Help me inform my reading of the Baroque Cycle
December 11, 2012 7:43 AM Subscribe
I'm looking for your favorite books on early modern European history (~1550-1750 ish) to inform my reading of the Baroque cycle by Neal Stephenson. I usually rely on Amazon ratings to pick good books, but they are coming up short. History buffs of AskMeFi, please help!
posted by permiechickie to education (12 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
When I read the Cryptonomicon, my understanding of the historical events was informed by excellent books I had read on WWII like "Pacific Crucible" by Ian Toll, and after I finished I enjoyed reading more about key figures like Alan Turing. I'm reading the Baroque cycle right now (just started Odalisque) and I'm looking for interesting, well written books either spanning a large portion of the period (an integrative view of what was happening in a lot of places in Europe / the Middle East / Africa during the era) or microhistories on specific big events. I am realizing there is a big gaping hole in my knowledge of history during this era, and I'd like to delve deeper than just reading Wikipedia articles. A list of things that have already come up that I would be interested in book recommendations are:
The interregnum in England and the politics of that
History of France during this era (religious wars I guess?)
History of the Netherlands / Amsterdarm (with a focus on trading, the Dutch East India company, etc)
The Reformation and unification in Germany
The siege of Vienna / Turkish-Polish war / King John Sobieski
The Barbary Corsairs
The slave trade in Europe / Africa / Middle East during this period
The economics / banking / trading of the era
Biographies of Liebniz, Newton, Hooke, monarchs of this era, John Churchill.... there are so many historical characters, I would be open to any good biographies.
And, if you've read the whole cycle, any other huge historical events that might be good to know about (I don't really care about spoilers so far as the actual history is concerned, so don't worry about divulging too much). Although pop historical books are generally more fun to read, I'm definitely open to dry-er academic texts - I just don't know which ones to read. Thanks!