Thursday, May 26, 2016

Best Books of the Month: Nonfiction



Amazon Book Review: The GeneHere are a few of our favorite Nonfiction titles this month. See more of the Best Books of May.

In 2010, Siddhartha Mukherjee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Emperor of All Maladies, a "biography" of cancer. Here, he follows up with a biography of the gene—and The Gene (our Spotlight pick for May) is just as informative, wise, and well-written as that first book. Mukherjee opens with a survey of how the gene first came to be conceptualized and understood, taking us through the thoughts of Aristotle, Darwin, Mendel, Thomas Morgan, and others; he finishes the section with a look at the case of Carrie Buck (to whom the book is dedicated), who eventually was sterilized in 1927 in a famous American eugenics case. Carrie Buck's sterilization comes as a warning that informs the rest of the book. This is what can happen when we start tinkering with this most personal science and misunderstand the ethical implications of those tinkerings. Through the rest of The Gene, Mukherjee clearly and skillfully illustrates how the science has grown so much more advanced and complicated since the 1920s—we are developing the capacity to directly manipulate the human genome—and how the ethical questions have also grown much more complicated. We could ask for no wiser, more fascinating and talented writer to guide us into the future of our human heredity than Siddhartha Mukherjee. --Chris Schluep

 

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Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
 
In what he has described as his last book on war, Junger (The Perfect Storm) draws on history and psychology--as well as his own first-hand experience as a war-zone reporter--to explore tribal society, especially in the context of veterans returning from combat. Tribe may be a succinct book, but it's long on insight.
 
 

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My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story by the Yarnell Hill Fire's Lone Survivor by Brendan McDonough
 
On June 30, 2013, Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire killed 19 "hotshot" firefighters within minutes, leaving McDonough as the only survivor. My Lost Brothers is not only a harrowing account of survival, but a stirring meditation on redemption and resilience.
 

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Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road by Rob Schmitz
 
Told through the story of a single street and its denizens, Street of Eternal Happiness paints a poignant, insightful portrait of Shanghai and modern China, full of contradictions and humanity.
 
 
 

See the more Best Books of the Month in Nonfiction.


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