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Historical Books

More Books We Like These are books that describe an historical event and then draw a connection to the present to show how history is important to us today.Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives by Terry Jones (BBC Books). You may remember Terry Jones as one of the members of Monty Python. He is the short one with dark hair. Most people don’t know that he is also a respected medievalist, whose research is presented with refreshing humor and constant references to how we do things now that we inherited from the Middle Ages. A cracking good read, as they say.To the Last Man by Jeff Shaara (Ballantine Books). This book follows a handful of individuals through the US participation in World War I. The author is the son of the man who wrote Killer Angels (also recommended on this site). Both authors are very readable. I found this book particularly interesting because my own grandfather is quoted in it – a famous Marine Corps expression uttered on his way into the Battle of Belleau Wood on June 14, 1918.Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour by Joseph E. Persico (Random House). A very readable, absolutely fascinating account of the incredibly pig-headed determination of the Allied command to eek insignificant advances on the very last day of the war, when everyone knew the armistice was due in a matter of hours. A must read for anyone who wants the whole story of World War I.1066 by David Howarth, Penguin Books, is one of those rare books about a singular historical event that takes the trouble to set the stage for you. Howarth vividly describes what life was like in England in the latter half of the eleventh century when this unlikeliest of battles took place. He takes you through the battle itself and then gives you the consequences of its unlikely outcome. A struggle so small and contained that if you’d been a half mile away, you would probably never have know it happened; yet it changed the history of English speaking people forever. A short, tight read that will stay with you.The Wars of The Roses by Alison Weir (a Ballantine Book). Ms. Weir is one of my favorite historians. She really does her homework and she writes with clear descriptive power that puts you right in the scene. This book lays out the long struggle for power during the 15th century in England, when the country was torn between two anointed kings at the same time. A very readable, scholarly work that will inspire you to read further about the often strange personalities that ride and slice their way through these pages.Connections by James Burke. Little, Brown & Company. James Burke, for those who remember the Apollo Program, was the BBC’s man on the spot in Houston, reporting our moon shots to England. He writes in a clear, lively style about how discoveries in the past have directly affected the way we live today; how each discovery or idea lead to others and how our lives and our thinking today has resulted. Very interesting and informative and a well-illustrated read.The Day the Universe Changed by James Burke. Little, Brown & Company. The sequel to Connections. The two books really should go together, but they are not interdependent. He writes so clearly that his research comes through like a game that’s fun to follow. You may end up with a renewed respect for the hard-won pedigrees of some very ordinary things.

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