Author Topic: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something  (Read 363 times)

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Offline cobainwasmurdered

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Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« on: March 10, 2018, 01:28:37 PM »
We've been talking about history and other books in chat lately and I got asked about some of my favourite books and posting them so I decided to. This isn't a full list or anything but just trying to hit some of the main areas and people should chime in with their own favourites!


Before the New World:
-The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon: Even though this was first written in 1776 and there's been an insane amount of research done since then this is still THE history of Rome. Gibbon's writing style makes it come alive and his foot notes are fucking hilarious. There are abridged versions for those who don't want to read a multi-volume set.

-The Conquest of Gaul by Gaius Julius Caesar: All of the works passed down by Ceasar are worth reading but this is the most interesting to me. An amazing work of propaganda, biography, and self-promotion it has had a tremendous impact on how we viewed the ancient world.

-Genghis Khan: The Man Who Conquered the World by Frank McLynn: The Mongols were the greatest conquerors in history and this is the best book I've read on explaining how and why this happened.

-1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann: This is a bit more speculative than a lot of history but it is based on solid research. It challenges the history a lot of us grew up on and is absolutely fascinating. The sequel 1493 is also interesting.


US History:
-Alexander Hamilton AND Washington:A Life By Ron Chernow: These are two of the best biography's I've read. The two men who shaped the early republic possibly more than any others.

-Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin: This has been an influential book and gives a really great look at how the most important politicians of the Union thought and worked.

-The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South by Bruce Levine: This looks at how the Civil War impacted the South by using a huge number of diaries, letters, and other personal accounts to give a much closer and intimate look at both why they fought and how the war and it's end impacted people of all social stratas.

-Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson: This is why HST is so great. His coverage of the 1972 election for Rolling Stone was possibly his best work and is still all these decades later a great look at the political process. It doesn't hurt that it's absolutely hilarious.


The World Wars:
-Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings AND all his other books!: I've read so many books on the World Wars but Hastings is IMO the best historian of the wars. If you're looking for general histories he's my pick.

-The Gathering Storm (and following volumes) by Winston Churchill: WW2 from the viewpoint of the greatest orator of the 20th century. Churchill casts himself in the best light possible at times and as everyone knows has his biases but this is still one of the best works on the war and certainly the best by one of the major players.

-Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan: The story of how after the First World War the maps were withdrawn and why they were drawn they way they were. If you want to know one of the primary reasons the world is so fucked up then you should read this book.


I've got a bunch more but that seems like a good start. What history are you guys into?

Offline Baby Shoes

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2018, 01:32:38 PM »
Thanks for sharing.  Gonna be ordering a couple of these now.

I actually have Team of Rivals that I got when it came out.  Remember seeing the author on the Daily Show when the book was new.  I probably need to get off my ass and read it seeing it is like over a decade old now.
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Offline Baby Shoes

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2018, 02:10:00 PM »
In answering your question about history, one time period I've always had a strange fascination with has been like American Frontier times.  I always remember liking reading about those times and watching films set in that period.  But still some era I have a lot to learn about.
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Offline Baby Shoes

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2018, 03:16:21 PM »
Not to bombard the thread out the gates but I was browsing Amazon.  Was looking into the Decline and Fall of Roman Empire.  The Six Volume version was going to be around $100, however the Kindle version was only $1.99!  So I snagged that.
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Offline cobainwasmurdered

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2018, 04:05:14 PM »
That's a good call as long as it preserves the footnotes well (because they really are a major highlight), the full collection is a lot to get. I started off with an abridged version from the used bookstore and fell in love with his sarcasm.

I've read some pretty good books on the American Frontier, the most recent notable one was https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30231785-thunder-in-the-mountains which was about the Nez Perce War. Like most books on the "Indian Wars" they're pretty sad and frustrating at times but I've always considered it important for people to know about this stuff.

