THE CAUSE: The American Revolution and Its Discontents, 1773-1783, by Joseph J. Ellis. (Liveright, $30.) In his latest book, Ellis demonstrates that the United States didn’t come together as a country automatically, but required hard work by the founders against the forces of localism and decentralization. “As Ellis writes in ‘The Cause,’ there was always far more emphasis on pluribus than unum, on the many rather than the one,” Richard Stengel writes in a joint review of Ellis’s book and Gordon S. Wood’s “Power and Liberty.” “It was only the creation of the Constitution in 1787 that made these disparate citizens into Americans.”

POWER AND LIBERTY: Constitutionalism in the American Revolution, by Gordon S. Wood. (Oxford University, $24.95.) In a summing up of his life’s work, Wood sees the era from the 1760s to the early 1800s as “the most creative period of constitutionalism in American history and one of the most creative in modern Western history.” Richard Stengel, in his dual review of Wood’s book and Ellis’s (above), notes that “Power and Liberty” is “based on a series of lectures that Wood, a professor emeritus at Brown and a Pulitzer Prize winner, gave at Northwestern University in 2019,” and says that “the book has an elegiac quality along with his customary clarity.”

THE CONTRARIAN: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power, by Max Chafkin. (Penguin Press, $28.) In this energetically reported book, Chafkin paints a deeply disturbing portrait of the billionaire entrepreneur turned Donald Trump backer Peter Thiel, tracing his ascent through the ranks of Silicon Valley moguls along with his embrace of far-right causes and beliefs. “‘The Contrarian’ is chilling,” Virginia Heffernan writes in her review. “Chafkin’s masterly evocation of his subject’s galactic fear — of liberals, of the U.S. government, of death — turns Thiel himself into a threat.”

AMERICAN ESTRANGEMENT: Stories, by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh. (Norton, $25.95.) Sayrafiezadeh’s second story collection both exceeds and expands upon the promise of his first, rendering a United States that’s strange and sometimes macabre, but still recognizable. The characters find their way through loss, violence or fractured relationships in tales salted with shrewd humor. “He writes with a veteran’s swagger and discipline,” Andrew Martin writes in his review. “Nothing here feels obligatory or tossed off; … confirming the writer as a major, committed practitioner of a difficult form.”

THE NEIGHBOR’S SECRET, by L. Alison Heller. (Flatiron, $27.99.) In Heller’s hyperlocal mystery, three women have skeletons in their closets that can no longer be contained or ignored. How their stories merge and eventually collide is the crux of this witty nail-biter. “You could read ‘The Neighbor’s Secret’ as a lighthearted romp through Anyplace Affluent, U.S.A.,” Elisabeth Egan writes in her latest Group Text column, “but if you’re in the mood to get serious, this novel will take you down a different, more thoughtful avenue. With a light, Liane Moriarty-esque touch, Heller asks readers to consider the thin line between privacy and secrecy.”