Nonfiction Book Club

Our discussions take place in our Community Room unless otherwise indicated. Copies of the books for discussion are available at our Checkout Desk for readers registering for the discussion.


Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson
Tuesday, December 1, at 6:30 p.m.

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history. It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era.

This discussion will be held upstairs in the library.


Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back
by Janice P. Nimura
Tuesday, January 5, at 6:30 p.m.

In 1871, five young girls were sent by the Japanese government to the United States. Their mission: learn Western ways and return to help nurture a new generation of enlightened men to lead Japan.

Raised in traditional samurai households during the turmoil of civil war, three of these unusual ambassadors―Sutematsu Yamakawa, Shige Nagai, and Ume Tsuda―grew up as typical American schoolgirls. Upon their arrival in San Francisco they became celebrities, their travels and traditional clothing exclaimed over by newspapers across the nation. As they learned English and Western customs, their American friends grew to love them for their high spirits and intellectual brilliance.

The passionate relationships they formed reveal an intimate world of cross-cultural fascination and connection. Ten years later, they returned to Japan―a land grown foreign to them―determined to revolutionize women’s education.

Based on in-depth archival research in Japan and in the United States, including decades of letters from between the three women and their American host families, Daughters of the Samurai is a fascinating lens through which to view an extraordinary historical moment.

This discussion will be held upstairs in the library.

Monday:   10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Tuesday:   10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Wednesday:   10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday:   10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday:   10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday:   10 a.m. - 5 p.m
Sunday:   12 p.m. - 4 p.m

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Brookfield, CT 06804
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