Drug Warrior by Jack Riley
In this white-knuckled memoir, DEA agent Jack Riley recounts his decades-long pursuit of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the notorious cartel kingpin. In 2007, after pursuing Guzmán’s competitors in St. Louis, Riley shows up in El Paso, Texas, and gets busy busting Guzmán’s stash houses and disrupting his supply chain. As a result, late one night, Riley notices a pickup and an SUV trailing him down the interstate—and ends up cornered by hit men. The book is full of high-stakes moments such as this but also serves as a master class in methodical detective work.
Fishing Through the Apocalypse by Matthew L. Miller
Man’s attempts to control fish have been a disaster—a fact that Nature Conservancy writer Matthew L. Miller makes clear in this cross-country study of the nation’s aquatic life. He catches a mutant “banana trout” in Idaho, searches for long-gone greenback cutthroat in Colorado, and boats across Yellowstone Lake, overrun by lake trout—reckoning all the while with why conserving native fish has proved such a struggle. To him, there’s one path forward: Protect more wild public lands to protect our wild fish.
An Arabian Journey by Levison Wood
In 2017, Levison Wood embarked on a 5,000-mile trek through and around one of the world’s diciest and most dimly understood places: the Arabian Peninsula. In this lively travelogue, the British journalist and former military officer begins in northern Syria, within spitting distance of hostile Turkish forces, before continuing to Iraq—where he mistakenly ends up on the front lines against ISIS. He soon flees to the oil-rich Gulf states and, in time, comes to realize that the region is far more complicated than he’d anticipated—a cause for both celebration and concern.
Antarctica’s Lost Aviator by Jeff Maynard
Lincoln Ellsworth wasn’t cut out for polar exploration. The son of a coal baron, he couldn’t navigate, hated the cold, disliked physical work, and regularly pissed off his crew. His mood swings and struggles with his sexuality didn’t help matters, either. Nonetheless, in 1935, he attempted the first crossing of Antarctica by airplane—but he promptly lost radio contact after takeoff and was feared dead. Author Jeff Maynard follows Ellsworth’s journey to its unlikely end, including the explorer’s many gut-wrenching foibles along the way.