The Top Five
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A Life
By Michael Burlingame
Measured, psychologically astute, authoritative when it can be, Michael Burlingame’s exhaustive narrative (2,024 pages!) is unafraid of ambiguity and indeterminacy. This is the life of Lincoln for our times.
THE CHILDREN’S BOOK: A Novel
By A. S. Byatt
Byatt has wrought a richly detailed, decade-spanning, at once Olympian and pointillist masterpiece. To read this gorgeous bolt of fiction is to fully enter a world.
THE THIRD REICH TRILOGY (Concluding With The Third Reich at War)
By Richard J. Evans
Evans’s cool, crisply argued three-volume chronicle will be for a generation the definitive general history of Nazi Germany in English.
IT’S BEGINNING TO HURT: Stories
By James Lasdun
This collection of short stories illuminates the everyday agonies of the mind, its anxieties, obsessions, doubts, and yearnings. Lasdun pins each observation to the page with grace and exactitude.
MRS. WOOLF AND THE SERVANTS: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury
By Alison Light
In her elegant, sparkling book, Light marries social and literary criticism as she probes the deeply intimate, often sordid, always fraught relationship between women servants and their female employers.
The Runners Up
TOO MUCH HAPPINESS: Stories
By Alice Munro
Dominion from Sea to Sea
The Art Instinct
The Hundred Years War, vol 3
University of Pennsylvania
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic
The New Old World
The Thirty Years War
Peter H. Wilson
This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
Carmen M. Reinhart and Keneth Rogoff
Flannery: A Life
Samuel Johnson: A Biography
In the Kitchen
ed. Robert Gottlieb
Words in the Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
ed. Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton
Northern Arts: The Breakthrough of Scandinavian Literature and Art, from Ibsen to Bergman
The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth: A Life
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire