It’s heartening to realize that there’s a surplus of elegantly written nonfiction books these days — books that can take you to another time, place, and location, and even cause a revolution in your mind. We live in a time when people can go crazy over a giant and expensive economic tome (Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century), or have a peek into the letters written by our second first lady (Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters by Diane Jacobs) — and that’s just two of the year’s notable books. Here’s a sampling of the ten best nonfiction books that have lingered as the first half of the year draws to a close.
10. The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, illustrated by Canaan White
Admittedly, it falls in the category of historical fiction in the form of a graphic novel, but let’s say this: we shouldn’t forget the sacrifice and skill of the Harlem Hellfighters in World War I, and writer Max Brooks and illustrator Caanan White bring the struggle and might of the 369th Infantry in the face of staggering racism to thrilling life. Instead of training on rifles, they trained with brooms. And they still won every battle they fought in, left an indelible legacy in the country, and were a force in the development of jazz.