Best Non-fiction

These biographies and true-life stories are among the favorites of reviewers and readers in 2014. Included on many “best books” lists, they are available to borrow from the Lititz Public Library.

Fields of Blood : Religion and the History of ViolenceFields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong
The author examines faith as a source of aggression and the impulse towards violence in each of the world’s great religions.

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Tracing innovations such as refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, the author explores their creation and unintended historical consequences.

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
The industrial production of cotton between 1783 and 1837 drove the expansion of slavery which led to the modernization of the United States.

Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town by Beth Macy
The chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture fought for his employees in a small Virginia town using legal maneuvers, factory efficiencies and personal cunning to fight sales losses from cheap Asian furniture imports.

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar
Journalist relates the experiences of the men who endured entrapment beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days during a mine collapse in August 2010.

A Deadly Wandering : A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of AttentionA Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel
An examination of technology’s influence on society is told through the story of a tragic “texting-while-driving” car crash that killed two rocket scientists in 2006.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
A physicist and former robot-builder for NASA answers strange questions posed by fans of his webcomic.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
Traces of manmade evolutionary extinction occur all around us and are likely to be mankind’s lasting legacy.

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing
Journalist examines the link between creativity and alcohol through the lives of six authors: John Berryman, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams.

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides
An account of an ill-fated 19th century naval expedition to the North Pole notes the contributions of German cartographer August Petermann, New York Herald owner James Gordon Bennett and famed naval officer George Washington De Long in the team’s effort to survive brutal conditions.

Dark Invasion : 1915 - Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in AmericaDark Invasion: 1915: Germany’s Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America by Howard Blum
An NYPD Bomb Squad Inspector helped uncover a team of German saboteurs who planned to undermine American trade with WWI allies by bombing ships, factories, livestock and industrialists.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
Four women defied social norms and risked everything to take on secret roles supporting their side during the Civil War.

Epilogue : A MemoirEpilogue by Will Boast
At twenty-four, the author, having previously lost his mother and brother, was settling matters of his father’s estate when he discovered his father had an earlier family, a wife and two sons in England.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs
College roommate tells the story of a talented, young African-American man who escaped the slums of Newark to attend Yale University, but never found a way for his two lives to coexist.

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February 13, 2015