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Sneaky__Sally
Alabama Fan
Member since Jul 2015
7940 posts

Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Looking to get a thread going where people can suggest non-fiction books they have read.

I'd like to avoid a lot of biographies that start out "he was born here and his childhood was like this and his later life was like this, etc." and other books that read like history books. Focus more on specific events and time periods that read like fiction in terms of pacing, action, etc. But if you have a biography or something that really blew you away, by all means, post it.

If figure give the name, title, a brief description of the subject matter and then a sentence or two as to why it is worth reading, what aspect of it really jumped out at you.

To start off, I have two I'd like to recommend:

The Peregrine - J.A. Baker ~ 200 Pages: I guess this would best be described as a nature book, in it the author talks about one winter where he was watching for the Peregrine Falcon. The reason I recommend this book is because the author is simply an incredible writer, the description and passion he writes with almost jump off the page.

The Campaigns of Napoleon - David Chandler ~ 1,225 pages: This book goes through the campaigns of Napoleon (clearly) and doesn't focus much on his personal life or the larger populist movement of the French Revolution. It discusses strategies with maps and all throughout the Napoleonic Campaigns. It is so action packed and paced so well that it reads like a fiction book.
This post was edited on 12/18 at 9:17 am


The Spleen
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2010
27663 posts
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re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Pretty much any Erik Larson book fits the bill.



Sneaky__Sally
Alabama Fan
Member since Jul 2015
7940 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Thanks, but was kind of hoping for some more specific titles / discussion if you feel like it.

Any particular ones you find above and beyond and want to give a brief description.

What aspect of his writing sets it above other authors / books on similar topics in your opinion?
This post was edited on 12/18 at 10:06 am


The Spleen
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2010
27663 posts
 Online 

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Fine.

Devil In the White City - tells the story of the 1892 World's Fair in Chicago, and the mass murderer HH Holmes. Also weaves in the story of the architects that designed and built the site for the Fair.

Dead Wake - tells the story of the perfect storm of events that lead to the sinking of the Lusitania and America's draw into WW1.

In the Garden Of Beasts - tells the story of the US Amabassador stationed in Berlin during the rise of Hitler.


All are historical, non-fiction book written in a style that reads as fiction. I listed the 3 I read in the order that I enjoyed them.


PJinAtl
Auburn Fan
Atlanta
Member since Nov 2007
10112 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
quote:

Dead Wake - tells the story of the perfect storm of events that lead to the sinking of the Lusitania and America's draw into WW1.
Just started reading this and really into it. Will probably check out Devil in the White City afterward.

I'll add The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home by Sally Mott Freeman. Story of 3 brothers who serve in the Navy in WW2 in drastically different ways. One is an intelligence officer in the White House and runs the map room, one serves aboard the Enterprise as an anti-aircraft officer, and the third is with the supply corps in the Philippines and spends the war as a POW.


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Sneaky__Sally
Alabama Fan
Member since Jul 2015
7940 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
quote:

Fine.

Devil In the White City - tells the story of the 1892 World's Fair in Chicago, and the mass murderer HH Holmes. Also weaves in the story of the architects that designed and built the site for the Fair.

Dead Wake - tells the story of the perfect storm of events that lead to the sinking of the Lusitania and America's draw into WW1.

In the Garden Of Beasts - tells the story of the US Amabassador stationed in Berlin during the rise of Hitler.


All are historical, non-fiction book written in a style that reads as fiction. I listed the 3 I read in the order that I enjoyed them.



Haha, thanks - I looked at his books and noticed there were like 10 so wanted a little more guidance.


theGarnetWay
South Carolina Fan
Washington, D.C.
Member since Mar 2010
21047 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Read this earlier this year. I should give it a re-read sometime.

Image: https://images.penguinrandomhouse.com/cover/9780385542531


quote:

In the early 1800s, three young men strode onto the national stage, elected to Congress at a moment when the Founding Fathers were beginning to retire to their farms.

Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, a champion orator known for his eloquence, spoke for the North and its business class. Henry Clay of Kentucky, as dashing as he was ambitious, embodied the hopes of the rising West. South Carolina’s John Calhoun, with piercing eyes and an even more piercing intellect, defended the South and slavery.

Together these heirs of Washington, Jefferson and Adams took the country to war, battled one another for the presidency and set themselves the task of finishing the work the Founders had left undone. Their rise was marked by dramatic duels, fierce debates, scandal and political betrayal. Yet each in his own way sought to remedy the two glaring flaws in the Constitution: its refusal to specify where authority ultimately rested, with the states or the nation, and its unwillingness to address the essential incompatibility of republicanism and slavery. They wrestled with these issues for four decades, arguing bitterly and hammering out political compromises that held the Union together, but only just. Then, in 1850, when California moved to join the Union as a free state, “the immortal trio” had one last chance to save the country from the real risk of civil war. But, by that point, they had never been further apart.

