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Merlin26
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Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

I'm looking for suggestions.
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Chriskander
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

I’d say you are opening a very wide field Merlin26. I doubt you’ll find anyone with one specific favorite history book. Maybe I’ll chance a topic and title from my interest in military history – “Marlborough – his life and times” by Winston S. Churchill. While Churchill was never my favorite politician (and my early years were spent under his government) his history of John Churchill, his illustrious ancestor, almost make up for his overly patrician views and policies.

I must also mention many of the other books that contribute to an interest in history. The ‘Brief History’ series from Robinson; London (Perseus Publishing at B&N) are an inexpensive and easy read if you want to find a layman’s overview of specific topics. Other publishers ( such as the Pan series on British battles) have similar projects both in and out of print. It is also interesting to look up specific topics in encyclopedias – I have an old set (1950) of Britannicas that sometimes offer histories from scholars who lived through interesting 19th and 20th century history.

I have found many interesting works on history by buying discarded textbooks from University courses. They may not be ‘up to the minute’ expositions of the current opinions, but they are all worth reading and at a good price. Similarly, browsing used bookstores will give you an idea of topics and treatments one may never have imagined. An example – if you have any interest in the history of technological development – I found a copy of “Achievements in Engineering” by L. F. Vernon-Harcourt; Seely & Co, 1891, that gives details of Victorian age projects by a contemporary engineer.

Most of my collection is military history, and used bookstores in general will come up with titles long out of print. In a bookstore in England I found two British Army officers’ handbooks from the immediate pre-WW One period that a military historian friend had never heard of. The publication list inside is almost a history of the British Army in itself and she is currently tracking down libraries that may have more copies.

I could spend hours revisiting the histories I’ve read over the years, and all of them have added information and viewpoints that I use today in my own fiction writing. History really is a topic to be immersed in.
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L_Monty
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.


Merlin26 wrote:
I'm looking for suggestions.

Hmmm, that's tough. Could you narrow it down a little? I'm sure people will still have suggestions in a more specific area. Even something like, "Modern European," or "Greco-Roman" will be broad enough you'll still get recommendations while leaving people scratching there heads less and wondering where to begin.
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Mighty_Pen001
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

Need suggestions? Well, if you're interested in the Amer. Civil War you can't really go wrong with any book by James McPherson, might I suggest "Battle Cry of Freedom"?

His writing style is readable and understandable. You don't need to be a Harvard scholar to comprehend it.

 

Also, there is "Lincoln and his Generals", the classic by T. Harry Williams

Though it may now be out of print, but you might find it used.

 

-Ernie

 

Battle Cry of Freedom  

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dulcinea3
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

As mentioned, an open-ended question like that will get a very wide variety of answers.

 

Not sure I can really narrow it down to one, but certainly one that I found especially fascinating was Sisters of Henry Vlll .  Over the years, I had read an awful lot on Henry, his wives, and his children, but only knew the basics about his sisters.  Upon reading this, I found that they really had fascinating, exciting, and eventful lives.

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Paula717
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

"Wars of the Roses" by Alison Weir. I love English history and have also read up on Henry VIII, his wives, children and other monarchs but Wars of the Roses is my fave.

 

"...It tells how two families were locked in battle for control of the throne. Kings were murdered and deposed, armies marched on London, old noble names were ruined while rising dynasties seized power and lands. The war between the royal Houses of Lancaster and York, the longest and most complex in British history, profoundly altered the course of the monarchy."

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting. - Edmund Burke
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Merlin26
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

Let me try historical fiction.

 

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Paula717
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

My fave historical fiction novel was "Innocent Traitor" by Alison Weir.

 

Happy reading!

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting. - Edmund Burke
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dulcinea3
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.


Paula717 wrote:

"Wars of the Roses" by Alison Weir. I love English history and have also read up on Henry VIII, his wives, children and other monarchs but Wars of the Roses is my fave.

 

"...It tells how two families were locked in battle for control of the throne. Kings were murdered and deposed, armies marched on London, old noble names were ruined while rising dynasties seized power and lands. The war between the royal Houses of Lancaster and York, the longest and most complex in British history, profoundly altered the course of the monarchy."


 

That's another of my favorites - I love Weir's historical books.  Have you read Weir's

The Princes in the Tower ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those inspired me to read more about Richard III, too.

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Paula717
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.


dulcinea3 wrote:

 

That's another of my favorites - I love Weir's historical books.  Have you read Weir's

The Princes in the Tower ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those inspired me to read more about Richard III, too.


She's one of my fave authors and I've read almost everything by her. The Princes in the Tower is next on my list. I just visited London about 2.5 weeks ago and it was very erie and wonderful to see all the places I've read about. English/British history is a favorite.

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting. - Edmund Burke
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GrouchoMarxist
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

Antony Beevor's Stalingrad, The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 was a fascinating historical account of the most important battle of the second World War while also delving into the psychological motivations of both Nazi and Soviet planners and combatants. Above all else, I felt that Mr.. Beevor captured the critical element that all texts on this subject must stress in order for the information to carry substantial meaning; the nightmarish goal of genocide against Soviet men, women and children prior to converting Bolshevik Russia into a Nazi breadbasket and slave state.

