Holiday Gift Idea 2: Depressing Nonfiction

If you have someone on your gift list who likes to while away the winter with a cup of tea and some gloomy nonfiction (livin' the dream!), I have two equally depressing-yet-engrossing picks. As a fan of Russ Jones's #TheWeekinTory threads on Twitter, I was aware of the various scandals besetting the U.K.'s Tory Party, but this summer's bizarre Prime Minister situation still came as a surprise. Simon Kuper's Chums offers an alternately entertaining and infuriating (and helpful-to-Americans) take on the dramatis personae of the Tory Party, an astonishing number of whom are the products of an insular and entitled Eton-to-Oxford-to-Parliament pipeline.

If you prefer your depressing nonfiction grander in scope, I recommend Kyle Harper's 2017 book The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and The End of An Empire. Harper, a classical world historian at the University of Oklahoma, convincingly argues that the Roman Empire crumbled less due to specific military or leadership failures, and more due to a slow snowballing of the effects of climate change and widespread disease. The Fate of Rome is a far more grueling read than Chums (I had to look up at least 5 words per chapter), but it's hard to imagine a more pressingly topical book.

Chums: $22

The Fate of Rome: $16
Posted by: Julianka


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