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Thread: History and Biographies
10-09-2008 10:43 AM #1
History and Biographies
Post your favorite (or least favorite) history books or biographies of historical figures, or just what you're reading now.
I'm currently working my way through McCullough's Truman. So far it is excellent.
Prior to that I breezed through American Creation, by Joseph Ellis. I really enjoyed this one and I will certainly check out his other works at some point.
10-09-2008 11:21 AM #2
Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944
Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944 by Stephen E Ambrose.
Part of the opening sequences for the D-Day landings in Normandy during WWII saw actions by the British 6th Airborne Division near Caen. The object of this action was to prevent German panzers from crossing the bridges and attacking the eastern flank of the British landings at Sword Beach.
On the night of June 5/6 1944, a group of 181 British men glider landed into Normandy to capture the bridge over the Orne River. This book details the training and actions of the men from B and D Companies, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, a platoon of B Company, Royal Engineers, and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment.
Ambrose's usual meticulous research and story telling makes for a exciting read.
10-09-2008 11:34 AM #3
"E = MC^2 : A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation"
It isn't technical at all. I find it very interesting and an easy read.
10-09-2008 11:44 AM #4
People's History of the US comes to mind.
10-09-2008 12:00 PM #5
If I could only recommend one non-fiction book, it'd probably be Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory.
Fussell illuminates a war that changed a generation and revolutionised the way we see the world. He explores the British experience on the western Front from 1914 to 1918, focusing on the various literary means by which it has been remembered, conventionalized and mythologized. It is also about the literary dimensions of the experience itself. Fussell supplies contexts, both actual and literary, for writers who have most effectively memorialized the Great War as an historical experience with conspicuous imaginative and artistic meaning. These writers include the classic memoirists Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and Edmund Blunden, and poets David Jones, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen.
10-09-2008 12:07 PM #6
Well, I put it in the recommendations, but once again, Russell Bakers "Growing Up."
10-09-2008 01:42 PM #7
I highly recommend Robert Creamer's biography of Babe Ruth.
10-09-2008 05:06 PM #8
I recently read A Voyage Long and Strange and Confederates in the Attic, and am finishing-up Blue Latitudes, by Tony Horwitz.
Basically, he chooses a subject (the voyages of Captain Cook in Latitudes, the remnant memories of the Civil War in Confederates, a series of journeys about the discovery of America in Voyage) and follows the subject for a considerable time, interviewing people and trying to gain perspective on why the subject is important.
I'd recommend all of them, both for the history and for the storytelling.
10-09-2008 05:26 PM #9
Not sure if this can be considered a biography/autobiography but Mother Theresa's Come Be My Light - The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta is phenomenal.
Regardless of your religious beliefs/non-beliefs, MT was an amazing human being. It's incredible what one person achieved just by being kind.
10-10-2008 11:54 AM #10
I've been reading Memoirs of the Second World War by Churchill off and on for what seems like ages now. It's a fantastic abridgement of his famous Second World War compilation. If you want to get really hard core, read the entire six volumes of The Second World War. It's amazing to get a first hand understanding of the issues that the greatest protagonist in WWII had to deal with. His writing is unbelievable.
10-10-2008 07:32 PM #11
10-14-2008 04:48 PM #12
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
- Camden, DE
Union 1812 was very good. I'm currently reading 1776 which is also quite good.
10-14-2008 07:36 PM #13
Manhunt by James Swanson was good. It's about the hunt for Lincoln's killer. He wrote the book over many years in his spare time.
His Excellency by Joseph Ellis was good too. That's a biography of Washington.
McCullough's John Adams is my favorite though. It reads like a novel. There are so many things in there the miniseries couldn't even hint at. My favorite bit is where Adams goes to listen to terms of peace with the British, not knowing that if he accepts them the British will arrest him for treason and have him executed.
Others I haven't read in awhile are One Gallant Rush about the 54th Regiment in the Civil War (the movie Glory is based on it) and Schindler's List.
10-15-2008 12:48 AM #14
As far as more straight-up, conventional histories go, it's tough to beat Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Also loved J. Anthony Lukas's sprawling, panoramic history of the 1905 assassination of Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg and the ensuing trial and media circus, Big Trouble. Both highly recommended.
10-15-2008 11:19 AM #15
It helped that - like the Civil War - we were dealing with an inordinate number of highly educated officers who were prone to letter-writing (and other kinds of writing.) The paper trail for both wars (but especially WWI) was very long.
I can't emphasize enough what a powerful book this is. Funny, among poetry folk, Fussell is more famous for Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, which - is an excellent hornbook on - as the title makes clear - prosody and form.