John Higgs’s Stranger than We Can Imagine is subtitled “An alternative history of the 20th Century,” but it may disappoint the tinfoil-hat set. I enjoyed a number of the deviant possibilities, such as the idea that Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (which should have been called an artisanal) may have actually been thought up by a woman, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. (I already knew that the fur-covered spoon, cup, and saucer, often attributed to Duchamp, Dali, or Picasso, was actually done by a woman named Meret Oppenheim.)
In The War on Alcohol, Lisa McGirr suggests that Prohibition, as well as being a disastrous farce, helped build the overpowering penal and law-enforcement establishment we have now. War is also the health of the state when it’s a war on drugs.