The History Book Club discussion

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ARCHIVE - 50 BOOKS/100 MOVIES > BEST 2010/2011 READ

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 28, 2011 07:57PM) (new)

Bentley | 31965 comments Mod
This is a thread suggested by Michael.

We are sure that everybody had a list of wonderful books that have been completed last year. Out of all of these wonderful reads, could there be one book which stands out among all of the rest and one that you would recommend highly to the group membership.

Since this is the History Book Club - for this recommendation, try to focus on the one book which is non fiction or has some historical significance (historical fiction is fine too).

We originally started this out as a thread related to 2010; but have decided to now add the best books of 2011 to the same thread. That way folks can flip back and forth and search for those books of greater interest to them.

Bentley


message 2: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Great thread Bently and good suggestion Michael but a damn hard one to do! So many good books in a year and very hard to select that stand out title but for me it would have to be "The Anzacs: Gallipoli to the Western Front" by Peter Pedersen. I found this book so easy to read, well written and presented and the memories of the fallen soldiers stayed with me for months so for me this was one of the better books for 2010.

The Anzacs Gallipoli to the Western Front by Peter Pedersen by Peter Pedersen


message 3: by Dree (new)

Dree This is a tough one, I read some great books last year. But I have to go with one that I have never seen mentioned by anyone but me:

In the Shadow of Slavery Africa's Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World by Judith Carney by Judith Carney (no photo available)

This book combines two of my favorite topics: history and food. It looks at the many food crops (both large-scale and subsistence) in the Americas that arrived during the slave tried; their establishment; and their importance both then and now. Many of these crops are considered "American" (e.g., peanuts, watermelon). Others are common in Brazil and the Caribbean but virtually unknown in North America. Fascinating book.


message 4: by Michael (last edited Jan 10, 2011 11:42PM) (new)

Michael Flanagan (Loboz) | 1216 comments A read so many great many books last year and like everyone else it was a hard choice.

Firstly I wrote down the first three books that came to mind. Then out of those books I chose the one that captivated and taught me the most. The book I chose was also the one I talked to me friends about the most (bored them to tears I am sure). The book also lead me to try something new.

The winner is For All the Tea in China Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula of the World's Favourite Drink by Sarah Rose by Sarah RoseSarah Rose.

Who would guess a book about tea would captivate me so much. To this day I am still searching out and trying some of the tea mentioned in this book.

Also two great books 'Aussie Rick' and Dree I have added both to my books to read list.


message 5: by Garret (last edited Jan 11, 2011 08:15AM) (new)

Garret (ggannuch) I am going to cheat slightly. Although I read several good straight history books, my favorite historical encounter was London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World by Robert Bucholz(no photos), a lecture series from the Teaching Company. Best taken in small chunks.


message 6: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 2272 comments Mod
I think my most enjoyable one was The Fires of Vesuvius Pompeii Lost and Found by Mary Beard by Mary BeardMary Beard. Despite the title, the book didn't really talk much about Vesuvius. It was more about what life was like before the eruption, with lots of pictures and floor plans of houses. She describes in detail the daily lives of various people we know lived in the houses. A really interesting read.


message 7: by Dree (new)

Dree This is a great thread, thank you. It is making my tbr shelf even larger :)


message 8: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Jan 11, 2011 01:06PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) My favorite of 2010, and near the top, if not the top, of my all time list, is
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner Wallace Stegner Wallace Stegner

Not Non-Fiction, and techically not historical fiction. Still, it is based on the life of Mary Hallock Foote, probably the finest illustrator of the 19th Century. It also described exquisitely life in the west during this time.


message 9: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1073 comments My favorite for 2010 - I think is - Unbroken

Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption  by Laura Hillenbrand Laura HillenbrandLaura Hillenbrand

This is sort of unfair as I only started it very late in the year and finished in this year.

But that said it was also almost unstopable to read.

Well written interesting etc. - lots of action and interesting characters.

And, having finished this year, I guess I can use it again for 2011 if I have nothing as exceptional -

This does not make less of the other great books read in 2010.


message 10: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Vince, I've heard many good things about "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand and it sounds like you had a hard time putting it down :)

Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption  by Laura Hillenbrand by Laura Hillenbrand


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (Loboz) | 1216 comments Vince wrote: "My favorite for 2010 - I think is - Unbroken

Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption  by Laura HillenbrandLaura Hillenbrand[author:Laura Hillenbr..."


