Mind-Blowing Books of 2011

Article excerpt

Simon Schama, Tina Brown and other Newsweek writers share the year's favorite reads.

Simon Schama

Life

by Keith Richards

Once asked what I thought was the 20th century's most revealing document, I said, "Keith Richards' face." Life proves I was pretty much right, and that he can do the words as well as the music. There won't ever be a better book on how a rock-and-roll band gets made and very nearly unmade.

Tina Brown

Last Man in Tower

By Aravind Adiga

A vivid, venal tale of a rapacious real-estate developer pitted against a proud teacher determined never to leave a shabby apartment in the greedy, ruthless milieu of modern Mumbai.

Michelle Goldberg

The Convert

By Deborah Baker

A stranger-than-fiction tale about Margaret Marcus, a troubled, middle-class Jewish girl who, in the early 1960s, changed her name to Maryam Jameelah, moved to Pakistan, and become an important theorist of radical Islam. It's puzzling and haunting.

Peter Beinart

The Unmaking of Israel

By Gershom Gorenberg

At the core of the book lies a terrifying analogy: Israel as Pakistan, a country whose government has empowered a lawless, fanatical religious movement now subverting the very state that empowered it. Is the analogy apt today? No, but Gorenberg makes a frighteningly convincing case that it might be soon.

Paul Begala

The Fiery Trial

By Eric Foner

Foner unblinkingly shows that Lincoln was a politician to his marrow: slick, moderating, temporizing, compromising--qualities we denigrate today. No wonder we have no more Lincolns.

Michael Korda

Catherine the Great

By Robert K. …