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Best nonfiction of 2010

These fiction and nonfiction works resonated with our reviewers.

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THE LAST STAND: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking, $30). Philbrick evokes what surely must have been the feeling of that day among the cavalrymen, in which ignorance and overconfidence descended into reluctant confusion, then suddenly fell off a cliff into panic, disbelief and death. -Brian Hall

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LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME: A Memoir of Friendship, by Gail Caldwell (Random House, $23). A beautifully written book about the best friend Caldwell lost to cancer in 2002. -Heller McAlpin

LIFE, by Keith Richards (Little, Brown, $29.99). The most scabrously honest and essential rock memoir in a long time. -L.B.

LIVES LIKE LOADED GUNS: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds, by Lyndall Gordon (Viking, $32.95). A fabulous detective story, replete with hidden treasure, diabolical adversaries and a curse from one generation to the next. -Jerome Charyn

MAGIC AND MAYHEM: The Delusions of American Foreign Policy From Korea to Afghanistan, by Derek Leebaert (Simon & Schuster, $26). How refreshing to read a smart, polemical book that is deliciously rude to many grand poohbahs of our time while making good sense about the mess the United States now finds itself in across the globe. -Robert G. Kaiser

MAKING HASTE FROM BABYLON: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, by Nick Bunker (Knopf, $30). A picture so full and vivid as to constitute a virtual ground-level tour of an otherwise lost world. -John Demos

MENTOR: A Memoir, by Tom Grimes (Tin House; paperback, $16.95). From now on, anyone who dreams of becoming a novelist will need to read Tom Grimes's brutally honest and wonderful memoir. -M.D.

MY NINE LIVES : A Memoir of Many Careers in Music, by Leon Fleisher and Anne Midgette (Doubleday, $26). Fleisher, a classical pianist who lost the use of his right hand, describes his nonmusical pursuits and his dream - ultimately fulfilled - of playing two-handed again in this insightful, psychologically sensitive narrative. -Mindy Aloff

NOTHING TO ENVY: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick (Spiegel & Grau, $26). Conveys the emotional riptides and overall disintegration of stopped factories, unpaid salaries and piled-up corpses. -Stephen Kotkin

OBAMA'S WARS, by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $30). A superbly reported account of how a new president may well have embroiled himself in a war that could poison his presidency. -Neil Sheehan

OPERATION MINCEMEAT: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory, by Ben Macintyre (Harmony, $25.99). Could World War II really have been like this? Full of self-effacing heroism and romantic conquests? -Joseph Kanon

THE PARTY: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers, by Richard McGregor (Harper, $27.99). McGregor has written a lively and penetrating account of a party that, since its founding in Shanghai as a clandestine organization in 1921, has clung to secrecy as an inviolable principle. -Andrew Higgins


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