil War and its failed promise; the relations between whites and blacks in the South, then and for the future; and the influence of black religion, especially the church as a social center. 

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Mr. Dooley Now and Forever

Thoughts on Life and Politics from the Famous Turn-of-the-20th-Century Chicago Saloonkeeper

by Finley Peter Dunne

United States History, Political Science, American History, U.S. History, U.S. Government

Mr. Dooley, a turn-of-the-20th-century Irish saloonkeeper from Chicago’s Archer Avenue (“Ar-rchey Road,” he called it) on the city’s southwest side, was the creation of Finley Peter Dunne, a Chicago newspaperman. Mr. Dooley analyzed world affairs for the equally fictitious Mr. Hennessey, and his opinions went out to the real press and the reading public. They are current—and funny. The problems confronting America a hundred years ago are among those that remain unsolved today.

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The Plight of the Working Class

The Industrial Revolution Remakes England and Creates a Proletariat  Selections from The Condition of the Working Class in England

by Frederick Engels

European History, Economic History

Among the profusion of books and pamphlets and inquiries throughout Western Europe in the mid-19th century that addressed the condition of the working class under the new industrialism, Engels’ book, based on firsthand observation and on other available sources, stood out.  Today it remains, as Eric Hobsbawm notes, “the first large-scale attempt to apply the Marxist method to the concrete study of society  . . . [and] by far the best single book on the working class of the period.”

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