I also have a fond weakness for books from university presses. 91. published 1995, avg rating 3.70 — On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859) This fine, lucid writer captured the mood of the time with this spirited assertion of the English individual’s rights. 100. 44. The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole (1857)A gloriously entertaining autobiography by the widely revered Victorian sometimes described as “the black Florence Nightingale”. Historical nonfiction is a broad category that covers any sort of nonfiction writing that depicts historical, real-life events. Read 6 401 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Essays by RW Emerson (1841) New England’s inventor of “transcendentalism” is still revered for his high-minded thoughts on individuality, freedom and nature expressed in 12 essays. Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth by Richard Wright (1945) This influential memoir of a rebellious southern boyhood vividly evokes the struggle for African American identity in the decades before civil rights. Some nonfiction categories—like literary nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, and creative nonfiction—overlap with historical nonfiction, and many bestselling books can be categorized in two or more of these genres. 10. Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S Grant (1885) The civil war general turned president was a reluctant author, but set the gold standard for presidential memoirs, outlining his journey from boyhood onwards. 22. King James Bible: The Authorised Version (1611)It is impossible to imagine the English-speaking world celebrated in this series without the King James Bible, which is as universal and influential as Shakespeare. 41,291 ratings — The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Roper (1947) The historian’s vivid, terrifying account of the Führer’s demise, based on his postwar work for British intelligence, remains unsurpassed. These are the pillar books that have helped shape my thinking and approach to life. Buy History books from Waterstones.com today. 61,791 ratings — 541,159 ratings — published 1970, avg rating 3.95 — 31. But readers loved the world building and threads of mythology weaved into the story. 19,782 ratings — Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790) Motivated by the revolution across the Channel, this passionate defence of the aristocratic system is a landmark in conservative thinking. A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain by Daniel Defoe (1727) Readable, reliable, full of surprise and charm, Defoe’s Tour is an outstanding literary travel guide. But this fiery attack on censorship and call for a free press reveals a brilliant English radical. 81. Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin (1955) Baldwin’s landmark collection of essays explores, in telling language, what it means to be a black man in modern America. Is it possible to pick 50 of the best nonfiction books ever? • This article was amended on 9 April 2018. Also read TIME’s lists of the 10 best fiction books of 2020, the 100 must-read books of the year and the 10 best video games of the year . Error rating book. This has been corrected to say George III. Hiroshima by John Hersey (1946) Hersey’s extraordinary, gripping book tells the personal stories of six people who endured the 1945 atom bomb attack. The First Folio by William Shakespeare (1623)The first edition of his plays established the playwright for all time in a trove of 36 plays with an assembled cast of immortal characters. 15. published 2003, avg rating 4.07 — Take a quick look at five centuries of great writing, Last modified on Wed 24 Jul 2019 11.58 EDT. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey (1822) An addiction memoir, by the celebrated and supremely talented contemporary of Coleridge and Wordsworth, outlining his life hooked on the the drug. 20. Enemies of Promise by Cyril Connolly (1938)Connolly’s dissection of the art of writing and the perils of the literary life transformed the contemporary English scene. No Logo by Naomi Klein (1999) Naomi Klein’s timely anti-branding bible combined a fresh approach to corporate hegemony with potent reportage from the dark side of capitalism. 4. 41. The Elements of Style by William Strunk and EB White (1959) Dorothy Parker and Stephen King have both urged aspiring writers towards this crisp guide to the English language where brevity is key. 52. An absurdist masterpiece. Good nonfiction books about history: espionage and cyber war The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel by Uri Bar-Joseph – An extraordinary episode in Israeli history In the Enemy’s House: The Secret Saga of the FBI Agent and the Code Breaker Who Caught the Russian Spies by Howard Blum – How the Soviet atomic spies were caught 59,565 ratings — published 2016, avg rating 4.12 — 60. They are listed here in no particular order. published 2010, avg rating 4.03 — To be honest, the book sounds intense and awesome. 26,125 ratings — 14. Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (1995) This remarkably candid memoir revealed not only a literary talent, but a force that would change the face of US politics for ever. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014) An engrossing account of the looming catastrophe caused by ecology’s “neighbours from hell” – mankind. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (1976) An intoxicating renewal of evolutionary theory that coined the idea of the meme and paved the way for Professor Dawkins’s later, more polemical works. About Blog Historical Fiction Reader is a book review blog that specializes in history based fiction and nonfiction. These amazing nonfiction books for teens span all kinds of interests and curiosities and are captivating, thought-provoking, and even worldview-affecting. 995,556 ratings — This list of the best history books includes bestsellers, Pulizter Prize winners and editor's picks from distinguished historians and biographers. A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag (1966) The American novelist’s early essays provide the quintessential commentary on the 1960s. published 2010, avg rating 3.73 — Nonsense Songs by Edward Lear (1871) The Victorians loved wordplay, and few could rival this compendium of verbal delirium by Britain’s “laureate of nonsense”. 2. 29. 789,371 ratings — The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937) Much admired by Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, Byron’s dazzling, timeless account of a journey to Afghanistan is perhaps the greatest travel book of the 20th century. Night, by Elie Wiesel. 99. Leave your thoughts in the comments. published 2015, avg rating 4.06 — 40,990 ratings — Thesaurus by Dr Peter Mark Roget (1852) Born of a Victorian desire for order and harmony among nations, this guide to the English language is as unique as it is indispensable. 138,076 ratings — 47,292 ratings — 17. After two years of careful reading, moving backwards through time, Robert McCrum has concluded his selection of the 100 greatest nonfiction books. The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White (1789) This curate’s beautiful and lucid observations on the wildlife of a Hampshire village inspired generations of naturalists. North by Seamus Heaney (1975) This raw, tender, unguarded collection transcends politics, reflecting Heaney’s desire to move “like a double agent among the big concepts”. Dispatches by Michael Herr (1977) A compelling sense of urgency and a unique voice make Herr’s Vietnam memoir the definitive account of war in our time. 43. 13,471 ratings — 604,477 ratings — published 2006, avg rating 4.07 — published 2015, avg rating 4.18 — 98. 75. 73. 71. 27. 10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time. Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey (1918)Strachey’s partisan, often inaccurate but brilliant demolitions of four great 19th-century Britons illustrates life in the Victorian period from different perspectives. 11. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (1793) The US founding father’s life, drawn from four different manuscripts, combines the affairs of revolutionary America with his private struggles. 67. BOOK LISTS. 89. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1952/53) A bleakly hilarious, enigmatic watershed that changed the language of theatre and still sparks debate six decades on. The Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson (1963)This influential, painstakingly compiled masterpiece reads as an anatomy of pre-industrial Britain – and a description of the lost experience of the common man. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (1651)Hobbes’s essay on the social contract is both a founding text of western thought and a masterpiece of wit and imagination. 95. 35. By Barbara Tuchman | Used Price: 70% Off. 18. published 1992, avg rating 4.26 — published 2011, avg rating 4.36 — published 2017, avg rating 4.14 — John Adams book. Brief Lives by John Aubrey, edited by Andrew Clark (1898) Truly ahead of his time, the 17th-century historian and gossip John Aubrey is rightly credited as the man who invented biography. published 2010, avg rating 3.97 — 17,957 ratings — Of course not! 86. An earlier version said that Tom Paine’s book Common Sense helped ignite revolutionary America against the British under George II. 50. American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin in 1979. 230,946 ratings — 3. published 2018, avg rating 4.38 — The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper (1945) The Austrian-born philosopher’s postwar rallying cry for western liberal democracy was hugely influential in the 1960s. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano (1789)The most famous slave memoir of the 18th century is a powerful and terrifying read, and established Equiano as a founding figure in black literary tradition. published 2015, avg rating 4.21 — Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant – The Durants wrote an 11-volume “History of the World” series that took up pretty much all of their adult lives. Just well-written, well-researched, informative and interesting books for historians, history students and history enthusiasts. 10. 66. Jade City. 36. published 2015, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Hardcover), The Diary of a Young Girl (Mass Market Paperback), In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (Hardcover), Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (Paperback), Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Hardcover), A People's History of the United States (Paperback), Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Paperback), Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption (Hardcover), 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Paperback), Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (ebook), The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women (Hardcover), A Short History of Nearly Everything (Paperback), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Hardcover), At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Hardcover), SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Paperback), Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (Paperback), Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (Paperback), Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Kindle Edition), The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Hardcover), The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England (Hardcover), The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (Paperback), The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (Hardcover), Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Paperback), The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz (Kindle Edition), The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (Hardcover), The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Kindle Edition), The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (Mass Market Paperback), Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage (Hardcover), In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Paperback), The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century (Hardcover), How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe  (Paperback), Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (Hardcover), The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II (Hardcover), The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York (Hardcover), A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (Paperback), The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Hardcover). The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (1621)Burton’s garrulous, repetitive masterpiece is a compendious study of melancholia, a sublime literary doorstop that explores humanity in all its aspects. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988) The theoretical physicist’s mega-selling account of the origins of the universe is a masterpiece of scientific inquiry that has influenced the minds of a generation. 33. 94. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S Kuhn (1962) The American physicist and philosopher of science coined the phrase “paradigm shift” in a book that is seen as a milestone in scientific theory. The Pulitzer Prize winning, The Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman, is focussed on the first month of World War I. Tuchman explains in detail the events that led to the war. An American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster (1828) Though a lexicographical landmark to stand alongside Dr Johnson’s achievement, the original sold only 2,500 copies and left its author in debt. 159,105 ratings — Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed (1919) The American socialist’s romantic account of the Russian revolution is a masterpiece of reportage. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792) This radical text attacked the dominant male thinkers of the age and laid the foundations of feminism. Try Blinkist for free Blinkist News Book Lists Work and Success Society and Culture Mind and Body Listen to Simplify. Higginbotham’s book draws from hundreds of hours of interviews. published 1959, avg rating 4.13 — 22,346 ratings — 90. 45. Read 29 662 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb (1807) A troubled brother-and-sister team produced one of the 19th century’s bestselling volumes and simplified the complexity of Shakespeare’s plays for younger audiences. 19. Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold (1869) Arnold caught the public mood with this high-minded but entertaining critique of Victorian society posing questions about the art of civilised living that still perplex us. Welcome back. Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves (1929)Graves’s account of his experiences in the trenches of the first world war is a subversive tour de force. 82. Here are the best non-fiction books, including celebrity memoirs, investigations into the royal family, and more, to publish in 2020. published 1956, avg rating 4.07 — This small book is the distillations of the lessons from their decades of research. London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew (1851)The influence of the Victorian journalist’s detailed, dispassionate descriptions of London lower-class life is clear, right up to the present day. The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin (1953)The great historian of ideas starts with an animal parable and ends, via a dissection of Tolstoy’s work, in an existential system of thought. Paperback $18.99. