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Feature Wed Dec 06 2006

2006 Chicago Books in Review: Nonfiction

This is the second annual round-up of notable books published in the past year either concerning Chicago or written by local authors. Last year's list featured titles such as Citizen, Louise Knight's celebrated biography of Jane Addams, and Courtroom 302 by Steve Bogira, a critically acclaimed look inside the Cook County Criminal Courthouse.

This year's list does not disappoint. It includes books about beer and wine, railroad tycoons, a history of zoning and the Plan of Chicago. It includes books about segregation and housing discrimination, Cubs and White Sox, Pilsen and Millennium Park. And it includes one little book about the audacity of hope.

Although this list is not comprehensive, it contains something for almost every Chicago area book lover on your holiday shopping list. Plus, check back next week for Veronica Bond's year-end review of fiction by Chicago authors.

First in Violence, Deepest in Dirt: Homicide in Chicago, 1875-1920
by Jeffrey S. Adler (Harvard University Press, 367 pages)
Adler examined thousands of homicide cases for this fascinating look at violence in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth-century.

A Field Guide to Gay & Lesbian Chicago
by Kathie Bergquist (Lake Claremont Press, 281 pages)
A new guidebook to gay and gay-friendly places, events and businesses around the city.

Bridges of Memory: Chicago's Second Generation of Black Migration
by Timuel D. Black (Northwestern University Press, 320 pages)
This is the second volume in the Bridges of Memory series.

Richard Nickel's Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City
by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams (CityFiles Press, 192 pages)
An essential collection of photographs — some never before published — taken by Richard Nickel, one of the city's greatest advocates for the preservation of the buildings of Louis Sullivan.

Barrio: Photographs from Chicago's Pilsen and Little Village
by Paul D'Amato (University of Chicago press, 126 pages)
D'Amato spent 14 years taking photos in Chicago's Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, resulting in this broad portrait of the city's Mexican communities.

Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert; Forty Years of Reviews, Essays and Interviews
by Roger Ebert (University of Chicago Press, 476 pages)
For the movie lover on your list, check out this anthology of writings from the incomparable Roger Ebert.

Robber Baron: The Life of Charles Tyson Yerkes
by John French (University of Illinois Press, 374 pages)
A long-overdue biography of the colorful businessman who shaped Chicago's public transportation, and whose enduring legacy includes the Loop elevated train tracks.

Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark
by Timothy J. Gilfoyle (University of Chicago Press, 442 pages)
Critically acclaimed examination of the construction of Millennium Park.

Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America
by James Green (Pantheon Books, 383 pages)
An accessible, narrative account of the Chicago Haymarket bombings and the early labor movement.

Black Writing from Chicago: In the World, Not of It?
edited by Richard R. Guzman (Southern Illinois University Press, 328 pages)
An anthology of work from some of Chicago's black writers, from the 19th century to the present, including excerpts from Ida B. Wells, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sam Greenlee, Angela Jackson, Haki R. Madhubuti and dozens more.

A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, A Curse and the American Dream
by Rick Kogan (Lake Claremont Press, 115 pages)
A warm-hearted and generously illustrated history of the Billy Goat Tavern and owner Sam Sianis.

Sidewalks: Portraits of Chicago
by Rick Kogan (Northwestern University Press, 256 pages)
A collection of columns by journalist Rick Kogan, accompanied by the original photography of collaborator Charles Osgood.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
by Barack Obama (Crown, 375 pages)
The star senator from Illinois shares his personal vision for finding common ground in a politically divided America in this critically acclaimed and best-selling new book.

Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing and the Black Ghetto
by Alexander Polikoff (Northwestern University Press, 422 pages)
An important and revealing memoir of the author's decades-long legal battle against the Chicago Housing Authority to fight the pattern of segregation in Chicago's public housing.

Sox in the City: A Fan's Love Affair with the White Sox from the Heartbreak of '67 to the Wizards of Oz
by Richard Roeper (Chicago Review Press, 224 pages)
The Sun-Times columnist shares his memories and experiences of the Chicago White Sox as a long-time fan.

The Politics of Place: A History of Zoning in Chicago
by Joseph P. Schwieterman and Dana M. Caspall (Lake Claremont Press, 191 pages)
Think a book about Chicago zoning history might qualify as the most boring book ever? Think again. Politics of Place is a fascinating account of how Chicago came to be the city it is today.

Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago
by Bob Skilnik (Barricade Books, 416 pages)
A well-researched and engaging history of beer and brewing in Chicago, from the city's earliest "pioneer breweries" to the industry's present-day challenges. Includes an appendix listing the more than 150 breweries that have called Chicago home throughout the city's history.

Alpana Pours: About Being a Woman, Loving Wine, and Having Great Relationships
by Alpana Singh (Academy Chicago Publishers, 220 pages)
The charismatic host of WTTW's "Check Please!" dispenses advice about wine and men in this book, which is both informative and refreshingly unpretentious.

The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City
by Carl S. Smith (University of Chicago Press, 183 pages)
A concise history of Chicago, Daniel Burnham's landmark 1909 Plan of Chicago and the enduring influence of the Plan on the shape of the city.

The Division Street Princess: A Memoir
by Elaine Soloway (Syren Book Company, 209 pages)
Soloway remembers growing up in Chicago in the 1940s in this lively memoir.

Umbrella Mike: The True Story of the Chicago Gangster Behind the Indy 500
by Brock Yates (Thunder's Mouth, 224 pages)
And, finally, what's a Chicago book list without at least one work about gangsters?

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Bob Skilnik / December 6, 2006 12:09 PM

Thanks much for the kind words for my book, Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago.

Bob Skilnik

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Gapers Block presents Tuesday Funk, Chicago's ecclectic monthly reading series.
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