Thrillingly and authoritatively, H. W. Brands narrates an epic American rivalry and the little-known drama of the dangerous early years of our democracy.


Really enjoyed the book. It's basically about the most influential politicians that rose to prominence as the Founding Fathers had all retired or passed away. It's focus is on Henry Clay, John C Calhoun, and Daniel Webster as they and a few other prominent politicians sought to lead the US in the way they thought the Founders intended. I'm just getting to the part about Texas and westward expansion.

It's amazing that the stuff they debated then is the same stuff we still debate today - tariffs/free trade, how active the US should be in world affairs/promoting democracy, slander during political campaigns, etc.
This post was edited on 1/10 at 1:44 pm


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Chef Free Gold Bloom
USA Fan
Area 51
Member since Dec 2019
953 posts
 Online 

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Why Gary Why was a very interesting book. I’d recommend it.


FleetFox504
LSU Fan
Member since Nov 2013
268 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Guns, Germs, and Steel: how geography determined the course of history


cwill
Member since Jan 2005
43672 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Any Jon Ronson book.

Empire of the Summer Moon.

Hamilton.

Among the Thugs.

The Coldest Winter.

God is Not Great.

Super Forecasting.

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

The Coddling of the American Mind.

The MVP Machine.

Bad Blood.

The Social Leap.

The Black Swan.

Procustes’ Bed.

Coyote America.

Money Ball.

The Big Short.

The Bell Curve.

Coming Apart.




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cwill
Member since Jan 2005
43672 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
quote:

Guns, Germs, and Steel


Yes. Forgot in my list which is my more recent readings.


Sneaky__Sally
Alabama Fan
Member since Jul 2015
7940 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Do you care to highlight a couple of your favorites, ones that are a cut above the rest.
Maybe a sentence about what aspect jumped out at you or drew you in?

I appreciate the long list, but it's always nice to have a little more for anyone who wants to pick a book out of this thread in the future.

In any case, thanks for recommendations.


JodyPlauche
Baton Rouge
Member since Aug 2009
2862 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
quote:

Why Gary Why was a very interesting book. I’d recommend it.


You just made my day!!!

LINK


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OldTigahFot
LSU Fan
Drinkin' with the rocket scientists
Member since Jan 2012
10183 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
I would add Isaac's Storm to the list of Larson must-reads. It is the story of the Great Galveston Hurricane .


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cwill
Member since Jan 2005
43672 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
I’ll just comment on what I read most recently as I don’t have a favorite. I really enjoyed Empire of the Summer Moon which is about the Comanche Indians of the southern plains. Great story that really lays out the history and conquest of the southern plains by the Americans and the end of the impressive Comanche horse-warriors. If you’re at all familiar with the mongols, the Comanches, as described in the book, come across as North American proto-mongols.
This post was edited on 12/19 at 11:07 pm


PJinAtl
Auburn Fan
Atlanta
Member since Nov 2007
10112 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
I believe Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann has been discussed on this board before. It is about the Osage Indian murders of Oklahoma in the early 1920s and how the early FBI came in to investigate.

Another good one is Ernest K. Gann's Black Watch: The Men Who Fly America's Secret Spy Planes, which looks at the USAF 99th Reconnaissance Squadron and the guys who fly the U-2.


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memphis tiger
LSU Fan
Memphis, TN
Member since Feb 2006
12483 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
quote:

Pretty much any Erik Larson book fits the bill


This!!!

Also check out Killers of the Flower Moon
This post was edited on 12/20 at 9:08 am


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Htowntiger90
LSU Fan
Houston
Member since Dec 2018
699 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
This goes back to the '90s but... The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Scary book about outbreaks of Ebola and other viruses in Africa. He also recounts a close call where a relative of Ebola was discovered at a primate quarantine facility in Reston VA. I've seen it out in paperback this year.


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Sneaky__Sally
Alabama Fan
Member since Jul 2015
7940 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
quote:

’ll just comment on what I read most recently as I don’t have a favorite. I really enjoyed Empire of the Summer Moon which is about the Comanche Indians of the southern plains. Great story that really lays out the history and conquest of the southern plains by the Americans and the end of the impressive Comanche horse-warriors. If you’re at all familiar with the mongols, the Comanches, as described in the book, come across as North American proto-mongols.


That sounds really interesting, thanks


Loubacca
LSU Fan
sittin on the dock of the bay
Member since Feb 2005
3859 posts

re: Excellent Non-Fiction Book Suggestions
Ghost Wars by Steve Coll - Really great book that outlines some of the things that led up to the creation of the Taliban and other radial Islamic factions in Afghanistan. The book is pretty long but stays interesting throughout.

The Bin Ladens by Steve Coll - This is a good look into the Bin Laden family and really goes into depth describing the country's struggles to modernize and how the Bin Laden's played a big part in that. It also follows Osama's radicalization and goes into detail about his personal life.


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