Offline Baby Shoes

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2018, 05:09:21 AM »
Yeah, your comment on the notes got my interest. I haven't looked at what got delivered to my Kindle yet so I will see.  Figure at $1.99, it gives me a taste and will inspire me to seek out the footnote version if I like it and they aren't there.

Thanks for the additional recommendation on Thunder in the Mountains.  Will have to add that one to my list too.  Agree the Indian War stuff can be upsetting but something about the frontiersmen and exploring always fascinates me.
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Offline KingPK

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2018, 05:22:58 AM »
I read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich last summer.  Pretty much the first real comprehensive look at the rise of Nazism and the inner politics and conflicts.  I started reading The Second World War, a more overall history of WWII, before going back to school (I wanted to learn more about Japan's involvement), but I haven't gotten back to it.

Offline cobainwasmurdered

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2018, 02:04:40 PM »
I'm gonna toss out a few more here, this time in the biography category.

Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts- Napoleon is not just one of the great conquerors of history, he's also one of the great lawgivers and great patron of the arts (we owe the existence of Egyptology to him for example) as well. A man who at one point in his life flirted with the idea of converting to Islam (or so he claimed) Napoleon is one of the most fascinating people in history. This book does a wonderful job of looking at his life, and doesn't over-focus on any one aspect. It also doesn't either treat him as a hero or a monster which happens sometimes.

Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana- Even though he has a nation named after him it feels like Simon Bolivar is an underappreciated figure outside of Latin America. He was one of the great revolutionaries of history and deserves more attention and respect. Arana tells his story well and doesn't try to leave out anything that makes him look bad either.

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
This is a fun one. Thomas_Alexandre Dumas was a general in Revolutionary France and the highest-ranking man of African descent ever in a European army. He was also born a slave. And if you can't tell by the dame "Dumas" his son went on to become THAT Dumas. This biography tells his amazing story. It's pretty fantastic.

Offline Harley Quinn

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2018, 10:19:58 PM »
A few worthwhile books I've read

Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath by Paul Ham does a fantastic job going through less the actual creation of the Atomic Bomb but more so the actual bomb droppings and their effect immediately and afterwards on Japan both in the obvious manner but also its effect on it as a culture. It's a great companion piece for anybody who's seen the Black Rain/White Lightning (sp?) Documentary.

Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm. A must read for anybody into World War II Nazi history. It really goes deep into Ravensbruck and offers a fascinating view into a culture of victims that usually doesn't get covered this in-depth in an area that isn't covered that deeply either.

The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny by Michael Wallis. A great read about the Donner Party covering their trek incredibly and going much, much further into the actual journey and how perilous it was while painting the extreme direness of it all which led to the more infamous stories related to the Donner Party in general. Really good job at setting the end up and it was crazy how awful the entire trip and struggle was including poor leadership, ineffective routes taken or not taken, and people growing paranoid with one another through the journey.

Offline Brodypedia

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2018, 06:16:37 PM »
I read a lot of war books... a few good ones off the top of my head:
In the mouth of the cat: A pilot crash lands in Vietnam and survives for several days with multiple broken limbs. Even after being captured, the seriously injured pilot plots escape plans.
The Longest Winter: A Korean War overview, with the U.S. not having proper supplies for the men, and Gen. MacArthur's overly ambitious plans being central points.
Was God on Vacation? - A Death camp survivor's tale from WW2.
Prisoners of the Japanese: An excellent overview of the plight of the Japanese's treatment of POWs and the horrors of jungle life.
Devil at My Heels: The "Unbroken" story told by the actual man. I'm curious why Hollywood chose "Unbroken" and not this for their adaptation.
Ike: An American Hero - Ike's days as a desk jockey for MacArthur and through his days as Supreme Commander of the Allies. At 800+ pages, I think this is the longest book I've ever actually read through. 
American Caesar: A thorough telling of Gen. MacArthur's  entire life.

Offline Harley Quinn

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2018, 09:54:18 PM »
The Longest Winter: A Korean War overview, with the U.S. not having proper supplies for the men, and Gen. MacArthur's overly ambitious plans being central points.

