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Nonfiction

Looks at Caravaggio, Rin Tin Tin and Ike's White House years are among the top picks.

November 30, 2011
  • "Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman"
"Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman" (Random House )

The Age of Movies

The Selected Writings of Pauline Kael

Edited by Sanford Schwartz

Library of America, $40

Witty, entertaining and often exhilarating, this wide-ranging collection of pieces captures the film critic at her best.

Alice James

A Biography

Jean Strouse, preface by Colm Tóibín

New York Review Books, $17.95 paper

The acclaimed biographer of financier J.P. Morgan chronicles the brief but brilliant life of the younger sister of William and Henry James.

The Almanac of American Politics, 2012

Michael Barone and Chuck McCutcheon

University of Chicago Press, $85, paper

A must for political junkies, the almanac offers timely narrative profiles of all 50 states and 435 House districts and profiles of every member of Congress.

And so It Goes

Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

Charles J. Shields

Henry Holt, $30

The first authorized biography of the writer who changed the conversation in American letters.

Back to Work

Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

Bill Clinton

Alfred A. Knopf, $23.95

The former president offers a plain-spoken, personal picture of ways to revive our economy and get the U.S. "back into the future business."

Backward Ran Sentences

The Best of Wolcott Gibbs From the New Yorker

Edited by Thomas Vinciguerra

Bloomsbury, $18. Paper

A collection of profiles, stories and criticism by one of the leading figures of the New Yorker's early days.

Becoming Dickens

The Invention of a Novelist

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Harvard University Press, $29.95

How young Dickens overcame a difficult childhood and early obstacles to become one of the world's greatest novelists.

Betty & Friends

My Life at the Zoo

Betty White

Putnam, $26.95

Along with acting, the actress shares another lifelong passion, animal welfare advocacy, in a book that celebrates zoos and the importance of caring for animals.

Blue Nights

Joan Didion

Alfred Knopf, $25

The acclaimed writer's heartbreaking meditation on the death of her daughter at 39.

Boomerang

Travels in the New Third World

Michael Lewis

W.W. Norton, $25.95

Shrewd and lucid observations on countries where the financial tsunami has left the most damage.

Caravaggio

A Life Sacred and Profane

Andrew Graham-Dixon

W.W. Norton, $39.95

The British art historian vividly recounts the Italian master's tumultuous life and mysterious death.

The Caribbean

A History of the Region and Its Peoples

Edited by Stephan Palmié and Francisco Scarano

University of Chicago Press, $35

An illuminating work tracing the region from its pre-Columbian state through European colonialism and the economic turbulence of the 21st century.

Catherine the Great

Portrait of a Woman

Robert K. Massie

Random House, $35

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer returns to the Russian front with the story of the minor German princess who became Empress Catherine II.

Columbus

The Four Voyages

Laurence Bergreen

Viking, $35

The glory — and tragic price — of Columbus' history-making journeys to the New World.

Cool, Calm & Contentious

Merrill Markoe

Villard, $24

A collection of personal essays in which the Emmy Award-winning writer opines on narcissists, crazy mommies, camping, virginity and much more.

Deadline Artists

America's Greatest Newspaper Columns

Edited by John Avlon, Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis

Overlook Press, $29.95

Work by Hemingway, Winchell, Royko, Breslin, Hunter Thompson and Steve Lopez are all included in this broad collection.

Drama

An Actor's Education

John Lithgow

Harper, $26.99

A highly articulate account of the actor's upbringing in the American theater.

Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar

Stories of Food During Wartime by the World's Leading Correspondents

Edited by Matt McAllester

University of California Press, $27.50

Tales well told of the challenges of eating well — or at all — in the combat zone.

Eisenhower

The White House Years

Jim Newton

Doubleday, $29.95

This biography sets aside the familiar benign portrait of the 34th U.S. president (usually with golf club in hand) to give us a vivid glimpse of his political efforts and private world.

Emily Post's Etiquette

Manners for a New World 18th Edition

Peggy Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning

William Morrow, $39.99

Is it rude to tweet from a wedding? This book answers that question and offers advice on thousands more.

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

Edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40

The final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception.

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone

The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson, edited and with an Introduction by Jann S. Wenner

Simon & Schuster, $32.50

This collection of Thompson's pieces showcases his roller-coaster career at the magazine.

Five Chiefs

A Supreme Court Memoir

John Paul Stevens

Little, Brown, $24.99

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens reflects on five chief justices he worked with on the court.

Gabby

A Story of Courage and Hope

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