Carr was mulling over the difference between fiction and nonfiction, the novelist’s art and the reporter’s craft. Readers turned to her in droves, trying to understand what felt like a sudden, unanticipated, overwhelming menace. Rather than harming the author’s “objectivity,” these friendships transform what was already a very good science book into a deeply humane and crucial interrogation of how technological progress churns along, indifferent to the lives fueling its course. pornography, pro-Nazi, child abuse, etc). When Aeroflot loses her luggage, the clerk asks her, “Are you familiar with our Russian phrase, resignation of the soul?” She gets talked into judging a boys’ “leg contest” at a Hungarian summer camp. Above all, he blames the schemes of the ruling Hutu elite, who deliberately engineered the massacre by using radio, Rwanda’s primary means of mass communication, to foment murderous hatred among Hutus toward the Tutsi minority. All prices were up to date at the time of publication. This memoir is less a narrative than a collage of mysteriously potent moments: a favorite teacher’s kitchen, a dead puppy, a new dress. One place is too hot to get anything done; another is too beautiful. Read 33 166 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. And you'll never see this message again. If it were only a closely observed, intimate portrait of a close and meaningful friendship, the book would already be an enormous success. Students hiding from the shooters saw these reports on classroom TVs and echoed them back via their mobile phones. 2007: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal, Working: People Talk about What They Do All Day and How They Feel about What They Do, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom', The Other America: Poverty in the United States, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-40, The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968, What It Takes: The Way to the White House, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll, New African American Histories and Biographies to Read Now. This book constellates around Claude Shannon, a Bell Labs mathematician and cryptographer who founded information theory with a 1948 paper considering how to measure what it takes to transmit a message from a sender to a recipient—even if that recipient is just a subatomic particle on the other side of the universe wondering which way to spin. “The buildings were not buildings anymore, and the place where they fell had become a blank slate,” William Langewiesche writes of ground zero, the site of the World Trade Center towers’ destruction on Sept. 11. Best of all is Fox’s prose style—unostentatiously simple, lucid, distilled down to quintessential detail—as close to perfection as the English language gets. In Cold Blood book. All contents © 2021 The Slate Group LLC. But the reader gradually realizes that Mabel, with all her difficulty and alien, nonmammalian ways, is exactly what Macdonald needs. Krakauer sets out to unravel the mystery of how this adventure ended in tragedy, and the tiny mistakes that cost McCandless his life, by reading McCandless’ journals, talking to his friends, and traveling to the abandoned bus where McCandless spent his last months. Fortunately, hers is an insightful analysis, identifying the similarities among fundamentalists of all three major monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Far from soberly rational, these thinkers were as galvanized by the exhilarating spirit of their times as the poets Holmes usually writes about. That is the irresistible premise of Weisman’s book, a thought experiment substantiated by deep research into what it takes to keep the built world functioning and what has happened in the few places (Chernobyl, the Korean Demilitarized Zone) where there has been no one around to prop it up. Many of these transplants behaved, as Wilkerson notes, more like refugees than anything else, fleeing Jim Crow laws to form enclaves united by their ties to the towns they’d left behind. –Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads Managing Editor . T he best nonfiction books published in 2019 look to the past in order to better understand the present. “They may not lead to a perfect, seamless arc, but they lead to a story that coheres in another way, because it is mostly true.”. The best history books of all time have proven to be truly galvanizing to the present since their publication. (A bald eagle in flight looks like “a coat thrown into the air, ragged and enormous.”) But the true subject of this gorgeously sorrowful book is the drive toward self-destruction, and what it means to live close to a person who can’t resist its siren call. What would they think about the … Starting with her own journals, Bechdel uncovers dark treasures of her childhood and adolescence as the daughter of a closeted funeral home director in small town Pennsylvania; her clever narrative structure returns to crucial moments again and again, polishing them and holding them up to the light to reveal new facets of meaning. The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 Sex, Facebook, and an empty planet: 29 reads we're diving into this year. Although each migrated at a different time for different reasons, their stories share the common thread of flight from Southern society’s pervasive, cruel, and dehumanizing racism. or for being critical of a book. From powerful memoirs to historical biographies to eclectic essay collections, these are the nonfiction books we're excited to read in 2020. Miodownik, a materials scientist with the soul of a poet, sings of the magic hidden within these ordinary substances. Something bright and distant, like gold falling through water.” Macdonald’s writing is similarly gilded and faintly antiquarian as she pursues the medieval task of training the hawk, named Mabel, to fly to her leather-gloved hand on command. Another is that the authorities did not take their disappearances seriously until four of them were found buried in the same place. You may think you don’t care about a life spent chasing waves all over the world, but William Finnegan’s memoir so precisely distills the “brief, sharp glimpse of eternity” the surfer gets from riding a board through a crystal-blue tube on a perfect run that a hundred pages into Barbarian Days you, too, will have stepped through the looking glass. Kolker, who has an uncanny ability to play fly on the wall, catches members of the police and the media dismissing the victims; it was only the possibility of a serial killer that made them count. Howard ZinnLively written and well researched, A