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20 new nonfiction reads for fall

Marjorie KeheThe Christian Science Monitor

 

From the energy crisis to The Doors, from Hitler’s Germany to Rin Tin Tin, here are the nonfiction titles that have readers buzzing this fall.

#20 "RIN TIN TIN: The Life and the Legend," by Susan Orlean

RIN TIN TIN: The Life and the Legend, by Susan Orlean (Simon & Schuster, 336 pp.) New Yorker writer Susan Orlean (“The Orchid Thief”) spent a decade researching the story of canine star Rin Tin Tin and has produced a must-read book that is both an excellent piece of cultural history and a remarkable story of the animal-human bond. (October)

#19 "THE QUEST: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World," by Daniel Yergin

THE QUEST: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, by Daniel Yergin (Penguin, 816 pp.) Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Yergin takes a fresh look at the role energy plays in global politics, economic development, and climate change. (September)

#18 "HEMINGWAY’S BOAT: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961," by Paul Hendrickson

HEMINGWAY’S BOAT: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961, by Paul Hendrickson (Knopf Doubleday, 544 pp.) Award-winning writer Paul Hendrickson offers a fresh interpretation of the last decades of Hemingway’s life, built around his attachment to his boat, Pilar. Interviews with all three Hemingway sons add compelling new insight to our understanding of the writer. (September)

#17 "ELIZABETH AND HAZEL: Two Women of Little Rock," by David Margolick

ELIZABETH AND HAZEL: Two Women of Little Rock, by David Margolick (Yale University Press, 320 pp.) In a marvelous example of bringing history to life through individual stories, Vanity Fair writer David Margolick traces the lives of Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan Massery. Their stories were made famous in 1957 when Massery screamed at Eckford as she attempted to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School and a photographer captured the two girls in an iconic photograph. Margolick follows their later lives and tells a fascinating story of race, relationships, and the struggle to forgive. (October)

#16 "BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World," by Michael Lewis

BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World, by Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton, 224 pp.) Who better than Michael Lewis (“Moneyball,” “The Blind Side”) to explain global finance in a book that is alternately illuminating, hilarious, and thought-provoking? Here Lewis tours the planet to examine the far-flung bubbles of greed that sparked the 2008 financial crisis. (October)

#15 "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created," by Charles C. Mann

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles C. Mann (Knopf Doubleday, 560 pp.) The “Columbian Exchange” is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. Charles C. Mann (author of “1491”) tells the surprising story of what happened when Columbus reached the New World and two very different ecologies collided – producing the world we know today. (August)

#14 "IN OTHER WORLDS: SF and the Human Imagination," by Margaret Atwood

IN OTHER WORLDS: SF and the Human Imagination, by Margaret Atwood (Knopf Doubleday, 272 pp.) Margaret Atwood fans, science-fiction buffs, and anyone interested in the powers of the imagination will enjoy this lively collection of essays and short fiction by master fantasy writer Margaret Atwood. (October)

#13 "MIDNIGHT RISING: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War," by Tony Horwitz

MIDNIGHT RISING: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, by Tony Horwitz (Henry Holt & Co., 384 pp.) Bestselling author Tony Horwitz (“Confederates in the Attic”) offers a sharp portrait of John Brown, the defiant abolitionist whose desperate 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry stunned Americans and perhaps changed – or at least accelerated – the course of US history. (October)

#12 "THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE: Why Violence Has Declined," by Steven Pinker

THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE: Why Violence Has Declined, by Steven Pinker (Penguin, 832 pp.) Noted author and Harvard University psychology professor Steven Pinker argues persuasively in his latest book that we’ve grown less bloodthirsty over the course of recorded history and that the “better angels” of mankind are in ascendancy. (October)

#11 "JERUSALEM: The Biography," by Simon Sebag Montefiore

JERUSALEM: The Biography,by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Knopf Doubleday, 688 pp.) Award-winning biographer Simon Sebag Montefiore (“Young Stalin”) tells the story of Jerusalem through profiles of some of the key figures who have helped to shape the city over the centuries, including King David, Jesus, Muhammad, the Maccabees, Churchill, Cleopatra, Mark Twain, and Rasputin. (October)

