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Best books of 2009: nonfiction

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The Lost City of Z:
A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
By David Grann
352 pp., $27.50
Journalist David Grann follows the lost trail of a yet unsolved mystery: What happened to Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett? (Monitor review 2/25/09)

A Life
By Blake Bailey
784 pp., $35
This expansive, wonderfully written biography illuminates both the gifts and the struggles of author John Cheever. (Monitor review 3/9/09)

The Third Reich at War
By Richard J. Evans
Penguin Press
926 pp., $40
Historian Richard J. Evans’s history of World War II from a German perspective is a superb study of a society at war. (Monitor review 4/11/09)

The First Tycoon:
The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
By T.J. Stiles
736 pp., $37.50
A man of brutal force, Cornelius Vanderbilt – for better and worse – helped to shape American business culture. This examination of his life is a 2009 National Book Award winner. (Monitor review 5/1/09)

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