So I recently read Hilary Mantel's old LRB piece on holy and secular anexoria, which reminded me of how much I like her style and insights in her non-fiction pieces and made me regret giving up on Wolf Hall a few years ago. Is there something on Tudor history that would help me enjoy Wolf Hall more? [more inside]
I'm looking for a book or website I read a few years ago about sovereign default and how it's actually a GOOD thing. The author pointed out several examples in history where countries had defaulted on their debt and emerged more-or-less okay (if I recall correctly there were examples dating back to antiquity). Does anyone have any idea what this was?
Tell me the history books you've read that you could not put down. History of just about anything, but especially historically significant people, say, before WWI. [more inside]
I just finished reading The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer again and it was just as incredible if not more so the second time around. I'm wondering if there are other nonfiction books of similar quality and comprehensiveness for other topics - primarily looking for a diabetes book but also interested in any other comparable books. [more inside]
I want to read very good history books. I know such threads exist. But I want recommendations from people who are very well read (decently well read, even) in the subject. If you have a particular interest, what is it, and what are some excellent books you've read and recommend? [more inside]
Every year I load up my Mom's Kindle library for Christmas. This year I'm finding a lot of stuff on the non-fiction end but very little fiction that is up her alley. Her fave books: Neal Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle" and Gillian Bradshaw's "The Sand-Reckoner." Got a rec? Expanded explanation of her taste inside! [more inside]
I'm looking for books about the daily lives of ordinary, non-Jewish Germans in the run-up to WWII. Ideally about someone who wasn't that interested or involved in politics and didn't have any strong feelings about Jews, Roma or other Nazi targets. Specific questions inside. [more inside]
What are the best history (non-fiction) books concerned with the Oregon Territory, the Pacific Northwest, Washington State, the Puget Sound region, or Seattle?
Book recommendations, please! What's a good non-fiction book to sink one's teeth into about the technological developments leading to the Industrial Revolution?
My wife and I were talking the other night, and we were wondering about how human beings figured out what food is edible and what isn't - what possessed folks to figure out if they ate this part of the fish, but not that part, then they wouldn't die, or if they could just get past the prickly parts of this plant, the innards were good? [more inside]
I'd like to read some great non-fiction books about political revolutions, both successful and failed. I'm particularly interested in the past couple hundred years of history, and in revolutions involving (former?) colonies. [more inside]
I'm looking to read about the interesting, fascinating, and crazy lives people have lived. Any recommendations for biographies of people that have led fascinating lives?
So I met a guy who used to work on a few of the celeb shows of the 1970's - the Bert Convy, Jamie Farr, Young Betty White years. He was telling some stories that were equal parts shocking and hilarious. I was wondering: IS there some sort of oral history of the shows and all their craziness at the time BESIDES Confessions of Dangerous Mind? I'd love to read about it.
My question is two-fold, really. First, please recommend to me all of your favorite titles on the history of science, math, technology, and medicine. Secondly, how do you go about searching for good books in these topics? My favorite booksellers don't have a "history of science" search tag, unfortunately. Some of my past favorites and extended explanation below the fold. [more inside]
I recently found out that I'm not the only red sheep in my otherwise right-wing family. Apparently my great-grandmother was good pals with James Maxton and some of the other Scottish socialists of the day. I'm looking for book recommendations about Maxton and Red Clydeside in general.
Let's say you have a kid - 10-15 years old, so maybe grades 5-10 - and you decide to pull them out of school for a year. During that time, you are going to drive around the United States with the goal of learning, in an authentic way, as much as possible about American history, culture, and geography. Where do you go, and what do you read? [more inside]
So two books I really love are Heaven to Betsy and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love how they go into the details of the period they take place, particularly the fashion and food. It was also only recently I realised that they take place roughly around the same era. It really surprised me because they are so completely different to one another. Francie has an alcoholic father and the family can barely get food on the table; Betsy's biggest ordeal is falling in love with a boy that doesn't like her back and not studying for an essay contest. So my question is two-fold and is aimed at requesting book suggestions. [more inside]
I'm in a mood to read non-fiction history books dealing with sailing ships. Any suggestions? [more inside]
I am seeking recommendations for (reputable/peer-reviewed) essays or books that could help me develop a nuanced but well-rounded understanding of the social, political, and economic climate in 1980s America (economic deregulation is a particular point of interest). [more inside]
I want to read some non-Western history, from pre-colonial periods. All I ask is that it be a good read, but non-Western authors would be a cool bonus. [more inside]
I love conversing with people who know history and are sparkling, highly opinionated storytellers. Often these are foreigners or emigrants speaking about their country. They're unafraid to draw sharp, outspoken conclusions that frame major situations (e.g. that some leader was an incompetent fool or that an accident of geography is what will ensure conflict between two groups continues). What are some book equivalents of that conversational experience? They can be on any period or region. I do not want a magisterial treatise. I want a keen-eyed, slicing talk with someone really well-informed and cynical over several drinks who's gonna say what's what.
I'm craving a particular subtype of historical novel: the kind that posits a dimly-remembered reality behind a famous myth/legend/story, sort of filling it out and extrapolating the details into realism. My favorite of this kind is Mary Renault's "The King Must Die" about Theseus (also the sequel). I also enjoyed "Eaters of the Dead", about the events of 'Beowulf'. But what are some other good ones you can recommend? More examples and specifics inside! [more inside]
I'm new to history as a field of study, and I chose World War 1 as a place to start. Having finished reading several books on the topic, I'm ready to move past World War 1 for now. My first instinct was to dive into the seemingly infinite pool of literature that is World War 2, but I'm not sure if I'd be doing the 20th century justice by skipping the intervening years. Essentially, I'm looking for a book that covers the period between the World Wars. Ideally, this book would focus on Europe but touch on at least some of the rest of the world. Bonus points if this book is available as an audiobook.
