The Greatest Belarusian, Russian, Chinese "Nonfiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

    This book is a biographical account of three generations of women in China, spanning the years 1909 to 1991. The narrative follows the lives of the author's grandmother, a warlord's concubine; her mother, a high-ranking official in the Communist Party; and the author herself, who grew up during the Cultural Revolution before moving to the West. The book presents a vivid portrayal of the political and social changes in China during the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of these three women.

    The 1023rd Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

    This book is a haunting collection of personal accounts about the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. The author has meticulously gathered and woven together interviews from survivors, including former workers of the plant, residents, and soldiers. Each narrative reveals the physical and psychological impact of the disaster on individual lives, creating a deeply moving oral history of an event that has had profound consequences on the people of Belarus and Ukraine.

    The 3740th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Out Of The Fire by Ales Adamovich, Yanka Bryl, Vladimir Kolesnik

    "Out Of The Fire" is a powerful collection of stories that vividly depict the horrors and resilience of the human spirit during World War II. Through the eyes of various characters, the book explores the devastating impact of war on individuals and communities, capturing their struggles, sacrifices, and moments of hope amidst the chaos. With hauntingly beautiful prose, the authors bring to life the unimaginable atrocities of the war, reminding us of the importance of remembrance and the enduring strength of the human soul.

    The 4026th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Unwomanly Face Of War by Svetlana Alexievich

    "The Unwomanly Face Of War" is a powerful and poignant collection of interviews with Soviet women who fought in World War II. Through their testimonies, the author sheds light on the often overlooked and untold stories of these brave women who served as snipers, pilots, nurses, and soldiers on the front lines. The book explores their experiences, sacrifices, and the lasting impact of war on their lives, providing a unique and intimate perspective on the realities of war from a female point of view.

    The 4439th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang

    "Red Scarf Girl" is a memoir of the author's childhood during the Cultural Revolution in China. The story follows a 12-year-old girl from a previously respected family who is labeled a class enemy and forced to turn against her own parents. The book provides a deeply personal account of the extreme political and social upheaval during this period in China's history, highlighting the fear, confusion, and courage of a young girl struggling to reconcile her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to her country.

    The 4770th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

    "Falling Leaves" is a heartbreaking autobiography that recounts the life of a young girl who grows up in a wealthy but abusive family in 20th century China. Despite being the daughter of a prosperous businessman, she is treated as an outcast and blamed for her mother's death, who died shortly after her birth. The story portrays her struggle for acceptance and love within her family, her journey through the cultural revolution in China, and her eventual success as a physician in the U.S. It's a poignant exploration of the themes of familial bonds, resilience, and the human spirit's ability to overcome adversity.

    The 4777th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

    This book is a memoir of a young girl growing up in China during the 1940s and 1950s. The protagonist is considered unlucky by her family after her mother dies giving birth to her. She is mistreated by her stepmother and largely ignored by her father, leading to a lonely and challenging childhood. Despite these difficulties, she finds solace in her academic achievements and her Aunt Baba's support. The story is a testament to the power of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.

    The 5011th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Li Zhi-Sui

    This book is a memoir written by a personal physician who served Chairman Mao for over two decades. It offers an unprecedented and intimate look into the life and character of the powerful Chinese leader. The book reveals Mao's personal habits, manipulative nature, political maneuvers, and his disregard for human life in the pursuit of his goals. It also uncovers the power struggles within the Chinese Communist Party, providing a unique perspective on China's political history.

    The 5471st Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. China Along The Yellow River by Cao Jinqing

    This book provides a detailed sociological examination of rural China through the lens of villages along the Yellow River. The author, an urban intellectual, immerses himself in the daily lives of rural residents, uncovering the profound economic struggles, social changes, and the enduring traditions that define their existence. Through vivid narrative and insightful analysis, the book explores the impact of rapid industrialization and urbanization on these communities, offering a poignant look at the disparities between China's urban and rural landscapes.

    The 5876th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Zhaun Falun by Li Hongzhi

    The book in question is a comprehensive guide to a spiritual discipline rooted in Chinese tradition, offering a path to enlightenment through moral rectitude, meditation, and exercises. It outlines a philosophy centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, while also delving into cosmology, human life, and the relationship between the universe and human beings. The text serves as the foundational scripture for practitioners, providing insights into achieving spiritual advancement and understanding the deeper workings of life and the cosmos.

    The 6241st Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

    "Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets" is a compilation of personal narratives from individuals who lived through the transformation of the Soviet Union to modern Russia. The book provides a vivid and emotional portrayal of the experiences of ordinary people during this period of significant societal and political change. The author uses these narratives to explore themes such as the impact of political ideology on individual lives, the nature of memory and history, and the enduring effects of trauma and loss.

