May 23, 2007

Best Non-Fiction

This is the second of two lists that I'll be posting. It's derived (more or less) from my personal collection. I figure if I keep a book, it fits my definition of "best non-fiction".

Eventually I'll start linking to my reviews of books, as I post the reviews, go through the postings, and back-link them. So come back often!

I admire people who write. I wish I could write fiction. Maybe someday, with enough inertia, I'll write something worth publishing. In the meantime, I'll keep buying non-fiction books and reading them and enjoying the quest for knowledge. Here's a list of non-fiction books that I either have really gotten a lot out of or which have been highly recommended. (If I haven't read it yet, it'll be marked with the code NYR.) As time goes by, I'll try to write up a line or two which tells why I am passing on the recommendation.

(January 27, 2007: List updated to the letter R.)

Agel, Jerome (editor): The Making of Kubrick’s 2001

Aldiss, Brian: Trillion Year Spree

Alexander, Arthur Francis O'Donel (M.A., Ph.D, F.R.A.S.): Planet Saturn: A History of Observation, Theory and Discovery, The

Alexander, Caroline: Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, The

Andrews, Roy Chapman: Across Mongolian Plains

Arp, Halton: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science

Arsuaga, Juan Luis: The Neanderthal’s Necklace: In Search of the First Thinkers

Asimov, Isaac:

In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920-1954
In Joy Still Felt: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov: 1954-1978
I. Asimov
It’s Been a Good Life
Understanding Physics
The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science, Volume I: The Physical Sciences
The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science, Volume II: The Biological Sciences

Baldwin, Ralph H.: The Measure of the Moon

Baxter, Stephen: Ages in Chaos: James Hutton and the Discovery of Deep Time

Beattie, Donald A.: Taking Science to the Moon: Lunar Experiments and the Apollo Program

Bernal, J.D.: The World, The Flesh and The Devil

Bizony, Piers: 2001: Filming the Future

Bonestell, Chesley: Worlds Beyond: The Art of Chesley Bonestell (edited by Ron F. Miller and Frederick C. Durant III)

Bowker, David E. and Hughes, J. Kenrick: The Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon

Bowden, Mark: Blackhawk Down

Bradbury, Ray and Clarke, Arthur C. and Murray, Bruce and Sagan, Carl & Sullivan, Walter: Mars and the Mind of Man

Brower, Kenneth: The Starship and the Canoe

Bryson, Bill: A Short History of Nearly Everything

Burchard, Peter: One Gallant Rush: Glory

Burnham (Jr.), Robert: Burnham’s Celestial Handbook: An Observer’s Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System (three volumes: Andromeda Through Cetus, Chamaeleon Through Orion and Pavo Through Vulpecula)

Burrough, Bryan: Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir

Burrows, William E.:

The Infinite Journey: Eyewitness Accounts of NASA and the Age of Space
This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age

Butrica, Andrew J.: Single Stage to Orbit: Politics, Space Technology, and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry

Cabbage, Michael & Harwood, William: Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia

Caesar, Julius: The Gallic Wars

Campbell, John W.:

John W. Campbell: Collected Editorials from Analog (edited by Harry Harrison)
The John W. Campbell Letters (edited by Perry Chapdelaine, Sr.)

Capra, Fritjof: The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism

Carr, Michael H.: The Surface of Mars

Casti, John L.:

Five Golden Rules: Great Theories of 20th Century Mathematics and Why They Matter
Five More Golden Rules: Knots, Codes, Chaos and Other Great Theories of 20th Century Mathematics

Catton, Bruce:

Grant Moves South
Grant Takes Command
Mr. Lincoln’s Army
Glory Road
A Stillness at Appomattox
The Coming Fury
Terrible Swift Sword
Never Call Retreat
This Hallowed Ground
Reflections on the Civil War
The Civil War

Chaikin, Andrew: Man on the Moon (try for the three-volume Time Life Books edition, which added copious illustrations and was published in a boxed set as One Giant Leap, The Odyssey Continues and Lunar Explorers)

Chaisson, Eric J.: The Hubble Wars

Christianson, Gale E.: Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae

Clark, Roger N.: Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky

Clarke, Arthur C.:

Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography
Report on Planet Three
The Coast of Coral
The Treasure of the Great Reef
Ascent to Orbit: The Technical Writings of Arthur C. Clarke (A Scientific Autobiography)
1984: Spring--A Choice of Futures
The Promise of Space
The Challenge of the Spaceship
The Exploration of Space
Interplanetary Flight
How the World Was One: Beyond the Global Village
Voice Across the Sea
Profiles of the Future
The View from Serendip
The Snows of Olympus: A Garden on Mars
Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (Collected Essays, 1934-1998)
Beyond Jupiter: The Worlds of Tomorrow (with Bonestell, Chesley)
The Coming of the Space Age (editor)

Clute, John F. and Nicholls, Peter: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Coddington, Edwin P.: The Gettysburg Campaign

Collins, Arthur S. (Jr.) (Lt. Gen.): Common Sense Training

Collins, Michael:

Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journey
Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Journey

Consolmagno, Guy:

Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist
Turn Left at Orion (with Davis, Dan M.)

