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History books

(33 Posts)
lionhearted Thu 01-Jun-06 11:26:48

Anyone like to recommend their favourite history books, please?

acnebride Thu 01-Jun-06 11:32:35

Anything by Cecil Woodham-Smith (a woman) very retro but very good IMO - The Reason Why is one I love a lot. The Great Hunger too.

Anything by Barbara Tuchman although by gum they're big. The Proud Tower I thought was a goody.

Victoria Glendinning's biography of Trollope. Can't recommend it enough. Amazing.

Blake (biog of William Blake) by thingy who wrote London: The Biography. Slightly hallucinogenic. Read it on honeymoon with my xh so can honestly say it was better than sex.

acnebride Thu 01-Jun-06 11:33:25

Oh and a bit technical but fascinating - The Impact of English Towns 1500 - 1700 by P Corman - that's all from memory so probably a few details out like it might be British, are those dates right, is that her name???! what a good student I was.

acnebride Thu 01-Jun-06 11:34:46

Oooh and don't miss Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire from about 4 years ago, was v popular and for a good reason esp if you've ever liked Georgette Heyer.

acnebride Thu 01-Jun-06 11:34:59

And Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford.

acnebride Thu 01-Jun-06 13:32:27

killed the thread with enthusiasm sorry

lionhearted Thu 01-Jun-06 15:05:39

lol. I'm sure it's not dead yet.

I'll whizz over to Amazon to check these out, esp. the Blake, Duchess, and Pompadour. Thanks.


By way of return, I really love Judith Flanders, The Victorian House from Childbirth to the Deathbed, just because it focuses on all those little things you wonder about when you think about life in the nineteenth-century (like cleanliness, and food, and servants, and plumbing), unless that's just me, of course.
On the strength of this I read A Circle of Sisters:Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne-Jones, Agnes Poynter and Louisa Balwin. Also fascinating.

Am almost done with Liza Picard's Victorian London: The Life of the City 1840-1870. Not sure I'm really attuned to her humour so the colloquial asides are just irksome. I will check out the Ackroyd instead.

Had high hopes of Anthony Beevor's Stalingrad, which I finally got around to reading. Disappointing.

LadyCodofCOdford Thu 01-Jun-06 15:06:49

oh the staling rad thing was harrowing though
abotu the breastfeeding owmen
shudder

Ledodgyherring Thu 01-Jun-06 15:18:16

Secret World of Sex: Forbidden Fruit - The British Experience, 1900-50 by Stephen Humphries is a good read too.

southeastastra Thu 01-Jun-06 15:29:48

I really liked Wild Swans, seem to like historical books on China for some reason.

Stalingrad thing sounds sad what happened to the women!

lionhearted Thu 01-Jun-06 17:27:41

Yes, the social and cultural aspects of that book were much more memorable than the movements of this or that battalion.

There are an awful lot of history/autobiographies relating to China that came out after Jung Chang's success. Anyone read her latest?

roisin Thu 01-Jun-06 17:35:38

I like Simon Winchester:
the map that changed the world and the surgeon of crowthorne

lionhearted Thu 01-Jun-06 20:45:43

These look promising, too.

lusciouslynda Thu 01-Jun-06 20:58:23

Antonia Fraser and ALison Weir are great for historical biographies. I really liked Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser, and Alison Weir's Six Wives of Henry VIII was a great read.

lionhearted Thu 01-Jun-06 21:53:13

I've a soft spot for decadent aristos (on paper, at least).

busybusybee Thu 01-Jun-06 22:00:32

I read a fantastic book about london - Trouble is I have no idea who wrote it

It was I think about 1600 -1800 london - Crime, schools, health, toilets, rats - all sorts of stuff you never thought would be interesting

I wish I could remember who wrote it cos I know she has written others I havent read!

KateF Thu 01-Jun-06 22:03:41

Testament of Youth by Vera Britten - saddest thing I've read in my life but it educated me about WW1 more than any history lesson.

Beetle73 Thu 01-Jun-06 22:09:14

I'd second the Duch of Dev. Very good.
Also enjoyed Pepys by Claire Tomalin - what a comedy lech he was.

acnebride Fri 02-Jun-06 11:29:45

Busybusybee - was that Dr Johnson's London by Liza Picard? She's done 3 I think now, and I like them unlike lionhearted although I haven't read the Victorian one.

I'd agree about The Victorian House by Judith Flanders, top stuff.

Marina Fri 02-Jun-06 11:36:29

I love Paul Murray Kendall's biography of Richard III which I read on the back of the fabulous sort-of-historical novel The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey.
Liza Picard is good for research but I don't think she writes all that well. Have just loved James Shapiro on Shakespeare: 1599. Really gripping!
The Paston Letters is lovely for people who like medieval history, and in Penguin now is my all time favourite: Montaillou, the story of a Cathar village, by Emmanuel Leroy Ladurie.
Also like the late, lamented Ian Ousby on 20th century French history (Vichy especially).
I found Stalingrad deeply upsetting but am glad I read it. Still on the fence about Beevor's writing though.
Dh rates David Cannadine and grumbles about him moving to teach in the States on a regular, yawnsome basis.

poppadum Fri 02-Jun-06 15:28:55

Everything and anything by Mary Renault, who writes on ancient Greece., but especially the Alexander Trilogy.

KTeePee Fri 02-Jun-06 15:59:39

Acnebride, I loved Georgiana too - was amazed at their spending powers! BTW, I have always wondered what is the correct pronounciation of Georgiana - is it the same as Georgina?

busybusybee Fri 02-Jun-06 22:04:30

acnebride - Yes lisa picard - I will try and find a 2nd hand copy on ebay for my shelf

I have never heard of Judith flanders so will check her out

I didnt read the whole thread yesterday so didnt see that lionhearted had already mentioned the very book I was thinking of!!!

lionhearted Fri 02-Jun-06 22:29:31

Lots of fabulous suggestions here.

I forgot to mention (although this requires a strong nerve), Edward Shorter, Women's Bodies: A Social History of Women's Encounter with Health, Ill-Health and Medicine. Absolutely fascinating but shocking too.

And Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History: Early Modernist and Twentieth Century Representations is very interesting too. Lots of cross-over to literature in this (Plath and so on) but a brave book that takes issue with the feminist orthodoxy concerning witch-burning.


I'm off to Amazon , although I'm pretty sure someone should stop me.

katiebl Sat 03-Jun-06 17:47:16

Lyndal Roper - Oedipus and the Devil: Witchcraft, sexuality and religion in early modern Europe
Definately my favourite. REally really fascinating. Based on Germany mostly after the PRotestant Reformation there. As a history student I rarely read a history book all the way through, but this one I read on a regular basis. Also showed me that my main interest was in gender identity and gender relations in Early Modern Europe. It's the book that changed my outlook on history. First one I bought myself.

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