So, you have about a week to finish your Christmas shopping! We have some suggestions for you with our very own "Top Five Non-Fiction Books of 2010" list. These books have all been read by Swing Vote staff and come highly recommended, sure to please anyone on your shopping list.
Swing Vote's 2010 Top 5 Non-Fiction Book List
First on our list is a wonderful book that anyone on your list would be grateful to receive. It is a beautiful coffee table style book loaded with exquisite photos and a very personal story of Secretariat -- the greatest horse of our time.
Penny Chenery had moved her family to Colorado, but was called back to Virginia to run The Meadow, home to the great Cicada and Riva Ridge (among many others) before Secretariat. Penny's daughter, Kate Chenery Tweedy along with Leeanne Ladin have assembled a beautiful account of this time in Secretariat's Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend
. Secretariat broke record upon record that have still never been broken since. This is a story of heart and courage that you don't have to be a horse lover or racing fan to enjoy.
Second on the list is a story of the racial plight in Mississippi. Harry Maclean had long been interested in the state of Mississippi as the supposed unrepentant heart of the old South.
When James Ford Seale was arrested in January of 2007 for his role in the kidnapping and murder of two black youths in 1964, he set out to tell the story of the trial and explore the landscape of modern Mississippi. The result is a gripping story in The Past Is Never Dead
. Harry saw progress in Mississippi, but also a state not completely able to resurrect itself from its segregationist past. This book is an excellent account of the events leading up to the murders, the trial, and a frank and interesting assessment of life in Mississipi then and now.
3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot is third on our list. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa.
She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells -- taken without her knowledge -- became one of the most important tools in medicine. More than twenty years later, her children found out, and their lives would never be the same. These first "immortal" human cells grown in culture are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. Ms. Skloot has been a contributing editor to Popular Science
, and this book takes a well rounded approach from science, medicine, ethics, and personal tragedy and triumph.
Walter Borneman has written the most complete history and story of the Transcontinental Railroad that I have ever read.
In Rival Rails: The Race To Build America's Greatest Transcontinental Railroad
, Borneman gives us a thrill ride through this period of time where the competition was fierce, and the personalities often fiery. The corresponding complications of the Civil War further add to the historical element. Our country would not be what it is today without the railroads, and the railroads were key to development in the Western United States. Any history buff will love this one!
Last, but certainly not least, is a local favorite. Mark Barnhouse, a longtime employee of Denver's own Tattered Cover has done an incredible job of research and gathering wonderful old photos to compile an Arcadia book, Denver's Sixteenth Street
Part of the "Images of America" series that you are sure to recognize, this book covers the evolution of Denver's Sixteenth Street when it first became the retail center of what is now considered LoDo, all the way to the current "16th Street Mall" as we call it today. The 16th Street Mall is now one of Denver's most popular tourist spots, but to see the old buildings and realize what urban renewal took away, may surprise you. A great gift for anyone interested in Denver history, or visiting Denver.
Enjoy! And Happy Holidays from all of us
at Swing Vote Magazine.