help me out, recommend a killer nonfiction book for me...

Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:40 am

Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:04 am Post

I'm looking for a few nonfiction recommendations but right now am coming up empty.

here are the last few nonfiction books I've enjoyed, in order of personal preference:

William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War by Eric H. Walther
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner
Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko
Rebels on the Backlot by Sharon Waxman
An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sack

I am also contemplating picking up:
Mark Penn - Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes

(please...gladwell is so last year)

User avatar
Lord Lightning
Posts: 652
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 4:58 am
Location: Somewhere else!

Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:53 am Post

Hi kroutland,

Why not write one?

Lord Lightning

I'm a writer. I create worlds!
When I make a declarative statement it applies to ME. Not to everyone.

User avatar
Posts: 3533
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:22 pm
Platform: Mac

Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:04 am Post

I'm currently reading:

The Reformation, by Diarmaid MacCulloch
Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2007, edited by Richard Preston
A New Kind of Science, by Stephen Wolfram
Now and Then: The Poet's Choice Columns, by Robert Hass

I'm just starting the Wolfram book, but it's very long and very dense. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone other than scientists wanting to know whether Wolfram is really a bozo or not (like me). The others are excellent.


Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:56 pm
Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:55 am Post

On my bedside table: Adam Nicholson's "God's secretaries: The making of the King James Bible."

Nicholson is a terrific writer who brings Jacobean England to life.


Posts: 79
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 9:57 pm
Location: UK

Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:58 am Post

These are pretty amazing books:

Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky

Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies) by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer

Posts: 2387
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 12:05 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: UK

Thu Oct 18, 2007 12:04 pm Post

Killer as in brain-implosion-inducing? I note that you don't appear to be into science, but maybe that's temporary - so how about "The Trouble with Physics" by Lee Smolin? String Theory and the multiverse will blow your synapses.

User avatar
Posts: 21169
Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 4:30 am
Platform: Mac + Linux
Location: Santiago de Compostela, Galiza

Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:01 pm Post

I hear Think Better is pretty good, by Tim Hurson. ;)
Ioa Petra'ka
“Whole sight, or all the rest is desolation.” —John Fowles

Posts: 335
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2006 8:57 pm
Location: Toronto

Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:33 pm Post

Thanks, Amber. You're a pearl!

I'm not sure I can hold a candle to some of those already recommended, but
I think those who read it will find it useful.

Thanks again,


PS I've just learned that the book will get its first national media hit on Sunday, Oct 21.
A syndicated careers columnist, Joyce Kennedy, is featuring it in her weekly piece. Woohoo!
In theory, there's no difference
between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.

Yogi Berra

Posts: 1721
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:29 pm
Platform: Mac, Win + Linux
Location: Princeton NJ, USA

Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:48 pm Post

John McPhee is the pioneer of creative nonfiction. If you don't know his work, I recommend The John McPhee Reader or his latest, Uncommon Carriers. A full account of his career is on Wikipedia or at his publisher's website:

Posts: 1182
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:05 pm
Platform: Mac + Windows
Location: Upstate New York

Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:37 pm Post

Either of the McPhee books recommended by Druid (or anything else by McPhee);
anything by Barry Lopez, especially Crossing Open Ground;
The Richness of Life, selected works of Stephen Jay Gould with a forward by Oliver Sacks;
1776 by David McCullough;
Gun, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

The Nicholson -- God's Secretaries -- book is fascinating as English history and as church history, but even more as a look at how (and why) scripture is translated.


Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:26 am

Fri Oct 19, 2007 3:39 pm Post

The Ongoing Moment, by Geoff Dyer
A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit

Posts: 261
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2007 3:57 pm
Platform: Mac

Fri Oct 19, 2007 6:41 pm Post

A couple of recent and good non-fiction reads:

The Friar and the Cipher: Roger Bacon and the Unsolved Mystery of the Most Unusual Manuscript in the World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone.

The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold War Secreat Intelligence by Richard Aldrich

Gauntlet: Five friends, 20,000 Enemy Troops, and the Secret That Could Have Changed the Cold War by Barbara Masin, Naval Institute Press, 2006.

User avatar
Posts: 227
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:30 pm
Location: ADK Mountains

Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:13 am Post

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes (currently controversial, if that's a bonus)

Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen (check out his others, very well written historical accounts)

Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (won the 2004 Pulitzer prize, been reading it for months. Too depressing to read over a weekend...)

Julie Phillips' biography of James Tiptree, Jr./Alice Sheldon: The Double Life (great literary bio, but a must read for fans)

A work in progress...

Posts: 74
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 9:50 am
Location: Umeå, Sweden

Sun Oct 21, 2007 10:11 am Post

Madness and Civilization and/or Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault.

User avatar
Lord Lightning
Posts: 652
Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 4:58 am
Location: Somewhere else!

Tue Oct 23, 2007 3:49 am Post

Eland: 25 years' dedication to classic travel writing
Thousands of new books are published each year. And you might imagine that about the same amount go out of print each year.

The history of virginity with Hanne Blank
How do you define virginity? According to historian Hanne Blank, it's not as straightforward as you'd think. St Thomas Aquinas said that to be a virgin you had to be pure of body and mind. In Ancient Greek times the 'parthenios' were considered virgins and yet they often had children; and during the Renaissance the 'piss prophets' would study the urine of young women to test their virginity. It's the history of virginity on the Book Show -- it's not as simple as the birds and the bees.

Be quick - this will not stay up long.
Lord Lightning

I'm a writer. I create worlds!
When I make a declarative statement it applies to ME. Not to everyone.