/100 Notable Books of 2018

100 Notable Books of 2018

By Mario Vargas Llosa. Translated by Edith Grossman. $26. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


Fiction.

This novel, a gritty depiction of a society grounded in corruption, hedonism and violence, may be a sendup of life in Peru before the downfall of Alberto Fujimori in 2000, but it has contemporary relevance for many countries. When civic life becomes degraded, Vargas Llosa demonstrates, everyone is affected, the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the victim and the victimizer.

By Joseph J. Ellis. $27.95. Knopf.


Nonfiction.


History.


Current Affairs.

Ellis’s subject is not only the founding era, but also our own, and the “ongoing conversation between past and present.” The author of numerous books on the early United States, Ellis draws connections between our history and our current age with an authority that few other writers can muster.

By Andrew Roberts. $40. Viking.


Nonfiction.


Biography.


History.

Churchill’s extraordinary life was filled with triumph and disaster, adulation and contempt, and the task for any historian is to strike a proper balance. Roberts’s expansive narrative includes all the necessary details about the man he calls an indispensable figure. This is the best single-volume biography yet written.

By Adam Tooze. $35. Viking.


Nonfiction.


History.

The crash of 2008, Tooze argues, was caused in both Europe and America, and its impact, he says, has been more political than economic, leading to a continuing wave of nationalism, protectionism and populism throughout most of the West.

By Catherine Nixey. $28. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Nonfiction.


History.

We are accustomed to stories of Christians martyred by pagans, but in this searingly passionate book, Nixey reverses the narrative, describing in great detail the desecrations and destruction Christians wreaked upon pagans and classical civilization.

By Michael Massing. $45. Harper.


Nonfiction.


History.

Last year saw a profusion of books about Martin Luther to mark the 500th anniversary of his posting the 95 Theses. Massing widens the lens wondrously, bringing in Erasmus, the great humanist foe of Luther. Their rivalry set the course for much of Western civilization.

By Joanne B. Freeman. $28. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


Nonfiction.


History.

A noted historian uncovers the scores of brawls, stabbings, pummelings and duel threats that occurred among congressmen between 1830 and 1860. The mayhem was part of the ever-escalating tensions over slavery.

By Michael Lewis. $26.95. Norton.


Nonfiction.


Current Affairs.

Lewis brings his breezy, appealing style to an examination of three relatively obscure government departments, energy, agriculture and commerce, shining a light on the life-or-death work these agencies perform, and showing how the Trump administration is doing what it can to undermine them.

By Keith O’Brien. $28. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Nonfiction.


History.

The title honors the female aviators who were hindered by the deep gender inequities of the golden age of flying. These are women few of us have heard of before; as O’Brien explains of their forgotten histories, each woman “went missing in her own way.”

By David W. Blight. $37.50. Simon & Schuster.


Nonfiction.


Biography.


History.

Blight’s monumental biography of the man who was the most famous African-American of the 19th century gives us not only the career but also the context that allowed Douglass to enter the White House as an adviser to Abraham Lincoln. And unlike Douglass’s own autobiographies, this book takes us inside the Douglass household to show us his complex relationship with the women in his life.

By Ramachandra Guha. $40. Knopf.


Nonfiction.


Biography.


History.

This second volume of an important biography looks at both the public and private life of a major figure of the 20th century. Guha admires Gandhi’s achievements, but does not gloss over the man’s flaws.

By Susan Orlean. $28. Simon & Schuster.


Nonfiction.


History.


Memoir.

In 1986 the Los Angeles Central Library went up in flames, an episode that provides the impetus and central drama for Orlean’s latest book, an unexpectedly fascinating paean to libraries — among the few institutions around “that welcome everyone and don’t charge any money for that warm embrace.”

By Lisa Brennan-Jobs. $26. Grove.


Nonfiction.


Memoir.

Brennan-Jobs’s memoir of an unstable childhood at the mercy of her depressed, volatile and chronically impoverished mother, on the one hand, and her famous, wealthy and emotionally abusive father, on the other, is a luminous, if deeply disturbing, work of art.

By Jill Lepore. $39.95. Norton.


Nonfiction.


History.

This sweeping, sobering account of the American past is a story not of relentless progress but of conflict and contradiction, with crosscurrents of reason and faith, black and white, immigrant and native, industry and agriculture rippling through a narrative that is far from completion.

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