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THE WORLD IN BOOKS

52 WORKS OF GREAT SHORT NONFICTION

A wealth of succinct, entertaining advice.

In an age of screens, AI, and shrinking attention spans, a good book is more important and valuable than ever.

For the bibliophiles among us, the recurring question is: What should I read next? Davis, a prolific writer and author of Great Short Books: A Year of Reading—Briefly, is ready with some 52 recommendations. His list stretches from The Epic of Gilgamesh to the current day, and it includes the seminal works of every major faith. Each entry includes an excerpt from the work, a biographical note on the author, and a discussion on its particular value. Davis also provides a recommendation on what to read next, which might be further writing by the same author or material in a related genre. His focus is on short books and essays; wherever possible, he places the piece within the author’s larger output. He casts a wide net, from Plato, Sun Tzu, Sappho, and Aristotle to Dante, Machiavelli, Marx, Voltaire, and others. Davis makes a point of including authors of color, such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. Du Bois, and James Baldwin, as well as key feminist writers like Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, and bell hooks. Elie Wiesel, Christopher Hitchens, Joan Didion, and Toni Morrison each find a place on the list. Davis admits that his collection is necessarily arbitrary, and he provides a short afterword to explain the reasons for his selections, as well as an appendix of other choices. One appendix, “My Ten Favorite Great Short Nonfiction Books,” includes work by Sappho, Douglass, Thoreau, Orwell, Didion, and Elizabeth Kolbert, in addition to John Hersey’s landmark Hiroshima. “I hope I have provided a rich reservoir of contemplation, insight, inspiration, and resistance, and perhaps even a glimmer of truth,” Davis writes. In that, he has succeeded.

A wealth of succinct, entertaining advice.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2024

ISBN: 9781668015599

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2024

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Readers Vote
  • 28


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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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HIP-HOP IS HISTORY

Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.

A memorable, masterful history of the first 50 years of an indelible American art form.

While historians often cast themselves as omniscient in their works, delivering facts and stories as important without acknowledging the impact of their own experiences on the narrative process, Questlove—drummer, DJ, music historian, and author of Mo’ Meta Blues, Creative Quest, and Music Is History—is forthcoming about the fact that he experienced music differently as he grew older. “I wasn’t sitting down for five hours listening to them over and over and over again, trying to unpack every nuance from every corner,” he writes, recalling his feelings decades into his relationship with the genre. “But I was—I am—a DJ, which meant that I had a professional interest in excavating the songs that worked.” The author’s observations spanning the entirety of hip-hop’s history are consistently illuminating—e.g., connecting its shift in five-year increments to the dominant drug of the period, from crack to sizzurp to opioids. However, it’s his personal connection to certain eras that make his latest book stand out. Questlove considers the late 1980s and early ’90s as the “golden age of hip-hop, when innovative MCs and innovative DJs seemed to spring up every few months, and classic albums regularly sprouted on the vine.” That era—filled with masterpieces from Public Enemy, De La Soul, and N.W.A.—is universally revered, but Questlove also recognizes that it coincides with the years between high school and when he officially became an artist—a time when he was immersed in finding inspiration and understanding the construction of hip-hop. While the author’s knowledge of hip-hop is as deep as any musicologist, it’s his passion for certain artists and songs that sets him apart.

Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9780374614072

Page Count: 352

Publisher: AUWA/MCD

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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