    The 6921st Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. My Half Century by Anna Akhmatova

    "My Half Century" is a reflective anthology that encapsulates the personal and professional life of a prominent Russian poetess through her own writings and letters, as well as critical essays about her work. The collection spans the tumultuous periods of Russian history from the early 20th century through the Stalinist era, providing a window into the poet's profound resilience and adaptation in the face of personal and political upheaval. Her poetry, marked by its emotional depth and lyrical beauty, explores themes of love, grief, and the endurance of the human spirit, while also subtly critiquing the oppressive political climate of her time. This compilation not only celebrates her literary genius but also her role as a witness to a critical period in Russian history.

    The 7120th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Life And Death In Shanghai by Nien Cheng

    "Life and Death in Shanghai" is a compelling memoir by a woman who was imprisoned during China's Cultural Revolution. The narrative recounts her harrowing six-and-a-half-year experience in solitary confinement, where she was subjected to brutal interrogations and endured immense psychological and physical torment. Despite the harsh conditions, she maintained her innocence and resisted the pressures to confess to false charges of espionage. The book not only provides a personal account of survival and resilience but also serves as a poignant critique of the political turmoil and ideological fanaticism that characterized the era, offering deep insights into the cultural and historical context of the time.

    The 7833rd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Truth About Chernobyl by Grigory Medvedev

    "The Truth About Chernobyl" is a detailed account of the catastrophic 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, written by Grigory Medvedev, a chief engineer at the plant during the 1970s. Drawing from his own experiences and extensive research, Medvedev exposes the series of events leading up to the explosion, the aftermath, and the cover-up by Soviet officials. The book provides an insider’s perspective on the failures in design, management, and operation of the reactor, and criticizes the lack of safety culture in the Soviet nuclear industry. Medvedev’s narrative not only highlights the technical aspects of the disaster but also delves into the human stories of those who lived through the tragedy, offering a poignant look at one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.

    The 8204th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935 6 by Ivan Chistyakov

    "The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935-6" is a chilling and harrowing memoir that provides a firsthand account of the atrocities and cruelty witnessed by Ivan Chistyakov during his time as a guard in a Soviet Gulag prison. Through his detailed entries, Chistyakov reveals the dehumanizing conditions, brutal punishments, and constant fear that both prisoners and guards endured within the oppressive Soviet regime. This haunting narrative serves as a stark reminder of the dark realities of the Gulag system and the lasting impact it had on the lives of countless individuals.

    The 8380th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. In Confidence by Anatoly Dobrynin

    "In Confidence" is a memoir by a former Soviet ambassador that provides an insider's view of Cold War diplomacy from the perspective of the Soviet Union. The book offers detailed accounts of the ambassador's interactions with several U.S. administrations, revealing the complexities of U.S.-Soviet relations and the personal and political challenges of navigating this high-stakes diplomatic landscape. Through his unique vantage point, the author sheds light on major historical events and decisions, offering insights into the strategic thinking and interpersonal dynamics that shaped the Cold War era.

    The 8468th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko

    "Other Russias" is a powerful and thought-provoking graphic novel that offers an intimate and unfiltered glimpse into the lives of marginalized individuals and communities in contemporary Russia. Through her stunning illustrations and poignant interviews, Victoria Lomasko sheds light on the struggles, hopes, and resilience of diverse groups such as LGBTQ+ activists, migrant workers, political dissidents, and the forgotten voices of rural communities. This eye-opening book challenges stereotypes and provides a humanizing portrayal of those who are often overlooked or silenced in Russian society.

    The 8495th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

    This book provides a deeply researched examination of the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, focusing on the lives of four individuals born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. The book explores how, after the fall of the Soviet Union, instead of moving towards a democratic society, Russia has seen a rise in a new form of totalitarianism under its current leadership. It delves into the psychological shift in the Russian populace, the government's use of homophobia as a method of control, and how the internet and social media have been weaponized for political purposes.

    The 9613th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Stay True by Hua Hsu

    "Stay True" by Hua Hsu is a collection of essays that explore the intersections of race, culture, and identity in America. Through personal anecdotes and cultural analysis, Hsu examines the ways in which popular culture and media shape our understanding of race and identity, and how individuals navigate these complex and often contradictory narratives. From the rise of Asian American representation in Hollywood to the legacy of Michael Jackson, "Stay True" offers a nuanced and thought-provoking exploration of the cultural landscape of America.

    The 9759th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Red Memory by Tania Branigan

    "Red Memory" delves into the complex legacy of Mao Zedong's rule in China, exploring how it continues to shape the nation's identity and politics. Through personal stories and interviews, the book uncovers the deep and often conflicting emotions of Chinese citizens who lived through the tumultuous periods of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The narrative reveals a society grappling with its past, where personal memories of suffering, resilience, and ideological fervor coexist with a state-driven narrative that both reveres and selectively forgets aspects of its own history. This exploration highlights the challenges of reconciling individual trauma with collective memory and the ongoing impact of Mao's era on contemporary China.

    The 11101st Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download