The best non-fiction books of 2016


For this final Book Nook column of the year here are my favorite non-fiction books of 2016.

“The Romanovs 1613-1918” by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Knopf, 744 pages, $35).

Russia has been in the news a lot lately. If you want to obtain a better understanding of Russia’s past and how Russian history impacts their current government then let me suggest that you read “The Romanovs 1613-1918” by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

The Romanov monarchy ruled Russia for over three centuries. Under the Romanovs Russia became a massive domain and a world power. Their history is filled with court intrigues, scandalous behavior, sadistic brutality, visionary schemes, and intellectual achievements.

The family produced many kinds of rulers. Romanov rulers like Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, and Catherine the Great shaped Russia. The Romanov influence did not end with the execution of the last tsar in 1918. Vladimir Putin, the current Russian leader, possesses many tsar-like qualities.

“Truevine - Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South” by Beth Macy (Little, Brown, 420 pages, $28).

It happened around the year 1900. Two young brothers, George and Willie Muse, were out working in a tobacco field when a man approached to take them away. The Muse brothers had albinism, a rare skin pigmentation that made them stand out in any crowd. Their unusual looks had attracted this freak hunter who then sold them to a circus.

George and Willie became enslaved as circus sideshow freaks. They were told that their mother was dead. This wasn’t true. What is true is this fascinating story that Beth Macy has assembled. Their mother never gave up. The day that she found her sons had to be one of the most amazing days ever.

“How the Post Office Created America” by Winifred Gallagher (Penguin Press, 326 pages, $28).

America would not be the country that it is today if it were not for the creation of the U.S. Mail. In this important book readers can discover how the Post Office was instrumental in laying our foundations and building up our infrastructure. Roads were built. Stagecoach lines, railroads, and airlines were put into service to carry the mail. This inspiring book is filled with informative facts about the U. S. Mail.

“The Fortress - a Love Story” by Danielle Trussoni (Dey St. 324 pages, $27.99).

Danielle Trussoni fell in love with a novelist from Bulgaria. They got married. Early on there were warning signs. Trussoni ignored them. This is her story of the decline and eventual end of that marriage. The final meltdown took place in an ancient building in France where they had been living, the “fortress” of the title. Trussoni’s writing here is brave and brilliant.

“Trespassing Across America - One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland” by Ken Ilgunas (Blue Rider Press, 267 pages, $27).

Ken Ilgunas had a wild notion. He wanted to hike from Canada to Texas along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. So he did. Ilgunas had many adventures along the way. He met some kind people. There were mean dogs and lots of cows. This is the great American adventure story of 2016. He’s a fabulous writer-this story is incredible.

Next week: my favorite crime novels from 2016.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Classes cancelled, boil advisory issued in Ansonia
Classes cancelled, boil advisory issued in Ansonia

A boil advisory has been issued for the entire Village of Ansonia following issues at village’s water plant, according to Village Administrator Tom Welbaum.  The advisory has been issued until further notice while tests are being conducted.   Classes have been canceled for Ansonia Local Schools due to a boil advisory. Students...
Man threatens to shoot Dayton church worker in head, report says
Man threatens to shoot Dayton church worker in head, report says

A 71-year-old woman volunteering at a church thrift shop told Dayton police a man threatened to shoot her in the head. Around 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, Dayton police were called to St. Luke Baptist Church, 2262 N. Gettysburg Ave., for a menacing complaint.  The alleged victim is a volunteer at the church’s thrift shop.  She told police...
New Boston Stoker coffee shop coming to Centerville
New Boston Stoker coffee shop coming to Centerville

A new Boston Stoker coffee shop is coming to South Main Street (Ohio 48) in Centerville. The new shop could open “softly” in as soon as three weeks, Boston Stoker President Henry Dean told this news outlet Sunday. It will be located in a former bank building at 215 N. Main St. (Ohio 48) across the street from Benham’s Grove....
VIDEO: Remembering the massive Riverfront Stadium implosion in Cincinnati
VIDEO: Remembering the massive Riverfront Stadium implosion in Cincinnati

The Georgia Dome, which housed the Atlanta Falcons for 25 years, is set for implosion this morning. It will come down in similar fashion to Cinergy Field, the Cincinnati stadium demolished on Dec. 29, 2002, the same day the Cincinnati Bengals dropped a road game to the Buffalo Bills, 27-9. The longtime home of the Bengals and Reds was originally known...
Hungry Dayton resident dupes 2 delivery drivers on same day
Hungry Dayton resident dupes 2 delivery drivers on same day

Two Dayton delivery drivers were duped and had food orders stolen from the same apartment on Lakebend Drive in Dayton.  Around 1:20 a.m. Nov. 19, a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver reported he had a $12 pizza stolen from him as he went to deliver it to an apartment in the 3800 block of Lakebend Drive. He said the female resident opened the...
More Stories