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Best nonfiction of 2010

These fiction and nonfiction works resonated with our reviewers.

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Friday, December 10, 2010; 12:10 PM

THE ARTIST, THE PHILOSOPHER, AND THE WARRIOR: The Intersecting Lives of da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped, by Paul Strathern (Bantam, $30). Using his novelist's eye, Strathern creates flesh-and-blood portraits and conveys the impact these extraordinary men had not only on each other but on the Renaissance. -Steven Levingston

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AT HOME : A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson (Doubleday, $28.95). Bryson strolls from kitchen to cellar, from garden to nursery, the better to show us how Western civilization created domesticity. -Louis Bayard

ATLANTIC: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, by Simon Winchester (Harper, $27.99). A voyage of discovery ranging almost from the primeval ooze to the environmental concerns of the early 21st century. -Ken Ringle

BETSY ROSS AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA, by Marla R. Miller (Henry Holt, $30). Ross did not birth the first flag, but the artisan portrayed in this eloquent biography and the many plucky revolutionary American women workers like her should be stitched in our collective memory. -Marjoleine Kars

BLOODY CRIMES: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse ,by James L. Swanson (Morrow, $27.99). This marvelous book is centered on the separate journeys of two men - one dead, the other whose cause had died - to their destinies. -John C. Waugh

THE BRIDGE: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, by David Remnick (Knopf, $29.95). In his exhaustive biography, Remnick seeks to illuminate Obama's role as racial hero and lightning rod, and to discern the president's own mixed feelings about it. -Gwen Ifill

CHASING GOLDMAN SACHS: How the Masters of the Universe Melted Wall Street Down, and Why They'll Take Us to the Brink Again, by Suzanne McGee (Crown Business, $27). An exceptionally lucid, well-written account of how and why the financial system broke down. -James Ledbetter

THE CLASSICAL TRADITION, edited by Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most and Salvatore Settis. (Belknap/Harvard Univ., $49.95). Shows us how deeply the stories, iconic figures and ideas of antiquity succor our imaginations and still suffuse the world we live in. -Michael Dirda

CLEOPATRA: A Life, by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown, $29.99). Schiff has dug through the earliest sources on Cleopatra, sorted through myth and misapprehension, tossed out the chaff of gossip, and delivered a spirited life. -Marie Arana

COLOSSUS: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century, by Michael Hiltzik (Free Press, $30). Detailed and vividly written, destined to be the standard history for decades to come. -Kevin Starr

DEEP BLUE HOME: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean, by Julia Whitty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24). A dream of a book, vivid yet languorous, rich in detail, richer still in emotional impact. -Thomas Hayden

DELUSIONS OF GENDER: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, by Cordelia Fine (Norton, $25.95). The author's mission is to demolish the sloppy science being used today to justify gender stereotypes. -Wray Herbert


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