The New Kings of Nonfiction
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The New Kings of Nonfiction

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  3,658 ratings  ·  510 reviews
A collection of stories-some well known, some more obscure- capturing some of the best storytelling of this golden age of nonfiction.

An anthology of the best new masters of nonfiction storytelling, personally chosen and introduced by Ira Glass, the producer and host of the award-winning public radio program This American Life.

These pieces-on teenage white collar criminal...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Riverhead Trade
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MFA in a Box by John RemberIndexes by The University of Chicago P...The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.The New New Journalism by Robert BoyntonThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
On Writing Nonfiction
6th out of 20 books — 14 voters
Dark Passage by M.L. WoolleyA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingDress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David SedarisWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Books I'll read till they fall apart
38th out of 65 books — 23 voters


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Community Reviews

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Ellen
Oct 10, 2007 Ellen added it
Shelves: want-to-read
I once followed Ira Glass into a Starbucks and let me tell you, he talks like his radio voice all the time. Swoon.
Alicia
A collection of essays hand selected by Ira Glass. Anyone who knows me wishes I would just shut up about Ira Glass already.

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Not surprisingly, this collection of non-fiction essays is amazing. In the introduction, Ira Glass explains his selection process in putting the collection together. It's basically all about journalists who don't shy away from putting themselves in the story. Ira says "I don't see anything wrong with a piece of reporting turning into a fable. In fact, when I'm researchin...more
Joshua Weichhand
I suppose its fair to say that Ira Glass is kind of my hero. Not necessarily because he's brought down empires with pacifism or because he lobbied auto manufacturers for seat belts, but because he really inspires me to read and write. This entire collection is something he had sitting in a pile on his desk, saved for an appropriate time as he considered them to be great works of nonfiction. I want to be like that, finding something brilliant and xeroxing it and stapling it together with other ar...more
neeraja
Starts off with wonderful pieces, then trails off to the end. While all of the pieces were insightful in their own ways (though I still think the one about poker was a boring waste of space), my favorites were:

- Host, David Foster Wallace's fantastic, hilarious look at conservative talk radio

- Among the Thugs, Bill Buford's disturbing, drunken, participatory account of British soccor hooligans

- Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg, Malcolm Gladwell's take on how we know the people that we know and why i...more
Jennifer Gresham
I'd heard a lot of these names, but other than Gladwell, had never actually read their work. I assumed the "kings of nonfiction" (new or otherwise) wrote more dry, boring stuff--the kind of factual material you had to be an expert or specialist to appreciate.

Boy was I wrong.

Not only did I learn a lot about good nonfiction writing, I found myself engrossed reading topics that I never thought could hold my interest: English football fan's naughty behavior, the impact of WWII, the thoughts of 10 y...more
Molly
Jan 04, 2013 Molly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
This collection was pretty good, but I had a few big problems with it, starting with the title. Why make it something that deliberately excludes one gender? Oh, probably because the collection inside does, too. Out of 14 pieces, there were two by women. Those two pieces turned out to be among my favorites, so while I'm not one for including women in an anthology simply to "be fair," I'm also sure there were plenty of others who were worthy of inclusion in this book.

My other issue was that the s...more
David
It's deja lu all over again.

This is not the superb collection I would expect from Ira Glass. In fact, it's an odd collection all round - the puzzling question is why it exists at all.

Don't get me wrong. The quality of most of the contributions to this anthology is very high. But most of the pieces are not new. Glass describes his selection criterion: "most of the stories in this book come from a stack of favorite writing that I've kept behind my desk for years". What does this yield?

Michael Le...more
Isaac
May 13, 2008 Isaac rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks interested in the world around them

The worst thing that can be said about this collection is that a few of the pieces in it are merely good. Some of the articles - even those written years or decades ago - are downright revelatory. I guarantee that at least one of these stories will alter your ideas about the way the world is organized; for me, it was Malcolm Gladwell's and Lawrence Weschler's pieces about how the social universe is really put together, and Lee Sandlin's absolutely essential piece about the true character and pr...more
Jacob
While this collection is not without its faults, I enjoyed it immensely. (Obviously enough to give it a five star rating, even though more accurately it would be a 4.8 or so.) Ira Glass' superb introduction reads like an apt treatise on the nature of nonfiction writing and one cannot help but hear his voice while reading his words. The stories are naturally what really makes the book, however.

