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  1. #1
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    GOOD BOOKS: recommend a book on history or politics

    I think the title says it all. Recommend a good book on history or politics. It would be particularly interesting to know why you think it's such a must read?

    I've got three.

    Norman Davies "Europe at War."

    I think it is a great book as it takes an unflinching look at the European theater during WWII. He uses statistics to point out important points, such as how much if the war was fought in the Eastern front versus the West. But he is equally unflinching when he takes on hard facts - how many died in Stalin's gulags, or Soviet war crimes.

    War is hell and Davies lays it all out for us to see.
    NormanDavies.com - Europe At War

    Next, "History in Trial", by Deborah Lipstadt.

    Ms. Lipstadt is a historian, who accused fellow author David Irving of being a Nazi Apologist and holicaust denier. She based this on his poor historiographical methods, such as claiming documents said things they did not, mistranslating documents and altering time lines to create false cause and effect.

    Mr. Irving sued her. Interestingly, when the case went to trial, he tried to use the trial to minimize the holicaust and Hitler's role in it. Needless to say, he lost. The book is about Mr. Irving's poor historical methods and about the trial.

    History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier:Amazon:Books

    Last we have Richard Evans' book, "In Defense of History."

    It is about researching and writing history. How do (or how should) historians go about sorting out what goes in to history books. It covers a lot if good research and critical thinking skills. Maybe not the sexiest read, but covers great skills for evaluating books and articles.

    In Defence of History - Richard J. Evans - Google Books
    "Do not argue with an idiot. He will only drag you down to his level and beat you on experience." (Twain)

    "I used these numbers as an example to make a point." (AM999)

    "1/2 of you are wrong and the other .5 are incorrect!" (FlynG)

    "Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time." (Murakami)

  2. #2
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    Pacific Crucible by Ian Toll. It's the story of war at sea in the Pacific from 1941 to 1942 with great insight into Japanese culture and the path to war.

    Neptune's Inferno by James Hornfischer. Naval war off Guadacanal which was one of last times capital ships slugged it out. Battleship on Battleship. Really interesting read.

    Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, also by James Hornfischer. A classic book telling the true story of Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts going up against Japanese Battleships and Cruisers while trying to protect US Escort Carriers. Required reading for naval leadership.
    Retired sailor

  3. #3
    xxl
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    "Who Built America," a two-volume set by a collection of historians from the American Social History Project, is a good general synopsis of American history, but from the perspective of effects on "regular" Americans, instead of battles-and-rich-people stuff more typical in a lot of history texts. I found it quite illuminating, as it touches on topics often glossed over or ignored altogether in a lot of history works. It's lengthy, but thorough and informative.

    "Lies My Teacher Told Me," is a much more accessible work, pretty interesting, and not such a slog as WBA.

    "The War of the World," a treatise on the world wars of the Twentieth Century, by Niall Ferguson (whose politics I don't care for, but who's an undeniably gifted writer), is written from the premise that there weren't actually two world wars, more like one continuous one, that ebbed and flowed. Some very interesting history concerning the non-cessation of hostilities in Eastern Europe--explains why those bothersome Chechens seem to keep popping up.

    "A People's History of the United States," by Zinn, has been roundly castigated here by those in the usual quarters, so you know it's a good one.

    "1491," and "1493," both by Charles Mann, are very interesting revues of America, pre- and post-Columbus, from a "high-counter" POV.

    "The Irony of Democracy: An Uncommon Introduction to American Politics," by Dye and Zeigler, is the only college textbook I ever felt compelled to buy after being graduated, it was that eye-opening. They interpret the American political landscape not as countervailing, pluralistic forces (as do most history works), but from an "elitism" perspective (which, btw, is not to be confused with "elitist," since it's not even close to what they're getting at).

    If you're looking for something a little more, um, "beach" style, you might check out, if you haven't, Studs Terkels "The Good War," a compilation of narratives from WWII survivors, both front-line soldiers, REMFs, and Rosie Riveters, told in their own voices. I found it very interesting, sort of like listening to a really interesting relative's account of that time.

    Finally, a guy who doesn't get read as much these days, fellow Ohioan Clarence Darrow's (yeah, that Clarence Darrow) "The Story of My Life" is a fascinating read from a fascinating character.

    I'm going to check out that Davies work.

  4. #4
    xxl
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    Pacific Crucible by Ian Toll. It's the story of war at sea in the Pacific from 1941 to 1942 with great insight into Japanese culture and the path to war.

    Neptune's Inferno by James Hornfischer. Naval war off Guadacanal which was one of last times capital ships slugged it out. Battleship on Battleship. Really interesting read.

    Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, also by James Hornfischer. A classic book telling the true story of Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts going up against Japanese Battleships and Cruisers while trying to protect US Escort Carriers. Required reading for naval leadership.
    Another vote for "Neptune's Inferno" here.

    Bigbill, as a old submariner, if you haven't read it, "Iron Coffins: A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of WWII," by Herbert Werner, is very interesting. Reading it, you practically expect the walls of your room to start dripping with condensation as Werner spins his narrative.

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    Torpedo Junction U-Boat War Off America's East Coast by Homer H Hickam Jr.
    Totally fascinating look at the war fought by the US Cost Guard off the Atlantic cost during WWII. Some of the stories about the U-Boat captains and life aboard totally make this book. Its amazing how long that war went on and how most of the country knew nothing about it.

  6. #6
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    BigBill, can you recommend a good book on the history of the US Navy, or American naval policy?
    "Do not argue with an idiot. He will only drag you down to his level and beat you on experience." (Twain)

    "I used these numbers as an example to make a point." (AM999)

    "1/2 of you are wrong and the other .5 are incorrect!" (FlynG)

    "Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time." (Murakami)

  7. #7
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    The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919
    by Mark Thompson
    The Italian front in WW I was smack in the middle of where I live, ride my bike, etc. We're coming up on the 100th anniversary of The Great War, "The War to End All Wars." As remote as that may seem, you can see the same hubris and jingoism in our "modern" wars in Vietnam, Iraq. Human nature changes very little in a century.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by xxl View Post
    U-Boat
    John Keegan's "The Price of Admiralty" is good reading about naval operations since the American Revolution with emphasis on the role of the British navy and ship types. Keegan closes with the proclamation that submarines are THE capital ships of the present and future.

    Francis Parkman's "France and England in North America" is a wonderful history particularly of the founding of Canada.

    By far the most exciting and dramatic history I've read is "History of the Conquest of Mexico" by William Prescott. It's an unbelievably heroic and bloody tale.

    Both of the latter books are written in an old-fashioned style that takes getting used to.
    Last edited by BadHabit; 05-26-2013 at 08:13 AM.
    We're letting a couple hundred billionaires scam us.

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