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Thread: Recommended Historical Readings

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Recommended Historical Readings

    Brief, but to start it off:

    Barbarossa, The German Russian Conflict 1941-1945, by Alan Clark
    Why the Allies Won, by Richard Overy
    A Peace to End All Peace, The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, by David Fromkin
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
    The Gathering Storm, by Winston Churchill

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    brak's Avatar
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    America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 by George C Herring

    The Rise & Fall Of The Third Reich and The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940 both by William L. Shirer

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    brak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Brief, but to start it off:

    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
    good read.

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    WAB Resident Historian Senior Contributor Kansas Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    A Peace to End All Peace, The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, by David Fromkin

    Considering the circumstances, Wangenheim did what he could. Can you imagine the feeling of being utter powerless to stop what he labeled, "the Porte was trying to exterminate the Armenian race in the Turkish Empire." ?

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    Old Cold Warrior Military Professional GAU-8's Avatar
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    Korean War: "This Kind Of War" by Fehrenbach.
    On Hitler/Europe WWII: "Adolf Hitler" by John Toland
    Pacific WWII: "The Rising Sun" by John Toland followed up by his "The Last 100 Days" (of WWII)
    Western Civ: "A History Of The English Speaking Peoples" Vols 1-4, by Winston Churchill.
    "To Rule The Waves" 'How The British Navy Shaped The Modern World' by Arthur Herman.

    Ditto on the above mentioned books by William Shirer. "The Collapse Of The Third Republic" was great. "The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich" is a must read. "Barbarossa" as well.

    Good job guys! This is a great thread. Thanks.
    Last edited by GAU-8; 17 Feb 07, at 15:11.

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    WAB Resident Historian Senior Contributor Kansas Bear's Avatar
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    Will Durant's historical series

    "Our Oriental Heritage"
    "The Life of Greece"
    "Caesar and Christ"
    "The Age of Faith"
    "The Renaissance"
    "The Reformation"
    "The Age of Reason Begins"
    "The Age of Louis XIV"
    "The Age of Voltaire"
    "Rousseau & Revolution"
    "The Age of Napoleon"

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    Classic Occidental works:

    Among the ancients, Thucydides and Polybius offer truths which apply to many times and places.

    In the modern canon, Machiavelli's Discourses is a good work on the overall relationship between war, politics, and government.


    Recent works:

    Strategy, by Basil Liddell-Hart, offers a controversial but stimulating survey of Western military history, along with some interesting chapters on strategic theory.

    Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History is a work both broad in view and profound in analysis. The two-volume abridgement by D.C. Somervell is an accessible read, preserves Toynbee's main argument intact, and is widely available in public libraries.

    John Keegan's Face of Battle is a must-read. Keegan also wrote the best single-volume history of WWII, but avoid Keegan's history of World War One, which is a work quite inferior to his others.

    Kennedy's Rise and Fall of the Great Powers is still very much worth reading, although perhaps no longer as topical as when it was first written.


    More on World War Two:

    Overy's Why the Allies Won and Toland's Rising Sun are good.

    Glantz' When Titans Clashed is one of the better works in English on the Eastern Front. If you have the stomach for a lot of detail and you're not particular about writing style, then also have a go at Glantz' Colossus Reborn for a look at how the Soviets rebuilt their shattered armies in the midst of war.

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    Staff Emeritus
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    Not a book, but great reference material. The USMA History Department's Atlases:

    historyhome03
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Senior Contributor Samudra's Avatar
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    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
    What book should I read to have a faint idea about how the Roman Empire was built/established in the first place ?

    Bear in mind that the only thing I know in European history is that Churchill was the British PM during the Second World War.

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    WAB Resident Historian Senior Contributor Kansas Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samudra View Post
    What book should I read to have a faint idea about how the Roman Empire was built/established in the first place ?

    "Fall of the Roman Republic" -- Plutarch

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    Senior Contributor Samudra's Avatar
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    Fall of the Roman Republic
    How about The Rise of the Roman Empire by Polybius ?

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    WAB Resident Historian Senior Contributor Kansas Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samudra View Post
    How about The Rise of the Roman Empire by Polybius ?

    IIRC, "The Rise of the Roman Empire" ends with the 3rd Punic War(146 BCE).

    "The Fall of the Roman Republic" ends with Cicero (43 BCE).

    Suetonius wrote "The Twelve Caesars", although his writing was more of a reporter than a historian.


    If you read "The Rise of the Roman Empire" and "Fall of the Roman Republic", you should get enough information to give you a good idea how it all started.

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    cape royds,

    interesting that you should mention this.

    John Keegan's Face of Battle is a must-read
    there's a counter-book to "the face of battle" in the academic world, called "the eye of command".

    Kimberly Kagan: The Eye of Command, University of Michigan Press

    says that keegan puts too much emphasis on small-unit actions. i was wondering if anyone had read "the eye of command" and could give a few opinions...
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Padishah Shahanshah Senior Contributor xerxes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
    i have read that ... very long .. at somepoint I was bored

    Quote Originally Posted by STIG View Post
    America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 by George C Herring
    I dont think i have read this ... sounds very familiar. I have read another book on Vietnam called the "Rise & Fall Of The American Army".. something like that. it covered Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by STIG View Post
    The Rise & Fall Of The Third Reich both by William L. Shirer
    I believe i have read that too

    and I have also read the The Rise & Fall Of The Soviet Empire ..

    i like books that has Rise & Fall in it title
    Last edited by xerxes; 21 Feb 07, at 00:35.
    If we contrast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery of gunpowder with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind. - Edward Gibbon

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    Dirty Kiwi Senior Contributor
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    Quote Originally Posted by shek View Post
    Not a book, but great reference material. The USMA History Department's Atlases:

    historyhome03
    Ohhhh.
    Thanks Shek

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