Because things get lost in the comments as we move on, thought I would add a new subject so we can discuss all the books we are reading in the history (broadly defined) category.
Reading a book I wouldn’t have thought of as history but it is about a suite of cello pieces written by J. S. Bach and lost for years before Pablo Casals found them when he was 13 and eventually recorded and returned them to the world. The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin – really interesting and I got a copy of the suites played by Casals that I am playing while I am reading. A nice combination.
I ordered The Big Burn by Timothy Egan, which is about fire fighting in Washington State and how this pushed Teddy Roosevelt to create the National Forest Service. I’ve read other books by Egan and like his writing. Another possibility is The Worst Hard Time about Dustbowl survivors. And Egan’s latest book is called Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher about Edward Curtis and his photography of Native Americans.
Still reading the Cello Suites and thoroughly enjoying it but I was at the library for an event last night and in the few minutes before it started, I found a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on the 50 cent shelf of the Friends sale shelves. This is one of my favorite books and I couldn’t resist reading it again. It is just as charming the second – or maybe third – time around and since in the letters between the author and her publisher and friends and people on the isle of Guernsey, it tells the story of what happened there during the German occupation during WWII it fits the history category. In addition it has a lovely Jane Austen love story.
So back to music.
I’m reading one of Pat Barker’s books about World War I – a trilogy with titles Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road. The first 2 and at least part of the 3rd aren’t set on the battlefield, but take place in England, in London and in a hospital for physically injured and shell-shocked soldiers. One central character is the psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers who treats the men, including the poet Siegfried Sassoon and soldier Billy Prior, who is in all 3 books. I’ve been intending to read one or more of these for years (written 1993-95 and 3rd one won Booker Prize), but I’m not sure I can read them consecutively! They are psychologically intense with little outward action.
Publishers Weekly (kind of the publishers bible magazine) included three history books in its best books of 2012 -
The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600–1675 Bernard Bailyn (Knopf)
The culmination of a distinguished career, this is an original study of America’s colonial era and the link between the universal need for stability and the resulting violence that ravaged both settlers and natives.
Bring Up the Bodies Hilary Mantel (Holt)
Though the novel that recently won Mantel her second Man Booker prize is a sequel to the novel that won Mantel her first Man Booker prize, it’s a startlingly different book. Where Wolf Hall was lush and expansive, this is focused and verbose, with Mantel eschewing descriptive prose for dialogue. Thomas Cromwell is older now, with more titles and power, but he nonetheless finds himself again having to wrestle the king out of another heirless marriage, this time to Anne Boleyn.
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945–1956 Anne Applebaum (Doubleday)
A searing narrative and analysis of a historical watershed—the USSR’s brutal takeover of Eastern Europe during and after WWII.
Just read some good reviews of Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara. It’s a fictionalized account of the flooding of towns in central Mass to create Quabbin Reservoir to provide water for Boston.
I read Egan’s ‘The Worst Hard Time’ a couple years ago and was amazed and humbled by what people went though. As I recall from the book, the east coast got a taste of some of the dust storms too.
Great group today with wonderful suggestions – now someone needs to find a way to expand the day so I can read some of them. Check here (in a bit) for the list of books mentioned.
Here is the list – and it’s a long one – we had a group of READERS attending. Did the best I could to select the right title (did you know that book titles can’t be copyrighted?).
If Not Now, When? Primo Levi based on true story – not sure this is the book Peter mentioned but it looks really interesting
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
Someone Knows My Name Lawrence Hill
Sarah’s Key Tatiana de Rosnay
Midwife of Venice Roberta Rich
The Given Day Dennis Lehane
Live by Night Dennis Lehane
Those Who Save Us Jenna Blum
Wolf Hall Hillary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies Hillary Mantel
Regeneration Pat Barker
Eye in the Door Pat Barker
The Ghost Road Pat Barker
Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
The Sandcastle Girls Chris Bohjalian
Skeletons at the Feast Chris Bohjalian
The Bartender’s Tale Ivan Doig
The Whistling Season Ivan Doig
Mafia Summer E. Duke Vincent
City of Women David R. Gillham
Winter of the World Ken Follett
Fall of Giants Ken Follett
The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett
Yellow Birds Kevin Powers
The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien
At the Concord of the Rivers Anne Ipsen
Caleb’s Crossing Geraldine Brooks
Madame Tussaud Michelle Moran
The Kitchen House Kathleen Grissom
Outlander (and others in the series) Diana Gabaldon
11/22/63 Stephen King
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb Melanie Benjamin
The Wolves of Andover Kathleen Kent
The Voyagers Margaret Elphinstone
Easter Island Jennifer Verderbes
We Shall Not Sleep -5th and final in the series by Anne Perry
No Graves as Yet Anne Perry
Shoulder the Sky Anne Perry
Angels in the Gloom Anne Perry
At Some disputed Barricade Anne Perry
The Unlikely Spy Daniel Silva
A German Requiem (one of the Bernie Gunther Series) Phillip Kerr
Northwest Passage Kenneth Roberts
Arundel Kenneth Roberts
Rabble in Arms Kenneth Roberts
the Audrey Maturin series Patrick O’Brien
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
Iron Ties Ann Parker
There was a Country Chinua Achebe
The Professor and the Madman Simon Winchester
Periodic Table Primo Levi non-fiction
Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition and the Defeat of the Moors James Reston, Jr.
Passage to Ararat Michael J. Arlen
Citizens of London Lynne Olson
Sasha and Emma Paul and Karen Avrich
The President and the Assassin Scott Miller
Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left Martin Duberman
The Worst Hard Time Timothy Egan
Here and Nowhere Else Jane Brox
Five Thousand Days Like This One Jane Brox
In the Garden of the Beasts Erik Larson
Destiny of the Republic Candice Millard
The River of Doubt Candice Millard
Geisha Liza Dalby
West with the Night Beryl Markham
Out of Africa Isak Dinesen
White Mischief James Fox
Catherine of Aragon Giles Tremlett - hope this is the one you mentioned Peter
Bill and Hillary William H. Chafe – think this is the one Sandar was recommending
King Phillip’s War Eric Schultz and Michael Tougias (note: there is an entire page of listings of books about this war)
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