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More Best Books: The Atlantic's History-Heavy Top 25

I haven't been doing as good a job as Largehearted Boy in tracking all the Best Books of 2009 lists that are coming out (although it's true that about half of his links at this early stage are to our own voluminous offerings), but I wanted to note one more list I ran across: The Atlantic's top 25 books of the year, which is, really, literary editor Benjamin Schwarz's top 25. Schwarz runs a pretty idiosyncratic books section, with an emphasis on strong voices like Caitlin Flanagan, Sandra Tsing Loh, and Christopher Hitchens, and with little obligation to talk about the same books everybody else is talking about. They don't cover much fiction, and you can tell from Schwarz's own reviews that he is a heavy history reader, which his list of favorites reflects. Compared to our own top 100, which is even more weighted toward fiction than in other years, his 25 includes just three novels and three story collections, and in his top five are both a 2,000-page biography of Lincoln (take that, Vollmann!) and a nearly 3,000-page trilogy on the Third Reich (and his second twenty manages to embrace both the Hundred Years War and the Thirty Years War!). The full list, which is dominated by histories and biographies and has a healthy representation of university presses, isn't much like any other you'll find from a major media outlet, and so worth checking out:

Top Five:

The rest:

Which ones did we share with him? Just fiction: Byatt, Munro, Hall, and Davis were all in our top 100 too. And a side note, if you're making further comparisons: a number of his choices (Bostridge, Martin, Gottlieb, Bishop/Lowell, Weinstein, Simms) came out last fall, so by our definition were 2008 books. --Tom


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The second twenty embraces the Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War and the Seven Years War! I'm not sure what this means.

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