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Topic: Non-fiction history books, need reccommendations

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Subject: Non-fiction history books, need reccommendations
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 11:17 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
Posts: 20
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I have really enjoyed reading David McCulloughs book 1776 and John Adams and I recently finished Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery By Eric Metaxas.

I am looking for other authors who write about history that are similar to the above authors.  In other words, nothing too dry!

Does anyone have other suggestions for me?  I am open to any era in history---something that is interesting :o)

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 11:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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I like David McCullough too - his book titled The Johnstown Flood is very good also. Others I like are:

The Worst Hard Time - Timothy Egan - the dust bowl

In The Heart of the Sea - Nathaniel Philbrick - 19th century whaling

Grand Avenues - Scott W. Berg - the building of Washington DC

Devil in the White City - Erik Larsen - the Chicago World's Fair

Thunderstruck - Erik Larsen - invention of the wireless telegraph

Riding the Rails - Teenagers on the Move During the Great Depression - Errol Lincoln Uys

The Lost Men - The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party - Kelly Tyler Lewis


Date Posted: 9/20/2008 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 11/21/2007
Posts: 7,642
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Another highly respected author is Doris Kearns Goodwin. I have not read any of her books though.

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 1:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 333
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Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin is very good.   It's about Lincoln and his cabinet - he selected political rivals to various posts because he knew they'd be good at them.  She's also written books about the Kennedys & Fitzgeralds and Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, but I haven't read them.

Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson is a good history of the Civil War.

Barbara Tuchman wrote a lot of history books.  My favorite is A Distant Mirror, about the 14th century.

Another good book by David McCullough is his biography of Harry Truman.

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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Team of Rivals is amazing, a must read.  I also enjoyed An American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby and Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (my all time favorite book)

ETA: If you like European history, Antonia Fraser's books are really good.  I've read "Love & Louis the XIV: Women in the Life of the Sun King" and "Marie Antoinette" and enjoyed them both.

Last Edited on: 9/21/08 9:28 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/21/2008 10:01 AM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2006
Posts: 4,325
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Mayflower A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 11/24/2005
Posts: 5,638
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Last Edited on: 2/21/10 3:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/21/2008 1:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2005
Posts: 147
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You know, some books may be of subjects that don't grab you, but they are sooo well written and enthralling that they are so worth the read!  I put  In The Heart of the Sea by  Nathaniel Philbrick in that catagory.  How interesting is  19th century whaling you ask?  Well, this retells the true story that is credited with inspiring Moby Dick.  Hated moby dick, loved this book.  Right afterwards, I read Ahab's wife, a fiction book that was a take off on Moby Dick and they were a good complement.

I am currently reading 1491.  I also give this my highest recommendation.  Absolutely fascinating discussion about the constant re-examination and updated understanding of pre-Columbia Americas. 


Date Posted: 9/21/2008 7:31 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2005
Posts: 295
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There's a new book out about Nathan Hale and the early years of the American Rev:


Date Posted: 9/22/2008 2:09 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
Posts: 12,851
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I really enjoyed THE FATAL SHORE by Robert Hughes http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Shore-Epic-Australias-Founding/dp/0394753666/ about the colonization of Australia; for some similar serious fun, try either TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST http://www.amazon.com/Years-Before-Barnes-Noble-Classics/dp/1593082703/ or FOR THE TERM OF HIS NATURAL LIFE [library or here] which, while fictionalized, is as true as it gets.

Last Edited on: 9/22/08 2:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: Thank you for the great suggestions!!!
Date Posted: 9/22/2008 11:13 AM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
Posts: 20
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Wow! What a response!  Thanks so much, I'm making a list of the suggestions and will see what's available on PBS!

Date Posted: 9/22/2008 1:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 316
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Back in the day Margaret Leech won Pulitzer Prizes for her histories. They were readable so popular with BOMC and the general public.

Revellie in Washington is about the Civil War and how it changed our nation's capital. The Mckinley book focussed on the family of that President, esp. his afflicted wife.

Ones in our system are listed here http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/browser.php?k=Margaret+leech

Subject: Historical books
Date Posted: 9/22/2008 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 11/29/2005
Posts: 17
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The River of Doubt-Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey is really interesting. It tells of the time after his Presidency when he was part of an expedition to explore the Amazon and its unknown tributaries.  At one point, he is near death.

Date Posted: 9/23/2008 8:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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So many good books recommended to you already! I really want to put in a word for Manchester's A World Lit only by Fire, about the middle ages. He is normally an American historian but wrote this book for a break. The year it came out, I bought 19 copies for friends.

The Will and Ariel Durant Story of Civilization is a very readable very loooonnng set, but you can usually get copies cheaply at sales and USBs.


Date Posted: 9/23/2008 11:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 925
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I found 46 Pages by Scott Liell to be very interesting, as well as Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England by William Cronon. I've heard nothing but raves about A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Here are a couple of more recent history books that I have really enjoyed:

Heart of the Rock: The Indian Invasion of Alcatraz by Adam Fortunate Eagle

Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Patillo Beals

The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River by Richard White


Date Posted: 9/25/2008 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
Posts: 15
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I also recommend "The Worst Hard Time" and David McCullough's biography of Harry Truman. Both excellent reading.

You also might like these:

"America's Hidden History" by Kenneth C. Davis - very readable

"Blood and Thunder" by Hampton Sides - great book about the American West and war with Mexico

"The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million" by Daniel Mendelsohn - a writer searches for information on family lost during the Holocaust - very detailed but great reading

"Franklin & Lucy" by Joseph Persico - about FDR and his long-standing affair with Lucy Rutherford.

Linda S. (thk) - ,
Date Posted: 9/27/2008 6:22 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2006
Posts: 317
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Thomas Costain has some very good books on medieval and Renaissance history.  The Plantagenets is a multi-volume history.

Date Posted: 10/2/2008 9:23 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 643
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Hi Angela,

I also loved McCullough's John Adams.

Two books I loved and would  highly recommend if you enjoy reading about the Founding Fathers, are

"His Excellency, George Washington" by Joseph Ellis, and

"Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson" by Alan Pell Crawford.

These are all keepers  for me.


Date Posted: 10/3/2008 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2006
Posts: 4,972
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Do you mean American History or World History?

I recently read Ancient Persia by Josef Wiesehofer and I really liked it. I am getting ready to read Massacre in Munich: The Manhunt for the Killers Behind the 1972 Olympics Massacre.

Subject: Short, off-beat histories
Date Posted: 10/5/2008 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 9/1/2007
Posts: 8
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The Year 1000.


Date Posted: 10/5/2008 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2008
Posts: 149
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The books by Alison Weir are fabulous.  They deal with the Tudor era of England.  Fantastic author.