Another one for the to read list or should I say the to-read compendium


message 12: by Waven (new)

Waven | 6 comments My favorite of 2010 is marketed as historical fiction but is very closely based on real experiences of the author and his father. I found it stunning.

In Our Strange Gardens by Michel Quint In Our Strange Gardens [no photo] Michel Quint


message 13: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen | 169 comments This is really hard and I can't really come up with a number one, but one of the top five, relevant here, would be
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Hilary MantelHilary Mantel

I am happy to see it's in the lineup here and, though I may not remember enough specifics to contribute to the discussion (and to do so spoiler-free!), I will certainly be reading everyone else's comments!


message 14: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1073 comments your accessment is 100% correct

Thanks


message 15: by Krystal (last edited Jun 14, 2011 06:24PM) (new)

Krystal (queenravenclaw) | 331 comments The Red Queen
The Red Queen (Cousins' War, #2) by Philippa Gregory by Philippa GregoryPhilippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory, The Red Queen, Simon & Schuster UK & US (2nd in Wars of the Roses series traces the life of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII)(I read this book before joining the club so i have no review on it but i have my 2nd choice as one of my 50 reads.


The Countess and the King
The Countess and the King A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II by Susan Holloway Scott by Susan Holloway ScottSusan Holloway Scott
Susan Holloway Scott, The Countess and the King, NAL (novel of Katherine Sedley, mistress of James II)

Now my review
This is the story of the countess of Dorchester and King James II. In this amusing novel we see Katherine Sedley an outspoken girl for her times become the Duke and then later named King's Mistress. James becomes a Catholic much to the dismay of his people who are mostly Protestant. He is married to the Pope's Niece of Italy Mary Beatrice. but for some reason he is madly in Love with Katherine who is protestant. His priests and catholic council would rather he get rid of the Countess. We see her life from when she is a child to when she becomes mistress her father warns her it is a dangerous path but she still follows it. She has two kids with the Duke but the boy infant dies (he was named after his father). but her daughter Katherine thrives in the court of the duke's/King's daughter Mary and her Husband William of Orange(after James II dies, this was stated in the epilouge)
http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org...


message 16: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1073 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Hi Vince, I've heard many good things about "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand and it sounds like you had a hard time putting it down :)

With the Old Breed At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene B. SledgeEugene B. SledgeEugene B. Sledge

Will be in the running this year for me.

If I had a fiction and non fiction the Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. MartinGeorge R.R. MartinGeorge R.R. Martin

would probably get that spot - but others could contend as being "greater" books but this is a real enjoyment.

Heppy Holidays (unless you also take 11 months to read this)

Vince



message 17: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Vince, Merry Christmas :)

I think you will also find; "With the Old Breed" hard to put down, well I hope so anyhow as it's an excellent book.

With the Old Breed At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene B. Sledge by Eugene B. Sledge


message 18: by Alisa (last edited Dec 27, 2011 08:31AM) (new)

Alisa (MsTaz) | 5532 comments Now that 2011 is almost over . . . I went back and reflected on the books I read in 2010 and there were a few powerful ones, but the one I enjoyed the most was The Big Burn by Tim Egan. He is a terrific author, tells history so it reads like a novel, you really get to know the characters and this book had both characters and a nail biting story involving one of the country's most horrific forest fires. It goes into details about the birth of the US Forest Service, Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and William Howard Taft. Real page turner.
The Big Burn Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan by Timothy EganTimothy Egan


message 19: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) That does sound like a great book Alisa, I will have to consider adding a copy to my ever expanding library :)


message 20: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (new)

Bryan Craig | 11651 comments Mod
Nice, Alisa, it is on my TBR list.

