History Books (War,Politics, Secret Intelligence Service, Essays)

Alba

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This is my favorite genre, together with thriller.

Please give your suggestion.

I have a question for Snow, or anybody else who knows about a book I just came across: A History of Russia Nicholas Riasanovskiy. What do you think, is it really good?
 

IcyEdges

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This is my favorite genre, together with thriller.

Please give your suggestion.

I have a question for Snow, or anybody else who knows about a book I just came across: A History of Russia Nicholas Riasanovskiy. What do you think, is it really good?

:agree: Great text. It is often used in University classes.
 

karne

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I seriously recommend Trooper Mark Donaldson VC's book, "The Crossroad". It's not just an account of his actions with the Australian SAS, which earned him the highest honour we have; it's really the story of how the army turned his life around.

I want to read "American Sniper". Might get it for my Dad.

"The Amazing SAS" and "18 Hours" are also great books about the Australian SAS. And yes, I will just take this moment to be all proud about how our SAS are the best in the world.

For WW2 stuff I read predominantly about 617 squadron. The Dambusters by Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC (of course) and Beyond The Dams To The Tirpitz are two of my favourites. My great-uncle flew with 617 as a navigator.
 

Alba

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:agree: Great text. It is often used in University classes.

Thanks. :) I'm going with it then.

@karne: Thank you for your suggestions. I love reading books with WWII subject. I've read a lot but never the ones you mentioned. I'll check for those titles.
 

louisa05

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I'm attempting a master's in history (interrupted by life at this point). I'm kind of wracking my brain to figure out the most readable books I've encountered along the way--both in personal reading and assigned reading. Here are a few:

Lewis & Clark:

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

American Revolution:

1776 by David McCullough

Civil Rights:

The Struggle for Black Equality by Harvard Sitkoff and John Hope Franklin

Stonewall: The Riots the Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People by Helen Zia

Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee by Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warrior

Soviet Union:

Soviet Women: Walking the Tightrope by Francine du Plessix Gray

The Walls came Tumbling Down: The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe by Gale Stokes

Europe in Age of Empire and World War I (my focus area so more listed here):

The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914 by Barbara Tuchman

Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress by Jan Morris

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark

I'll add more as I think of them.
 

dorispulaski

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Mayflower: a Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick-the history of Plymouth colony


In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

Both of these are very readable, and very thought provoking. Philbrick has a way of inviting you into the past in such a vivid way that you swear you can smell and taste it.
 

Alba

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Thanks so much louisa for those World War I books. I'm very much interested in WWI, but I haven't had the time to read much about that period, a part from the history books in school and documentaries of course. I know a lot of books about WWII but very few about WWI.

@doris: I'm very curious about the Mayflower story. I'm quite ignorant on the subject.
 

dorispulaski

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People generally confuse the Puritans (Massachusetts Bay Colony), who settled in the Boston/Salem area, with the Pilgrims (Plymouth colony), who came to America in the Mayflower and settled in the Plymouth area (also located in what is now Massachusetts). Plymouth Colony was eaten up by Massachusetts Bay Colony over a span of a hundred years, and yet Americans trace their story in New England more to Plymouth than to Boston.

Philbrick's book focuses on the relations between the Indians and the Plymouth Colony, how things started well, but after 30 years, deteriorated, culminating in King Philip's War. As the NY Times reviewer says:

Philbrick acknowledges these interpretations, and adds some overlay of his own, which amounts to a novel, hopeful twist on the meaning of the Pilgrims' saga. "When violence and fear grip a society, there is an almost overpowering temptation to demonize the enemy," he writes, referring to both the English and the Indians during King Philip's War. But some on both sides refused to succumb: "They were the ones whose rambunctious and intrinsically rebellious faith in humanity finally brought the war to an end, and they are the heroes of this story.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/04/books/review/04shorto.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
 
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Alba

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People generally confuse the Puritans (Massachusetts Bay Colony), who settled in the Boston/Salem area, with the Pilgrims (Plymouth colony), who came to America in the Mayflower and settled in the Plymouth area (also located in what is now Massachusetts).

I remember an episode of "Who do you think you are" with Sarah Jessica Parker. They were talking about Mayflower and Boston/Salem area, and were referring to them as Mayflowers indeed.
 

dorispulaski

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That's why the book is fascinating . It's about a portion of US history that has been completely mythologized rather than taught to most people in the US. I knew a bit about it before I read the book because members of my family were in King Philip's War. On both sides. It occurred in my little corner of the US. But I didn't know more than half the story. I loved the book!
 

Alba

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I knew a bit about it before I read the book because members of my family were in King Philip's War. On both sides. It occurred in my little corner of the US. But I didn't know more than half the story. I loved the book!

That's fascinating. I'm going to buy that book. I'm not sure I can find it in italian though. Is it a difficult reading in english?
 

ManyCairns

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Darn I had a long reply about US colonial history typed out and lost it. Anyway Mayflower sounds good.

Over the holidays, I read In the Garden of Beasts, about the first years of Hitler as Chancellor in Germany, and America's ambassador to Berlin at that time, William Dodd, who was a history professor at the time of his appointment rather than a wealthy, old-school career diplomat. I found it very readable. Author is Erik Larson.

I thought it excelled at capturing the complexities of the political factions in Germany. I never realized all the internal power struggles that existed among the early incarnations of the SA, the SS, the Gestapo, those loyal to Hindenburg, etc.
 

dorispulaski

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I've got to get that one. Any book that makes the rise of Hitler more unstandable to me would be appreciated.
 
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skatedreamer

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No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin is a wonderful book about WWII, especially about how the Roosevelts' relationship figured into how FDR approached the war. I picked it up after the September 11 attacks because I needed to feel a connection to another time of crisis in American history.

Also love David McCullough's excellent bio of Teddy Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback.
 

louisa05

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No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin is a wonderful book about WWII, especially about how the Roosevelts' relationship figured into how FDR approached the war. I picked it up after the September 11 attacks because I needed to feel a connection to another time of crisis in American history.

Also love David McCullough's excellent bio of Teddy Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback.

I would definitely recommend No Ordinary Time. My recollection, though, is that the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill is the more fascinating one in that book. Although, it is illuminating for anyone who believes that the Roosevelts did not have a meaningful relationship. He cheated and cheated often, but they had a deep intellectual relationship in spite of that.
 

skatedreamer

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I would definitely recommend No Ordinary Time. My recollection, though, is that the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill is the more fascinating one in that book. Although, it is illuminating for anyone who believes that the Roosevelts did not have a meaningful relationship. He cheated and cheated often, but they had a deep intellectual relationship in spite of that.

You're absolutely right about the Churchill relationship, but I guess the part that fascinated me most was the description of FDR's recognition of and respect for ER's abilities/opinions, etc. It seems extraordinary that they were able to maintain a successful working partnership 70 years ago in spite of his infidelities. Ideas about relationships and marriage were so profoundly different then. For me it was a revelation -- but that may say more about my own naivete than anything else.
 

Alba

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I've got to get that one. Any book that makes the rise of Hitler more unstandable to me would be appreciated.

Although he is not a historian The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich of William L. Shirer is really good.
The best Historian, IMO, about Hitler's rise and the Nazi Germany in general is/was Joachim Fest. He is a german historian and his biographies of Hitler and Albert Speer are among the best books I've read so far.

His books are available in english.
 
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