2021 In Review: My Favorite Nonfiction

As 2021 finally draws to a close it’s time to announce my favorite nonfiction books of the year. This year, just like in years past I read some outstanding nonfiction. Year after year it’s hard to limit my list to only 10 books so a number of times I cheated and listed a dozen titles. Last year I stood firm and limited my list to 10 and this year I’ll do the same. In no particular order of preference here’s collection of books I have no problems recommending.

  1. Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin
  2. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan
  3. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick
  4. To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw
  5. Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum
  6. Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne Applebaum
  7. Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson
  8. Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser
  9. The Forever War by Dexter Filkins
  10. I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet 

 I’d also like to add four honorable mentions to this esteemed line-up. 

  1. God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America by Hanna Rosin
  2. Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance by Mustafa Akyol
  3. Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money by Diccon Bewes
  4. A Mirror Garden by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

You probably noticed Anne Applebaum’s name appears twice on the list. This marks the first time I’ve selected two books by the same author. In another first, I also included three books by foreign correspondents recalling their respective assignments throughout the Muslim world (Black Flags, The Forever War and I Was Told to Come Alone). As for my favorite book out of the 10, it was hard to choose but I’ll have to go with Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949

15 thoughts on “2021 In Review: My Favorite Nonfiction

  1. I have found that books by journalists can be really interesting as they get to the heart of the issues that they are researching, live in the space, and tell a good story. Thank you for the list!


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