Best Reads of 2018: Nonfiction

Here’s the Best Nonfiction Books I read in 2018.  Covering many different topics, from true crime to sports. These are all great works. Click through for the entire review.



The Last Cowboys by John Branch

I recommend The Last Cowboys to anyone interested in The American West, agribusiness, or sports, or to anyone looking to learn a lot more about an interesting subject in a well-written book.

Blood & Ivy by Paul Collins

Blood & Ivy is another smart true crime book from Paul Collins. A slew of new types of evidence for the time and this great subject matter (a case that inspired Dickens!) will engage his existing fans and should bring a legion of new readers.

Never Ran, Never Will by Albert Samaha

Never Ran, Never Will belongs on the shelf next to Kotlowitz’s There Are No Children Here, Wojnarowski’s The Miracle of St. Anthony, and Coyle’s Hardball. This is an important book that poses real questions about what will fill the void if football and other sports disappear from inner cities. The author cares enough to look at all the factors that affect this neighborhood, and confesses in the introduction that he is one of the people who has moved into and gentrified these neighborhoods. His honesty provides a clear view, a transparency that only comes in the most honest and dedicated of writing. Thank you to Mr. Samaha for writing about these boys and their devoted mentors.

Red Card: How the U.S. Blew the Whistle on the World’s Biggest Sports Scandal by Ken Bensinger

Bensinger’s Red Card has everything you could want in a book about scandal: moneyed power brokers who take from poor and give to the rich, strong lawmen and women who strive to right the wrongs, and a satisfying take-down in the end. This book provides a strong vote of confidence for the FBI and law enforcement everywhere. It is an excellent piece of journalism. I also want to note that I have never played a official game of soccer in my life, no youth leagues, no intramurals, no co-ed rec leagues. I don’t even remember the last time I kicked a ball, but I sped through this riveting book in just a couple days.

The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq by C.J. Chivers

The Fighters honors the soldiers who try to see through the fog of war every day: the medical corpsman who has to triage a roadside bomb and the helicopter instructor pilot who takes his students through their first missions. They may not be directly connected to ‘why’ of the missions, but they certain are there for their fellow solders. This is a much-needed text. Much-needed because not enough has been documented about the last 17 years of war. And Chibers gives us a near-complete look, not at the directors, but the grunts with their hands on the triggers and the responsibilities on their shoulders. I commend Chivers’s dedication to expose the report on the challenges of these and all the soldiers.

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and The Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy

From Roanoke to Maine to Humbolt County, the opioid crisis has swept across the United States with pundits on every side calling for action. Macy cuts through the debate with well-documented research that advocates for a combination of Medication-Assisted Treatment and a twelve step program. Word by word she builds a most striking argument for change. Even in the face of a lack of federal action and the complaints of nimbys, the author provides real solutions and hope. Macy’s work and her writing is indispensable; this book is a must-read for every politician and parent, and really every American. The Highest Recommendation.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh

Heartland belongs on the shelf next to books like Desmond’s Evicted, Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, and Ehrenreich’s Nickle and Dimed. Smarsh’s book provides a strong voice for and about breaking the destructive cycles of families, the economics of class, and the fact that birth should not be the reigning mark of future prospects. Smarsh is a talented writer who tells the story of her grandparents, parents, and extended family with clarity and warmth.


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