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All that Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South
liked it
The generally accepted version of history is that the Civil War was fought for Union on one side and Slavery/States' Rights on the other (depending on ...more
Jun 15, 2016
Jun 11, 2016
This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
it was amazing
Amongst the hundreds of thousands of books written on the American Civil War, this one really stands out. Rather than a narrative or military history, ...more
May 16, 2013
May 13, 2013
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
really liked it
This book tells the story of the Whaleship Essex, which was sunk by an angry sperm whale in the 19th century and which inspired Melville to write Moby ...more
Dec 27, 2011
Dec 26, 2011
it was amazing
When the Maquis de Lafayette died, America went into the kind of mourning it had only experienced once before, at the death of George Washington. Inde ...more
Oct 17, 2013
Oct 13, 2013
Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams
really liked it
Louisa Adams called herself a 'nobody', even titled her memoirs 'The Adventures of a Nobody' - and yet at her death both houses of Congress adjourned, ...more
Jun 10, 2016
Jun 06, 2016
Brutal Journey: The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America
really liked it
In 1527 the Narváez expedition, a group of Spanish conquistadors, five ships and some 600 men (and a few women), set off on a voyage to the New World, ...more
Mar 27, 2016
Mar 22, 2016
Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse
it was amazing
Abraham Lincoln has long been one of my historical heroes, and I've read, well, let's just say more than a few books on him. But none of them have eve ...more
Mar 15, 2013
Mar 11, 2013
it was amazing
It seems to me that Harry Truman has never quite had the recognition from history that he deserves. Other than as 'the man who dropped the bomb', it i ...more
Aug 29, 2014
Aug 23, 2014
Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
liked it
I think I expected this story to be more extraordinary than it actually was. Not to detract from what the people involved actually went though - my cr ...more
Jul 11, 2012
Jul 09, 2012
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
really liked it
First off, I think the title of this book is misleading - Quanah Parker only really makes an appearance as a major player in the last third of this bo ...more
Apr 21, 2013
Apr 17, 2013
America, Empire of Liberty: A New History
it was amazing
This is one of the best single-volume histories of America I've ever read. Whilst it does have to sometimes skim over certain topics or eras in the in ...more
not set
Mar 23, 2011
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times
it was amazing
For me Andrew Jackson has always been one of those 'interim' Presidents, who held office between my two main eras of interest: George Washington and t ...more
Jun 30, 2013
Jun 24, 2013
Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West
it was amazing
This is a wonderfully written and often incredibly moving elegaic tribute to the American mustang, the animal that more than anything other played a p ...more
not set
Mar 23, 2011
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
really liked it
Oh, I really enjoyed this book. If ever a modern-day travelogue could have been written with me in mind, this would have been it. Think Bill Bryson on ...more
Jul 09, 2015
Jul 03, 2015
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement
really liked it
The Underground Railroad has become one of the legends of American history. Populated with characters like Federick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and John ...more
Sep 29, 2013
Sep 23, 2013
really liked it
James A. Garfield is one of the forgotten Presidents, one of the 'gravely vacant and bewhiskered faces', as Peskin puts, part of the succession of unr ...more
May 06, 2013
May 01, 2013
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
it was amazing
Before the movie Hidden Figures was released I had never heard of Kathryn Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan or Mary Jackson. And, as Margot Lee Shetterly comme ...more
Feb 10, 2017
Feb 04, 2017
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
it was amazing
This was an incredibly disturbing and shocking read. We're all no doubt familiar with the tales of brutality and injustice and violence, particularly ...more
Jun 13, 2013
Jun 10, 2013
Colonel Roosevelt
it was amazing
Coming to this end of the book I felt like I was bidding farewell to a cherished friend. Not just in reading of the death of Teddy Roosevelt (although ...more
Sep 08, 2012
Sep 03, 2012
Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-69
really liked it
It's hard to appreciate just what a colossal achievement the transcontinental railroad was, from our perspective in the 21st century. In an era when t ...more
Feb 13, 2012
Feb 07, 2012
Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-1944
really liked it
This book follows the lives of a number of American citizens - some natural-born, some the French-born children of Americans parents, other naturalise ...more
Oct 24, 2012
Oct 19, 2012
Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation
it was ok
Ferling admits in the introduction to this book that he came to write it holding Jefferson in much greater esteem than Hamilton - and it shows. He als ...more
Dec 03, 2015
Nov 26, 2015
1776: America and Britain at War
really liked it
This is not a history of the entire course of the Revolutionary War between Britain and America - as the title suggests, it's the history of one year ...more
not set
Mar 23, 2011
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
really liked it
This book wasn't quite what I was looking for. It's very much a political and legal history of Prohibition, and I was hoping for more of a social hist ...more
Oct 17, 2011
Oct 09, 2011
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Mann's other book on this general topic, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, so I was quite keen to read this ...more
Apr 21, 2012
Apr 15, 2012
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
really liked it
The highest praise you can usually give a biographer is when you find yourself enthralled in the life of a person you know little about and who did th ...more
May 24, 2016
May 14, 2016
Mark Twain
liked it
I'm really not sure what I made of this book. I think my reaction to it definitely says more about me than it does the author or his approach. I felt ...more
Feb 11, 2014
Feb 02, 2014
Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South
really liked it
Circuses are a dying breed these days - after all, modern audiences have quite rightly turned against their spectacle of casual animal cruelty and exh ...more
Feb 02, 2017
Jan 26, 2017
really liked it
Ulysses S. Grant has always been one of my favourite Civil War-era historical figures, along with Lincoln and Sherman. I always admired his courage an ...more
Jun 28, 2012
Jun 18, 2012
All the Great Prizes : The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt
really liked it
On his death John Hay was described as "the greatest prime minister that this republic has ever had," and the description seems apt. Hay was a titanic ...more
Jun 14, 2015
Jun 04, 2015