Since every story (with a few exceptions) is outstanding, I'll just gloss over the few issues I had with...more
Shelah
I have a crush on Ira Glass. For years, it was small crush, a radio crush. I just really liked listening to the This American Life podcasts each week and decided Ira was cool. Then Eddie bought me both the This American Life DVDs and New Kings of Nonfiction (which I'd tried unsuccessfully to reserve at the library in Texas) for Mother's Day (because there's nothing better than a husband who appreciates and even encourages his wife's harmless crushes). I watched the DVDs first and they are AMAZIN...more
Beth
For fans of Ira Glass, This American Life, nonfiction, journalism, etc. Published in 2007, with articles and essays ranging from 1985-2005, nothing is new however this book may introduce you to a new writer, or shed light on a subject. Two pieces really stood out to me, and inspired me to do more research on the subjects. The others were just merely interesting to downright dreadful. My rating wavers between 2 and 3 stars for the collection as a whole.

Loved:
Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg - Malc...more
Melody
To all of my friends who, in the course of busy, business-y lives, have forgotten how to read novels: If you want to remember the joy of story, start here. Go get this book and read it. NOW.

I widely broadcast my love of Ira Glass and go so far as to assign TAL in class; I love it that much. I always enjoy Ira's creative editorial prowess, and this collection does not disappoint. Every story has its narrative joy: gorgeous, poetic writing; clever character development; suspense; comedy. But becau...more
Andrea
I would actually like to give it a 3.5 but rounded up for Ira Glass.

Most of the stories are great, uncovering inconsistent laws related to day trading by a high schooler, an ordinary socialite in extraordinary circles, and a great artist who fell through the large cracks of the establishment of art appreciators. I loved reading about how Monica Lewinsky had to be ushered out of a trendy bar when Chelsea Clinton showed up with her boyfriend, and how Dan Savage fairly successfully infiltrated his...more
JJ
first of all, ira glass picked these all out so i am inclined to decide to like them whether i actually do or not. but the fact is that these are awesome nonfiction writers. so far they have delivered what mr. glass promises: journalism with a personality. these are highly skilled writers stating facts while managing to entertain wildly. my favorite so far is an extensive analysis of saddam hussein, based on impressions by his (previously) close advisors, friends, victims, and everyone in betwee...more
Ynna
If "This American Life" had a greatest hits collection, it would be this book. Appropriately named, this anthology truly features the greatest nonfiction writers of our time. I loved the variety of topics ranging from the American cattle industry, Saddam Hussein, hostessing at a nightclub and talk radio. My favorite pieces were Lee Sandlin's account of World War II veterans the effects of the war in the United States, Malcolm Gladwell's piece on the concept of "six degrees of separation" and Mar...more
Marybeth
What a great book! I wanted to give it five stars - but I did find a couple of the stories a tad bit boring. The rest of them were five star worthy! My favorite was My Republican Journey by Dan Savage. My favorite tidbit:
"When I was beginning to drift away from the Catholic Church, out of disgust with our holy mother's hypocrisy, sexism and homophobia, my biological mother implored me to keep the faith. "If everyone who isn't an asshole leaves the church," my momma told me, "the church will be...more
Megan
I want to read more nonfiction, but I have a hard time picking what to read. So this was a great sampling of come good writers - took note of some to look more into.
Peter Knox
Like Ira Glass hand picked his favorite non-fiction participatory first person journalism (my favorite genre to read) and put it all together in one handy book that you'll tear through and want to share. And the man clearly has good taste because This American Life is amazing. This is a wide ranging collection full of my favorite writers and essays I perhaps hadn't read before now (although some I had - again, great minds and all). Do it.
Elizabeth
Jun 26, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Megan
While there are shorts in this book that don't grab my interest the majority of them do. After reading through some other reviews of this book it seems that everyone likes different stories and in creating a compilation that has something for everyone Ira Glass has done well. You can't make all of the people happy all of the time. But Mr. Glass makes most of the people happy most of the time.
Corinne
I've been flipping around this book for a bit now. It's a great collection. My favorite article is the Dan Savage bit on becoming a delegate for the local Republican party, but there are several really great essays in this book.
Liana
Unlike any nonfiction work I've ever read. Every single.. work, shall I say, is written in a conversational tone. The best thing is the author seems to understand that nonfiction can be a boring pain in the ass..
Jessie
Ira did good. It's an excellent collection of thought provoking and well written pieces of non-fiction. The one about the cattle industry made me wish I could become a double vegetarian.
Pierce
There's an impressive variety of essays on display here. The result may seem uneven at times, but every essay buttresses Ira Glass' thesis in his introduction: that nonfiction writing (including journalism) need not eschew the skills of storytelling. In other words, it is possible to tell a good story without sacrificing one's fabled objectivity or journalistic integrity. For my part, I thought Lee Sandlin's essay on the history of World War II and the nature of cultural memory surrounding war w...more
Kari
This is a collection of non-fiction pieces collected and edited by one, Ira Glass of This American Life. I really enjoyed some of these, and others I was less impressed with. I love the radio show and thought that these would be on the same level, but nothing is as wonderful as the original. I'm just going to go over the highlights: "Toxic Dreams: A California Town Finds Meaning in an Acid Pit," "Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg," "Tales of a Tyrant," and "My Republican Journey."

