Books of the Year

Selected by The Atlantic's literary editor, Benjamin Schwarz

Forgotten Armies, by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper (Harvard)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("War Without End," November 2005)

"A panoramic chronicle of the war in South Asia ranging from swank prewar Singapore to famine-ravaged Bengal, where three million people died in 1943-1944.... A brilliant marriage of social and military history and a work of extraordinary literary merit."

.....

Fascination, by William Boyd (Knopf)
Reviewed by Christina Schwarz ("A Close Read," July/August 2005)

"Boyd effortlessly executes all the sophisticated tricks of conventional style even as he pushes beyond convention, taking liberties with language and proportion."

.....

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuro Ishiguro (Knopf)
Reviewed by Joseph O'Neill ("New Fiction," May 2005)

"Suffice it to say that Ishiguro serves up the saddest, most persuasive science fiction you'll read."

.....

New Art City, by Jed Perl (Knopf)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Passion in Fashion," December 2005)

"This almost impossibly rich book evokes, explores, illuminates, and analyzes the Manhattan art world of the 1940s through the early 1960s."

.....

The Command of the Ocean, by N.A.M. Rodger (Norton)
Reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz ("Eminent Domains," May 2005)

"The second installment of Rodger's projected three-part naval history of Britain is one of very few books that actually warrant the adjective 'magisterial.' In this 900-plus-page volume ... Rodger elucidates the Royal Navy's rise to global preponderance and its consolidation as the single most influential institution in the nation's life."

.....

On Beauty: A Novel by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)
Reviewed by Joseph O'Neill ("New Fiction," October 2005)

"Smith displays all her strengths: satirical energy, imaginative breadth (she's equally engaging about the inner lives of a teenage boy and a middle-aged mother), and a sure and funny touch with jumbled ethnicities. And although the full, tragic dimensions of the human adventure may be missing—an odd, sitcommy inconsequentiality colors the disasters that befall her characters—there's no doubting the artistic conviction that underlies this unabashedly conventional novel."

See summaries of all books The Atlantic has reviewed in 2005.

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