5 Authors Of Intriguing Books About History And Culture

Even after decades of technological innovations and the advent of the Internet, books remain among the best resources for learning about the world. Thanks to the contributions of scholars and other authors, readers have a plethora of works to choose from if they want to acquire new historical and cultural knowledge. In no particular order, here are some writers penning illuminating books about religion, government, paranormal phenomena, and other eye-opening topics.

For #1 we have Emily Dufton, a drug historian, writer, and researcher based near Washington, DC. She is the author of "Grass Roots," which traces over 50 years of cannabis activism, detailing marijuana's crooked path from acceptance to demonization and back again. Since its publication, Dufton has become a trusted commentator on America's changing cannabis scene, having appeared on CNN and the History Channel, among other stations.

Other writing by the author has been featured in publications such as TIME, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Washington Post. Dufton is also the managing editor of Points, the blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, and a podcast host on the New Books Network, where she interviews authors on books about drugs, addiction, and recovery.

Coming in at #2 is John Fea, a Distinguished Professor of American History at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and a self-described evangelical. His first book, "The Way of Improvement Leads Home," chronicles the short but fascinating life of Philip Vickers Fithian, one of the most prolific diarists in early America. Fea examines Fithian's inner life, his experience in the early American back country, his love affair with Elizabeth Beatty, and his role as a Revolutionary War chaplain.

Among Fea's additional works are "The Bible Cause," which examines the intersecting histories of the American Bible Society and the United States, and "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?," an evenhanded primer on whether the country was founded to be a Christian country, as many evangelicals assert. Beyond his writing, Fea regularly speaks at churches, schools, civic groups, and historical societies, and has appeared on NBC News, C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and dozens of radio programs across the nation.

For #3 we find John Kachuba. The award-winning author of numerous books, articles, short stories, and poems, Kachuba writes about paranormal and metaphysical topics, and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Horror Writers Association. Among his notable titles is "Shapeshifters," an original cultural history of the myths, magic, and meaning surrounding ritual animal transformations. Featuring an array of examples from history, literature, film, TV, and more, the book explores our desire to become something other than human.

Many of Kachuba's titles focus on spectral phenomena. In "Ghosthunters," the author investigates haunted locations throughout the country, and interviews people who have had paranormal encounters. The book is complemented by others that center on allegedly haunted locations in Illinois and Ohio. Kachuba's additional credits include the novels "Dark Entry" and "The Savage Apostle," as well as frequent speaking appointments at universities, libraries, conferences, and on podcasts, radio, and TV.

Next at #4 is Carolyn Harris. Based in Toronto, Canada, she is a historian, author, and royal commentator with expertise in the history of European monarchy. Her first book, "Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada," was released in 2015 to mark the 800th anniversary of the eponymous charter, and offers a deep analysis of how it still influences our world. This was followed by "Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe," about the lives and legacies of Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette.

In 2017, Harris released her third book, "Raising Royalty," which explores how royal parents dealt with raising their children over the past thousand years, from keeping Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi. The author writes extensively on the historical context of issues facing the British and Canadian monarchies today, with her work appearing in such publications as BBC History Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen, and the Toronto Sun. She also delivers talks on the monarchy for museums, libraries, universities, and more.

Finally, for #5 we have M. Thomas Apple, who writes sci-fi, nonfiction, and literary fiction. He made his debut with "Approaching Twi-Night," about a journeyman relief pitcher who has designs on becoming a sportswriter. Apple later released "Taking Leave," an essay collection that examines social issues influencing Japan in the 21st century, written from the author's perspective as an expatriate living in the country.

Apple's science-fiction works include the novella "Adam's Stepsons," which centers on a doctor who programs a race of superhuman, inviolable soldiers to lead the United Americas to victory in a war on Mars. The author also wrote the preface to Linda A. Langworthy's sci-fi romance "Destiny in the Future," which for 50 years had never been seen in print. Other titles include "Notes from the Nineties," a collection of contemporary short stories and poems with themes ranging from family squabbles to cultural differences.