Recommendations for the less fictitious narrative

“There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there’s only narrative.” – E. L. Doctorow

I’ve been reading more non-fiction lately and, though I prefer the flow most fiction, there are some that I have found really interesting.

After 9/11: America’s War on Terror (2001-) by Sid Jacobson, Ernie Colon: Focusing on how a war that we started in Afghanistan wound up in Iraq, Jacobson and Colon chose to present their work in a graphic novel style that is easy to follow and eerily echoes the press conferences and sound bites that concealed much of the truth of what was happening.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss: Punctuation is important and everyone should know how it works, but it isn’t easy to make learning about it fun. Truss manages to do just that with this humorous look at the dangers of punctuation errors. There’s even a section where the differences between some religious sects is explained as being the result of punctuation interpretation.

Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 by Richard Godbeer: I had to read this short book for a class and it was easily my favorite book of the semester. It only lightly touches upon the more well known aspects of the witch hunts, spending most of the narrative focused on why the Salem trials went so far while others were conducted in a more reasonable manner.

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright: In the years since 9/11 there have been many books about Afghanistan, the Taliban, and the rise of Al Qaeda. Many of them can be difficult to follow but I found that The Looming Tower did a good job of keeping all the major players straight for the reader.

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr: A Caravaggio painting appeared in history records but the painting itself was lost to the viewing public. Harr’s book follows how a few art historians and an art restorer tracked down the lost painting. Click here for a complete review of Harr’s book.

The Pirate Wars by Peter Earle: Giving the history of piracy, primarily in the Atlantic, from Captain Henry Morgan (yes, the one the rum is named after) through Blackbeard, Avery, and Kidd. Earle’s book is thoroughly engaging and a must for anyone who is interested in piracy.

War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges: This look at the wars of the twentieth century examines the trends that made war possible and the psychology behind why it worked so well. This is one of those books that I think everyone should read.


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