Best nonfiction books of 2008

The Monitor’s annual gift guide to the best nonfiction books of 2008.

For a slideshow of the Monitor's nonfiction book  jackets from 2008, click here.

The Nuclear Jihadist
By Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins (Twelve Books, 448 pp., $25)
A husband-and-wife reporting team tell the how A.Q. Khan brought the nuclear bomb to the Muslim world. (1/15/08)

The Telephone Gambit
By Seth Shulman (W.W. Norton & Co.,256 pp., $24.95)
Technology journalist Seth Shulman casts doubt on Alexander Graham Bell’s role as the creator of the telephone. (1/8/08)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Overtreated
By Shannon Brownlee (Bloomsbury USA, 352 pp., $25.95)
Award-winning science journalist Shannon Brownlee analyzes another phase of the US healthcare crisis: patients who are overtreated. (1/2/08)

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
By Drew Gilpin Faust (Alfred A. Knopf, 346 pp., $27.95)
Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust makes a convincing case that the heartbreak of the Civil War irrevocably altered the United States. (1/30/08)

Can’t Buy Me Love
By Jonathan Gould (Harmony, 672 pp., $27.50)
Jonathan Gould offers a worthy addition to “Beatle lit” in this biography chronicling the enduring appeal of the Fab Four.  (2/5/08)

The 10-Cent Plague
By David Hajdu (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 434 pp., $26)
Journalism professor David Hajdu writes a revealing new history of the 1950s comic-book panic. (3/28/08)

In Defense of Food
By Michael Pollan (The Penguin Press, 244 pp., $21.95)
Journalist Michael Pollan shows how nutritionism has unnecessarily complicated the act of eating. (4/3/08)

McMafia
By Misha Glenny (Knopf, 400 pp., $27.95)
BBC correspondent Misha Glenny looks deep into the global criminal underworld. (4/23/08)

Girls Like Us
By Sheila Weller (Atria, 592 pp., $27.95)
This collective biography looks at top singer/songwriter stars Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon. (5/13/08)

Nixonland
By Rick Perlstein (Scribner, 881 pp., $37.50)
Historian and journalist Rick Perlstein chronicles Richard Nixon’s rise to the presidency and the “us” against “them” mind-set he brought to it. (5/19/08)

The Last Campaign
By Thurston Clarke (Holt, 321 pp., $25)
Historian Thurston Clarke delivers an emotionally powerful examination of Robert F. Kennedy’s  1968 presidential campaign. (5/26/08)

A Summer of Hummingbirds
By Christopher Benfey (Penguin Press, 287 pp., $25.95)
Christopher Benfey offers a lively account of love, art, and scandal among America’s 19th-century artistic elite. (5/31/08)

The Post-American World
By Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton, 292 pp., $25.95)
Journalist Fareed Zakaria writes of the rise of new global powers and of a world in which the United States is no longer No. 1. (6/13/08)

The Forger’s Spell
By Edward Dolnick (Harper, 368 pp., $26.95)
Edward Dolnick tells the riveting story of a second-rate painter who fooled some very powerful Nazis with his Vermeer forgeries. (7/31/08)

White Heat
By Brenda Wineapple (Knopf, 416 pp., $27.95)
Skilled biographer Brenda Wineapple embraces the contradictions inherent in the remarkable friendship of “two unusual, seemingly incompatible friends,” Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. (8/16/08)

My Father’s Paradise
By Ariel Sabar (Algonquin, 352 pp., $25.95)
This moving memoir tells the story of journalist Ariel Sabar’s travels with his father to Iraq in an effort to understand his family roots in an ancient community of Iraqi Jews. (9/15/08)

Hot, Flat and Crowded
By Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 448 pp., $27.95)
New York Times columnist and bestselling author Tom Friedman exhorts readers to unite to fight global warming and excess consumption. (9/22/08)

The Numerati
By Stephen Baker (Houghton Mifflin, 244 pp., $26)
Business Week writer Stephen Baker examines the way computers and data patterns are invading our lives. (10/1/08)

Factory Girls
By Leslie T. Chang (Spiegel and Grau, 420 pp., $30)
Former Wall Street Journal correspondent Leslie T. Chang offers a compelling portrait of China’s new working class. (10/6/08)

John Lennon: The Life
By Philip Norman (Ecco, 851 pp., $34.95)
Philip Norman’s biography wonderfully unfolds of Lennon’s life with all its talent, tenderness, and tragedy. (11/7/08)

The Journal of Hélène Berr
Translated by David Bellos (Weinstein Books, 307 pp., $24.95)
A newly published diary reveals a French counterpart to Amsterdam’s Anne Frank. (11/11/08)

Outliers
By Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown & Co., 309 pp., $27.99)
Malcolm Gladwell examines the patterns in the lives ofextraordinary achievers. (11/17/08)

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