These are 13 of my favorite non-fiction books, for content, but also as important is the writing/storytelling
1) “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson- Book about the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and its chief architect; there’s also a serial killer stalking young women in the Windy City (cannot recommend Larson enough, all of his books are great stories and so well written and researched)
2) “Troublesome Young Men” by Lynne Olson- About the MPs (members of the British Parliament) who understood the threat that Nazi Germany posed beginning in the mid 1930s and they fought to make England prepared for a coming conflict
3) “The Best and the Brightest” by David Halberstam- A character study of the men in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations most responsible for dragging the US into a shooting war in Vietnam
4) “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough- About the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, centers around the chief architect and builder, local story for me and the Armadillo, as the guy is a graduate of RPI (McCullough is one of the greatest writers in the 20th century, and also lent his voice to tons of public television narration over the years)
5) “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt- Memoir of growing up in Ireland during the Great Depression; at times you’ll laugh and cry on the same page.
6) “Passionate Sage” by Joseph Ellis- A short biography of John Adams, one of the greatest characters in American history and the most underrated “Founding Father”, the book centers on his post-presidency years
7) “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Paul Elie- Joint intellectual biography of writers and prominent Catholics Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day and Flannery O’Connor
8) “The Long Gray Line” by Rick Atkinson- A look at the lives of the men who graduated West Point in 1966, takes them through their Vietnam War experiences and beyond
9) “A Drinking Life” by Pete Hamill- Memoir of the great New York City tabloid journalist.
10) “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets” by David Simon- Simon followed around Baltimore homicide detectives in the 1980s; this book became the basis of several television shows, including The Wire.
11) “Selected Speeches and Writings” by Abraham Lincoln- The best American-born writer, and a pretty decent political leader.
12) “A Testament of Hope” by Martin Luther King Jr- Collected speeches and writings of the great civil rights leader.
13) “Ask Not” by Thurston Clarke- An in-depth look at the Inaugural Address of John F Kennedy