History is Not Boring discussion

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The Perfect Reading List For A History Course

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message 1: by Jarred (new)

Jarred | 6 comments I was reading the "Books Kids Are Forced to Read" topic, and thought about what would be the perfect reading list for a high school American History course.

You get two books per era and some historical fiction is ok too. Do them all or just suggest a few for an era.

Want your learned and cultured opinion




message 2: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments "Lies My Teachers Told Me" by James Loewen.

Despite the provocative title, its actually a great history book. Separating the myth from fiction starting with the Pilgrims all the way to the 20th century.



message 3: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 44 comments The Theory Toolbox provides a good background for understanding the humanities.


message 4: by Jarred (new)

Jarred | 6 comments Interesting, what level of kid would that be for?


message 5: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1010 comments Mod
Battle Cry of Freedom The Civil War Era, by James McPherson. An excellent narrative history of the Civil War era.


message 6: by Marian (new)

Marian (gramma) | 98 comments Something shorter & simpler for a hi school student Bruce Catton's trilogy of the civil war is informative & easy to read.
Howard Fast's April Morning for the revolution
also a biography of George Washington written for YA readers.
America's Reign of Terror for WWl & the years right after
Frederick Lewis Allen's "Only Yesterday" for the 1920's He also has books about the 30's, 40's & 50'ss

This is assuming they already are reading a standard textbook of American history.


message 7: by Will (new)

Will (oldbosun) | 21 comments Second that, Susanna, plus Stillness at Appomattox, by Catton (a sentimental favorite).

The Invisible Man by Richard Ellison and Soul on Ice. Both might be more for the older crowd, and Soul would need notes, I think, to give those under 40 a taste of the zeitgeist of those days.

Anything short by Tom Jefferson paired with anything by Ben Franklin, to show the diversity of the founding dads.

The Life & Times Of..., as a historiography and because I want to sell more books. Pair it with Hayden White's Metahistory for contrast.

Plutarch's Noble Romans, Das Kapital, and The Prince: the more things change, the more they stay the same.





message 9: by Jarred (new)

Jarred | 6 comments The Stillness at Appomattox looks interesting.


message 10: by Rindis (new)

Rindis | 10 comments All Catton is very good. Though my favorite of the Army of the Potomac trilogy is actually Glory Road The Army of the Potomac Trilogy Vol. 2, rather than A Stillness at Appomattox.


message 11: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 44 comments Jarred,
I wouldn't go any younger than high school sophomore. Most people wouldn't even use it in high school.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim I would add RACE AND REUNION by DAVID BLIGHT
which shows how reconciliation/reunion between the States gained precedence over the fulfillment of THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION and the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution

also discusses the effect memory has over how history is seen by subsequent generations and how history can be distorted by faulty or actual false memory being championed by individuals, groups


message 13: by Lea (new)

Lea | 14 comments James wrote: "I like Loewen's follow-up to [b:Lies My Teacher Told Me Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong|296662|Lies My Teacher Told Me Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong|Jame..."
Lies across America looks really interesting James. It seems like something that can be read in short spurts, which is, unfortunately, about all the time I have to read these days!



message 14: by Will (last edited Jan 31, 2009 08:06PM) (new)

Will (oldbosun) | 21 comments Jim wrote: "I would add RACE AND REUNION by DAVID BLIGHT...also discusses the effect memory has over how history is seen by subsequent generations and how history can be distorted by faulty or actual false memory being championed by individuals, groups


A good choice, although the latter part of your comment speaks to the idea of community memory as a cultural - as opposed to a historic - record.

Heck, that might even make it a better choice. How many kids today believe that the Pilgrims were the same as the Puritans, and how many believe that the Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution? This cultural pseudo-memory persists regardless of fact and is so pervasive that, in the absence of documentary evidence to the contrary, it could pass into legitimate history under the aegis of an oral tradition of sufficient strength and age.


message 15: by Eric (new)

Eric I second the recommendation of Zinn's A People's History and McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. Eric Foner and David Blight are other excellent historians of the Civil War/Reconstruction era (Blight's podcast Civil War course on Yale's website is a great listen as well).


message 16: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 5 comments I read America A Narrative History, Seventh Edition, Volume 1 for an American History course in college. It reads like a narrative rather than a typical textbook. It also includes a web program with maps, quizzes, etc. to assist with learning. I learned a lot more from this book than any other college history textbook; it was easy to read and follow.


message 17: by Jenn (new)

Jenn (jenn_reed) From Reliable Sources

Because I believe that nothing should be taken at face value.



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