Funny you mentioned this as I recommended it yesterday to somebody who was shopping for her 30 year old brother who's into History but hasn't read a whole lot. She was scoping out the Bargain area and I knew of Kershaw as an author but don't know much about the actual book above except that it sells really well. The other book I mainly know him by is Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris.

Offline cobainwasmurdered

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2018, 12:36:37 PM »
I just polished off
"India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy" by Ramachandra Guha

I had read his previous book "Gandhi Before India" and found it to be really interesting as I didn't really know anything whatsoever about Gandhi before his most famous work in India. GBI was very even-handed both showing the positive work did and being honest about the negative sides of Gandhi such as his racism towards Africans.

"India After Gandhi" is as you can probably tell the history of India from the time of partition up to roughly 2006 although it mostly focuses on the 40's-90's. To cover an entire countries history in one book, especially what is possibly the most diverse nation on Earth is an impossible task but Guha does as good a job as someone can I think.


Offline CletusVanDamme

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2018, 11:05:20 AM »
Been meaning to do some more reading of this type, hit up thriftbooks and snagged The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich : A History of Nazi Germany, The Coldest Winter : America and the Korean War, & Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914 for about $10 total, should keep me busy for a bit :D

Offline cobainwasmurdered

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 11:20:30 AM »
That's some great pickups for a really great price. I love used bookstores/thriftstores. Between those and the awesome library system I have a lot of options to avoid draining my bank account, which I'd totally do.

I've been easing off a little lately as I needed to catch up on some things but I've got a book about Gilded Age America going right now that's not bad. I've found that from the end of the Civil War until Teddy's arrival on the scene it's hard to find a ton of books here on US history. Probably doesn't help there was such a string of uninspired presidents.

Offline cobainwasmurdered

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2018, 08:37:16 PM »
Really liked a book I just finished so thought I'd bump the thread.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27109825-isabella-of-france

Both Isabella and Edward II are pretty infamous in English history. Warner tries to take a new look at them without generally going overboard on revisionist history like some historians (like with Richard III as a prime example) do. I've read histories of England from the 50's and the way they talk about Edward is for sure homophobic. I've also read and seen some of the documentaries recently that rewrite Isabella and Mortimer into some great love story for the ages.  This did a good job going over the actual evidence.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34379310-the-republic-for-which-it-stands The book on the Gilded Age was very good although there were aspects I was let down on. I thought it focused too much on "Liberal" thinkers and didn't talk enough about what the common experience was. Still a great read especially as it's very hard to find a lot of material here on the post-reconstruction US right up until FDR.

Offline Baby Shoes

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2018, 04:12:05 PM »
Sound like some good suggestions.  Think I will have to look into those.

I know I mentioned in chat some time back, but I bought this and have it on my list:



Went and visited some family that live in Ireland a few months back and was amazed how much focus they put on the four days that JFK spent there.  Very interested in the book, though I guess the writer is a late night host that made it seem along the lines of if James Corden wrote a history book.
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Offline cobainwasmurdered

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2018, 01:22:35 PM »
I haven't updated for awhile as most of what I've read hasn't been that exceptional but there's been a few things of note:

https://www.goodreads.com/series/95534-the-history-of-england
I finally got around to reading the book on the Tudors in this series and while it isn't the most thorough book it's still very good and has some things I hadn't read before (and I've read a lot about all the Tudors). All of the books in the series so far have been worth reading and if you're looking for an accessible overview of English history/it's monarch's than this is a pretty good choice before branching off.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34366929-russia-in-flames
I did some reading on Lenin and the Russian Civil War and this was the most interesting of the books I read. If you tie it in with
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/282108.Stalin
then you get a pretty interesting look at the evolution of the USSR and it's leadership.

Offline Baby Shoes

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Re: Those Who Don't Remember History...something something
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2018, 02:34:43 PM »
Some interesting recommendations.  I was actually thinking of this thread the other day.  I was out and about and picked up this book for $3.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8108680-lost-to-time
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