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Shipman's reading list: history and historical fiction
I hated history in public school. Then, in my thirties, some
friends pointed me at some decently written history books, and my
attitude changed. Here are some books that I think would be good
for converting those who read but don't think they care for history.
- My favorite history book is
`Shipman's history books: B. H. Liddell Hart's "Why don't we learn from history?"'. The entire book is
- Anything by Barbara Tuchman.
- March of folly is vital. A study of
governments that act against their countries' own
best interests. How relevant can you get?
- A distant mirror
cured me of my tendency to think that history has to be boring.
- I have a special interest in the history of
- The washing of the spears
by Donald Morris chronicles the rise and fall of the Zulu nation.
Truly gut-wrenching. Featuring the battle of Isandlhwana, in which
Zulus armed with spears and cowhide shields wipe out British
troops armed with rifles and artillery. If you have seen the
movie ``Zulu!'' or its sequel ``Zulu Dawn,'' read this for
the rest of the context.
- The Boer War by Thomas Pakenham
is a marvelous chronicle of stupidity, perversity and failure.
This was the war that gave us the Boy Scouts and the concentration
camp (both British inventions) and some interesting advances
in guerilla warfare by the Voortrekkers.
- Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels
are some of my favorite books in the entire library.
- George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman is not really in
the same league as O'Brian, but they're good fun and a painless way
to soak up history. Warning: Lots of explicit sex.
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See also: Shipman's reading list
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John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 2005/11/25 23:46:17