Cook, William J. (editor): The Best of Amateur Telescope Making (two volumes)

Cooper, Henry S. F.:

A House in Space
The Evening Star: Venus Observed
Thirteen: The Apollo Flight that Failed
Imaging Saturn: The Voyager Flights to Saturn

Crisp, Robert (Major): Brazen Chariots

Cunningham, Walter: The All-American Boys

D’Este, Carlo:

Decision in Normandy
Patton: A Genius for War

Dahinden, Justus: Urban Structures for the Future

Davidson, Norman: Astronomy and the Imagination

de Cordoba, Vincent: Is “Peckerhead” Hyphenated? Building the International Space Station

De Vorkin, David H.: Henry Norris Russell: Dean of American Astronomers

Delany, Samuel R.:

The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Essays on Science Fiction
The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village

Dressler, Alan: Voyage to the Great Attractor: Exploring Intergalactic Space

Drexler, K. Eric: Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology

Dwyer, Jim & Flynn, Kevin: 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

Dyson, Freeman:

Disturbing the Universe
The Sun, the Genome and the Internet
Origins of Life
Imagined Worlds
Infinite In All Directions

Dyson, George R.:

Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence
Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship

Eisley, Loren: The Star-Thrower

Ferris, Timothy:

Coming of Age in the Milky Way
The Red Limit: The Search for the Edge of the Universe
The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe Report

Feynman, Richard P.:

Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman
“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”: Adventures of a Curious Character
“What Do You Care What Other People Think”? Further Adventures of a Curious Character
The Meaning of It All
Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics
Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics
Feynman’s Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun
Feynman’s Tips on Physics
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
The Character of Physics Law
“Most of the Good Stuff”: Memories of Richard Reynman
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

Fiedler, Leslie A.: Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided

Fischer, Daniel: Mission Jupiter: The Spectacular Journey of the Galileo Spacecraft

Florence, Ronald: The Perfect Machine: Building the Palomar Telescope

George Gamov: The New World of Mr. Tompkins

Martin Gardner: The Colossal Book of Mathematics

Barry Garfinkle: Star-Hopping: Your Visa to Viewing the Universe

Henry Gee: In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life

Murray Gell-Man: The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex

Owen Gingerich: The Great Copernicus Chase

James Gleick:
Chaos: Making a New Science
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
Isaac Newton

Paul Glister: Centauri Dreams: Imagining and Planning Interstellar Exploration

Solomon W. Golomb: Polyominoes: Puzzles, Patterns, Problems and Packings

Jane Goodall:
My Life with the Chimpanzees
In the Shadow of Man

Stephen Jay Gould:
Ever Since Darwin
The Panda’s Thumb
Hen’s Teeth and Horses Toes
The Flamingos Smile
Bully for Brontosaurus
Eight Little Piggies
Dinosaur in a Haystack
Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms
The Lying Stones of Marrakech
I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History
An Urchin in the Storm
Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Deep Time
The Mismeasure of Man
Full House
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
The Hedgehog, The Fox and The Magister’s Pox

Mike Gray: Angle of Attack: Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon

Brian Greene:
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality

John Gribbin:
Richard Feynman: A Life in Science

James Gunn:
Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction
Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction
The Science of Science Fiction Writing

David M. Harland:
The Space Shuttle: Roles, Missions and Accomplishments
The Story of the Space Shuttle
The Mir Space Station: Precursor to Colonization
Jupiter Odyssey: The Story of NASA’s Galileo Mission
Mission to Saturn: Cassini and the Huygens Probe
Creating the International Space Station (with Michael Catchpole)
Exploring the Moon: The Apollo Expeditions
How NASA Learned to Fly: An Exciting Account of the Gemini Missions

William K. Hartmann:
Grand Tour: A Traveler’s Guide to the Solar System (with Ron Miller)
Out of the Cradle: Exploring Frontiers Beyond Earth (with Ron Miller and Pamela Lee)
In the Stream of Stars: The Soviet/American Space Art Book (with Ron Miller and Andrei Sokolov and Vitaly Myagkov)
New Mars: The Discoveries of Mariner 9 (with Odell Raper)
A Traveler’s Guide to Mars: The Mysterious Landscape of the Red Planet

