The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession by John Cornwell tells a shameful history.
A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof (Particular Books) by columnist Roger Clarke is just as much about people.
Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World (Chicago Review Press) by Tristan Donovan is a history of carbonated drinks.
The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day (Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by mathematician David Hand looks at the probability of the improbable.
The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease (Palgrave Macmillan) by immunologist John Rhodes is full of medical optimism.
The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI (Knopf) by Betty Medsger recalls a brilliant act of civil disobedience.
Errol Fuller's _Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record_ (Princeton University Press) gives us pictures of what we have lost.
Richard Holmes's Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air (Pantheon) is a grand history of ballooning.
The Greek Vase: Art of the Storyteller (J. Paul Getty Museum) by John H. Oakley is a fine primer to a distant art form.