3 Must-Read Books for May

New books Washingtonians should be reading.

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

by Joseph J. Ellis

In 1776, the 13 Colonies declared their independence from Britain, formed a nation, and fought a war to gain their sovereignty. Right? Wrong, according to historian Joseph J. Ellis, who puts to rest one of the most persistent myths of our national history: that the United States was founded in 1776. Instead, he explains, the US of that pivotal year was never meant to last—the Union was merely a stopgap measure put in place until after the British were defeated.

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland

by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan

For ten years, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were kept chained up in the home of a school-bus driver who raped and regularly berated the girls. In that time, Berry kept a diary, which forms the basis of Hope. It’s told in conjunction with one of her fellow captives and two Washington Post reporters. The result is a profoundly disturbing tale, told with astonishing candor.

The Millionaire and the Bard

by Andrea Mays

Shakespeare did not die a famed, lauded genius. It took two friends several years to assemble his plays in book form (now called the First Folio), ensuring that Shakespeare’s legacy not only survived, but flourished. Without it, he might still be considered a minor author skipped over in most high-school literature classes. And without Henry Folger—who helped run Standard Oil in its heyday but lived for Shakespeare memorabilia—the largest collection of Shakespeareana in the world, in DC’s Folger Shakespeare Library, might not exist. Mays traces these two stories at once.

Hillary Kelly is a freelance writer in Washington.

This article appears in our May 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

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Hillary writes about interiors, real estate, arts, and culture. She is the former digital media editor of The New Republic, and her work has also been published in Glamour, The New York Times Book Review, and The Washington Post, among others. You can follow her on Instagram @hillarylouisekelly or on Pinterest @hlkelly.