The Greatest Australian, Irish "Nonfiction" Books Since 1900

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 270 '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. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally

    The book tells the true story of a German businessman who saves more than a thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The protagonist's transformation from a greedy high living war profiteer to a savior of lives forms the crux of the narrative. It offers a chilling yet inspiring account of the horrors of the Holocaust, human resilience, and the power of one individual to make a significant difference.

  2. 2. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer

    This book is a seminal feminist text that explores the oppression of women in society. It critiques the traditional roles and expectations of women in the mid-20th century, arguing that societal norms and conventions force women into a secondary, submissive role, effectively castrating them. The book encourages women to reject these norms and to embrace their own sexual liberation, arguing for the need for a revolution in the way women perceive themselves and their place in society.

  3. 3. Autobiographies by William Butler Yeats

    This book is a collection of autobiographical essays by a renowned Irish poet and playwright, reflecting on his personal and professional life. It provides a deep insight into his early life, family, influences, and the evolution of his poetic and dramatic works. The author also gives a vivid account of the Irish literary scene and the cultural and political climate of his time, including his involvement in the Irish National Theatre and the Irish Literary Society.

  4. 4. A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey

    "A Fortunate Life" is a memoir that chronicles the extraordinary life of a man who overcame immense hardships and adversity to find happiness and contentment. From his humble beginnings in rural Australia to his experiences as a soldier in World War I, the author shares his remarkable journey filled with poverty, loss, and resilience. Despite facing numerous challenges, he remains optimistic and grateful for the opportunities life has presented him, ultimately proving that a fortunate life is not defined by material wealth, but by the strength of the human spirit.

  5. 5. The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

    "The Road from Coorain" is a memoir that chronicles the author's journey from her childhood on a remote sheep station in Australia, through her adolescence in war-ravaged Sydney, and finally, to her departure for America. The narrative explores themes of self-discovery, gender roles, and the power of education while providing a vivid portrayal of life in the Australian outback. The memoir also delves into the author's complex relationship with her mother and the impact of her father's death on their family.

  6. 6. Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan

    "Borstal Boy" is a semi-autobiographical novel that depicts the author's experiences in a British juvenile detention center, or borstal, during World War II. The young protagonist is arrested in Liverpool for his involvement with the Irish Republican Army and is sent to borstal where he spends his formative years. The narrative explores themes of patriotism, identity, and the complexities of adolescence, presenting a raw and compelling portrayal of life in detention and the relationships formed there.

  7. 7. Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally

    The book is a historical novel based on the true story of a German industrialist who becomes an unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign. When he witnesses the horrors inflicted upon the Jews, he is moved to save as many as he can by employing them in his factory. His actions, driven by courage and compassion, lead to the salvation of over a thousand Jewish workers from certain death in the Holocaust. The narrative explores themes of morality, survival, and the capacity for good in the face of overwhelming evil, as the protagonist navigates the complexities of war and the human spirit.

  8. 8. Tracks by Robyn Davidson

    "Tracks" is a memoir that recounts the author's extraordinary journey across the Australian desert on camelback. The narrative provides vivid descriptions of the harsh desert landscape, the challenges faced during this nine-month, 1,700-mile trek, and the transformation of the author's personal character along the way. The book also explores her interactions with the indigenous Aboriginal people and their culture, and includes her reflections on solitude, self-discovery, and the human connection to nature.

  9. 9. Stradbroke Dreamtime by Oodgeroo Noonuccal

    "Stradbroke Dreamtime" is a collection of autobiographical stories and traditional Aboriginal tales that weave together the personal experiences of an Indigenous Australian woman with the cultural heritage of her people. The book offers a window into the author's childhood on Stradbroke Island, sharing memories of family life, the natural world, and the impact of colonialism. Alongside these reflections, the work preserves a number of Dreamtime stories, which are central to Aboriginal spirituality and identity, passing on the wisdom and traditions of her ancestors through narratives that celebrate the connection between the land and its inhabitants.

