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Old 07-03-2012, 05:57 PM   #16
morriss003
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I'm sure that The Civil War by Shelby Foote has been recommended to you. One of the best history books I've read focuses on trade. A Splendid Exchange by William Bernstein. I'm not sure how spoilers are done in non-fiction, but it was enlightening to read about the trade between India and the Roman Empire and also the trade between the Arab world and China. There is a kindle edition.

http://www.amazon.com/Splendid-Excha.../dp/0802144160
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:55 PM   #17
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Robert Massie's books are also a good choice - both his Russian history books (Peter The Great, Catherine The Great, Nicholas and Alexandra) and Dreadnaught / Castles Of Steel covering the pre-WWI period and the war itself.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:42 PM   #18
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What ended up tickling my history itch this time around was the last Pulitzer winner, Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, though I snagged several titles recommended in this thread for later reading.

If you put too much stock in The Swerve's subtitle, you may be disappointed, but if you're interested in the story of the fellows who dug through monastic libraries looking for lost Classic works to see that they were copied and preserved, it's quite fascinating. There's a lot about Papal politics, too, and even a little about the actual influence of the work in question, Lucretius' epic Epicurean poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things).

The number one criticism you'll hear of the book is that Greenblatt didn't make much of a case (and IMO barely even tried to make a case) for De Rerum Natura making an impact that would not have occurred in the poem's absence. While the poem became a favorite of many influential people, it's arguable how much Epicurean thinking was necessary to (as opposed to just prescient of) Modern views, and how much Lucretius' poem was necessary to (as opposed to just a lovely example of) the spread of Epicurean thinking during the Renaissance. Even if De Rerum Natura isn't absolutely central to Modern history, however, it's still history.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:15 PM   #19
SteveEisenberg
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I just finished Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy.

Strongly recommended. The assassination attempts are an inherently interesting topic, and Paul Thomas Murphy makes a great case for their importance. The British loved Victoria for continuing to put herself at risk of going among them despite repeated shooting attempts, and she returned their love by allowing democratic governance even when sorely tempted to override it.

Not mentioned in most reviews: This is a wonderfully realistic portrait of a successful marriage. Can marriage recover when the husband accuses the wife of killing the children*, and the wife says they never should have married? In this case, definitely, yes.

I'll warn you, though, it is not a feminist book. Victoria starts out determined to make all decisions of state independently. Then she marries a liberal German who turns out to be a genius at British politics, and gradually realizes he's worth listening to. If Albert had lived longer, it would have been hard to keep him from being the hero of the story.

__________________________________________
* By listening to the medical men of the day.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:35 PM   #20
bigjantailor
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I was forced to read the book Son of the Revolution for a twentith century history call. It a first person biography of a man who grew up in China living throught the Revolution of Flowners and was young teen in the Cultural Revolution. It is a great read and goes through some of the craziness that today's China grew out of. It ends in the middle of the 80s'. Awsome book. The parts about the Cultural Revolution are amazing and give an inperson account of what happened when the kids were in control of the revolution.

Have fun, Jan
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:19 AM   #21
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Anything by David McCullough.
The Destiny of the Republic
A Country of Vast Designs
April 1865
The First World War (by Martin Gilbert)
The Guns of August

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Old 08-17-2012, 12:10 PM   #22
BenG
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Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009...homas-levenson
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:33 PM   #23
usuallee
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Some recommendations that haven't been mentioned:

Mayflower - Nataniel Philbrick - about the settling of Plymouth, MA

In the Heart of the Sea - Philbrick - about whaling vessel that sunk i nearly 1800's- highly publicized incident that inspired Moby Dick.

Over the Edge of the World - Philbrick - about Magellen's global circumnavigation

1491 - Charles Mann - about the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

Desperate Passage - Ethan Rarick - about the Donner Party.

I found all of these extremely enthralling & would highly recommend. Thanks to all those who recommended books! I've developed an interest in history of late & there are some good books mentioned in this thread.

Last edited by usuallee; 08-17-2012 at 12:49 PM. Reason: descriptions did not match book, typos
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:57 PM   #24
kacir
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This is a great one. It examines why the civilization developed various ways in different places. How come that Cortez conquered central America? Why did not Montezuma conquer Spain?

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
book by Jared Diamond


Another interesting book is:
Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus: What Your History Books Got Wrong
book by James W. Loewen
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:04 PM   #25
Bilbo1967
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My three favourites have been;

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose
The Commonwealth of Thieves by Tom Keneally
Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes
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