Wednesday, April 08, 2015

History Reading

My husband recently called my attention to the fact that most people when they read history, in this country at least, read about the Founding Fathers. And similarly it is my son's birthday and we are looking for a book to give him.

Why is that people love books about the founders.  And if you read history, what are you most likely to read?

With me, it is biographies of writers.

27 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Interesting question, Patti! I think that the founders of our country were, many of them, really interesting people. For instance, Benjamin Franklin, for all his faults, was also very interesting and brilliant. People like that are appealing. But perhaps that's just me...

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, I love reading history. Just this afternoon I was looking at USPS's stamp of the Founding Fathers though I believe there were more than four.

I like reading histories of empires like the Ottoman and British empires, for instance.

Joe Barone said...

I guess you read in your area of interest. I read church (mostly Christian) history because I think that the course of events probably reveals that Paul and the church Fathers formed the church before they attempted to preserve the words of Jesus. Six or seven of Paul's letters are the earliest writings in the New Testament. I look at something like the Nicene Creed and note that it has little to do with the teachings of Jesus. It has much more to do with the theology of those who wrote it and imposed it on the church. That kind of thing seems interesting to me.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

If I read American history it is most likely to be about the Civil War.

Yes, biographies of writers would also be high on my list,

Jeff M.

George said...

The Founding Fathers were a unique group so historical novels about them are always fun reading. Like Jeff, I read a lot of Civil War books. And I just finished reading a book of brief biographies of women writers. That review will be up on my blog tomorrow.

Charles Gramlich said...

I minored in history in college. The vast majority of my historical reading was about WWII. I read mostly military history in general.

Al Tucher said...

I have gone through phases on the Civil War, Rome, and medieval Europe. More recently I have started looking back at events that I lived through but was too young to understand at the time: the civil rights movement, the Cold War, Vietnam.

RT said...

I tend to be eclectic in my reading of history, and when I discover a good author, I tend to read everything by that author. A couple of author who fill the bill are David McCullough, Stephen Ambrose, Alison Weir, and Peter Ackroyd.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I have read a bunch of books about Vietnam too (fiction as well as non fiction). Patti, I think the Founding Fathers are larger than life figures to us. Plus, by any standards they led amazing lives!

I majored in history too and studied British history first, American second.

Jeff M.

Graham Powell said...

I don't read history that much, but when I do it tends to be broad-brush type stuff. The last history book I can remember reading was Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which is long but pretty lively.

Dana King said...

When I read history, it's often about major wars, or other significant events. I've read quite a bit of Founding Father history, but not biography. What I've read is along the lines of how the Constitution was written, the history of the Supreme Court, and other things than span more than one person.

I can't remember the last time I read an author biography. To be honest, their lives don't interest me nearly as much as their writing.

Deb said...

I much more likely to read English or European history as opposed to American history, but when I do read American history, I enjoy reading about the expansion and settlement of the American west (especially the accelerated pace after the Civil War). Everything from Boomers & Sooners to the Mormon trail to the Donner Party.

RT said...

Postscript: Sometimes my impulse to read history rather than imaginative literature comes from unlikely sources. Consider this:

http://beyondeastrod.blogspot.com/2015/04/an-early-and-belated-fathers-day.html

So, my most recent interest is in WW2.

BTW, regarding biographies, one of the best "literary" biographies I ever read was entitled Max Perkins: Editor of Genius. Other winning lit-bios were Ackroyd's studies of William Blake and William Shakespeare.

Finally, the one American history book that I think trumps all others that I have read is David McCullough's John Adams.

But enough from me. I now sit back and look forward to seeing what others have to offer. (Great catalytic posting, Patti!)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sorry to be a bit absent here. We just sold our house and bought a new one. We are knee-deep in inspectors, realtors, handy men, etc. Hopefully in about a month the dust, and dust is the right word, will settle and we will be in a better place for us.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Max Perkins bio is my all-time favorite although is one on Fitzgerald is fine too. Recently like the one on Yates, Cheever, Carver.

Richard said...

Not that I read a lot of history, but I tend toward books by David McCullough for early American history. I also like what Deb said, books about the West...the laying of rails across the country, the Big Four, Lewis and Clarke, California-Oregon-Washington settling, the Oregon Trail, that sort of thing.

I have also read NF about WWII, the Civil War and some biographies about American Presidents.

Al Tucher said...

Belatedly, I recall my favorite single work of history: THE FATAL SHORE by Robert Hughes. It's a history of Australia that's so alive that it almost bleeds.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Congratulations on the house, Patti. That was pretty fast, wasn't it?

I agree on the John Adams book by McCullough. Great stuff. I've read a lot of books on Hemingway and the Michael Reynolds series of books is excellent. I'd also highly recommend Leon Edel's five volume biography of Henry James. And the official Churchill biography started by his son Randolph and taken over by Martin S. Gilbert afterwards is good too.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Congratulations on the house, Patti. That was pretty fast, wasn't it?

I agree on the John Adams book by McCullough. Great stuff. I've read a lot of books on Hemingway and the Michael Reynolds series of books is excellent. I'd also highly recommend Leon Edel's five volume biography of Henry James. And the official Churchill biography started by his son Randolph and taken over by Martin S. Gilbert afterwards is good too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The only biblical book I have read, other than the Bible itself, is WHO WROTE THE BIBLE? Shame on me.

Gerard said...

I'm reading an anti-Founding Fathers book right now. Fusiliers: the saga of a British Redcoat regiment in the American Revolution by Mark Urban.

Urban follows the same regiment through the initial fighting to surrender. I'm still in 1776 though.

Jerry House said...

I tend to go for the odd corners of history. One book that stood out was PRINT IN A WILD LAND (1967) by John Myers Myers, about newspapers in the Old West. Another one was REBEL BOAST: FIRST AT BETHEL -- LAST AT APPOMATTOX (1956) by Manly Wade Wellman, a heart-breaking look back at the cost of war, based on the diaries and letters of five confederate soldiers.

And you can't go wrong with Peter Ackroyd.

Cap'n Bob said...

With my interest in the Little Big Horn I of course have read a ton of Custer books. I also read about the Old West and lately, as my model building has developed, I'm reading more about WWII, especially the Navy in the Pacific. But I've always liked history and have read about it since I was a kid.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved reading about what you all read. Similarities yes but so many differences.

Cap'n Bob said...

Patti, you might try Asimov's Guide to the Bible, by Isaac Asimov.

Chris said...

I read quite a bit of frontier history. Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides and Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne are both phenomenal (Gwynne has a new one out about Stonewall Jackson, Sides has one out about early arctic exploration, both of which I can't wait to dig into). Peter Stark has Astoria, about opening a trade route on the west coast centered in Oregon. I could go on and on. I love this kind of stuff.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I like books about intellectual circles like the people in Concord or the Bloomsbury Circle.