  10. 10. The Tyranny Of Distance by Geoffrey Blainey

    "The Tyranny of Distance" explores the impact of geographical isolation on Australia's history, economy, and society. Blainey delves into how the vastness of the continent has shaped the country's development, from the challenges faced by early settlers to the struggles of maintaining connections with the rest of the world. Through a comprehensive analysis, the book highlights the unique circumstances and opportunities that arise from Australia's geographical position, ultimately offering a thought-provoking perspective on the nation's past and future.

  11. 11. Man Made Language by Dale Spender

    The book in question explores the concept that language is not a neutral medium of communication but rather a man-made construct that reflects and perpetuates the patriarchal structure of society. It argues that the way language is used and structured inherently privileges male perspectives and marginalizes women, influencing perceptions and reinforcing gender inequalities. Through a critical examination of linguistic practices, the text challenges readers to recognize the biases embedded in everyday language and consider the implications these have on women's experiences and the broader social power dynamics.

  12. 12. My Place by Sally Morgan

    "My Place" is a poignant autobiographical account that traces the personal journey of an Aboriginal woman in Australia as she uncovers her family's past and her own cultural identity. Through a series of interviews and personal reflections, the narrative delves into the experiences of her mother, grandmother, and great-uncle, revealing the hidden stories of displacement, suffering, and resilience that were kept secret due to the shame and stigma associated with their Aboriginal heritage. The book is a powerful exploration of the impact of colonialism and racism on individual lives and serves as a testament to the strength of family bonds and the reclaiming of one's history and sense of self.

  13. 13. The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes

    "The Shock of the New" is an insightful exploration of modern art from the late 19th century to the present day. The book examines the cultural, social, and political forces that shaped and influenced the development of various art movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Pop Art. It also provides an in-depth analysis of the works of prominent artists who played pivotal roles in these movements. The book serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding the complexities and nuances of modern art.

  14. 14. 800 Horseman by Col Stringer

    The book is a historical account that pays tribute to the legendary Australian Light Horsemen, who played a crucial role during World War I, particularly in the Middle East campaign. It delves into the remarkable feats of these mounted troops, known for their exceptional horsemanship, courage, and endurance. The narrative celebrates their most famous victory at the Battle of Beersheba and explores the unique bond between the horsemen and their faithful mounts, offering insights into the strategies, challenges, and the enduring legacy of these iconic figures in Australian military history.

  15. 15. Selected Stories by William Trevor

    "Selected Stories" is a collection of short stories by acclaimed author William Trevor. The book features some of Trevor's most memorable and haunting tales, exploring themes of love, loss, and the complexities of human relationships. With his signature style of understated elegance and quiet, observant prose, Trevor creates characters that are both ordinary and extraordinary, capturing the subtle nuances of their lives and the emotions that drive them. From the Irish countryside to London's bustling streets, these stories offer a glimpse into the human experience and the ways in which we navigate the world around us.

  16. 16. Major Critical Essays by George Bernard Shaw

    This collection of essays showcases the author's incisive wit and profound critical thinking as he delves into a variety of subjects, ranging from the intricacies of Shakespearean drama to the social responsibilities of the artist. The author's articulate and often controversial opinions challenge the status quo and provoke readers to reconsider their preconceptions about literature, theater, and society. His essays are celebrated for their intellectual rigor, humor, and the author's unwavering commitment to social reform, making them an enduring contribution to literary criticism and cultural discourse.

  17. 17. Essays Of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

    This collection of essays showcases the sharp wit and insightful social commentary of one of the most celebrated writers of the late 19th century. The essays span a range of topics, from art and aesthetics to criticism and personal reflections, all delivered with the author's distinctive blend of eloquence and irony. The author's keen observations on Victorian society, his exploration of beauty and its relation to life, and his thoughts on the role of the artist make this compilation a treasure trove for readers interested in literature, philosophy, and the enduring complexities of human nature.

