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Best nonfiction 2006

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The Washington Post's senior Pentagon reporter offers a detailed and devastating portrait of the run-up to and conduct of the war in Iraq. (10/17/06)

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State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $30)

The man sometimes called America's dean of journalism uses his remarkable access to continue his chronicle of the George W. Bush administration and the war in Iraq. (10/24/06)

Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York, by Adam Gopnik (Knopf, $25)

This charming collection of essays by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik focuses on life in New York City, with a particular interest in urban parenting. (10/31/06)

The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain de Botton (Pantheon, $25)

The wide-ranging Alain de Botton turns his attention to architecture in this superb examination of buildings and how they make us feel. (11/14/06)


Operation Yao Ming, by Brook Larmer (Gotham Books, $26)

This well-crafted biography of basketball great Yao Ming is also a compelling tale of globalization. (Reviewed1/3/06)

Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power (Knopf, $27.50)

A British scholar offers a penetrating view of Abraham Lincoln and his peculiar gifts as a politician. (1/24/06)

At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68, by Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster, $35)

This nuanced biography serves up a detailed portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. and the events of his time. (2/7/06)

Modigliani: A Life, by Jeffrey Meyers (Harcourt, $27)

This crisp, thoughtfully written examination of the life of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani helps to clarify his place in art history. (3/21/06)

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt, $25)

Charles J. Shields, an English teacher, has produced the first full-scale biography of the reclusive author of "To Kill a Mockingbird." (6/13/06)

LBJ: The Architect of American Ambition, by Randall B. Woods (Simon & Schuster, $35)

This detailed biography of LBJ paints him as one of the most complex and fascinating of US presidents. (8/1/06)

The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music, by Dunstan Prial (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27)

A man born with golden ears, Hammond jumpstarted the careers of music greats Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. (10/3/06)


Let Me Finish, by Roger Angell (Harcourt, $25)

New York grandee Roger Angell gracefully recounts his own life story. (Reviewed 6/6/06)

My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme (Knopf, $25.95)

Julia Child writes of some of the happiest years of her life – those she spent in France. (6/20/06)

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History, by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $22)

"Corrections" author Jonathan Franzen probes his own past with an acuity that is alternately painful and funny. (9/5/06)

Things I Didn't Know, by Robert Hughes (Knopf, $27.95)

Time magazine's longtime art critic tells of his formative years and experiences in Australia, Europe, and the US. (10/17/06)

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson (Broadway, $25)

Writer Bill Bryson hilariously and tenderly recalls a 1950s childhood in Iowa. (10/31/06)


The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People, by Cathleen Falsani (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24)

A journalist queries celebrities about their ideas on God and receives some surprising answers. (Reviewed 3/14/06)

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, by Karen Armstrong (Knopf, $30)

Popular religion writer Karen Armstrong chronicles the religious breakthroughs that took place worldwide between 900 and 200 BCE. (4/4/06)