Advanced search

American History - book recommendations please

(30 Posts)
libertydoddle Thu 13-Apr-17 19:56:41

I'd like to read up on modern American history but not sure where to start! I'd appreciate recommendations for a couple of good, readable (ie not too academic) overviews and some ideas of books that cover particular topics / periods such as the Civil War, period between the WW1 and WW2 etc.

Many thanks.

libertydoddle Thu 13-Apr-17 22:20:39


LineysRun Thu 13-Apr-17 22:22:19

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

Obsidian77 Thu 13-Apr-17 22:26:51

Is this just for general interest or are you preparing for studying? Do you prefer books or would you be interested in watching documentaries?
Are you interested in social, military, economic history for example? Would works of fiction interest you or are you keen on non-fiction?

LineysRun Thu 13-Apr-17 22:28:08

And funnily enough, Gone With The Wind isn't at all bad as a novel.

hugoagogo Thu 13-Apr-17 22:29:31

I was going to say Bury me at wounded knee by Dee Brown, it's such a powerful book.
I like the penguin book of modern American history too, but will admit I haven't read that much American history really.

libertydoddle Sat 15-Apr-17 08:46:36

Sorry late back to this.... Thank you! Will definitely get Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. I read Gone with the Wind as a teenager!

Obsidian77 general interest rather than preparing for study. I'm interested in social history but also military, would particularly like to understand the civil war. Fiction recommendations very welcome too.

libertydoddle Sat 15-Apr-17 08:47:21

Penguin book also noted....

Timeforabiscuit Sat 15-Apr-17 08:53:12

One summer America, by Bill Bryson i found quite readable and interesting - covers one summer in the 1920's.

ClarenceOddbody Sat 15-Apr-17 08:57:27

Bill Bryson's Made In America is really good. It's not exactly a humourous book as such, like his others, it's more factual​. I think it mostly focuses on 20th C though (from memory). If you want some ideas for fiction, Malcolm Bradbury's The Modern American Novel is a good intro/handbook and pretty readable. And if you want to look into the Civil War, what about Uncle Tom's Cabin? It's a novel obv, but might be a good starting point. Yes to Bury my heart at wounded knee as well.

libertydoddle Sat 15-Apr-17 11:42:17

Uncle Tom's Cabin is a good idea. Must be over 20 years since i read it. Thanks also for the suggestions re Bill Bryson.

Floisme Sat 15-Apr-17 12:30:16

For the depression years - and also post WW2 - John Steinbeck. (Personally I struggle with him but I accept that I'm the one with the problem.)

libertydoddle Sat 15-Apr-17 12:39:17

Thanks Floisme.

lljkk Sat 15-Apr-17 13:58:13

The Jungle. Invisible Man.

AuldHeathen Sat 15-Apr-17 14:42:48

Another on the civil war is 'Battle Cry for Freedom' by James M McPherson.

LineysRun Sat 15-Apr-17 14:46:28

Are you Twitter? I can recommend some good Twitter accounts.

libertydoddle Sat 15-Apr-17 16:03:19

Not on Twitter - can't cope with too much social media!

Really appreciate all the recommendations. My Amazon wish list is getting longer smile

DelinquencyMatters Sat 15-Apr-17 16:06:08

A People's History of The United States

I loved it. Very inspiring.

Floisme Sat 15-Apr-17 17:54:44

Also Studs Terkel for oral 20th century history e.g. 'Hard Times,' 'The Good War', 'Working'. Fascinating and very readable.

Obsidian77 Sat 15-Apr-17 22:11:46

I second the recommendation for James McPherson's 'Battle Cry for Fredom' and John Keegan's 'The American Civil War' is on my to-read list.
Niall Ferguson's 'Colossus'
Was also going to suggest Bill Bryson (particularly 'One Summer: 1927') as I find him very readable and most of his stuff is available as audiobooks if this works for you.
In addition to Steinbeck authors like Kerouac, Truman Capote, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison offer interesting perspectives.

ClarenceOddbody Sat 15-Apr-17 22:13:06

Oh Floisme I love Studs Terkel. The most moving stories from the depression. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be touched by them. Great recommendation!

toldmywrath Sat 15-Apr-17 22:15:17

Nemesis by Philip Roth is about polio and the march of dimes movement in 1950s USA.

libertydoddle Sun 16-Apr-17 21:22:25

This is great. Loads to get me going and keep me going for a while!

reup Sun 16-Apr-17 21:26:44

This is good - about race class and ethnicity since 1938

reup Sun 16-Apr-17 21:31:59

Stephen Ambrose has written lots of WW2 books and on post war politics. . This was one one of my uni course and was interesting about black women and feminism.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: