Nineteenth Century History discussion

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message 1: by Tom (last edited Feb 03, 2009 06:29AM) (new)

Tom Muir | 3 comments Mod
Well, I have started this group because I have just joined Goodreads and the first thing I did was look for a group like this. It didn't exist - so here it is!


message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura (questionableadvice) | 5 comments Hi Tom, I'm new to GR as well, and I'd definitely be interested in a group about the 19th Century. My main interest is in how people lived their everyday lives, but since that topic is influenced by just about everything, there isn't much I'm not interested in reading about. Most of my non-fiction is still over on my LibraryThing account, mainly because the older stuff will have to be added manually since there is no ISBN. Also, I wasn't sure it fit into the idea of what GR is all about. After all, how many people are interested in recommendations about how trash was handled in the 19th Century (Waste and Want A Social History of Trash), what the Victorians thought about the first apartment buildings (Alone Together A History of New York's Early Apartments) or humorous essays making fun of 19th Century housekeepers (Trials and Confessions of an American Housekeeper)?




message 3: by Jamie (last edited Feb 24, 2009 11:34AM) (new)

Jamie | 6 comments Hello Laura and Tom,

I joined the group today and am also taken with 19th Century History. I am particularly interested in American History. I have a preference for the early part of the Century up to and including the Civil War.

I liked Laura's post as it explained in part what interests her about reading about the 19th century. I appreciate understanding about cultural history and the details of day-to-day life. One thing that really stands out for me about the differences between today and then are the different uses of transportation. I am continually impressed to think that the primary mode of locomotion was by foot or horse. The railroads, canals, steamboats, clipper ships were just coming into use. What an amazing contrast to today.

If you look at my read shelf you will see a list of biographies about 19th century America which I have particularly enjoyed. I notice Bruce Canton's treatment of the Civil War as a book read by Tom. I particularly like Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson which is a Pultizer Prize winner and which I will add to my read list.

I hope we will have discussions and share things that interest us. I have added a historical mystery by Jane Langton in my to read shelf on the Transcendental Murder. I think she is a good writer and has fun with the time period.




message 4: by Tom (last edited Feb 28, 2009 01:17AM) (new)

Tom Muir | 3 comments Mod
Hi Jamie, Laura and All,
Yes, I would agree that my main fascination with all history (not only the 19C) is the way things happened and the way people dealt with their lives - work - wars - based on the technological, scientific, social, industrial moment in history. So my particular interest in the 19C Royal Navy is driven by those considerations: the middle of the century was the watershed in the development of steam powered ships. There was other new technology in the form of photography and the electric telegraph, not to mention the rapid development of armaments. The Royal Navy was Britain's biggest employer and biggest industry which in turn supported and promoted many other industries, both large and small. Then my fascination leads me to the political and social ambiguities of the age: the British Empire, and what I like to call the 'culture of the apparatchiks' - the thousands of middle class and upwardly mobile lower-middle class people who had been taught it was their duty to perform for the Empire - organizing it, administering it, expanding it, protecting it. And the hardship this entailed: my great grandfather (navy) married my great grandmother in 1868. He died in 1883 from TB. I have worked out that in their 15 years 'together' they were only actually under the same roof for a total of just under 4 years, and that only because he took her to Japan with him on his last commission. This was normal, but appalls our 21C ideals about family and work. And then again I am fascinated by the other social ambiguities of the age: my ggf was by all accounts a devout Christian and strict disciplinarian in all things - typical of middle class Victorian Man you might say. But at the very moment he was marrying my ggm in Malta in 1868, the Upper and Upper-middle classes in London and Paris were at the height of one of the most hypocritical periods of modern European history - privately and behind closed doors they were having a 'right old time'. A time only ended (supposedly) by the Franco-Prussian war, and if all the stories are to be believed it had been a decade far naughtier than the so-called 'Naughty Nineties' at the end of the century would prove to be. I could go on for ever, and bore everybody silly - I will try and avoid that. But just to add that, yes, Dickens is probably my favourite author!


message 5: by Dick (new)

Dick Wells | 5 comments I'm new here as well. This is the first group I joined, testament to my love of 19th century history. I'm fairly well-read in English, German, French, and American history. I've been trying to post my books, but many of my personal history books are too old, like Laura's, and thus require hand entry, which is rather tedious. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite author from the 19th C, but George Eliot is way up there. Probably the best history book I ever read is E.P. Thompson's "The Making of the English Working Class" which kind of brands me as a liberal, I guess.
I have read a little about the Royal Navy. I liked Massie's "Dreadnought", a book about the arms race between England and Germany leading up to WWI. That led me to a biography of John (Jackie) Fisher, England's greatest naval hero since Nelson. It was Fisher who created the modern English navy. I served in the US Navy in the late 60's (remember Viet Nam? I managed to avoid the Pacific). It was while I was stationed abord a destroyer escort and among other things, running the ship's library, that I began reading copiously about European History. I later went on to study history both as an undergraduate and graduate student. Long time ago...


