I just finished reading The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh by Linda Colley who is probably my favorite historian out there today. Her Britons honestly changed my life and propelled me towards becoming a British historian myself. Happily, her latest, Elizabeth Marsh, did not disappoint: in good form, Colley did some impressive historical digging, pieced together this obscure woman’s life story, and tied Marsh’s experiences into movements within the British empire to lend broader significance to an interesting individual life. And all throughout, Colley maintains her perspective on her subject, not succumbing to any of the foibles of biography and recognizing any weaknesses in her argument and the holes in the source material. In short, an excellent read.
I’ve been spending most of my time lately reading novels, but revisiting Colley and discovering Elizabeth Marsh reminded me that there are some awesome nonfiction writers out there who I often ignore in favor of a fictional yarn. If I had to pick, Anne Fadiman, Simon Winchester, Linda Colley, Alison Weir, and Nicholas Basbanes would probably comprise my top five (in no particular order!) nonfiction authors. Who are yours and which of their books do you recommend?