Over at Teh Facebook, a reader named Rusty was kind enough to complement me on my historical background and wanted to know where I picked up some of the oldster mojo. I’m pretty much self-taught in history, but it struck me as an excellent question, and I thought I might repeat the answer here for those who might be interested.
One of my favorite history works is THE LAST 100 DAYS, by John Toland, about the final days of WWII. Just understanding what went on in the Hitler Bunker makes it impossible to put down.
The best combat history I have read is Guy Sajer’s THE FORGOTTEN SOLDIER, which is the story of a French national fighting with the Germans on the Russian front in WWII. If you really want to know how bad things can be, that’s the one.
All of Victor Davis Hanson’s books are keepers. Nothing I can add to that.
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER is a great little volume on the Titanic, and LIFE IN MEDIEVAL TIMES by Marjorie Rowling is a little-known gem about the Middle Ages. PLAGUES AND PEOPLES by William McNeill takes alook at human history as a result of disease gradients ranging from the equator to the poles and the effect of disease immunity on human history.
A BRILLIANT SOLUTION is the story of the Constitutional convention — not a great read, but really informative.
And I flat out DEFY any reader to believe that anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger on JFK after finishing CASE CLOSED by Gerald Posner.
Second runner up in the sheer entertainmet field: BLACK HAWK DOWN — a brilliant movie and even better book. Mark Bowden became a hero to the military for telling that story. It’s probably the best description of modern warfare you’ll ever read.
However, the most entertaining history book I have ever encountered is the semi-fiction GATES OF FIRE by Steven Pressfield. He came into the studio for an interview with Glenn Reynolds and it might as well have been Bono as far as I was concerned…
All of these pale — really pale — to the single greatest piece of history ever written, in my mind: THE CIVIL WAR: A NARRATIVE by the brilliant, the breath-takingly good Shelby Foote. Three volumes of about 800 pages each. I read it through, put it down for a year or two, then read it again. been through it four times now, and it never gets old.
I’d love to hear your own comments and suggestions, and the best way to reach me with questions would be to join the cool kids over at my facebook page by clicking on the link at the top of this post.