People’s History narrates the story of the US through the eyes of ordinary people and their experiences, something that most history books tend to ignore. But over the years, Alexander’s work as a lawyer for the ACLU ultimately led her to agree with the sign’s author. (Detaching from the South, one of her sources told her, was like “getting unstuck from a magnet.”) Wilkerson pulls in the book’s focus by following the lives of three individuals: a sharecropper’s wife, a labor organizer, and a doctor who would go on to count Ray Charles among his patients. A fallen angel. Building true kinship starts as a choice and then often comes to seem inevitable, an act of will in the face of daunting odds that ends up feeling like a miracle. If you buy something through our links, Kolker refuses to let their murderer define them. With the recent 75th anniversary of D-Day and the fast approaching anniversaries of VE Day and VJ day, now is the perfect time to dive into these best WWII nonfiction books that read like gripping novels. Although beautifully written, this book is not easy to read, but the insights Gourevitch arrives at are more essential than ever. But two decades before that, Carr was a junkie—a crack addict who washed out of journalism jobs, who was rung up by the Minneapolis cops nine times, and whose twin daughters were born 2½ months premature to a mother who’d smoked crack the night before their delivery. But he also highlights the stars, from Kool Herc to Rakim to Ice Cube, who innovated and popularized the form for an audience beyond those DIY parties. Like all of Macfarlane’s work, this book is a charm against the streamlined, the global, the generically virtual. This book might just be the perfect exposé: a consummate journalist writing about an outrageously malfeasant subject and raising urgent themes. And yet, through the cracks between Dyer’s torpor and his dissatisfaction, a tribute to Lawrence—that great proponent of passionate living—finally emerges. Historian and Wolfson judge Richard Evans talks us through the six history books that made the 2020 shortlist. A practiced falconer, Macdonald understands how ill-advised her project is; the species is famously hard to train, stubborn in its wildness. “I still find ‘Negro’ a word of wonder, glorious and terrible,” she writes. Media reports during the genocidal 1994 massacres in Rwanda were spotty and confusing. She matches up archival photos of vacant lots and storefronts with the new, gentrifying constructions erupting in their place. We read historical fiction because we want to travel through time and space. He is patient and observant. Yet what reader hasn’t had her mind expanded, her heart plucked, her conscience stirred by a nonfiction book? This vividly sensuous account of several walking tours, plus a respectable bout of sailing, describes his experiences with ancient routes, most created by peoples whose names have been lost to time, but whose imprint on Earth lives on thanks to the countless feet that have followed them. A book’s total score is based on multiple factors, including the number of The product of more than three years of in-depth reporting in a slum near Mumbai airport called Annawadi, Katherine Boo’s masterpiece is a Kafka story for our times, the tale of determined strivers so hemmed in by circumstance, official disregard, and rampant corruption that even those who succeed are punished for their accomplishments. Rebecca Traister, ... diaries, and land and financial records, Prairie Fires has all the essentials of a great history book. Part poetry collection, part memoir, part book-length critical essay, Citizen takes risks other books wouldn’t dare, and it reads like no other title on this list. The book is a stunt, a dare, but it’s also proof of the belief that animates all the books on this list: There are stories everywhere. By Keith Rice • 12 months ago. Most importantly, she recognizes that all forms of fundamentalism are reactions to the dislocation and confusion of modernity even as fundamentalists embrace modern tools like mass and social media. A red diaper baby, she fantasized during her Bronx childhood about leading the revolution and finding true love, but as she looks back, she decides that she, like her mother and several of her literary heroines, “was born to find the wrong man,” to seek “the unholy dissatisfaction that will keep life permanently at bay.” In exchange, she got New York, which (almost) never fails to satisfy her with its parade of characters and “the variety and inventiveness of survival technique.” In supple, searching prose, Gornick meditates on the riches of friendship—particularly her bond with Leonard, a gay man who shares her saturnine take on just about everything—and the life of the mind, as well as the self-knowledge that comes with age. Deraniyagala, an economist at the University of London and Columbia University, was vacationing with her family in Sri Lanka in 2004, when she looked out the window and saw the ocean rise up and rush toward the balcony of their holiday rental. American Ground is an inspiring portrait of American ingenuity when faced with an impossible task and a gripping exploration of the American psyche in the aftermath of a great shift in the world order. Jahren’s memoir is a paean to her life in science, specifically the kind of science that involves getting your hands dirty and reaching for a specimen vial. Laing’s readings of their work are extraordinarily sharp and sensitive, and her description of the places she visited and what happened to her there may be even better. Is it possible to pick 50 of the best nonfiction books ever? As the collator of all this material, Solomon makes his own emotional and intellectual growth one of the book’s themes, as he describes how his subjects helped him shed the blinders he once wore. The Night of the Gun makes plain how hard, and how necessary, it is to face the past with diligence and humility. Doctors at the American hospital where her family sought treatment prescribed an elaborate drug regimen to control her seizures. Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. This list of the best history books includes bestsellers, Pulizter Prize winners and editor's picks from distinguished historians and biographers. Whether he’s recounting Percy Shelley’s rebelliousness, Samuel Coleridge’s descent into opium addiction (Holmes specializes in the Romantic poets), or his own penchant for walking along the paths and roads his subjects once tread, everything he writes is a positive delight to read—charming, unostentatiously erudite, moving. 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