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Old 09-18-2007, 07:38 PM
Jay Riall Jay Riall is offline
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Default Recommend me some good historical reading

Ok, so I've just applied to several universities to study a History degree. I have a decent basic knowledge of lots of history, but thats about it. I would like to get back into the habit of reading and try and widen my historical knowledge in general before I go next September.

So recommend me some books. Nothing too heavy or specific - I'm looking for books like 'The American Civil War' - i.e. not books that are focusing on a very narrow topic or assume lots of prior knowledge of the period.

I have been told 'Stalingrad' is an excellent book, and would fit my criteria a lot. Confirm/deny?
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:01 PM
Keyser. Keyser. is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

I believe this book is still considered the standard for Civil War books: http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Cry-Freedom...9136571-2756460

Although good luck getting through it. Unless you're realllly interested in the subject, (I wasn't when I had to read it for school) it can be quite boring.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:13 PM
Jay Riall Jay Riall is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

Hmmm, if you were bored by it I'll probably give it a pass. I need something interesting and gripping so I don't just give up after the first 50 pages. Thanks for the suggestion though.

Also I'm not specifically after Civil War books, was just using that as an example.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:17 PM
orange orange is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

1776 was a great book.

guns, germs, and steel was okay.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:25 PM
Jay Riall Jay Riall is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

Great suggestion on 1776 - you know how I love the UK vs USA thing even if we do lose in this one [img]/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]. I also know almost nothing about American History so this looks very interesting. Just ordered from Amazon.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:40 PM
Kimbell175113 Kimbell175113 is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

The Killer Angels
http://www.amazon.com/Killer-Angels-.../dp/0345348109

Pulitzer Prize winner, fiction-style account of the battle of Gettysburg and its greatest personalities. (Very very not boring, btw.)
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:56 PM
OrigamiSensei OrigamiSensei is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

The horrors of Nazism are pretty much apparent to most people, however the horrors of the Soviet Union are less widely known. Two excellent books on this subject are Gulag by Anne Applebaum and The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about the system of labor camps and how the Soviet economy relied on their slave labor.

Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945 by Catherine Merridale is an engaging investigation into the life of the average Soviet soldier during the Second World War, evoking both the brutality of the conflict and the stoic bravery of the common soldier.

August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is a sweeping, majestic account of the disaster that befell Tsarist Russia in the opening campaign of the Great War. If you get the right version it may also contain some other additional stories about Russia before the Great War, a fascinating and somewhat neglected subject.
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Old 09-18-2007, 09:18 PM
Blarg Blarg is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

I got a really cool book for 9 bucks on the remainder table at Barnes & Noble, The Roots of Strategy, The Greatest Military Classics of All Time. Edited by Brigadier General T.R. Phillips.

It starts off with Sun Tzu, 500 BC, for his The Art of War. Next is Vegetius from 390 AD with The Military Institutions of the Romans, which was written for the emperor but formed the backbone of European military theory throughout the middle ages. Then comes My Reveries Upon the Art of War, by Marshal Maurice de Saxe, 1732. Then The Instruction of of Frederick the Great for His Generals, 1747, and finally The Military Maxims of Napoleon.

I'm just leisurely poking into it here and there, and have gotten as far as page 110, the second book of Venetius. It's pretty good reading so far, but you do have to do some picturing of things in your head a bit as to exactly why something is a good strategy, sometimes. That's not a problem though and actually keeps the imagination active and helps paint a bit of color into the proceedings.

You could do worse than reading some of the leading strategists of the ages.

Also, a lot of recommendations would depend on what period you are focusing on, I'm sure.
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Old 09-18-2007, 09:26 PM
wdcbooks wdcbooks is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

F. Scott Berg's biography of Lindbergh is just terrific. Lindbergh's life covered so many interests and so much of history that it's scope is broader than many other biographies. It also helps that he was a fascinating man.

This doesn't fit your criteria of being broad based, it is in fact quite narrow, but "River of Doubt" is an amazing book. It covers Teddy Roosevelt's trip through unexplored reaches of the Amazon in his fifties after he was no longer president. I read it trying to imagine Bill Clinton doing the same thing after walking out of the Oval Office. That led me to read several biographies of Roosevelt and it is in danger of becoming my historical obsession.

Battle Cry of Freedom is awesome by the way, and not at all boring if you have an interest in the Civil War.
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  #10  
Old 09-18-2007, 09:38 PM
Jay Riall Jay Riall is offline
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Default Re: Recommend me some good historical reading

I guess it doesn't look good for me in that I have no [censored] idea who Lindbergh is. I'm gunna guess a US President though.

Edit : a swing and a miss. oh well
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