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Best books of 2009: nonfiction

The nonfiction books we liked best in 2009.

December 4, 2009



A World of Trouble:
The White House and the Middle East – from the Cold War to the War on Terror
By Patrick Tyler
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
628 pp., $30
New York Times correspondent Patrick Tyler presents an erudite and unusually eloquent analysis of 50 years of US policy in the Mideast. (Reviewed in the Monitor on 1/5/09.)

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The Ascent of Money:
A Financial History of the World
By Niall Ferguson
Penguin
442 pp., $29.95
Scottish historian Niall Ferguson offers an engaging and convincing exploration of the links between money and human progress. (Monitor review 1/6/09)

The Somme:
The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
By Peter Hart
Pegasus Books/Norton
624 pp., $35
Historian Peter Hart relies on personal accounts to add a new dimension to this stirring history of the Great War’s bloodiest battle. (Monitor review 1/30/09)

A. Lincoln:
A Biography
By Ronald C. White Jr.
Random House
816 pp. $35
In this lively, informative biography, historian Ronald C. White traces the spiritual and intellectual evolution of Abraham Lincoln.(Monitor review 2/10/09)

The Lost City of Z:
A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
By David Grann
Doubleday
352 pp., $27.50
Journalist David Grann follows the lost trail of a yet unsolved mystery: What happened to Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett? (Monitor review 2/25/09)

Cheever:
A Life
By Blake Bailey
Knopf
784 pp., $35
This expansive, wonderfully written biography illuminates both the gifts and the struggles of author John Cheever. (Monitor review 3/9/09)

The Third Reich at War
By Richard J. Evans
Penguin Press
926 pp., $40
Historian Richard J. Evans’s history of World War II from a German perspective is a superb study of a society at war. (Monitor review 4/11/09)

The First Tycoon:
The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
By T.J. Stiles
Knopf
736 pp., $37.50
A man of brutal force, Cornelius Vanderbilt – for better and worse – helped to shape American business culture. This examination of his life is a 2009 National Book Award winner. (Monitor review 5/1/09)

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