What history / philosophy books should I read next?
November 21, 2009 6:26 AM   Subscribe

What history / philosophy books should I ask for for Christmas?

I recently read Manhunt and I loved how engaging the writing was. It was like reading a novel at times. I also love reading philosophy of religion and philosophy of politics. I'd like to read more about the civil war (especially books that focus on one set of events, like Manhunt, as opposed to books that survey the entire war), introductions to communism or marxism, maybe something really engaging about WWII (although I've already read quite a bit about that subject).

I know that's a little broad: But my parents are asking me what I want for Christmas and I'd like to give them a list of four or five books. Any suggestions that would fit somewhere with what I've described?
posted by crapples to Education (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you read Churchill's set of writings on WWII?

They're as encyclopedic as they come.
posted by titantoppler at 7:28 AM on November 21, 2009

Eugene Sledge - With The Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa
William Manchester - Goodbye, Darkness
posted by IndigoJones at 7:33 AM on November 21, 2009

The Metaphysical Club fits your description exactly. It's a pulitzer prize winning history of American pragmatism after the Civil War. As you indicated, it's about particular events- the lives of a few key American historical figures, but it touches on a number of political issues and philosophical history. This might not sound that interesting, but Menand weaves together fascinating historical moments (mainly from Europe and America) and describes a fascinating shift in American philosophy, politics, and (towards the end) education. I can't recommend it enough.
posted by farishta at 10:10 AM on November 21, 2009

Shelby Foote's The Civil War can't be beat. I know it is in fact a full survey, but it is gripping reading (or listening.) I thought Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals was great, too, and that is a shorter work. Bruce Cattons' A Stillness at Appottomax won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award for nonfiction.

Happy reading!
posted by bearwife at 12:10 PM on November 21, 2009

The Metaphysical Club is excellent. If you're interested in the Russian variety of Communism and how it took over, I highly recommend Orlando Figes' A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924. It's long but gripping.
posted by languagehat at 2:02 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War by W. Bruce Lincoln.

An unending parade of jaw-dropping anecdotes, covering not only the Civil War, but the Revolution itself, the death of the Romanovs, the death of Trotsky---fantastic history.
posted by Darth Fedor at 3:13 PM on November 21, 2009

The Republic by Plato is a great read. Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics is a solid read as well. Epicurean philosophy is pretty sweet as well. Happy Holidays!
posted by platosadvocate at 10:07 PM on November 21, 2009

Orwell's The War Commentaries is an interesting WWII book. It's mostly a transcript of his propaganda broadcasts to India. It's interesting as an account available at the time and as an account of what was available at the time. Orwell's involvement is itself interesting as are the concerns about colonialism of the author an audience.
posted by hawthorne at 4:36 AM on November 22, 2009

Cryptonomicon is fiction, but is chock full of great historical stuff regarding cryptography and lost Japanese war gold.
posted by mecran01 at 12:54 PM on December 4, 2009

London Philosophy Study Guide will guide you on books to read if you want to read more serious, academic philosophy.

If you want to get a very broad overview of philosophy, try Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy. Everyone in philosophy ends up reading it someday (for some reason, I didn't read it at undergrad, so read it last year when starting my MA). It's very short, reasonably understandable and gives a good introduction to the kind of questions analytic Anglo-American philosophy deals with. Also, the classics: Republic, Descartes' Meditations, Hobbes' Leviathan, Locke's Second Treatise on Government etc.

Sorry, can't figure out what you should read that's philosophical and realted to the Civil War.
posted by tommorris at 5:10 PM on December 5, 2009

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