Clio's (Pleasure?) Palace Message Board

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Clio's (Pleasure?) Palace Message Board

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jul. 26, 2006, 2:07pm

For my initial suggestion, John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme, about the Acadians and their expulsion from Nova Scotia. It's a nice mix of academic and accessible.

jul. 26, 2006, 2:44pm

Oh boy, just one?! Let's see, I recently finished Doris Kearns Goodwin's latest, Team of Rivals, and enjoyed it quite well. The Faragher suggestion sounds like a good one too, I'll have to hunt that up.

3CuppD Primer missatge
jul. 26, 2006, 10:40pm

I just finished reading Death of a President by William Manchester for probably the tenth time - it to me is the epitome of narrative history. And of course anything by David McCullough.

jul. 27, 2006, 2:58am

A few days ago, I finished a real behemoth of a book, Mao: The Unknown Story. It clocks in around 550 pages with another 150 or so of references, but it certainly held my interest.

I really enjoyed Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic, which ties together the lives and philosophy of Spinoza and Leibniz very nicely.

5parelle Primer missatge
jul. 27, 2006, 5:21pm

Carnage and Culture is pretty wonderful, though I'd have to vote for John Keegan as my favorite historian. Then again, I have a liking for such things.

jul. 27, 2006, 5:33pm

The Carnage and Culture and The Courtier and the Heretic each look pretty interesting. I may have to check those out.

7AlexTheHunn Primer missatge
jul. 28, 2006, 3:52pm

I recently read The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic by David J Rothman. I know it's not new, but his insights still seem valuable and applicable today.

8Dragonfly Primer missatge
jul. 30, 2006, 9:54am

I've just finished an older book, Will Shakespeare and His America by Nancy and Jean Francis Webb. It was published in 1964. This was unexpectedly interesting. It discusses The Tempest and its inspiration by the shipwreck of the Sea Venture on a Bermuda reef. It then views U. S. history through the lens of where and when Shakespeare was being performed. (Picture an 1830s performance of Macbeth in Columbus, Georgia with Creek Indians as Scots.) The chapter on the assassination of Lincoln told me a lot about Booth's theatrical background that I didn't know; I hadn't realized how famous he was. I have a taste for books that tell a familiar story from a different viewpoint. This book qualified.

jul. 31, 2006, 12:17am

I can't recommend just one book so I'll make it a series: the Hinges of History series by Thomas Cahill.

10modulus Primer missatge
jul. 31, 2006, 1:40pm

I can highly recommend the book I'm currently reading, Jill Lepore's New York Burning: Liberty and Slavery in an Eighteenth-Century City, published in 2005. It's a well-told story of a series of fires in Manhattan in 1741 that led to fears of a slave revolt and that resulted in a legal process resembling the Salem witch trials, with a higher body count. Lepore explores the paradoxical relationship of white colonists to slavery and freedom while weaving in the politics of masonry, the trial of John Peter Zenger, and the texture of daily life in New York.

jul. 31, 2006, 4:21pm

I've picked up New York Burning but haven't gotten to it yet - it's good to hear it is good. I picked it up when I was on a bit of a New York reading streak - I'd just read William Cooper's Town (great book) and The Island at the Center of the World (good but not great book).

jul. 31, 2006, 4:21pm

I've picked up New York Burning but haven't gotten to it yet - it's good to hear it is good. I picked it up when I was on a bit of a New York reading streak - I'd just read William Cooper's Town (great book) and The Island at the Center of the World (good but not great book).

jul. 31, 2006, 4:21pm

I've picked up New York Burning but haven't gotten to it yet - it's good to hear it is good. I picked it up when I was on a bit of a New York reading streak - I'd just read William Cooper's Town (great book) and The Island at the Center of the World (good but not great book).

jul. 31, 2006, 4:28pm

modulus, I'll have to pick up New York Burning, I've heard lots of good things about it.

A_musing, glad to hear you liked William Cooper's Town - one of my very favorite books. Alan Taylor's newest, The Divided Ground came earlier this year and I thought that was really excellent as well.

