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A People’s History of the United States
by Howard Zinn

A Study of History
Abridgement of Volumes I-VI
by Arnold Toynbee

 

The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
Ed. Robert B. Strassler

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
by Edward Gibbon

The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens
by Eva C. Keuls

Medieval Technology & Social Change
by Lynn White

The Italian Renaissance
by Peter Burke

The Elizabethan Renaissance
by A. L. Rowse

Shiloh
by Shelby Foote

The Second World War
by Winston S. Churchill

Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and 70s
ed. Peter Braunstein and Michael William Doyle

Republic of Dreams:
Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960

by Ross Wetzsteon

The Albigensian Crusades
by Joseph R. Strayer

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A People's History of the United States Voices of a People's History
A Study of History, I-VI A Study of History, VII-X
Thucydides
Herodotus
The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire The Greeks & the Irrational
Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens The Mind of the Middle Ages
Medieval Technology & Social Change The Waning of the Middle Ages
The Italian Renaissance
The Elizabethan Renaissance Shakespeare's England
Shiloh
The Civil War
Churchill's History of the War
Panzer Battles
The American Counterculture
Lyndon Johnson's Secret Tapes
History of Greenwich Village
Thomas Jefferson & John Marshall
The Albigensian Crusades
The Perfect Heresy

Voices of a People’s History
by Howard Zinn

A Study of History
Abridgement of Volumes VII-X
by Arnold Toynbee

The Histories
by Herodotus

The Greeks and The Irrational
by E. R. Dodds

The Mind of the Middle Ages: AD 200-1500, An Historical Study
by Frederick Binkerd Artz

The Waning of the Middle Ages
by Johan Huizinga

Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis
by Deborah Hayden

Shakespeare’s England: Life in Elizabethan and Jocobean Times
by Ron Pritchard

The Civil War:
A Narrative:
Red River to Appomattox

by Shelby Foote

Panzer Battles:  A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War
by F. W. Von Mellenthin

Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965
ed. Michael R. Beschloss

What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a
United States

by James F. Simon

The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars
by Stephen O’Shea

Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford University Press: 1989).  Perhaps the most important book of American History this century.  Fischer's unique approach makes sense of events in American history that I never understood before. Like, what was the whiskey rebellion really all about? Why was Andrew Jackson's marriage so controversial? And, why were Patton and Eisenhower so radically different, yet each one a great general? Fischer also enlightens his readers regarding many peculiar vagaries of American politics over the past two centuries.

Albion's SeedFischer has made an in-depth study of the cultural folkways of four groups of early American immigrants: the Puritans, who moved primarily from East Anglia to Massachusetts; the English gentry and their indentured servants, who came from the South of England and settled in North Carolina and Virginia; the Quaker Friends, who migrated primarily from the North Midlands and settled in the Delaware Valley; and the Borderlanders of North England and South Scotland who settled the backcountry of Pennsylvania and eventually the Appalachians. Fischer's approach is to analyze the folkways of each group into comparable units: speech, building, family, marriage, gender, sex, naming, child-rearing, age, death, religion, magic, learning, literacy, food, dress, sport, work, time, wealth, inheritance, rank, association, order, power, and freedom.

After an exhaustive analysis of regional folkways in England and America, which can at times be tedious, Fischer moves on to the truly fascinating part of his study in his conclusion, subtitled The Origin and Persistence of Regional Cultures in the United States. One brief observation will have to serve as an example of the insights Albion's Seed offers:  "The war fever of '98 marked the beginning of a consistent pattern in American military history.  From the quasi-war with France to the Vietnam War, the two southern cultures strongly supported every American War no matter what it was about or who it was against.  Southern ideas of honor and the warrior ethic combined to create regional war fevers of great intensity in 1798, 1812, 1846, 1861, 1889, 1917, 1941, 1950 and 1965."

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Birth of the ModernThe Birth of the Modern, World Society 1815-1830, by Paul Johnson (HarperCollins, 1991).  The scope of this book is so broad that it is virtually impossible to summarize it in a review, and, in retrospect, it is hard to believe it covers only 15 years.  I’m pretty well-read, but I was amazed at how little I really know about the origins of the modern world.  While the emphasis of the book is on England and the U.S., the author does cover events in Europe, the Middle East, Russia, South America, and the Far East.  I recommend treating it like a magazine--just flip through, find something that catches your attention, and start reading.  You won’t be disappointed.

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