Is This Book Really 'the Best Account of the Whole of the Human Experience'?
To my brother Jeremy,
I know I've already sent too many book titles to start sorting through and deciding what you like and what you don't. But now here's another to add to the pile. I'm going to try to grab this at the library this afternoon:
If you could have dinner with any three historians (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
William H. McNeill, the world historian (born 1917): because he has the largest vision of the human condition. Bernard Lewis, the Middle East historian (born 1916): because he knows best the region I study. Richard Pipes, the Russian historian (born 1923): because I have known and learned from him all my life.
What books are you reading now?
Pierre van Paassen, Days of Our Years (1939) and Rodney Stark, How the West Won (2014).
What is your favorite history book?
McNeill's The Rise of the West (1963), the best account of the whole of the human experience.
I haven't read any McNeill yet, but I'm very inclined to dig in because Pipes is one of the historians who has influenced me the most. His focus is the Middle East, but I'd encourage you to start first with his book on conspiracy theories and their accompanying ideology, Conspiracism. You'd probably find that the most interesting and applicable to your explorations in popular culture. Conspiracy themes have often been popularized throughout movies and TV and Pipes' book can be very helpful for picking up on some of the more obscure ones.
P.S. A discussion prompt and challenge for all of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island's contributors: if you could pick 10 history books for every American to read what would they be? If every American family was provided by the federal government with the 10 best books to understand America and Western Civilization what would they be in your estimation? (Top 5? Or a top 20?)