I just started The Most Famous Man in America, a biography of Henry Ward Beecher that came out recently. So far, so good.

jul. 31, 2006, 4:35pm

OK, now I'm going to have to get The Divided Ground, too!

ag. 1, 2006, 2:09pm

Oh, I like Jill Lepore... I'll have to check out New York Burning.

ag. 1, 2006, 3:32pm

This damn groups feature has reduced our productivity. Here I am replying to Abby.

ag. 1, 2006, 6:56pm

Best recent work I've read is The Unknown American Revolution by Gary Nash. I've liked Nash's work in the past, but worried a bit when I began reading it because he seemed to be jumping around simply recounting aspects of the revolution dealing with women, Indians, slaves, etc. and it might be kind of a cut and paste work. But then I began to see his method. He moves forward though the revolution returning to each group again and again, including the middle and lower class artisans and farmers, laying out a strong argument for a real social revolution within the war for independence. And the themes and groups begin to interact and make connections (not always for the best for some groups). I don't know if the old consensus conservative view of the revolution from the 1950s still needs refuting, but Nash has synthesized a strong work arguing for a real social revolution, mostly democratic, that the upper classes worried about even when they were patriots in the war against Britain. Some aspects were familiar from other things I have read (such as Indians in the revolution and African American responses to the war), but there were some things that were new to me. Especially the detail of political disputes that surrounded the state consitution making and questions over suffrage. And I was totally unfamiliar with some things like food riots during the revolution and mass action court closings.

ag. 1, 2006, 9:52pm

I will throw my hat in for Carnage and Culture. If you like this by Victor Davis Hanson The Soul of Battle is a good companion.

However, the best history book I've read in a LONG time is Gulag: A History. THis book is so brutal in its descriptions it's hard to read at some times. But to think this was going on in a "modern" country in my lifetime (I'm 25) is unfathomable. A great lesson in why America was right to stand up to the USSR.

Editat: ag. 11, 2006, 12:07pm

The last book pertaining to history I read was a book about the history of libraries by Fred Lerner. It was for an intro level library class.
I was a history major as an undergrad. After entering library/grad school, I don't get to read too much besides textbooks and articles.

ag. 20, 2006, 10:01pm

princessgarnet, if you're interested in library history and can rip yourself away from your textbooks, I'd recommend Matthew Battles' Library: An Unquiet History. I'll have to try Lerner's book....

Editat: set. 4, 2006, 4:15pm

Finally read the HUIZINGA, THE AUTUMN OF THE MIDDLE AGES after it's been on my library shelves for 10+ years. It's a classical study on the culture of late medival France and Netherlands.

set. 4, 2006, 9:20pm

We had a symposium at the group weblog Cliopatria some time ago about an article that was drawn out of Gary Nash's The Unknown American Revolution.

set. 10, 2006, 6:02pm

New York Burning sounds great...I'm a fan of Jill Lepore. I just finished reading Philip Curtin's Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex, an excellent work of Atlantic/world history that I would recommend. Its also very accessible.

25winstonsmithlives Primer missatge
set. 11, 2006, 4:17pm

One of my favorites has always been Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize winning, The Power Broker. I've read this massive tome at least 4 times, and sure it has some flaws and probably more than few exaggerations but it still has the ability to grip the reader and pull them into history like very few books of this magnitude have done.

oct. 5, 2006, 5:49pm

So, here are my introductory recommendations.

I recently read Edward Ayers' In the Presence of Mine Enemies : war in the heart of america, a localist take on the civil war as experienced in Virginia and Pennsylvania. You can read my long review on the work page, but to put it very briefly it is high quality history that doesn't quite live up to its own hype.

I also finally got around to reading Labor and Monopoly capital by Harry Braverman. This is the most trenchent look at the changing nature of work under capitalism ever produced. However, it is in sore need of an update given the upheavals wrought by the economic transition of the 1970s. (I'll write a longer review at some point).

I first encountered the New York Conspiracy of 1741 in Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker's The Many-Headed Hydra. I have yet to pick up Lepore's book, but Linebaugh and Rediker's rendition convinced me that this event could make an excellent movie, preferably by someone like John Sayles.

nov. 6, 2006, 6:27pm

David Detzer's Dissonance, which is the third of a trilogy dealing with the first hundred days of the American Civil War (see my review).

28wcm Primer missatge
nov. 21, 2006, 7:37pm

A good book that I recently used in one of my history classes is The Contested Plains by Elliott West. It examines the interactions between Native Americans and white settlers on the Great Plains following the Colorado Gold Rush in 1859. What's intriguing about the book, however, is that it starts thousands of years before the Gold Rush. West's major argument is that the actions of both Indians and white settlers were constrained by the environmental limitations of the Plains themselves, and to make that argument he has to go back to climatic changes that started in the last Ice Age. How many books about Gold Rushers and Indians do you know that start in the Ice Age? If you like Western history and environmental history, this is a must read. It won just about every award that it was eligible for.

nov. 22, 2006, 11:56am


That one sounds fascinating.

