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

Canadian rock legend Kenny Shields dies 
Canadian rock legend Kenny Shields dies 

Kenny Shields, the lead singer of Canadian classic rock ‘n’ roll band Streetheart, died Friday after cardiac surgery in Winnipeg, CBC News reported. He was 69. >> Read more trending news Shields and Streetheart charted during the 1970s and 1980s with hits like “Action,” “Hollywood,” &ldquo...
‘Britain’s Got Talent’ champion dog Pudsey dies
‘Britain’s Got Talent’ champion dog Pudsey dies

Former “Britain’s Got Talent” winner Ashleigh Butler announced the death of her beloved dog, Pudsey on Friday, ITV reported. >> Read more trending news Butler, who won the 2012 season title on the ITV television show with Pudsey -- a mix of border collie, bichon frise and Chinese crested -- posted an emotional tribute on her...
Woman, deputies aid 4 children left in car in Walmart parking lot
Woman, deputies aid 4 children left in car in Walmart parking lot

A Virginia woman and three sheriff’s deputies helped make four children comfortable, providing them with formula and diapers after they were left alone in a car in a Walmart parking lot, WTVR reported. >> Read more trending news Crystal Richards-Jackson said she noticed three Hanover County deputies making multiple trips to a car parked...
Magical ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at La Comedia
Magical ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at La Comedia

The tale as old as time returns to our area once more as La Comedia Dinner Theatre presents composer Alan Menken, lyricist Howard Ashman, lyricist Tim Rice, and librettist Linda Woolverton’s 1994 Tony Award-winning musical Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” through Sunday, Aug. 20. Last produced by La Comedia in 2008 and based...
D.L. STEWART: Some generations’ changes don’t add up

People of a younger generation can, and do, poke fun at their elders’ fumbling attempts to cope with modern technology. I do it all the time, although that’s getting a lot harder, because I don’t have as many elders as I used to. When you need an easy laugh, you can’t go wrong joking about mom trying to Skype or grandpa putting...
More Stories