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.
Last of the Blue and Gray: Old Men, Stolen Glory, and the Mystery that Outlived the Civil War (Smithsonian Books) by Richard A. Serrano tells stories false and true about the last veterans.
Birds & People_ (Jonathan Cape) by Mark Cocker with photographs by David Tipling extensively documents the partnership.
Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids (Columbia University Press) by Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero shows how monsters can teach principles of science.
A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction (Bloomsbury) by natural historian Joel Greenberg commemorates a sad centennial.
Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Simon and Schuster) by Thomas Harding follows parallel lives in WWII.
Steven V. Ash's A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year after the Civil War (Hill and Wang) restores a massacre into its historic place.
Rogerson's Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers from 1001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World (Profile Books) by Barnaby Rogerson is a number book even for those who dislike mathematics.
Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation (Princeton University Press) by Robert Bartlett is a miraculous history.
3. Escaping North Korea BOOK REVIEWS