Sunday, December 02, 2007

Back to History Challenge 2008

Who can resist a good reading challenge? Shannon at the Back to History Challenge calls for people to read 12 history books in 2008. The following rules are provided:

A FEW RULES... All participants should try to mix up their reading choices. Please do not have ALL biographies, or ALL memoirs, etc. There is no limit on any sub-category, but remember...this is supposed to be a CHALLENGE. You should be getting out of your comfort zones and finding something new to explore. You should read one historical non-fiction, or historical fiction novel a month. Ultimately...let’s have fun!

My challenge will be making a dent in the piles of books I already own. My normal behavior is to buy new book and then get distracted by the latest and greatest. Here then are my 12 choices, with some possible substitutes

1) 1491 by Charles Mann. This is a history of the Americas up to the arrival of Columbus. An area of which I know little.

2) Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper. Despite the title, this is both military and political history.

3) Inside the Cold War by H.W. Brands. Brands is a favorite, which I suppose violates the comfort rule, but this is more academic, so I have to get points for that.

4) The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy by Adam Tooze. Lots of war-related items on this list, but this is primarily economic history, an area in which I am terribly under-read.

5) Queen's Play by Dorothy Dunnett. Her use of medieval idiom and vocabulary tends to befuddle me, but I'd like to give her another try.

6) The Gates of Africa by Anthony Sattin. A history of the search for Timbuktu.

7) A Savage War of Peace by Alistair Horne. The leading account, in English, about the French War in Algeria. The parallels to Iraq make it a all the more compelling.

8) Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age 1945-2000 by Martin Torgoff. A political and social history of drug use in America.

9) Rise and Fall of British Naval History by Anthony Kennedy. An early work by the prophet of decline.

10) Damage Them All You Can by George Walsh. A single volume history of the Army of Northern Virginia. If I am feeling particularly studious, I will swap this or follow up with Lee's Lieutenants.

11) A Consumer's Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America by Lizabeth Cohen. The title sounds dreary, but it has a snappy cover image, and it is published by Vintage which is usually a good sign for history.

12) Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies by Robert Sklar. This one might require more work in the lingo of cultural studies.

Other options
1) India: A History by John Keay.
2) City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

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