message 6: by Dick (new)

Dick Wells | 5 comments Laura,
You're going to have to teach me how to post book titles as links.


message 7: by Laura (last edited Mar 01, 2009 04:10PM) (new)

Laura (questionableadvice) | 5 comments Dick - if you click on the "add book/author" link right above the comment box you can type in the title of the book you're looking for and then click the "add" button next to the title you choose. It will automatically add the link in your comment. You've got some interesting books - I've had "The Making of the English Working Class" on my TBR list for a while now. I should move it to the top of the pile.

Jamie - I'm also interested in the changes brought about by the new modes of transportation. Shorter travel times impacted everything from person-to-person communication to the availability of out-of-season fruit in different parts of the country. Someone once mentioned that it may have been as revolutionary to its time as the internet has been to ours.



message 8: by Dick (new)

Dick Wells | 5 comments Thanks, Laura. I'll give it a try.


message 9: by Katelis (last edited Jun 14, 2009 05:52AM) (new)

Katelis Viglas (proclus) | 5 comments I am interested particularly in local history. I have studied History in University and recently I published in Greek an extended article for the history of my birthplace.

History of Pyrasus and the two Phthiotidai Thebai in Thessaly

19th century is included inside my recent historical interests.



message 10: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry hi,
I am new to this group. I really enjoy researching 19th century history in all aspects. I gathering slowly some information for a future art project where i wish to include some influence from the later part of that century. ie.. family setting, interiors, exteriors, death rites, etc.. So this research is giving me some ideas and more understanding on how to eventually do that.
I am currently reading.. The Year of Decision 1846



Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 15 comments I enjoyed that one, Scott. I read it the spring after I had my stroke. Some bits are very funny, too!


message 12: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry I had previously read The World Rushed in The California Gold Rush Experience
given to me by my Dad to read.. That one was quite good for the gold rush period.. pioneer experience, some of what they ate on the trail, the disease, etc.. but i have to admit that The Year of Decision book is so far alot more informative even though it covers alot of area. I am halfway through it almost. Sometimes i get lost with the Henry Thoreau stuff.. but then i understand the context of why its in there. Also the the fact that some of these people like Zachary Taylor were kind of 'winging it' with the way they were fighting the war. It is amazing that things came out the way they did in the end. Also the idea that Ulysses Grant learned the use of canon artillery over man power from Taylor which was possibly why he won the war in the south!? Is this just the authors idea or is it really possible that Robert E Lee never really learned this?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 15 comments It's certainly an interesting theory.


message 14: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (mtiff) | 6 comments I am reading Pearl S. Buck: a cultural biography. The ninteenth century history lesson I have gained from it is amazing I want to study it further. Reading about china's 19 cen. history, america's, and how they co-incided or I should say conflicted is really interesting. I feel embarrased by how little history I knew to begin with. So that is what brought me to this group.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 15 comments I started a list over on Listopia, http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/26... - I'd love to see other's suggestions about "the best books about 19th century history."


message 16: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (mtiff) | 6 comments Jamie wrote: "Hello Laura and Tom,

I joined the group today and am also taken with 19th Century History. I am particularly interested in American History. I have a preference for the early part of the Century u..."


thanks for the history. It is definitley not boring to me! I like to read fiction novels from the nineteenth c but have mainly only read bronte so far. I really like bio's from that time period too.


message 17: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry Tiffany wrote: "Jamie wrote: "Hello Laura and Tom,

I joined the group today and am also taken with 19th Century History. I am particularly interested in American History. I have a preference for the early part ..."


What bios have you read so far?

I am interested in American history alot, one area i am researching though is Canadian history in the 19th century as i find there is alot of overlapping do to borders, but alos it gives another area to view within that time period on the continent. Would love to know if anyone else has read any books on the subject they could suggest.



message 18: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry Wondering if there is a way we can instigate a group reading for 19th century history. I realise that is a large area to cover and different periods and places, but maybe its possible? I for one would love it and the discussion that would follow.


message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom Muir | 3 comments Mod
It'll be tricky Scott, but we could have a go! I guess we will have to find out [A:] whether everybody is interested, and then [B:] how to choose a book...


message 20: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry Tom wrote: "It'll be tricky Scott, but we could have a go! I guess we will have to find out [A:] whether everybody is interested, and then [B:] how to choose a book..."

