Best Non-Fiction of 2017

These biographies and true-life stories are among the favorites of reviewers and readers in 2017. Included on many “best books” lists, they are available to borrow from the Lititz Public Library.

Bunk : The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake NewsBunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News by Kevin Young
Poet and critic reviews a rogue’s gallery of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers and fakers, tracing the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon.

The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost by Peter Manseau
In the wake of the Civil War, a “spirit photographer” took portraits that featured the ghostly presence of a lost loved one alongside the living subject.

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers
A blend of history, biography, memoir and current affairs describes the current landscape of mental illness.

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler
On the eve of WWII, Germany was a pharmaceutical powerhouse and companies produced cocaine, opiates and methamphetamines to be consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to millions of German soldiers.

I Was Told to Come Alone : My Journey Behind the Lines of JihadI Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet
Journalist draws on her personal experience to bridge the gap between the Muslim world and the West and explain the rise of Islamic radicalism.

Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber and the Invention of Criminal Profiling by Michael Cannell
When a mad bomber terrorized New York City during the 1940s and 1950s, a policeman sought the help of a psychiatrist and with the aid of a tabloid publisher, the three men hatched a scheme to capture a monster.

Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum
An aspiring US Army ranger inexplicably participated in an armed robbery hours before being deployed to Iraq.

Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us by Sam Kean
The story of the air we breathe traces the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere and how the chemistry of the air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions and influences everything we do.

Sons and Soldiers : The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U. S. Army to Fight HitlerSons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the US Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson
In 1942, the US Army trained nearly 2,000 German-born Jews in special interrogation techniques and sent them to Europe in small, elite teams to gather crucial intelligence about enemy strength, troop and armored movements and defensive positions.

The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen
Journalist follows the lives of four people who came of age with expectations of a new Russia and the intrigues that ensured the reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s organized criminal state.

Hûé 1968: The Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden
Played out over twenty-four days of terrible fighting and ultimately costing 10,000 combatant and civilian lives, the Battle of Hûé was the bloodiest of the entire war.

Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth by Holger Hoock
The American Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent civil war.

Leonardo Da VinciLeonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, the author creates a narrative that connects his art to his science.

Hiking Naked: A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance by Iris Graville
The author quit her job and convinced her husband and thirteen-year-old twins to move to a remote mountain village in Washington State, seeking adventure and solitude.

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters
Opening her little French restaurant in Berkeley, California in 1971, Waters’ pursuit of beauty and flavor redefined American cuisine.

January 19, 2018