Best Nonfiction of 2011

Eric Liebetrau, Editor

Choosing any “best-of” list is always a monumental undertaking, a task guaranteed to involve plenty of discussion, heated debate and perhaps even controversy. This year proved no less difficult, mainly due to the remarkable number of outstanding books published in 2011. Of course, you won’t hear any complaints from me—exposure to such important literature is the most rewarding part of my job.


1493 by Charles C. Mann
by Charles C. Mann
1861 by Adam Goodheart
by Adam Goodheart
33 REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE by Dorian Lynskey
by Dorian Lynskey
ARRIVAL CITY by Doug Saunders
by Doug Saunders

THE BEAUTY AND THE SORROW by Peter Englund
by Peter Englund
THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY by David Deutsch
by David Deutsch
BENTO'S SKETCHBOOK by John Berger
by John Berger
BLOOD, BONES, AND BUTTER by Gabrielle Hamilton
by Gabrielle Hamilton
BLUE NIGHTS by Joan Didion
by Joan Didion

THE BODY POLITIC by Jonathan D. Moreno
by Jonathan D. Moreno
BORN IN AFRICA by Martin Meredith
by Martin Meredith
BOTTOM OF THE 33RD by Dan Barry
by Dan Barry
THE BRILLIANT DISASTER by Jim Rasenberger
by Jim Rasenberger
CHARLES DICKENS by Claire Tomalin
by Claire Tomalin

DEADLY CHOICES by Paul A. Offit
by Paul A. Offit
DEEP FUTURE by Curt Stager
by Curt Stager
THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Candice Millard
by Candice Millard

THE ECSTASY OF INFLUENCE by Jonathan Lethem
by Jonathan Lethem
ELECTRIC EDEN by Rob Young
by Rob Young
FIRST CONTACT by Marc Kaufman
by Marc Kaufman
FOUNDING GARDENERS by Andrea Wulf
by Andrea Wulf

IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson
by Erik Larson
THE GREATER JOURNEY by David McCullough
by David McCullough
GREEN IS THE NEW RED by Will Potter
by Will Potter
HALFWAY TO HOLLYWOOD by Michael Palin
by Michael Palin
HEARTS TOUCHED BY FIRE by Harold Holzer
by Harold Holzer

HERE ON EARTH by Tim Flannery
by Tim Flannery
THE HONORED DEAD by Joseph Braude
by Joseph Braude
HOT by Mark Hertsgaard
by Mark Hertsgaard
HOWARD COSELL by Mark Ribowsky
by Mark Ribowsky
INFERNO by Max Hastings
by Max Hastings

THE INFLUENCING MACHINE by Brooke Gladstone
by Brooke Gladstone
INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY by Janet Reitman
by Janet Reitman
JANE FONDA by Patricia Bosworth
by Patricia Bosworth
JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM by James Carroll
by James Carroll
IS JOURNALISM WORTH DYING FOR? by Anna Politkovskaya
by Anna Politkovskaya

LENNON by Tim Riley
by Tim Riley
THE LONGEST WAR by Peter L. Bergen
by Peter L. Bergen
LOST IN SHANGRI-LA by Mitchell Zuckoff
by Mitchell Zuckoff
LOVE AND CAPITAL by Mary Gabriel
by Mary Gabriel

THE MEMORY PALACE by Mira Bartók
by Mira Bartók
MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD by David S. Reynolds
by David S. Reynolds
THE ORIGINS OF POLITICAL ORDER by Francis Fukuyama
by Francis Fukuyama
IN THE PLEX by Steven Levy
by Steven Levy
SMOKING TYPEWRITERS by John McMillian
by John McMillian

THE SOCIAL ANIMAL by David Brooks
by David Brooks
THE STORM OF WAR by Andrew Roberts
by Andrew Roberts
THE SWERVE by Stephen Greenblatt
by Stephen Greenblatt
THE THOUSAND-YEAR FLOOD by David Welky
by David Welky
THE THREAT MATRIX by Garrett M. Graff
by Garrett M. Graff

TIGER, TIGER by Margaux Fragoso
by Margaux Fragoso
TOLSTOY by Rosamund Bartlett
by Rosamund Bartlett
TOWNIE by Andre Dubus III
by Andre Dubus III
AN UNQUENCHABLE THIRST by Mary Johnson
by Mary Johnson
WE MEANT WELL by Peter Van Buren
by Peter Van Buren

WENDY AND THE LOST BOYS by Julie Salamon
by Julie Salamon
WITNESS TO AN EXTREME CENTURY by Robert Jay Lifton
by Robert Jay Lifton
YOUR VOICE IN MY HEAD by Emma Forrest
by Emma Forrest