• The Naked Society, Vance Packard (Ig Publishing)
This spirited critique of government and corporate surveillance spent 23 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1964, long before the Internet as we know it existed, the PATRIOT Act was drafted, and Edward Snowden was born. As historian Rick Perlstein notes in his new introduction, the book is most useful as a colorful artifact of another era. Today, the low-tech snooping Packard describes in outrage seems downright quaint.
• Thank You for Your Service, David Finkel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
In a follow-up to The Good Soldiers, Finkel follows members of an Army infantry regiment home from Iraq. Back stateside, he watches them and their families struggle with the demands of reintegration. The difficulties facing veterans are well documented, but Finkel’s prose, which reads more like literary fiction than journalistic reportage, brings them to life with a rare and affecting immediacy.
• Do Muslim Women Need Saving?, Lila Abu-Lughod (Harvard University Press)
Abu-Lughod, a prominent anthropologist, argues that the Western media and human rights groups overgeneralize about Muslim women, contributing to a mindset that helps justify disastrous wars. Her writing is needlessly dense, but still provocative. The best segments zoom in on the lives of real women and show how far they depart from descriptions foisted on them by well-intentioned foreigners.