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6 Best NonFiction Books From the Past 25 Years According To Baillie Gifford Prize

Baillie Gifford Prize's Winner of Winners Award

The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, formerly known as the Samuel Johnson Prize, is a prestigious literary award that celebrates outstanding works of nonfiction writing.

In 2023, the Baillie Gifford Prize marked its 25th anniversary with a unique "Winner of Winners Award," recognizing standout non-fiction works from the past.

The celebration also featured the documentary "All The Best Stories Are True," reflecting on the role of non-fiction today.

Explore the top six books, these works encapsulate the timeless impact of non-fiction storytelling.

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Shakespearean enthusiasts and history buffs alike will find themselves captivated by James Shapiro's "1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare." This book delves into a pivotal year in Shakespeare's life, exploring the political, social, and artistic forces that shaped his work during that time. Shapiro's meticulous research and engaging narrative style make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the Bard's life and legacy.

In "Paris 1919," Margaret MacMillan provides a detailed and compelling account of the negotiations that took place after World War I, resulting in the Treaty of Versailles. The book explores the intricate web of international politics, personalities, and conflicting interests that shaped the post-war world order. MacMillan's thorough research and insightful analysis offer readers a deeper understanding of the decisions that shaped the course of history.

Wade Davis's "Into the Silence" is a captivating exploration of the Great War's impact on the pursuit of mountaineering, particularly the British Everest expeditions. Davis weaves together history, adventure, and human determination as he examines the motivations behind these daring missions. Through meticulous research and evocative storytelling, he brings to life the individuals who embarked on these perilous journeys against the backdrop of global conflict.

Barbara Demick's "Nothing to Envy" offers a rare glimpse into the secretive and isolated world of North Korea. Through the personal stories of defectors, Demick unveils the harsh realities of life under the regime's control. The book's intimate narratives provide a human face to the larger political and social issues facing North Korea, making it a powerful and eye-opening read.

The opioid crisis has had a profound impact on countless lives, and Patrick Radden Keefe's "Empire of Pain" delves into the controversial history of the Sackler family, who played a significant role in the development and marketing of OxyContin. Through meticulous investigative journalism, Keefe uncovers the ethical dilemmas, corporate strategies, and personal stories behind the opioid epidemic, shedding light on a complex and often disturbing narrative.

The Beatles continue to be a global phenomenon, and Craig Brown's "One Two Three Four" takes readers on an enthralling journey through the band's history. Blending biography, cultural analysis, and anecdotes, Brown paints a comprehensive picture of the iconic group. The book's innovative approach, with its unique structure and insightful storytelling, offers readers a fresh perspective on the world's most famous band.


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out more similar list on my on my blog —

In summary, the Baillie Gifford Prize has showcased diverse nonfiction works that illuminate history, culture, and human stories.

These books offer intellectual growth, encouraging readers to explore intricate subjects and grasp a deeper comprehension of the world.

Whether your interests lie in literature, music, exploration, geopolitics, or societal matters, these books promise valuable insights and thought-provoking viewpoints.


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