"Toxic Dreams: A Cal...more
Elizabeth
This compilation was fun, and aptly introduced by Ira Glass (I'm not sure he could really do anything badly) as an anthology of the writing he keeps returning to, referring to, and recommending to friends. Though I'm rarely someone who gets caught up with such things, the lack of female contributions here was somewhat disquieting (especially considering the two the anthology did contain were some of my favorite pieces in the entire collection). It was also somewhat disappointing that Glass did n...more
V.
I picked up this book because Ira Glass is my hero and I adore “This American Life.” And I have not been disappointed by the selection of writers and stories (essays?).

The thing I love most about what I’ve read thus far is the humor and humanity each story presents. Real news, or news as it is most often published, can be so dry and formulaic. I know reporters have to present an unbiased story full of unemotional reporting, but sometimes I want o know the writer’s impression of a person or a sit...more
Chinook
A few of the articles I had come across before, but they were all really enjoyable, even the description of a poker competition that I didn't even really understand. The one on Saddam Hussein was interesting considering events since. My favourite might have been the portrayal of the ten year old.

"The old, Rooseveltian logic of the Doctrine had been that since the airwaves belonged to everyone, a license to profit from those airwaves conferred on the broadcast industry some special obligation to...more
Jon Cox
I've read some great non-fiction, and some of the articles in this book are pretty darn good. No doubt. But I wouldn't label them all kings (and queens) of non-fiction. In fact, some articles are barely readable. For example, Host is a slog, and that is without considering the terrible formatting of the article, which makes it worse. It took an extreme act of perseverance to finish reading it, especially when Katie, who suggested I read the book, revealed that she stoped reading that article aft...more
graham
I just finished up New Kings last night, in a near-midnight race to the finish. While there were some pieces I wasn't quite as thrilled about, it's a widly varied and really mind-probing collection none-the-less. The highlights: Michael Lewis, Susan Orlean, David Foster Wallace, and Mark Bowden.

In addition, there's a piece by Lee Sandlin about World War II that has very chilling reverberations to our situation today. We tend to connote Iraq II: The Cluster F* with Vietnam, but Sandlin, in discu...more
Jennifer
In my review of Sloane Crosley's latest book, How Did You Get This Number, I confessed my love for essays, particularly personal essays with a humorous bent. But I like harder hitting essays too, and this collection of non-fiction writing chosen and introduced by This American Life's Ira Glass was a real treat for an essay fan like myself. In my mind, it is also a good introduction to non-fiction writing—a genre that so many readers shy away from (for reasons that elude me).

What makes this book...more
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Ira Glass is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.
More about Ira Glass...
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“...these stories are a kind of beacon. By making stories full of empathy and amusement and the sheer pleasure of discovering the world, these writers reassert the fact that we live in a world where joy and empathy and pleasure are all around us, there for the noticing.” 21 likes
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