Good reads: Obscure, fascinating pieces of history

This post is part of a series recommending longform, narrative nonfiction (as well as other worthwhile writings).

The Forgotten Internment by Eva Holland, Maisonneuve

You probably know about the Japanese internment that took place in the United States during World War II (if you’re like me, you learned about it through Cynthia Kadohata’s Weedflower). But did you know that the U.S. interned a tribe of North America’s native people in Alaska? Yeah, me neither. This piece by Eva Holland, a Canadian freelancer, tells the story from interviews she conducted with those who lived through it. Fascinating, thought-provoking history.

Frank Sinatra has a Cold by Gay Talese, Esquire

What’s a star like when he’s passed his prime, other pieces of life aren’t going his way, and he’s no longer “got the world on a string“? This piece (which has been on my list for a while — it’s probably the most referred to work of narrative nonfiction) paints a three-dimensional portrait of Sinatra on the downswing of his career. My favorite quote is from Sinatra’s son. See if you can find it.

How a Fake Typhus Epidemic Saved a Polish City from the Nazis by Matt Soniak, Atlas Obscura

This piece isn’t really narrative nonfiction, but it is an interesting, well-researched piece of obscure history. Good for stimulating thought, adding dimension to your understanding of World War II (slight theme here), and possibly inspiring some fiction.

And finally, a piece that contains no storytelling whatsoever, but involves storytelling as the priority of a discussion around digital books:

Future Reading by Craig Mod, Aeon

Craig Mod tackles the questions of ebook (and e-reader) design: why/where it falls short, what is blockading improvement, and whether or not ebooks will ever actually overtake print. A while back, Mod also wrote an excellent piece about digital publishing for magazines.

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