It would be fun to try. Maybe we can select a country or go by a decade then choose the book from that, i am not sure myself. I for one would be open to read most things withint that century. Mostly because there is so much i havnt looked into, endless really.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 15 comments Fine by me.


message 22: by Scott (new)

Scott Ferry Tom wrote: "It'll be tricky Scott, but we could have a go! I guess we will have to find out [A:] whether everybody is interested, and then [B:] how to choose a book..."

Maybe we can open a new topic on that subject to see if there is interest?



message 23: by Alice (new)

Alice Dinizo (JBDiNizo) | 1 comments Totally by accident, I majored in 19th century American Literature and History and all these many years still find it interesting. While working at my local community college library, I was fascinated by a student's request for information on Robert Todd Lincoln and how he and others dealt with being the son or sons of a famous father! Went home smiling after helping that student.


message 24: by Antoine (new)

Antoine Vanner | 1 comments Tom wrote: "Hi Jamie, Laura and All,
Yes, I would agree that my main fascination with all history (not only the 19C) is the way things happened and the way people dealt with their lives - work - wars - based o..."


Hello Tom:

You haven't been active for a while so I hope you'll read this. Your discussion of the Victorian Period - more a mini-essay - strikes many chords with me. I'm interested in the politics, military and naval history, social and medical developments of the Victorian and and Edwardian periods, as well as the "high-tech" of that time that so transformed lives. I'm publishing the first of a series of Victorian naval adventures early next year and social attitudes and inhibitions play a significant role in the first novel.

Best Wishes; Antoine


message 25: by Jamie (last edited Nov 25, 2012 08:06AM) (new)

Jamie | 6 comments I am so pleased with the way this group is evolving and welcome the way people are sharing and expanding the conversation. I have two recent books that I want to comment on and add to the mix. The first is Charles R. Anderson's The Magic Circle of Walden which may seem to be somewhat of an anomaly being included here, yet I would assert that it is not. (Please see my review of it) The reason that one might question its inclusion is that it is literary analysis of the book and not a biography. True, and yet it brings so much more to the table and I think maybe invaluable at helping us in the 21st century go behind the veil of the 19th century. As Tom was eluding too in his posts there are so many changes going on and yet the moral or social code was such that one often didn't convey it in the written word. It was still happening just not in a form we might not immediately recognize. It was occurring behind the scenes or in a coded message. Dickens writing I think is filled with these subtleties or innuendos and sometimes it takes literary experts to help translate these riddles so that commoners, such as I , can make sense of them.

The second book I want to recommend is being currently shown as a movie: Lincoln The book is Team of Rivals:The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (another Pultizer Prize winner) . This one is really a group of biographies covering the principal members of Lincoln's cabinet and of course the President. Spielberg in the movie has chosen to focus primarily on the passage of the 13th Amendment and that seems so applicable to the present. So many of these tensions and issues remain unresolved. I think both the book and the movie give us an appreciation of how real and vital they are to ourselves and our country.


message 27: by Jamie (new)

Jamie | 6 comments Ecstatic Nation Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple is also excellent and one that I think many in this group would enjoy.


message 28: by LinMaria (new)

LinMaria | 1 comments Good morning folks.

I just joined this group and wanted to introduce myself. I'm an avid cultural history enthusiast for (especially) late nineteenth-century America, and look forward to making new friends with similar interests. Truth to tell: I'll read just about ANYTHING that helps me understand a particular place and time!


message 29: by Johanna (new)

Johanna H. | 1 comments Hello i'm new to this group and wanted to introduce myself.. I'm 19 & from Germany and can't get enough of History ! I'm fascinated with the 19 century and want to know everything about it! I read every Book about life in that time i can find.. Everything that makes the Era more clear for me and helps me to understand how these people thought and about their everyday lives ! I'm happy that i found a group like this where i can meet people with the same interests! I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you guys! :)


message 30: by Laura (new)

Laura Meyerovich (laurameyerovich) | 1 comments I recently read "Two years before the mast".
this is a book about a scion of a Boston family who signed up as a sailor as means to improve his health. the book is well written (the boy would now be called a college dropout, and when he returned, he went back to Harvard and became a lawyer). The ship went around the Cape from Boston to San Francisco, spent time there buying pelts, and went back.


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