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Thread: Accessible history books

  1. #16
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kafka's Crow View Post
    Ever heard of Wilhelm Gustloff? Obviously you have heard about the Titanic then why not about WG?
    Reminds me of the Roman naval disaster of 255 BC. Coming back from Carthage they lost 184 ships in a gale and about 100,000 men.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
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  2. #17
    Tu le connais, lecteur... Kafka's Crow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    Reminds me of the Roman naval disaster of 255 BC. Coming back from Carthage they lost 184 ships in a gale and about 100,000 men.
    Oh yes, I do like to read about the Punic Wars. Alexander the Great fascinates me as well. Michael Wood's book and dicumentary wherein he follows Alexander's footsteps: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Footsteps-Al...4269937&sr=8-1 is very informative although you do need to read a 'proper' historical account of his conquests to complement the knowledge gained after reading Wood's work.

    I recently read Genghis Khan: And the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. Excellent account of the great conqueror and his legacy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Genghis-Khan...ref=pd_sim_b_3
    "The farther he goes the more good it does me. I don’t want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the sh1t the more I am grateful to him..."
    -- Harold Pinter on Samuel Beckett

  3. #18
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    It's interesting how wildly different people's opinions of books can be. I would never place Pillars of the Earth and Sarum in the same sentence with rubbish.

  4. #19
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    It's almost impossible to get anything sensible out of professors. They are almost all brainwashed toady Marxists.

  5. #20
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    It's almost impossible to get anything sensible out of professors. They are almost all brainwashed toady Marxists.
    In this day of Capitalist ascendancy, Marxist brainwashing and Marxist toadying must be dying arts. Oh, for those halcyon days of yore, when Marxists brainwashed anyone they could lay their hands on, and if you didn't toady, you were sent to Siberia! As Wordsworth wrote of the French Revolution, "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven."

  6. #21
    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    It's almost impossible to get anything sensible out of professors. They are almost all brainwashed toady Marxists.
    That is true, and they do the hiring, so there is little chance of things improving in the near future.

  7. #22
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kasie View Post
    Not your specified periods but you may find this interesting: The Face of War by John Keegan: it's about the ordinary footsloggers in three big battles, Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme. The same author's The History of Warfare is also useful background if military history is your interest, as is Richard Holmes' Tommy and Redcoat.

    WWII - you could try Antony Beevor's Stalingrad and Berlin.

    (These are British authors, btw so you may not agree with the British point of view.)
    Agreed. They are both excellent, as is Beevor's "Crete" which tells of the successful invasion of Crete by paratroopers, and the really disgraceful way it was lost.

    I noticed that one poster said they didn't read WW2 histories as being too close. I don't know about that, but I learnt a lot from both of these books including a proper perspective about how WW2 was actually won - on the backs of 20 million plus Russian deaths.

    Coming from the UK, which has had its own take on WW2 history - The Battle of Britain, The Battle for the Atlantic, The dambuster Raid etc, and which has overplayed its national role when Brits have in the past said "We won the war" etc is challenging. I was born in the 1960s and came to be brought up on this triumphalist stuff.

    Then of course, anyone from the US could say - without us we'd never have been able to defeat Hitler - and this is true. It is also true to say that without the Russians, neither would the US in the timescale of WW2.

    My point is that the focus of these facts has altered and challenged my reading of WW2, and I think these histories do a really good job.

    I saw a question about WW2 histories written by journalists. Beevor wrote a book about the Russian front using the journalistic writings of Vassily Grossman. He was a Red Star journalist and covered Stalingrad and other parts of the eastern front. His perspective is excellent, and gives you quite a different sense of the war from the Soviet side.

    As for historical novels, I've really enjoyed Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther detective stories which are set in pre and wartime Berlin. His laest one, A Man Without Breath

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...ripbooks%2C289

    is out. I'm waiting for the price to come down, though I might just get on with it anyway. His last one, A Prague Fatale was also very good. A Man Without Breath is about the discovery of the Polish Officers in Katyn Forest which was used as anti Russian propaganda. A Prague fatale deals with the assassination of Rheinhard Heydrich.

    The novels concern Bernie Gunther, an anti Nazi policeman who is forced to join the SS on the outbreak of war. I find the details fascinating, and they are good thrillers too.
    Last edited by Paulclem; 03-30-2013 at 03:17 PM.

  8. #23
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    'Hitlers Generals' edited by Correlli Barnett, with contributions from various historians, makes riveting reading for anyone with an interest in WWII. They are all there, Fritsch, Blomberg, Rundstedt, Reichenau, Mannstein, Guderian, Rommel et al. These men commanded the greatest military machine ever created but their individuality is what comes through in these essays. The arguments with Hitler and among themselves make for fascinating reading and gives a great insight into the war as seen from the highest levels of the German command.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

  9. #24
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    May I put in a word for Persian Fire by Tom Holland. It was fab.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  10. #25
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emil Miller View Post
    'Hitlers Generals' edited by Correlli Barnett, with contributions from various historians, makes riveting reading for anyone with an interest in WWII. They are all there, Fritsch, Blomberg, Rundstedt, Reichenau, Mannstein, Guderian, Rommel et al. These men commanded the greatest military machine ever created but their individuality is what comes through in these essays. The arguments with Hitler and among themselves make for fascinating reading and gives a great insight into the war as seen from the highest levels of the German command.
    I may well give this a whirl the next time I feel like a WW2 history fix. I was looking for it today in Waterstones but alas...

  11. #26
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    I may well give this a whirl the next time I feel like a WW2 history fix. I was looking for it today in Waterstones but alas...
    I don't know, but I doubt that it is out of print. My copy dates from 1995 but Barnett is such a noted historian on WW1 and WWII that it should be possible to get hold of a copy through Amazon. I don't buy books over the net and so tomorrow I am going into town to get a (telephone reserved) book that has been difficult to obtain from other London booksellers even though it is quite well known .
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

  12. #27
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emil Miller View Post
    I don't know, but I doubt that it is out of print. My copy dates from 1995 but Barnett is such a noted historian on WW1 and WWII that it should be possible to get hold of a copy through Amazon. I don't buy books over the net and so tomorrow I am going into town to get a (telephone reserved) book that has been difficult to obtain from other London booksellers even though it is quite well known .
    Our Waterstones is not that big. I'm going to check it out in the Kindle store tonight. Should be fine.

  13. #28
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    Anything by John Prebble. The World of Rob Donn by Grimble. Anything by Hastings. Ditto Lyn Macdonald, Saul David, and Martin Middlebrook.

  14. #29
    I just want to read. chrisvia's Avatar
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    I haven't read many history books, but of those I have I enjoyed Howard Zinn (America), Norman Davies (Europe; Poland), and Paul Johnson (compilations; historical figures).
    "J'ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage."
    - Rimbaud

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    De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise."
    - Baudelaire

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