Tuesday, September 28, 2021

History Books You Will---Stop It! You Will! I Promise You Will!---Enjoy Reading

History books.

I can see it on your face. 

You have had a bad experience with a history book. Perhaps it was forced down your throat, the way (sadly) some teachers do.

But would you please set those awful experiences in the past with history books aside? Would you please trust me on this? These history books are good...no, better than good...these history books are some of the best stories you will ever read.

I promise.

Here's my list...

March: Book One by John Lewis.

March: Book Two by John Lewis.

March Book Three by John Lewis.

"Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. March is the award-winning, graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement."

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson.

"In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports, Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family."

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.

"It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love."

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson. 

"At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf."

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett Graff.

"IThe Only Plane in the Sky, Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, he paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet."

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides.

"In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores. James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power."

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

"Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant."

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright.

"The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of al-Qaeda, and the intelligence failures that culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat."

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Greatest Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.

"From 1915 to 1970, an exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves. Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties."

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

"In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion."

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean.

"The Periodic Table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow every element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, and in the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, and discovery -- from the Big Bang through the end of time."

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan.

"The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Timothy Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones."

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff.

"Award-winning former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoff unleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S.military personnel into a land that time forgot."

Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 by R. A. Scotti.

"The massive destruction wreaked by the Hurricane of 1938 dwarfed that of the Chicago Fire, the San Francisco Earthquake, and the Mississippi floods of 1927, making the storm the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Now, R.A. Scotti tells the story."

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan.

"It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures and religions. From the rise and fall of empires to the spread of Buddhism and the advent of Christianity and Islam, right up to the great wars of the twentieth century—this book shows how the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East."

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevich.

"This remarkable debut book from Philip Gourevitch chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech--largely by machete--it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Gourevitch his title. With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps."

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin.

"Acclaimed journalist Jeffrey Toobin takes us into the chambers of the most important—and secret—legal body in our country, the Supreme Court, revealing the complex dynamic among the nine people who decide the law of the land. An institution at a moment of transition, the Court now stands at a crucial point, with major changes in store on such issues as abortion, civil rights, and church-state relations. Based on exclusive interviews with the justices and with a keen sense of the Court’s history and the trajectory of its future, Jeffrey Toobin creates in The Nine a riveting story of one of the most important forces in American life today."

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.  


  1. My aunt would have loved your list. She was a history teacher and I had stacks of history books. I've "inherited" most of them, but still need to sort about half of it out.

    Erik Larson is an author I still need to try. I have both Dead Wake and The Splendid and the Vile on my TBR. Need to make a plan here.

    I haven't read Unbroken, but I did read Devil at my heels, Louis Zamperinni's Memoir. It was brilliant.

    Have a lovely day Debbie!

    Elza Reads

  2. I've only read Unbroken and The Sudden Sea. I do like a good dose of NF so I'm surprised I haven't read more. Thanks for adding to the TBR Deb.

  3. Ever since I read "The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America" by Erik Larson I"ve been meaning to read more of his books. Your list is a good start for me. I love reading history books, including well-researched historical novels. (Unfortunately there are far too many BADLY researched historical novels!)

    Two histories that I liked: "The History of White People" by Nell Irvin Painter and "The President's Kitchen Cabinet" by Adrian Miller.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  4. I loved The Splendid and the Vile and Unbroken! Strangely, I've started The Disappearing Spoon and the way historians can track Lewis & Clark campsites is...unusual and a bit scary! I want to read all of the other books on your list as I love history written for the layperson. I got a bit hooked on the dust bowl after reading Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles last year, so that might be a good place to begin. Thanks for a great list!

  5. A good narrative nonfiction is tough to beat and you've listed some really good ones. My favorites on your list are The Only Plane in the Sky, Boys in the Boat, Lost in Shangra La, Unbroken, and the March series. Great list!

  6. Your title made me laugh. I do love history though, so I will have to check some of these out.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

  7. I haven't read any of those books, although Wilkerson's book has been on my list for a while. I'm going to take a look at some of the others you've mentioned. I do need to get more nonfiction into my reading diet.

  8. I usually really enjoy narrative nonfiction, especially if it means I learn something new. So many good choices here. Adding others to my TBR.

  9. My daughter has read The Disappearing Spoon, but yeah, I am not much of a history book reader :) Here is my link for this week: https://cindysbookcorner.blogspot.com/2021/09/top-ten-tuesday-20-books-for-christmas.html

  10. There is so much good history stuff, I love the sound of the Churchill book and I've always been fascinated by the Silk Road.

  11. I love a well-written and compelling history book. Unbroken was awesome. And I have the Rwandan book on my TBR list already, but I think I'll be adding several more of these titles to my list. What a great choice for this week's TTT! :)

  12. Every once in a while I come across the book that has a part of history in it that ends up being interesting.

  13. I agree on the MANY of these I've already read. A Superb List. Now to mine your list for Nonfiction November. Well done!

  14. My oldest daughter read Unbroken a few years ago, and loved it. She is a huge WWII history buff, so anything about that time period grabs her attention.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  15. I do like nonfiction, but always get distracted by fiction instead. March is really good, and I have a student reading Run right now.

    And in response to your comment on my post--yes I LOVED Firekeeper's Daughter! So good!

  16. This is a fabulous list and I like your descriptions -- there are some I've read, many I haven't. I think Erik Larson is one of the best writers out there. And Unbroken. A gem.

  17. This looks like a great list, Deb. I read The Only Plane in the Sky and loved it. I need to try an Erik Larson book.

  18. I did History as part of my degree (it was a joint degree, History and Journalism) so lists like these are right up my street!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/09/28/top-ten-tuesday-335/

  19. Of course I am in awe of your list and want to add most of them(well, all) to my TBR..
    I do love and enjoy historical fiction and non-fiction.. Last year's Cybils certainly ensured I read many wonderful books..
    While I have not read any of the books on your list, I have read NF reads about the Silk Road, the Berlin Olympics and American athletes there, as well as the Dust Bowl (with my son)

  20. Have read several and LOVED them. Copied the names of several more. TY

  21. I've read several on your list and wish I had loved them as much as you. The Only Plane in the Sky was outstanding, though. I have The Splendid and the Vile in my stack for Nonfiction November and look forward to reading it. My husband thought it was outstanding.


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