I just finished reading Zealot, by Reza Aslan, and I found it to be a fascinating book. I'm looking for similar books! [more inside]
I'm working on an architectural research project on late gothic Germanic churches (from about 1500-1650), and feel hamstrung by my ignorance of the cultures and economies in which the architecture was produced. [more inside]
I've recently developed an interest in ancient history (yes, the recent history-related posts on the blue may have helped) and am looking for good books on the subject that I can buy/check out from the library. I'm particularity interested in technological and cultural histories of major ancient civilizations. [more inside]
I'm a grad student in conservation biology who has always had a strong interest in conservation issues. However, I feel like the technical side of my education is much stronger than the philosophical side, and I want to restore that balance. Who should I read, what resources should I look into, what organizations or publications are out there that will help me gain a deeper understanding of the philosophical, historical, and cultural components of environmentalism? [more inside]
I'm interested in tea and its history, especially its role in global trade and conflict. Are there any great nonfiction books that cover the subject without focusing exclusively on a certain time period or location? [more inside]
Trying to find the perfect book to scratch a partner's literary itch for macrohistories related in some way to music. Details within. [more inside]
History Buffs of MeFi: Please share your most favorite, most compelling sources. Movies, books, graphic novels, fiction - everything is fair game. [more inside]
Looking for a fun gift for an 8-year-old that might fuel his interest in American history (or any history) ... Any ideas? (Some specifics provided inside.) [more inside]
My nine year old just read "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry. It is her first introduction to really high quality historical fiction. She is excited to read more books that teach her about history, but are also fun to read because they are fiction. Do you have any ideas about historical fiction books that are excellent quality like "Number the Stars" but that are age appropriate for my nine year old? Thank you.
I'm in the middle of In Search of Lost Time. It's interesting me in French history. It's better to learn about it from non-fiction, though, since Proust mixes real figures and facts with ones he made up. What good books are there about any period of French history between 1789 and, say, 1939? Popular or academic books are fine, and they don't have to concern themselves with wars, arms races, and treaties, either. Cultural histories are good.
You're teaching a massive survey course on the history of the 20th Century. What books are on the syllabus, in what order? [more inside]
My wife & I share an interest in history, but where I had a succession of quite good history teachers, she did not. We're many years out of college now, but she wants to broaden her knowledge through (relatively) easy reads. [more inside]
I'm looking for book recommendations for thorough, engaging, and rigorous histories of Savile Row tailoring and/or books that talk about the history and philosophy of fine men's tailoring and dress. I'm not averse to books with technical information, as well as historical and cultural information. Thank you!
I am looking for fiction or non-fiction books (or movies - documentaries or fiction) about societies that are collapsing or falling apart -- anything from the late Roman Empire to 1990s Yugoslavia. I'm especially interested in books or movies that focus on the lives of regular people while the collapse is happening. I am specifically NOT looking for sci-fi dystopias or fantasy novels, so please don't recommend any.
I'm looking for recommendations for unusual guidebooks to Seattle and the surrounding area, with a particular emphasis on ghost stories, the supernatural, the strange in general and the just plain odd. Being well tied in to historical context would be an advantage, as would be meatier text rather than just bullet points and captioned photos.
Pretend I came from another planet yesterday. Pretend that today I listened to everything by The Rolling Stones. Pretend that tomorrow I want to read a book about the band/their history/their music. What would that book be? [more inside]
What are some good historical sources on the Reformation? [more inside]
I'm about to finish The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Before that, I read Nancy Scheper-Hughes' Death Without Weeping. What's next? [more inside]
A friend of mine is about to move to Vietnam. I'd like to get him a book as a farewell gift. Please give me your recommendations for books about Vietnam the country - that is, books that cover something of the country's history, society and politics other than the American war.
I've lived all my life in the shadow of the Appalachians. Now, I'm moving to Arizona. What are some books that I should read, or music that I should hear, to help me get the feel of the Southwest? [more inside]
Recommend novels to help me learn more about the world! [more inside]
I'm looking for the US equivalent of Dominic Sandbrook's State of Emergency: Britain 1970–1974—books that explore not just the politics, movements and 'big events' of the decade, but aspects such as pop culture and the changes in daily life and habits. [more inside]
Can you recommend a good book on papal history that is solid on facts and theology, honest about blemishes, but doesn't revel in scandal? Oh, and I hope I can find it in a Kindle version. [more inside]
I've been listening to 'Escape from Camp 14' on audiobook for the past few days, and I was struck by a brief overview of & reference to the story of Charles Robert Jenkins, an American defector to North Korea. I found the concept as mystifying as it was intriguing, so I would like to know if any of you have heard of any non-fiction books about other defection stories that involve citizens of democratic nations obtaining residency in nations that would be deemed objectively totalitarian and renouncing their countries of origin. I'm on the lookout for his book, 'The Reluctant Communist,' but I'd like to hear about other stories of this type as well.
I only really have time to read a single book on the origins of photography. What do you recommend? Think Daguerre and Talbot, no need for hundreds of pages devoted to the camera obscura. I'd also prefer something heavier on text than actual photographs.
I'm finishing up The Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman, and while it's a really good read, it does what it says, and covers the beginning of the war. I'm interested in other books on WW1. What do you recommend? I'd like to read both a good, solid overview of the whole war, then maybe later read more in-depth books on certain parts or phases of the war. [more inside]
Why does Mircea Eliade get short shrift in Robert N. Bellah's Religion in Human Evolution? [more inside]