The Best Nonfiction Books of the 1970s

Non-fiction books of the 1970s were about everything from science to society to space. We’ve rounded up the best of the decade.

The non-fiction books of the 1970s reflected the concerns of the time: feminism, intersectionality, concerns about the decline of the modern era, fascination with space and science.

During the decade, the wave of scientific and social progress was extremely impressive for its time, paving the way for many modern scientific and social structures considered normal in today’s society. To explore in more depth, look no further: we’ve put together a list of the best books from the 70s.

Kate Millett, author of “Sexual Politics” (Photo: Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Sexual Politics – Kate Millett (1970)

Widely considered a classic of radical feminist literature, Sexual policy began as Kate Millett’s doctoral dissertation and explores the subjugation of women in 20th century art and literature. Inspired by Simone De Beauvoir The second sexthe non-fiction book discusses the gender politics of prominent authors like DH Lawrence, Henry Miller, etc. and how they view sex in a “patriarchal and sexist way.”

nonfiction sexual politics
Photo: WordPress

The Black Woman: An Anthology – edited by Toni Cade Bambara (1970)

Technically, The black woman contains elements of fiction with poetry and short stories included. However, the anthology also includes non-fiction conversations and essays by now famous African-American women writers (like Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde) that deal with issues of gender, race, politics, work, intersectionality and education. The black woman was a groundbreaking work that paved the way for some of the most exciting and surprisingly talented black voices of the late 20th century.

the black woman
Photo: Simon & Schuster

Zelda: A Biography – Nancy Milford (1970)

Nancy Milford’s non-fiction biography is written about one of the most intriguing celebrities of the 20th century, Zelda Sayre, later known as the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. If the names sound familiar to you, it’s probably because the couple were famous for their carefree hedonism in the 1920s, became synonymous with Jazz Age glitz, and their turbulent relationship and lifestyle inspired most of Fitzgerald’s writings (including Gatsby the magnificent).

Zelda: A Biography details Zelda’s Southern upbringing, her passionate relationship with Fitzgerald, and the torturous attraction between her immense gift for writing, art, and creativity, against the thrust of her husband’s burgeoning career.

zelda nonfiction
Photo: Amazon

Farewell to Manzanar – James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (1973)

A memoir published in 1973 by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar details the devastating experiences of author Jeanne Wakatsuki and her family before, during, and after their relocation to Manzanar Concentration Camp, where the United States government forcibly relocated and incarcerated Japanese Americans during the Second World War. A notoriously overlooked episode in history.

farewell to manzanar nonfiction
Photo: Amazon

Anarchy, State and Utopia – Robert Nozick (1974)

Considered one of the most influential books on post-World War II political philosophy and winning the 1974 National Book Award, Anarchy, State and Utopia details a defense of minarchist libertarianism, discussions of rights theory, distributions of justice, morality and the state, a framework for utopia, and more. The book grew out of a course taught at Harvard by author and fellow American political philosopher Michael Walzer, at Harvard University, entitled “Capitalism and Socialism” – where Nozick represented the arguments of Anarchy, State and Utopiaand Walzer represented the side of “complex equality”.

state of anarchy and utopia

The Message In The Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, And What One Has To Do With The Other – Walker Percy (1975)

The message in the bottle is a collection of non-fiction essays on semiotics that explore the emerging dominant ideologies of the late modern era: Judeo-Christian values ​​and self-determination versus the rationalism of science. The collection of essays often weave together linguistics, existentialism, theology, anthropology and literary criticism, raising relevant philosophical questions that will challenge the reader to question their own beliefs and values ​​about how we operate. in the world.

message in a non-fiction bottle
Photo: Amazon

Another Day of Life – Ryszard Kapuściński (1976)

Hailing from Poland, but famous for his extensive reporting in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Ryszard Kapuściński’s body of work is one of the most fascinating examples of cohesive and engaging war reporting in the 20th century. . another day of life follows the journalist in Angola during the Angolan Civil War, which began in 1975 from Angola’s independence from Portugal until 2002. The book details the fall of the capital Luanda and an exhibition on the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) which presided as the de facto government during the war.

nonfiction another day of life
Photo: Penguin

Love speech – Roland Barthes (1977)

Described by the Washington Post Book World as: “Perhaps the most detailed and painstaking anatomy of desire we have ever seen or need…All readers will find something they will recognize in Barthes’ recreation of the feverish consciousness of desire. lover: the book is an ecstatic celebration of love and language and…readers interested in either or both…will enjoy savoring its rich and dark delights,” Roland Barthes love speech is a fascinating meditation on the lexicon of love.

Roland Barthes
Photo: Penguin

The Dragons of Eden – Carl Sagan (1977)

Renowned American astronomer, Carl Sagan The Dragons of Eden is a Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction book about the mechanisms of the evolution of human intelligence. Combining the fields of anthropology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and computer science, the book’s thesis revolves around a statement made at a previous Sagan lecture, “[wherein] the mind … [is] a consequence of his anatomy and physiology and nothing more.

the amazon dragons
Photo: Amazon

The Good Things – Tom Wolfe (1979)

While he later found success in fiction with Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe’s beginnings were in journalism – specifically, new journalism: a style of writing that incorporated literary techniques. The good thing emerged from Wolfe’s fascination with astronauts after he was assigned to cover the launch of NASA’s last lunar mission, Apollo 17, in 1972. high-speed aircraft, as well as dig deeper into the selection of early astronauts of NASA’s Mercury project.

tom wolfe nonfiction
Photo: Penguin