Featured favorites – Top 5 non-fiction books recommended by Island bookstores


Top 5: Non-fiction

Book Den East

“History of the American Whale Fishery” by Alexander Starbuck (1989 reprint) – The classic study of a brutal industry which brought prosperity to some ($35).

“The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition” by Caroline Alexander (1999) – Recounts one of the most stirring adventures in maritime and Antarctic history ($20).

“Light in the Sea” by David Doubilet (1989) – A beautiful photo study of the underwater world by a world-renowned photographer. Nice for the coffee table in a cottage by the sea ($10).

“The Posters of Glasnost and Perestroika” (1989) – A fascinating collection of Soviet poster art (131 folio pages) heralding the death of the ‘evil empire’ – or is it just resting? ($50).

“Finishing In Hand Bookbinding” by Herbert and Peter Fahey (1951) – A lovely volume in leather, hand-bound in Estonia ($100).

Bunch of Grapes

“Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” by Chris Hedges – Hedges believes that we now live in two societies: one the print based, literate world and the other a growing majority, a world filled with false certainty and magic.

“The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table” by Tracie McMillan – In the modern world of foodies, McMillan wonders how the working class can afford and have the time to eat as well as they should.

“The End of County: Dispatches from the Frack Zone” by Seamus McGraw – McGraw, a freelance writer, is presented with a dilemma by his widowed mother. Should the family allow testing and subsequentdrilling for natural gas on the family homestead in the remote northeastern corner of Pennsylvania? His superb writing allows the lay reader to understand the fracking process.

“The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribe” by Scott Wallace – The National Geographic writer takes a three-month, grueling trek into the Amazon with a Brazilian party seeking to document the extent of the settlements and movements of the Arrow People, without having actual contact with them. Both an exciting adventure story and a thought-provoking commentary about our modern world.

“Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand – Louie Zamperini was an overly active child, whose older brother taught her to run. He ran in the Berlin Olympics. He was a wild and crazy guy, who became a bombardier in World War II. This is only the beginning of his story. Wonderfully written. Truly captivating.

Edgartown Books

“The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine” by Benjamin Wallace – Part detective story, part wine history, this is one juicy tale, even for those with no interest in the fruit of the vine. As delicious as a true vintage Lafite.

“Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour” by Lynn Olson – The behind-the-scenes story of how the U.S. forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from perspective of three key American players in London: Edward R. Murrow, Averell Harriman, and John Gilbert Winant.

“Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant that Ever Lived” by Ralph Helfer – Modoc is the joint biography of a man and an elephant born in a small German town on the same day in 1896. Bram was the son of an elephant trainer, Modoc the daughter of his prize performer. The boy and animal grew up devoted to each other. When the Wunderzircus was sold to an American, Bram stowed away on the ship to prevent being separated from Modoc.

“Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend” by Susan Orlean – A wonderful, compelling book that will have you thinking long after you’ve set it down. Orlean has created a fascinating history of a dog, yes, but she has also opened a discussion of many larger issues which are highly relevant and provocative.

“The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity” by Nancy Gibbs – Essential reading for anyone interested in American politics.