Best nonfiction of 2021 – The Washington Post

King’s memoir explores not only her boundary-breaking tennis career but also her off-court battles for equality and, endearingly, little-known stories of incidents that forged her character.

Klam digs into her ancestry to find the truth behind family lore. Her journey de ella takes readers into that fascinating gray area between what we’d like to believe about our pasts and what really happened.

The author of “The Everything Store” focuses on a lucrative but lesser known enterprise that generates the revenue to fuel Amazon’s supercharged expansion: cloud computing. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Glaser explores the human side of the adoption industry through the story of one young mother who was forced to give up her son in the 1960s.

This sweeping narrative about the United States’ expansion across the continent following the revolution shows events from multiple vantages: British, French and Spanish; Canadian, Mexican and Haitian; Seminole, Cherokee and Métis; enslaved people and abolitionists; women’s rights campaigners and Spanish-speaking Tejanos.

At 22, Jaouad found out she had leukemia. This record of her treatment of her is a transformative read even for those who have not faced a life-changing — and potentially life-ending — diagnosis.

In short, highly dramatic chapters, a true-crime columnist delves into the life of a Victorian-era serial killer and the Scotland Yard quest to put him behind bars.

A Post reporter explores with tragic clarity the terrible collateral costs children suffer from gun violence.

Isaacson lays out a complicated subject—the first DNA editing tool—in a lucid prose that’s brisk, compelling and surprisingly funny.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction: Fox recounts the story of two British officers during World War I who escaped from a Turkish prison camp using a Ouija board.

Best known as the musician behind the band Japanese Breakfast, Zauner recalls the grief she experienced while caring for her dying mother, and the solace she found in a supermarket chain.

Where does great thinking come from? A biology and social science writer argues that the brain is only part of the answer.

A forest ecologist who grew up in a family of tree-cutters describes how her revolutionary findings about the ways trees communicate transformed our understanding of nature itself.

This affectionate but clear-eyed memoir by the former Disney darling chronicles an unusual career that began at 12 and swelled to global proportions during her adolescence.

Dozens of essays by prominent Black writers consider the 400 years since the first African slave ship, the White Lion, arrived in the colony of Virginia in 1619.

The Pulitzer-winning author of “The Metaphysical Club” charts the transformations of cultural and intellectual life during the early years of the Cold War.

From the author of “Stiff,” “Gulp” and “Grunt,” an exploration of the conflicts between humans and animals. As in her previous books, the popular science writer wows with her unflinching fascination with the weird, the gross and the downright improbable.

Whether examining the etymological roots of the word “slut” or exploring the evolution of consent, these essays illuminate how women are conditioned to be complicit in their own exploitation.

The Atlantic staff writer recounts his visits to historical sites in America and West Africa to understand the various ways slavery and its deleterious aftermath are taught.

In this follow-up to “A Very Stable Genius,” two Pulitzer-winning Post reporters break down the last year of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency.

This massive, richly illustrated two-volume collection of annotated lyrics essentially serves as McCartney’s memoir. There’s nothing like listening to him talk about the rise of a band that changed the world forever.

A chronicle by two Post reporters of the United States’ early response to the covid-19 pandemic reveals that whenever public health and public relations came into conflict, public health lost out.

With humor and generosity, the New Yorker writer expounds upon the ark’s worth of birds and mammals she has brought into her life, from apartment-dwelling dogs to disparate livestock.

Considering the “freedom drive” in four realms — art, sex, drugs and the climate crisis — Nelson devotes an expansive essay to each, exploring how notions of liberation and limitation collide.

The Pulitzer-winning historian interweaves her personal history with that of her home state of Texas to pierce false narratives about the country’s treatment of African Americans.

Drawing on the most up-to-date manuscript discoveries and scholarship, Sturgis delivers the fullest one-volume account of the iconic fin-de-siècle writer, esthete, wit and gay martyr.

Through copious interviews, Post investigative journalists describe the waning days of the Trump administration as the 45th president refused to admit defeat to Joe Biden.

Beautifully designed, Byers’s 500-page masterwork lays out how cultures from antiquity to the present created welcoming, comfortable spaces to house books.

The most recent memoir by the Booker-shortlisted author of “Swimming Home” finds Levy, at 60, dreaming of the perfect house and pondering what underlies our drive for ownership.

With shelves groaning under the weight of books on modern China, Shum’s is a rare insider account of the anti-socialist nexus of money and politics that defines China’s authoritarian political system.

Ackerman draws straight, stark lines between the earliest days of the war on terror and its mutations today, with conflicts abroad and divisions at home.

The new graphic memoir from the “Fun Home” writer-artist explores Bechdel’s many motivations for living a life of aerobic pain and gain.

Using accessible prose and modern reference points, McCrum addresses how Shakespeare moves us — still — and how his fearless creativity grew out of a tumultuous era and personal history.

A Pulitzer-winning former reporter for The Post analyzes “Midnight Cowboy’s” controversial subject matter, mournful eye and cynical humor.

Ruhl, a celebrated playwright, reveals her 10-year journey coming to terms with a diagnosis of Bell’s palsy, which left her with a face she no longer recognized.

A political commentator and policy analyst explores why racism so often ends up being the answer to an increasingly pressing question that affects everyone: Why can’t we have nice things?

During the early days of public radio, four women, who had little time for others’ low expectations, joined forces to change the face (and voice) of journalism.

Saunders shares his method for literary analysis using seven stories by four Russian authors in this master class that explores, among other questions, this one: “What makes a reader keep reading?”

A Georgetown law professor recounts what happened when she became a reserve police officer serving the DC district with the highest concentration of reported crime.

Nowhere in this memoir’s 300 witty pages will you learn what inspired Tucci to become an actor. Instead, the host of “Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy” touches on the food that shaped his life.

Hill, whose congressional testimony on Russia’s election interference made her famous, uses her personal story and her training in geopolitics to explore the political consequences of socioeconomic conditions.

An organizational psychologist coaches readers on how to better understand their unexamined beliefs while opening up to curiosity and humility.

The world-famous omnivore goes deep on three drugs — opium, caffeine and mescaline — tying scientific and historical explorations to gripping personal dramas.

Through the stories of generations of Chicago women, Turner gives a tutorial of urban decay, poor city planning, and the influence of fads and digital advances on Black urban teenagers.

A Post columnist paints a striking portrait of how the unique partnership between Nancy and Ronald Reagan shaped the 40th president’s political career.

In the first biography of the “How Do I Love Thee” poet since 1988, Sampson places Barrett Browning squarely in the midst of the political turmoil that roiled Victorian Britain.

Richard Greene, who edited Graham Greene’s collected correspondence (although there’s no relation between author and subject), chronicles a life as crazed as a hall of cracked mirrors.

The CNN anchor’s exploration of his wealthy ancestors is rich in social history, ingeniously organized and brimming with well-written anecdotes.

There’s plenty of courage in the Secret Service described by a Pulitzer-winning reporter for The Post, but not as much professionalism as you’d think, and not nearly enough sobriety.

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