Tribe Book Cover Tribe
Sebastian Junger
Social Science
May 24, 2016

Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.

The Middle Ages: A Very Short Introduction

The Middle Ages Book Cover The Middle Ages
Miri Rubin
Oxford University Press, USA

I love the “A Very Short Introduction” series of books. I have developed the habit of reading an appropriate one in the lead up to every class I take towards my degree in History. They provide a very high level overview and usually provide a couple of topics I can explore for a paper.

See my Kindle Notes

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O

Dodo Book Cover Dodo
Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland,
Borough Press
June 1, 2017

Such a fun read! The gist (from the book): some manner of cause-and-effect relationship existed between the rise of scientific knowledge and the decline of magic.

It brings together some of my favorite things: Boston, and more specifically, Belmont, MA (where I once attended high school); Constantinople in the 1200's; and more specifically again, the Fourth Crusade.

Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy Book Cover Hillbilly Elegy
J. D. Vance
Social Science
June 28, 2016

Vance is a former marine and Yale Law School graduate who gives a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class.

I find myself returning to a famous video clip on Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. He and the band are getting ready to walk off the stage and he squats down, peers out into the audience and asks "ever feel like you've been cheated?"

This book gets at what Rotten was getting at. The decline of white, working-class, Americans - a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over the last forty years. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. It is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

The Pegasus and Orne Bridges

The Pegasus and Orne Bridges Book Cover The Pegasus and Orne Bridges
Neil Barber
Pen and Sword
May 31, 2014

This book tells the story of the glider-borne operation to capture Pegasus Bridge conducted by Major John Howard and his company of Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and  the seizure of the Orne bridges by British airborne forces and the defense against German counter attacks.prolonged period. The book covers events and operations from Ranville in the East to Benouville in the West and the fighting by 7th, 12th and 13th Parachute Battalions and reinforcements such as the Commandos, seaborne engineers and the Warwicks. Lots of solid, specific details that I am using in a small hobby of mine.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses

A History of the World in 6 Glasses Book Cover A History of the World in 6 Glasses
Tom Standage
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
May 26, 2009

I stole this from my daughter. It was a summer reading assignment for her Sophomore year AP World History class. I loved it! From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history all the defining drink during a pivotal historical period. A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization. For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

Fingerprints of the Gods

Fingerprints Of The Gods Book Cover Fingerprints Of The Gods
Graham Hancock
Random House
January 25, 2011

This is in my Top 10 books. Hancock tags a lot of his posts on Facebook with "things keep getting older." He has made a career of challenging the orthodox thinking on the age of civilzation(s). (And the orthodox don't like being challenged).

This book gets into details about recent discoveries such as: ancient maps that indicate the ancients were capable of complex math well beyond out current thinking. He details the similarities and common characteristics of the myths of Osiris in Egypt and Viracocha in South America. He shows the pyramids at Giza form an exact terrestrial diagram of the three belt stars in the constellation of Orion.

Hancock feels that we are missing a big chunk of our history. He shows that Flood stories are shared by more than 500 different cultures and that all of them share the same symbolic motifs: the one good man, a warning from a god, and the seeds of all living things.

He think the Flood happened 15,000 or so years ago. It is a truly fascinating read.

An Army at Dawn: The War In North Africa, 1942-1943

An Army at Dawn Book Cover An Army at Dawn
Rick Atkinson
May 15, 2007

This is the first volume of the Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson. It is set in 1942 and 1943 in North Africa.  It follows the American and British armies as they fight the French in Morocco and Algiers, and then take on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. Again, I love the format. Atkinson pulls from personal and government records/documents from privates to the Commanders. He really weaves it all together amazingly well. He really gets into the extraordinary but flawed commanders who come to dominate the battlefield: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgomery, and Rommel.

The Guns at Last Light

The Guns at Last Light Book Cover The Guns at Last Light
Rick Atkinson
May 13, 2014

Disclaimer: I love history. I enjoy reading about World War Two. This is a fantastic trilogy. I started with the last book first. The final volume of the trilogy chronicles the Allied victory in Western Europe, from the brutal struggles in Normandy and at the Battle of the Bulge to the freeing of Paris. I love the way Atkinson approached this project. He weaves together his chronicle from people on both sides of the conflict and from people at different service levels. It provides an almost 360 degree perspective.