What kind of history do I like?
December 8, 2016 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I find myself drawn to a certain time period and focus of history. I'd like to know if there is a specific genre or time period or other way to describe my interest so I can more easily find books that appeal to me.

I love the mid/late-1880's to early 1920's, primarily focused on the "titans" who have built industries or used their wealth in a similar manner. Stories about Vanderbilt, Morgan, Carnegie, etc. I also just read No More Champagne (about Churchill) which I loved - similar time period (in the earlier days) and a similar focus on some of the prominent people of that day. Any advice or ideas?
posted by rastapasta to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
'Gilded Age' should be a good starting point.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:43 PM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

"The Age of Empire" by Eric Hobsbawm is a pretty good history of the period.
posted by breakin' the law at 2:45 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

America's Gilded Age corresponds with the end of the Victorian Era and the span of the Edwardian Era in the UK. You might enjoy "Manor House"/"Edwardian Country House", a BBC/PBS reality show collaboration from 2003 that explores many of the social currents and world events from the height of the Belle Époch. Check out from your local library (or online)
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 3:05 PM on December 8, 2016

Fin de siecle is another term used in relation to that time that you might find helpful in looking for books.
posted by briank at 3:10 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you enjoy history about turning points/moments of change, seen through the eyes of a few engaging or charismatic personalities who were at the center of the action. Maybe another aspect is the details of daily life for people with lots of money/power? Does that sound accurate?

I'm not sure there's a name for it, but I think that style of book ("How Interesting Person Changed the World in Year") is a pretty popular pop history topic. It's totally opposite my history interests, haha, so I can't recommend specific books, but some eras and people that might interest you are:

-Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the tail end of the Tudor court
-Elizabeth I (separately from above)
-Italy during the Renaissance
-the Harlem Renaissance
-the history of jazz and blues
-the American Revolution, maybe particularly the popular Founders biographies (Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams)
-the lost generation in Paris after World War I
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:46 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

This history blog recommends:

When it comes to the great “Robber Barons” who made the Gilded Age…well…gilded, start with Matthew Josephson’s classic “The Robber Barons”. For something newer, track down “The House of Morgan” by Ron Chernow (who wrote a great biography on Alexander Hamilton), “The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, J.D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J.P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy” by Charles R. Morris, and “The First Tycoon: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt”, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 and was written by T.J. Stiles (the author of the best biography ever written about Jesse James).

posted by showbiz_liz at 3:53 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Richard Conniff's The Species Seekers is about the same time period though not about titans of industry. But those titans were probably big armchair naturalists who wanted mounted game and supported wacko explorers like those described :)
posted by Drosera at 4:01 PM on December 8, 2016

As you get to the early 20th century in the US you are moving from the "Gilded Age" to the "Progressive Era."

(A specific book you might like from that period is Unreasonable Men about the political players Taft, Roosevelt, Aldrich and the immortal & underrated LaFollette.)
posted by mark k at 8:31 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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