Nonfiction

The True Story Behind Ron Howard’s Forthcoming Movie “In the Heart of the Sea”

While I was on a whale watching trip this summer, a nearly fifty-foot whale gracefully slipped out of sight under the boat. For a moment I paused in my frantic picture taking. What happens if the whale comes up under us? Thankfully, the whale moved on to feed and spout with its companions. The experience that day brought to mind In the Heart Of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, which tells the incredible story of the Essex, a whale ship that sailed out of Nantucket in 1819.

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The Fascinating Biography that Took Alexander Hamilton to the Bright Lights of Broadway

Alexander Hamilton’s life is perhaps best known for its end: he was mortally wounded in a duel with political rival Aaron Burr. But his personal life and political achievements are fascinating, impressive, and—until recently—underappreciated. Here is a man who, though featured on our ten-dollar bill, many Americans know little about. I was certainly one of them.

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The True Story Behind the New ABC Series, The Astronaut Wives Club

It’s an age-old saying that behind every great man is a great woman. In the last few years, a number of fantastic novels have told the fictionalized stories of the wives, mothers, sisters, and girlfriends of the men who’ve shaped our history, and how the ladies have done just as much to contribute. Lily Koppel’s The Astronaut Wives Club is the true story of the spouses of America’s Mercury Seven, a group of astronauts selected by NASA in 1959 to head a number of new space missions.

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An Intimate and Riveting Saga of Poverty and Urban Life

There’s an age-old saying (and Bruce Springsteen lyric) that you can’t start a fire without a spark. This is often true in literature—sometimes all it takes to create a great story is to find something that inspires you to write it. Though most might think of this saying in the context of novels, I think it’s even more true in the case of nonfiction. In a world dominated by the twenty-four-hour news cycle, how do you write about something happening in the world that people will continue to care about?

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America’s Historian: Celebrating David McCullough’s Fifty-Year Career

David McCullough has the gift of making any historical event fascinating and relatable. Through his vivid portraits of the larger-than-life personalities and events that have shaped our nation, McCullough offers an entertaining and informative window into the past. A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, McCullough is celebrating fifty years with his publisher, Simon & Schuster, and fortunately for us all, he’s as prolific as he is talented. If you happen to be looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift, look no further, for here we celebrate ten of his highly acclaimed books that will convert anyone into a history buff.

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A Penetrating Exploration of Communication in the Digital Age

“This is an essay about a strain of nasty, knowing abuse spreading like pinkeye through the national conversation—a tone of snarking insult provoked and encouraged by the new hybrid world of print, television, radio, and the Internet,” writes author David Denby in the opening of Snark. As the title and opening line suggest, Snark is about snark, the vituperative and often shallow tactic that, in the age of the Internet, has turned our communication anemic, the schoolyard equivalent of an irritating shoulder-prod.

Published in 2009, following the rise of Barack Obama, Snark has a very particular mission in mind.

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A Polarizing, Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild

“Wild,” in reference to the great outdoors, conveys an image of land and creatures untarnished by human contact. Yet the adjective is just as often used to describe humans themselves—the bold, the unfettered, the daring, the dangerous. It is precisely at the intersection of these definitions that great adventures unfold.…

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Water, Water Anywhere

When Charles Fishman’s The Big Thirst was published in 2011, one critic paused in his praise to point out that the book came at “an odd moment.” At the time, the snowpack at Lake Tahoe was 165 percent of normal. Today, state officials anticipate the statewide snowpack to be 6…

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An Absorbing and Elegiac Look Behind the Iron Curtain

Editor’s Note: Elena Gorokhova grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, although for most of her life it was known to her as Leningrad. At the age of twenty-four she married an American and came to the United States with only a twenty kilogram suitcase to start a new life. She is…

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On Dropping Bombs: Moral Dilemmas in the Atomic Age

Editor’s Note: In 1987, Richard Rhodes published The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2012, Simon & Schuster published the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition of this important work. The Making of the Atomic Bomb remains…

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