#10 "THE END: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany,1944-1945," by Ian Kershaw

THE END: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945, by Ian Kershaw (Penguin, 592 pp.) Why did Germany continue to fight, long after all hope was lost? Hitler biographer and World War II expert Ian Kershaw offers a detailed, compelling look at the final year of the Third Reich. (September)

#9 "INFERNO: The World at War, 1939-1945," by Max Hastings

INFERNO: The World at War, 1939-1945, by Max Hastings (Knopf Doubleday, 752 pp.) British foreign correspondent and author Max Hastings focuses on the human dimensions of the cataclysm that was World War II – how the war that took 60 million lives blasted, defined, and reshaped the lives of the soldiers, civilians, and politicians around the planet. (November)

#8 "CATHERINE THE GREAT: Portrait of a Woman," by Robert K. Massie

CATHERINE THE GREAT: Portrait of a Woman, by Robert K. Massie (Random House, 688 pp.) Pulitzer Prize-winning Russian historian and biographer Robert K. Massie (“Peter the Great,” “Nicholas and Alexandra,” “The Romanovs”) offers up yet another compelling portrait of a Russian royal – this one a truly remarkable figure. (November)

#7 "HIGHER GOSSIP: Essays and Criticism," by John Updike

HIGHER GOSSIP: Essays and Criticism, by John Updike (Knopf Doubleday, 528 pp.) Readers missing the wise and wonderful voice of American master John Updike will find consolation in this collection of Updike’s commentaries on his own work, some of his best book reviews and literary essays, and a generous helping of his art criticism, among other pieces of his prose work. (November)

#6 "ON CONAN DOYLE: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling," by Michael Dirda

ON CONAN DOYLE: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press, 224 pp.) Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda – a lifelong Sherlock Holmes enthusiast – offers a lively look at the life and lesser-known works of the famed resident of 221B Baker Street – perhaps the most famous fictional sleuth the world has ever known. (October)

#5 "A TRAIN IN WINTER: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France," by Caroline Moorehead

A TRAIN IN WINTER: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France, by Caroline Moorehead (Harper, 384 pp.) In January 1943, 230 women accused of working with the French Resistance were sent to Auschwitz. Historian and biographer Caroline Moorehead interviewed several of the 49 surviving women or their families to tell their story. (November)

#4 "THE DOORS: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years," by Greil Marcus

THE DOORS: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, by by Greil Marcus (PublicAffairs, 194 pp.) A new book by rock and social critic Greil Marcus (well known for his books on The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Elvis, among others) is always an event in music circles, but his story of The Doors and their mystique is likely to speak to any reader interested in the 1960s and American social history. (November

#3 "SOUTH WITH THE SUN: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discovery," by Lynne Cox

SOUTH WITH THE SUN: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discovery, by Lynne Cox (Knopf Doubleday, 320 pp.) Lynne Cox – author and record-breaking long-distance swimmer – traces the path of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s polar explorations, just in time for the centennial of Amundsen’s arrival at the South Pole. (September)

#2 "BLUE NIGHTS," by Joan Didion

BLUE NIGHTS, by Joan Didion (Knopf Doubleday, 208 pp.) Consider this the sequel to Joan Didion’s wrenching “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Didion’s memoir about the year that she lost her husband, John Gregory Dunne, even as their daughter suddenly fell ill. “Blue Nights” focuses on the loss of her daughter, Quintana Roo, who died the year after the publication of “The Year of Magical Thinking.” The story is harsh and full of painful detail but, once again, Didion’s fierce intelligence shines through. (November)

#1 "STEVE JOBS," by Walter Isaacson

STEVE JOBS, by by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 448 pp.) Former Time magazine editor and biographer (“Einstein,” “Benjamin Franklin”) Walter Isaacson did 40-plus interviews with Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and talked with more than 100 people close to him to produce this comprehensive look at his life and work. (November)