Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Book recommendations

I'm a history buff. There are few well-written history books that I don't enjoy reading. But I just came across a couple of exceptional volumes of American history that I thought I'd share.

My first recommendation is Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, by Garry Wills. I was made to memorize the Gettysburg Address some time in grade school, but I never before appreciated how those few words changed the way Americans looked at the Civil War and at their nation. This Pulitzer-prize-winning examination of the text, the political landscape, and the historical circumstances places the speech in a unique context and elucidates the manner in which it affects us all, even today.

My second recommendation is more of a traditional historical narrative, and I'm only through with a couple of chapters, but I'm enjoying it so much I can already recommend it: Mayflower, a Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick. This detailed, well-researched and highly readable story of the men and women who crossed the Atlantic in the Mayflower, and their traumatic experiences in founding a new community among the native residents, will give you an entirely new viewpoint on our collective American experience. Example: did you know that William Bradford's wife may have committed suicide by jumping off the Mayflower shortly after it first anchored by Cape Cod? That illustrates how incredibly bleak things must have looked at that time for their prospects in the new land. And that was before over half of them died the first winter.







7 comments:

KLN said...

I was very disappointed by Mayflower. I've read Philbrick's other works and Heart of the Sea was far superior. This one read as a dry history of the Colonial-Indian wars, and lacked anything deeper.

nancytoby said...

Hmm. I read and enjoyed that one too, but nothing else he's written. Darn, I hope I didn't fall for a couple good first chapters!!

Spokane Al said...

They both sound like fine books and I will definitely add them to my list.

If you have not already read the book, I highly recommend Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

With Lincoln as one of my personal heros I will admit a bit of bias, and found this book absolutely riveting.

nancytoby said...

Oooh, thanks for the good recommendation! I loved Goodwin's _No Ordinary Time_ and Team of Rivals sounds like a great book concept from the get-go (I'd love to see a current president put his rivals in his cabinet!).

Kewl Nitrox said...

Sorry, probably my bad experience with history in school but you will never see me pick up a history book... Not counting the bible of course - it's a great history book! :D

Just catching up on old posts becoz that's what I do when I am stuck in my 3 star hotel room at night in Munich reading blogs... Buttercup still looks SWEET!

Vickie said...

I love history too and will keep these in mind for later reads.

Robin said...

Those sound great, thanks for the recommendations. I'm a major Civil War history buff, so I think I'll definitely put the Lincoln one on hold at the library.