In keeping with the cold theme, the next book was Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia. When Robert “Papa Pilgrim” Hale and his family first moved to town, the residents were charmed by the apparent piety of the family—father, mother, and 14 children strong. Even when Hale bulldozed a road through a national park, people saw him as simply standing up for landowners against the government. An interested newspaper reporter began investigating Hale and what he discovered was anything but simple and benign, ranging from a questionable death to ties to Lee Harvey Oswald. However, that paled in comparison to the stories that his daughters told after they escaped the family homestead. The story is both horrifying and riveting, according to our reviewer.
Carl Sferrazza Anthony, best known for his two books on the lives of the First Ladies, decided to expand on one of his subjects in Florence Harding: The First Lady, the Jazz Age, and the Death of America’s Most Scandalous President. While largely forgotten today, Florence was a strong, opinionated, extremely influential woman who promoted women’s rights and veterans’ welfare. She was the first First Lady to invite “Hollywood types” to the White House. She was also married to a man who was a womanizer and involved in other scandals. This is a fascinating introduction to a woman who deserves to be remembered as the pioneer she was.
Also recommended was Never Go Back by Lee Child, which is the 18th book in the Jack Reacher series. Reacher has gone back to the HQ of his old Army unit, only to be accused of an old homicide. Athough this book is the last part of a four novel story arc (following 61 Hours, Worth Dying For, and A Wanted Man), you don’t have to have read the others before reading this one