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859) Darwin’s revolutionary, humane and highly readable introduction to his theory of evolution is arguably the most important book of the Victorian era. avg rating 3.99 — The Life of Samuel Johnson LLD by James Boswell (1791) This huge work is one of the greatest of all English biographies and a testament to one of the great literary friendships. This includes traditional historicals, historical fantasy, historical romance, time-slip novels, alternative history… The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963) The book that ignited second-wave feminism captured the frustration of a generation of middle-class American housewives by daring to ask: “Is this all?”. The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys (1660) A portrait of an extraordinary Englishman, whose scintillating firsthand accounts of Restoration England are recorded alongside his rampant sexual exploits. published 2019, avg rating 4.03 — 83. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1776-1788)Perhaps the greatest and certainly one of the most influential history books in the English language, in which Gibbon unfolds the narrative from the height of the Roman empire to the fall of Byzantium. 8. published 2000, avg rating 3.74 — The Federalist Papers by ‘Publius’ (1788) These wise essays clarified the aims of the American republic and rank alongside the Declaration of Independence as a cornerstone of US democracy. 53. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)This steely and devastating examination of the author’s grief following the sudden death of her husband changed the nature of writing about bereavement. 101,428 ratings — Orientalism by Edward Said (1978) This polemical masterpiece challenging western attitudes to the east is as topical today as it was on publication. 2,839,562 ratings — Which history books did we miss? This is my list of the 10 best nonfiction books. published 2004, avg rating 4.15 — The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes (1980) Hughes charts the story of modern art, from cubism to the avant garde The Story of Art by Ernst Gombrich (1950) The most popular art book in history. 62. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970) The Australian feminist’s famous polemic remains a masterpiece of passionate free expression in which she challenges a woman’s role in society. A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson (1755) Dr Johnson’s decade-long endeavour framed the English language for the coming centuries with clarity, intelligence and extraordinary wit. A Book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David (1950) This landmark recipe book, a horrified reaction to postwar rationing, introduced cooks to the food of southern Europe and readers to the art of food writing. published 2003, avg rating 4.16 — In my opinion, these are 10 nonfiction books everyone should read. Robert McCrum reflects on his 100 greatest nonfiction books list, The 100 best novels written in English: the full list, The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014), The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005), Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (1995), A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988), The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (1976), The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970), Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom by Nik Cohn (1969), The Double Helix by James D Watson (1968), Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag (1966), The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963), The Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson (1963), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S Kuhn (1962), The Elements of Style by William Strunk and EB White (1959), The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith (1958), The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life by Richard Hoggart (1957), Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin (1955), The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art by Kenneth Clark (1956), The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin (1953), Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1952/53), A Book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David (1950), The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Roper (1947), The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Dr Benjamin Spock (1946), The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper (1945), Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth by Richard Wright (1945), Enemies of Promise by Cyril Connolly (1938), The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell (1937), The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937), How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936), Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (1933), My Early Life: A Roving Commission by Winston Churchill (1930), Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves (1929), A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929), Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed (1919), The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes (1919), The American Language by HL Mencken (1919), Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey (1918), The Souls of Black Folk by WEB Du Bois (1903), The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902), Brief Lives by John Aubrey, edited by Andrew Clark (1898), Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S Grant (1885), Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain (1883), Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (1879), Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold (1869), On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859), The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole (1857), The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell (1857), London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew (1851), Household Education by Harriet Martineau (1848), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass (1845), Domestic Manners of the Americans by Frances Trollope (1832), An American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster (1828), Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey (1822), Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb (1807), Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa by Mungo Park (1799), The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (1793), A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792), The Life of Samuel Johnson LLD by James Boswell (1791), Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790), The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano (1789), The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White (1789), The Federalist Papers by ‘Publius’ (1788), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1776-1788), The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776), A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson (1755), A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume (1739), A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729), A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain by Daniel Defoe (1727), An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke (1689), The Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer (1662), The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys (1660), Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial, or A Brief Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns Lately Found in Norfolk by, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne (1624), The First Folio by William Shakespeare (1623), The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (1621), The History of the World by Walter Raleigh (1614), King James Bible: The Authorised Version (1611), What did Robert miss? 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