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What are your favorite history books?


plato1976
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"Guns germs and Steel"  although also not a typical history book 

Most history texts that simply recount history are not adding to the broader arch of comprehending the past in a context that informs the present

"Guns germs and Steel" was a fascinating read

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Two of my favorites:

 

A Patriot's History of the United States  -- This book is spectacularly good. It's close to 1000 pages but it's the best US history book I've come across.

 

Rocket Men by C. Nelson -- A great history of the space race in general and the Apollo program in particular.

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"A short history of nearly everything" by Bill Bryson.

 

Bryson is gifted with words, no depth to this book at all but he covers nearly everything in one fun to read volume.

 

Bryson is fantastic. He's probably my favorite author. I'd like to add One Summer, which is a collection of important historical stories that all happened in the U.S. in 1927.

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"A short history of nearly everything" by Bill Bryson.

 

Bryson is gifted with words, no depth to this book at all but he covers nearly everything in one fun to read volume.

 

Bryson is fantastic. He's probably my favorite author. I'd like to add One Summer, which is a collection of important historical stories that all happened in the U.S. in 1927.

 

'A Walk in the Woods' was also quite fun.

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Yeah I loved all the Bryson books as well. No 'high literature' but very funny, well written and sometimes insightful.

 

Geert Mak is another writer of history books that I really like, though probably not as well-known across the ocean. "In Europe" is his magnum opus about 20th century Europe. Thick book, a combination of travel memoirs and history lessons. I don't know how the English translation is but the original was great.

 

I recently read 'meetings with remarkable manuscripts' by Christopher de Hamel, a similarly sized book. The erudite writer goes to libraries all around the world to look at (and write about) the oldest manuscripts on this planet. Totally not my usual area of interest but the book was highly recommended by the Economist - and rightly so.

 

The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore with the author what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history - and sometimes about the modern world too. Christopher de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. He traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity. The book touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste.
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