The Big Burn Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan Timothy EganTimothy Egan


message 21: by Craig (new)

Craig (Twinstuff) My favorite book of 2011 was the story of Jonestown and the Reverend Jim Jones - A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres.
A Thousand Lives The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres Julia Scheeres Julia Scheeres

It's an incredibly sad book to read. I knew how it would end, but wanted to read more stories of hope and escape and many of the tales Scheeres relates left me slightly depressed. But it was still a book I couldn't put down. And I guess the connections between Jones and other aspects of American history in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s were also quite interesting to me. You can actually connect Jones to the Civil Rights Movement and to the Cold War and that's something I wasn't familiar with before reading the book.


message 22: by Steve (new)

Steve | 43 comments My favorite book of 2011:

John Adams by David McCullough David McCulloughDavid McCullough

It's an amazing comprehensive recap of the life and times of John Adams starting with his push for independence in the late 1700's and ending with his retirement back to his simple life as a Massachusetts farmer. By far, the best biography I've ever read. I highly recommend it!


message 23: by ☯Emily (last edited Dec 31, 2011 11:42AM) (new)

☯Emily Have you ever wondered what happened to the plane that killed General Zia ul-Haq, dictator of Pakistani. Why did it crash? Oh you haven't been lying awake nights pondering that question? Well, fortunately for us, Mohammad Hanif has. From his wild imagination, he wrote about the conspiracies swirling around the General Zia right before his death. His book, A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed HanifA Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif Mohammed Hanif is hilarious, horrifying and imaginative. I read this in January and still think it is one of the best of the year. It is historically based, but is pure fiction. Even Osama bin Laden passes through the novel, but you have to be sharp to realize it.


message 24: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1073 comments Vince wrote: "'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Hi Vince, I've heard many good things about "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand and it sounds like you had a hard time putting it down :)

Delivered from Evil by Robert LeckieRobert LeckieRobert Leckie

another book by one of the fellows used for the HBO series the Pacific as a character

It was a tuition dividend - I pad the tuition and my daugther had it in a class and I got the book at the end of the semester.

With the old Breed I am giving to folks regularuly now and I think it better illustrates the "horror of was" better than All Quiet on the Western Front

With the Old Breed At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene B. SledgeEugene B. SledgeEugene B. SledgeAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueErich Maria RemarqueErich Maria Remarque



message 25: by Becky (last edited Jan 02, 2012 06:31AM) (new)

Becky (groundhawg) Oh goodness, narrowing down to two? Well, I'll link my two favorite history novels this year

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time byJohn Kelly. It was a bit dry, but I can forgive it because I learned so much! It was really quite amazing. As a student of European history I felt that I knew quite a bit about the Black Plague, but he coveres not only the European outbreak, but subsequent Eurasian ones as well. He draws on quite a few primary sources to depict despicable cowardice but also the beautiful and heroic bonds in friendship. I couldn't put it down.


My second favorite history book this year woudl have to be A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom I only recently started enjoying women's history, and this book was fantastic. It covers what historicans can glean about cave-dwellers and neandthrals relationships to the modern day, though it does mostly focus on Western history. I've been married for four years, and this book shed a lot of light on the societal/cultural influences on my relationship, and especially those of my mother and my grandmother. I highly recommend it, and have gifted a copy at every wedding (along with soemthing else so they dont just roll their eyes at me, haha).

If I had to pick another book that isn't historical, but certainly related I would say Moll Flanders . I really thought that this book was fabulous, as well as scandalous for its time. Great quotes and Moll is a fantastic character.

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe The Great Mortality An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom

I apologize for the book covers coming at the end- GoodReads was having a bit of a tantrum this morning.


message 26: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (MsTaz) | 5532 comments Becky, great post, and thanks for sharing your perspective. They all look like terrific choices.

Thank you inserting the book covers, but also remember to add the author photo (when available) and the author links. Like this:
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe Daniel DefoeDaniel Defoe
The Great Mortality An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John KellyJohn Kelly
A History of the Wife by Marilyn YalomMarilyn Yalom

You eventually got most of it in (sorry you were having trouble.) I know you are relatively new and getting the hang of it so if you need any help feel free to ask any of the moderators.

Thanks so much for your contributions. Great stuff.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Anzacs: Gallipoli To The Western Front (other topics)
In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World (other topics)
For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink (other topics)
London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World (other topics)
The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found (other topics)
More...

Authors mentioned in this topic

Peter Pedersen (other topics)
Judith Carney (other topics)
Sarah Rose (other topics)
Robert O. Bucholz (other topics)
Mary Beard (other topics)
More...