  18. 18. A Vision by William Butler Yeats

    The book in question is an esoteric exploration of the cyclical nature of history, art, and the human experience, as seen through the lens of the author's unique system of symbolism and mysticism. Drawing upon a wide array of influences, including the occult, astrology, and the author's own imaginative faculties, it presents a complex framework for understanding the interplay of personal and universal forces. The work is divided into sections that delve into philosophical and poetic discussions, offering a vision of reality that is structured around the phases of the moon and characterized by a series of gyres or spirals, representing the evolution and involution of the soul, history, and civilization.

  19. 19. A Fanatic Heart by Edna O'Brien

    "A Fanatic Heart" is a collection of short stories that delve into the complexities of human emotions and relationships, often set against the backdrop of Ireland's lush landscapes and social upheavals. The narratives explore themes of love, betrayal, and the struggles of the human spirit through a variety of characters, from young girls to aging men, each grappling with their own desires, regrets, and search for meaning. The author's lyrical prose and keen insight into the intricacies of the heart and society weave together tales that are both poignant and revealing, offering a window into the soul of her characters and the cultural tensions of the time.

  20. 20. Fighting Mc Kenzie Anzac Chaplain by Col Stringer

    The book tells the story of Daniel "Fighting Mac" McKenzie, a remarkable military chaplain who served with the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) forces during World War I. Known for his unorthodox methods and fierce determination, McKenzie was a spiritual guide who also physically defended and rescued soldiers in the trenches, earning him legendary status among the troops. His story is one of bravery, compassion, and unwavering faith, as he navigated the horrors of war to provide comfort and support to the soldiers fighting on the front lines. Through his actions, McKenzie became a symbol of hope and resilience, embodying the spirit of the ANZACs.

  21. 21. We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O'Toole

    "We Don't Know Ourselves" by Fintan O'Toole is a collection of essays that explores the current state of Ireland and its people. O'Toole argues that Ireland's sense of identity has been shaped by its history of colonization and the struggle for independence, but that this identity is now being challenged by globalization and the changing social and economic landscape. He examines issues such as immigration, the Catholic Church's declining influence, and the rise of nationalism, and ultimately argues that Ireland needs to embrace a new sense of identity that is inclusive and forward-thinking.

  22. 22. Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

    The book is a memoir of a Chinese peasant boy who, chosen at a young age by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to become a ballet dancer, undergoes a grueling training at Beijing Dance Academy. Through sheer determination and resilience, he excels and earns a rare opportunity to study in America. His experiences abroad open his eyes to the stark contrasts between the communist regime of China and the freedoms of the West. The story follows his emotional and ideological struggle as he eventually defects, leaving behind his family and homeland to pursue his passion for dance and a life of artistic and personal freedom.

  23. 23. The Complete Letters Of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

    This compilation is an exhaustive collection of correspondence penned by one of the most celebrated writers of the Victorian era, known for his wit, eloquence, and flamboyant style. The letters provide an intimate glimpse into the author's life, covering his rise to fame, his relationships, his trials, and his time in prison. They reveal his personal thoughts on art, literature, society, and his own creative process. The collection is not only a treasure trove for literary enthusiasts and scholars but also a poignant, revealing portrait of a complex man who was a central figure in the aesthetic movement of the late 19th century.

  24. 24. Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey

    In this travel memoir, a father and his anime-obsessed son embark on a journey to Japan in an attempt to understand the son's fascination with the country's pop culture. Their adventure leads them to meet manga artists, anime directors, and cultural commentators, through which they explore the nuances of Japanese animation and its historical contexts. As the father attempts to bridge the cultural gap and connect with his son, he confronts his own preconceptions and discovers the complexities of modern Japanese culture, which cannot be easily understood through the lens of Western perspectives. The narrative delves into themes of cultural exchange, the generational divide, and the search for authenticity in a land where the line between reality and fiction often blurs.

  25. 25. Home of the Blizzard by Douglas Mawson

    "Home of the Blizzard" is a first-hand account of an Antarctic expedition led by the author. The narrative takes the reader through the challenging journey of survival in the harsh, icy wilderness of Antarctica. It details the struggles faced by the team, including extreme weather conditions, loss of team members, and near-death experiences. The book serves as a testament to human resilience and the spirit of exploration in the face of adversity.

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.