Stephen Hawking:
A Brief History of Time
The Illustrated A Brief History of Time
The Universe in a Nutshell
Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
T.A. Heppenheimer:
Colonies in Space
Toward Distant Stars
Countdown: A History of Space Flight
The Space Shuttle Decision: 1965 to 1972
The Development of the Space Shuttle: 1972-1981

Homer Hickman: Rocket Boys

Daniel Hillis: Pattern on the Stone: The Simple Ideas that Make Computers Work

Alan Hodges: Alan Turing: The Enigma

Douglas R. Hofstadter:
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Metamagical Themas
Le Ton beau de Marto: In Praise of the Music of Language

John R. Horner:
Digging Dinosaurs: The Search that Unraveled the Mystery of Baby Dinosaurs
Dinosaur Lives (with Edwin Dobb)

Walter Scott Houston: Deep Sky Wonders (edited by Stephen James O’Meara)

William Graves Hoyt: Lowell and Mars

Albert G. Ingalls (editor): Amateur Telescope Making (three volumes)

Lisa Jardine:
Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution
The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London

Raymond F. Jones: This Island Earth

Michio Kaku:
Einstein’s Cosmos
Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe (w/Jennifer Thompson)
Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension
Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos

John Keegan:
The Second World War
Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris
The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme
The Price of Admiralty: Evolution of Naval Warfare
The Mask of Command
A History of Warfare
The Battle for History: Re-fighting World War II
Fields of Battle: The Wars for North America

Orr Kelly: King of the Killing Zone: The Story of the M1, America’s Super Tank

Thomas J. Kelly: Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module

Robert George Kepple and Glen W. Sanner: The Night Observer’s Guide (two volumes)

Tracy Kidder: The Soul of a New Machine

Greg Klerkx: Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age

Jeffrey Kluger: Journey Beyond Selene: Remarkable Expeditions Past Our Moon and to the Ends of the Solar System

L.J. Kosofsky and Farouk El-Baz: The Moon as Viewed by the Lunar Orbiter

Chris Kraft: Flight: My Life in Mission Control

Gene Kranz: Failure Is Not An Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

David Kriege and Richard Berry: The Dobsonian Telescope: A Practical Manual for Building Large Aperture Telescopes

Mark Kurlansky:
Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
Salt: A World History
The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell

Ray Kurzweil:
The Age of Spiritual Machines
The Singularity is Near

W. Henry Lambright: Powering Apollo: James E. Webb of NASA

T.E. Lawrence: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Richard E. Leakey:
The People of the Lake (w/Roger Lewin)
Origins (w/Roger Lewin)

Michael D. Lemonick: The Light at the End of the Universe

David H. Levy:
Quest for Comets
Shoemaker by Levy: The Man Who Made an Impact
Clyde Tombaugh: The Discoverer of Planet Pluto
Observing Variable Stars: A Guide for Beginners

Willey Ley:
The Conquest of Space
Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel

Sy Liebergot and David R. Harland: Apollo EECOM: A Journey of a Lifetime

Michael Light: Full Moon

Walter Lord: A Night to Remember

Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger: Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13

Charles Lyell: Principles of Geology

Charles B.MacDonald:
Company Commander
The Battle of Huertgen Forest
A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge

Niccolo Machiavelli: The Art of War

Charles Mackay: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Dana Mackenzie: The Big Splat or How Our Moon Came to Be

Kenneth Macksey: First Clash: Combat Close-Up in World War III

Burton G. Malkiel: A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Dandridge M. Malone: Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach

Eugene Malove and Gregory Matloff: The Starflight Handbook: A Pioneer’s Guide to Interstellar Travel

Benoit B. Mandlebrot: The Fractal Geometry of Nature

Robert H. March: Physics for Poets

Kenneth Masursky & G.W. Colton & Farouk El Baz (editors): Apollo Over the Moon: A View from Orbit

Robert McCall:
Vision of the Future: The Art of Robert McCall (edited by Ben Bova)
The Art of Robert McCall: A Celebration of Our Future in Space

Wil McCarthy: Hacking Matter

Michael McCollum:
The Art of Science Fiction (two volumes)
Astrogator’s Handbook

Malcolm McConnell: Just Cause

David McCullough:
John Adams

Howard E. McCurdy:
Inside NASA
The Space Station Decision: Incremental Politics and Technological Choice
Faster, Better, Cheaper: Low-Cost Innovation in the US Space Program
Space and the American Imagination