There's a interesting book written by my great-grandfather (Dennis Collins (that I likely would have never picked up but for the relation) called Indian's Last Fight; or the Dull Knife Raid that includes a lot of personal recollections of interactions between settlers and Indians about a decade to a decade and a half later on the high plains of Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. While I haven't read the West book yet, from your description I'd bet the Collins books would be an interesting contemporaneous take that could be worked into that thesis.

30jacr Primer missatge
gen. 22, 2007, 9:30am

I guess I'm ready to be initiated. Most recently, I'm very excited by I've Got the Light of Freedom (Charles Payne), which needed an editor but in general is exciting it's so brilliant. I'll also suggest Karen Sawislak's Smoldering City, which inspired my dissertation project.

gen. 31, 2007, 11:44pm

A recent good read that I recommend is Tom Holland's Rubicon about the last years of the Roman Republic.

Editat: feb. 1, 2007, 12:09pm


I've just started Rubicon and it's great so far. Check out his other Persian Fire as well. It's excellent!

març 19, 2007, 5:58pm

Chadwick Hansen's "Witchcraft at Salem" is good not so much for the ergotism guess but for the meticulous research into the motives of those involved. If you read this book, you will love the much-maligned Cotton Mathers and cry to read letters from good people who chose death over lying (for if they confessed to witchcraft they would not be executed) when we now live in a country where our rulers lie without blinking an eye.

I think you should split your history book discussion into 1) books which bring some place/period and/or its people (eg.Aubrey's Lives) alive, 2) books which follow a chronology and 3) books which have one foot in the past and one in the present (Like my Topsy-turvy 1585 * which you may peek into at Amazon). Or, is there a better way to do it? Maybe first we need a Types of History Group to work this out! Even as i write, i am thinking of other types . . .

In Topsy-turvy 1585's intro, i have a history of topsy-turvy from Herodotus to Al Biruni to Valignano to Frois to Maffei (to Montanus etc ) to Alcock to Chamberlain . . . and would love to have some critical response from history-loving amateurs, as the author, himself, is an amateur...

Rise, Ye Sea Slugs!

maig 6, 2007, 5:21pm

Two recommendations:
The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood; he weaves his argument so well that Gary Nash will never convince me.

The Making of the Middle Ages by R. W. Southern, a beautiful and incisive story; I've copied out most of the primary source quotes in it, just to ponder them.

I love ritual for the sake of ritual, so consider me initiated.

maig 8, 2007, 6:55am

31/32: Rubicon is on my near-future to-read list.

Editat: juny 15, 2007, 5:14am

I thought Rubicon was a really great piece of popular history (I use the term in the best possible way, by the way). I read it three summers ago while camping in Norway and it completely turned my head. Since then, I've been swallowing all sorts of books about the Roman republic and indeed the entire period... with the result that I'm almost afraid to pick up Persian Fire, for fear it will set me off on a further obsession!

Before then I'll have to get the English Civil War (or rather the Wars of the Three Kingdoms) out of my system, having recently read a handful of marvellous books. If anyone can enlighten me further and suggest more books on this topic, I'd be ever so grateful. My list so far:
The Century of Revolution and The World Turned Upside Down by Christopher Hill
Civil War by Trevor Royle
Britain in Revolution by Woolrych Austin
Cromwell by Antonia Fraser
The Civil Wars in Britain and Ireland by Martyn Bennett
The English Civil War by Diane Purkiss
Fire from Heaven by David Underdown
A Monarchy Transformed by Mark Kishlansky
… and a handful of others, but I'm still really open for books I might have missed!

P.S., I'm very sorry, my Touchstones have gone absolutely haywire, so I'll just remove most of them...

març 10, 2008, 7:24am

If you are interested in 20th century European history, then In Europe by Geert Mak is a great book. See
Geert Mak is quite someone for Clio's (Pleasure?) Palace: he gives his readers history from a very human point of view and is a joy to read! (I'm sorry, but I can only talk in superlatives about this author. He is one of my hero's and his book is one of Holland's finest exportproducts of the last years)

març 14, 2008, 10:18pm

>37 marieke54:

Marieke, just added to my "to be read" database. Thanks!

abr. 9, 2008, 1:51pm

>34 nasreddin:

You might be interested in the forum on The Radicalism of the American Revolution in the July, 1994 issue of The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 3; also the forum on Wood's earlier work, The creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 in the July, 1987 issue of WMQ, Vol. 44, No. 3.

ag. 30, 2008, 5:19pm

Sort of exciting news for fans of David Hackett Fischer: October 08 he will be coming out with "Champlain's Dream" about the founde4r of Quebec and his vision for a tolerant nation. Yay, can't wait for a new Hackett Fischer book!

ag. 31, 2008, 10:34am

Yikes, nbmars! 848 pages.

Thanks for the heads-up.