Most favorite non-fiction books

My very favorite non-fiction books are based on a foundation of substantive research, knit together by compelling human stories (Common Ground; J. Anthony Lukas on the Boston busing crisis), or an interesting and persuasive argument (More Work for Mother, Ruth Schwartz Cowan on the impact of technology on housework).
There are many books that I like very much that don’t live up to this standard. Then again, Lukas’ standards were so high that it took him more than a decade to write his next book, after which he committed suicide, perhaps because he was unable to live up to that standard of perfection. I need to reread More Work for Mother one of these days to see if its brilliance holds up to five more years of additional reading.
What are your criteria for favorite books?

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