James R. McDonough:
Platoon Leader
The Defense of Hill 781

John McPhee:
A Roomful of Hovings
The Headmaster
The Curve of Binding Energy
The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed
La Place del la Concorde Suisse
A Sense of Where You Are
Levels of the Game
The Crofter and the Laird
Heirs of General Practice
Pieces of the Frame
Looking for a Ship
The Survival of the Bark Canoe
Encounters with the Archdruid
The Control of Nature
The Ransom of Russian Art
Irons in the Fire
Giving Good Weight
Coming into the Country
The Founding Fish
The Pine Barrens
Uncommon Carriers
Table of Contents

Annals of the Former World:
Annals of the Former World (omnibus)
Rising from the Plains
Assembling California
Basin and Range
In Suspect Terrain

James M. McPherson:
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War
Antietam: Crossroads of Freedom

Syd Mead:
Studio Image I
Studio Image II
Oblagon: Concepts of Syd Mead
Syd Mead’s Sentury

Jean Meeus:
Astronomical Algorithms
Mathematical Astronomy Morsels

Ron Miller:
The Art of Chesley Bonestell (w/Frederick C. Durant III)
Space Art
The Dream Machines: A Pictorial History the Spaceship in Art

Andrew Mishkin: Sojourner: An Insider’s View of the Mars Pathfinder Mission

Simon Mitton: Conflict in the Cosmos: Fred Hoyle’s Life in Science

Oliver Morton: Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World

Sam Moskowitz:
Seekers of Tomorrow
This Immortal Storm
Explorers of the Infinite

Mike Mullane: Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut

Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox: Apollo

Thomas A. Mutch: Geology of the Moon: A Stratigraphic View

Sylvia Nasar: A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash

Donald A. Norman:
The Design of Everyday Things
The Invisible Computer

James E. Oberg:
Pioneering Space
Mission to Mars
Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside the U.S.-Russian Space Alliance

William Tyler Olcott:
Field Book of the Skies
In Starland with a Three-Inch Telescope

Gerard K. O’Neil: The High Frontier

Frederick I. Ordway III:
Blueprint for Space: Science Fiction to Science Fact (w/Randy Lieberman)
Visions of Spaceflight: Images from the Ordway Collection
The Rocket Team (w/Mitchell R. Sharpe)

Donald E. Osterbrock: Yerkes Observatory 1892-1950: The Birth, Near Death, and Resurrection of a Scientific Research Institution

Dennis Overbye: Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos: The Story of a Scientific Quest for the Secret of the Universe

William T. Pagonis (Lt. General, Ret.): Moving Mountains

George S. Patton, Jr. (General): War as I Knew It

John Allen Paulos: A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper

Bertrand M. Peck: The Planet Jupiter

Charles R. Pellegrino and Joshua Stoff: Chariots for Apollo: The Untold Story Behind the Race to the Moon

Leslie C. Peltier:
Guideposts to the Stars
Starlit Nights: The Adventures of a Star-Gazer
The Binocular Stargazer

Mark Pendergrast: Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World

Harvard Pennington: The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide

David E. Pergrin (Colonel, Ret.): First Across the Rhine: The Story of the 19st Engineer Combat Battalion

Dale Peterson: Gane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man

Michel Petit: Variable Stars

Henry Petroski:
The Pencil
To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design
The Evolution of Useful Things
Remaking the World: Adventures in Engineering
Invention by Design: How Engineers Get From Thought to Thing
Engineers of Dreams

Harry W. Pfanz:
Gettysburg: The Second Day
Gettysburg: Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill

Jerry Pournelle:
That Buck Roger’s Stuff
A Step Farther Out

Richard Preston: First Light

Lisa Randall: Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions

Chet Raymo:
365 Nights: An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year
The Soul of the Night
Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe

Eric S. Raymond: The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary

Robert Reeves: The Superpower Space Race

Elisabeth Ruedy: Where Do I Put the Decimal Place?

David West Reynolds: Apollo: The Epic Journey to the Moon

Frank M. Robinson: Science Fiction of the 20th Century: An Illustrated History

Fiammetta Rocco: Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure that Changed the World

Jeff Rovin: From the Land Beyond Beyond

Rudy Rucker:
Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite
The Lifebox, The Seashell and The Soul

Antonin Rukl: The Atlas of the Moon

Neil P. Ruzic: Where the Winds Sleep

Cornelius Ryan:
The Longest Day
A Bridge Too Far
The Last Battle

Posted by Fred Kiesche at May 23, 2007 06:47 PM
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