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The New Kings of Nonfiction

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,370 Ratings  ·  543 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 crimin
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Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Riverhead Books
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MFA in a Box by John RemberIndexes by University of Chicago PressThe New New Journalism by Robert S. BoyntonThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.Writing Nonfiction by Dan Poynter
On Writing Nonfiction
7th out of 23 books — 19 voters
Dubliners by James JoyceNine Stories by J.D. SalingerThe Complete Stories by Flannery O'ConnorThe Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best Short Story Collections
452nd out of 938 books — 653 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Feb 03, 2008 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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neeraja
Nov 28, 2007 neeraja rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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Joshua Weichhand
Jul 29, 2008 Joshua Weichhand rated it it was amazing
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
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
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Jennifer Gresham
Jun 17, 2014 Jennifer Gresham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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Beth
May 03, 2013 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
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
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Molly
Jan 04, 2013 Molly rated it liked it
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
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Isaac
May 13, 2008 Isaac rated it it was amazing
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
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Jacob
Aug 11, 2015 Jacob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
While this collection is flawed, 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 is an apt treatise on the nature of nonfiction writing. The stories themselves, however, are naturally what makes the book.

Since every story (with a few exceptions) in this collection is outstanding, I'll just gloss over the few issues I had with this New Kings. One: Coco Hensen Scales' story has no business
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Shelah
Jul 02, 2009 Shelah rated it liked it
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
Melody
Nov 29, 2008 Melody rated it really liked it
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
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Andrea
Jul 07, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
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
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JJ
Jan 28, 2008 JJ rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 14, 2014 Ynna rated it it was amazing
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
Elizabeth
Jul 17, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
It took me WEEKS to get through this -- not because it's dull, but because this is a collection of dense, in-depth, thought-provoking journalism that demands your patience and attention. I highly recommend reading the introduction, in which Ira Glass reveals that he regularly hands these essays out to aspiring journalists as examples of truly fine writing. And he's right; even when you don't think you're interested in a particular subject, the writing is so good that you get sucked in anyway. I ...more
Marybeth
May 04, 2011 Marybeth rated it really liked it
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
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Nora
Dec 27, 2014 Nora rated it liked it
I'm a huge fan on short stories, and this particular book was especially pleasant because the range of stories was so wide. Each story is written by a different author, so the style and tone changes with each story. Perfect for spontaneous reading. My favorites were Johnathan Lebed's extracurricular activities, Six degrees of Lois Weisberg, and Tales of the tyrant. I stopped reading the story Host because I simply lost interest in it. I think it was the longest story of them all, and I felt like ...more
Ed
Aug 03, 2015 Ed rated it did not like it
I bought this book 8 years ago and if I’d actually read it then, I probably would have enjoyed it.

But reading it now, after 8 years of Ira Glass curdling from the voice of twee public radio liberalism into a man that says "I think we're ready for capitalism which made this country so great. Public radio is ready for capitalism,” not so much.

Some of the essays in this book are by the villainous buffoons that you’d expect (Malcom Gladwell, Chuck Closterman, Michael Lewis). Some are by the sorts o
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Megan
Aug 26, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
I want to read more nonfiction, but I have a hard time picking what to read. So this was a great sampling of some good writers - took note of some to look more into.
Peter Knox
Feb 24, 2015 Peter Knox rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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
Aug 25, 2008 Corinne rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
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.
Michelle
Jun 13, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
Great reporting and great writing on a variety of topics, some that I expected to like (and did) and some that I didn't expect to like (and mostly did). I was entertained, I was informed, I was impressed by overall excellence.

Unfortunately, it's definitely a set of "kings" with only two women writers, one of whom wrote about the "American man, age 10." Hmm.

Since Ira Glass edited, I do wonder then if that implies more about his specific taste - that women writers write about topics that are inhe
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Liana
Nov 28, 2013 Liana rated it it was ok
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
Oct 20, 2008 Jessie rated it really liked it
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.
Kate
Dec 24, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing
These are fascinating,real-life stories told by fearless, meticulous journalists. Makes me ponder how many more of these stories are being played out right at this moment. . .
Eleanor
May 09, 2015 Eleanor rated it really liked it
Incredibly good reporting and interesting stories about mostly people/things I knew nothing about (but probably should have). So worth reading every one of them.
Rashmi Tiwari
Dec 12, 2014 Rashmi Tiwari rated it it was amazing
Like all good liberals, I LOVE Ira Glass. His collection of incredible nonfiction from both well-known and relatively obscure authors is just a joy to read. The stories vary in length which is great because you can sort of jump around and read as time allows. The really incredible thing about this collection is that I walked away after reading each story with new knowledge about a subject or insight into how to write better non-fiction or excited about learning more about something I'd previousl ...more
Meish
Dec 01, 2015 Meish rated it really liked it
Excellent storytelling! For all you fans of Ira Glass, nonfiction, journalism. Lots of insightful, thought-provoking, and purely entertaining writing in these pages.

I especially enjoyed:
Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg by Malcolm Gladwell
Power Steer by Michael Pollan
Tales of the Tyrant by Mark Bowden
The American Man, Age Ten by Susan Orlean
Losing the War by Lee Sandlin

Four stars because I did not love them all, and I had to muster the willpower to get through Host by David Foster Wallace (sorry, DF
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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.
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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.” 23 likes
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