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Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
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NikkiO
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

Samuel Tilden - everything you can find on him...
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DCGuy
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

My favorite history book is titled the "history of the world".  It is a very comprehensive year by year summary of every important political, social, cultural, etc. etc event since the dawn of civilization across the world.  It ends at just after World War II when it was published.  No pictures and only some maps and genealogical charts.
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ahaft
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

I'd recommend the Unknown American Revolution by Gary B. Nash. Occasionally a history of reality as presented in this book sneaks in on the bookshelf next to the histories upon histories of elites. 
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Fan4SFGiants
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

The Handy History Answer Book:It gives good answers about history in general,with an emphasis on American History.

 

Lies My Teacher Told Me:Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong-It explains the actual true facts about historical events in America.

 

Ideas:A History Of Thought And Invention,From Fire To Freud-It explains the history of how things we use everyday,such as language,the printing press,psychology and psychiatry were developed and how we've used them from their early development to the modern times.

 

 

Reading For Pleasure




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Adelle
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

Oh, I very much enjoyed The Princes in the Tower, too.   A great book to read in conjunction with it---well, actually one should first read The Sunne in Splendour.    It's historical fiction set in that time period with pretty much the same cast of characters.   It portrays Richard III as not the terrible man we think of him as.   (After all, history is written by the winners.)   It gives a plausable version in which Richard doesn't actually order the murder of his nephews in the tower.    And THEN read The Princes in the Tower.   Which strongly, compellingly makes the case that, yes, Richard most probably did order their murder.  

 

Both great reads.  

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Texas-Buckeye
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

One of my favorites is Fighting for The Confederacy by John Porter Alexander.  Alexander was Longstreet's chief of artillery and fought in most of the major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia.  This is not a typical history as he did not write for publication but as an explanation for his children.  Its publication was posthumous.  It is definitely not the typical Southern apologist or "Lost Cause" book.
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PhilsFolly
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

    "Killer Angels" by Michael Sharra remains my favorite.  It was the basis of Ted Turner's movie "Gettysburg" - but I don't hold that against the novel.  When "American Heritage" magazine conducted a poll regarding the best historical fiction, this novel was cited more than any other ("Middle March" was another novel frequently listed, a choice with which I also agree). Historians, history professors, journalists and military personnel (the recipients of the poll) all praised the novel.  At one time, it was even required reading at West Point.

   I recommend "Killer Angels" for managing to be both great military history as well as gifted writing, something lacking in most historical fiction. This is unfortunately true of the author's son, Jeff Shaara who turned his father's stand-alone novel of Gettysburg into a Civil War trilogy by adding "Gods and Generals" and "Their Last Full Measure". Jeff Shaara's research and writing skills simply do not measure up to his father's

  For anyone who says they don't enjoy military history - I suggest they read "Killer Angels". I don't know of anyone who has started the book who has not admitted that good writing makes the difference when reading military history.  Forget the movie "Gettysburg" (which wasn't a bad movie).  Read the novel.  It's truly great history, and a book you won't want to put down.

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PhilsFolly
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

My current favorite historical work is by Joseph E. Persico. The title is long, but familiar to anyone who enjoys history: 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour, Armistice Day, 1918.

 

Although the generals on both sides of the western front knew that after four long years, the fighting would stop at 11:00 am on November 11, 1918 - they were still sending their men in futile assaults across no-man's-land right up to the last moment.  There were 11,000 casualties during those early morning hours. I got so angry reading about the decisions of the generals I had to put the book down from time to time to lower my blood pressure, only to pick it up again knowing the ending was still going to be tragic. The book is like a train wreck  - one knows there will be horrors to behold, but must look anyway. From the dust jacket reviews:

 

"What could be a more haunting epitome of the relentlessly logical illogic of World War I than the story of its last day.  In a book as fascinating as it is appalling, Persico has unearthed a long-buried secret, one in which American generals can be numbered among the worst offenders."  -Robert Cowley 

 

"Joe Perisco has done the impossible -  he has written an original book on World War I. By starting with the last day, he has found a way to see the nightmare as a separate world, something that became of all the participants a totally consuming passion."  

-Thomas Fleming

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L_Monty
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Re: Favorite History Book, and Why? Please respond.

Thanks, PF.

 

I've not read all of 11th/11th/11th, but from my interaction with it, I'm going to second your recommendation. Along those lines, perhaps people would be intrigued to read Robert Dallek's Nixon and Kissinger for the same infuriating reasons. Kissinger and Nixon receive top-brass briefing conceding that the war is unwinnable, then expand it and kill thousands more Americans anyway — all ultimately leading to a "peace with honor" less favorable than the '68 talks. Absolutely intolerable to read, from a subject standpoint, but Dallek is always a top-notch read. Perhaps we should do that as a book here in a month or so.