Five History Books Recommended by You

Last Thursday we asked: “What book or author has had the longest running impact on you?”

You quickly responded with great feedback on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, providing over 50 suggestions (see them all by clicking those links). Today, we’ve pulled out just five of your book picks, but we’re always interested in hearing more. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments, and check out our social media pages on Thursday for our next weekly question.

The Historains' Craft

    • The Historian’s Craft
      by Marc Bloch
      When Jonathan Dresner recommended this book to us on Twitter, three others quickly tweeted their support. French historian Marc Bloch’s The Historian’s Craft is an influential “meditation on the writing of history,” covering topics of historical observation, criticism, and analysis. It was unfinished at the time of his death, and completed and published posthumously. In the preface, Peter Burke explains that this book is “a personal essay rather than an academic treatise” and that “Bloch is not writing ‘exclusively, or even chiefly’ for professional historians, ‘the guild,’ but for a wide public.”

No Place of Grace

  • No Place of Grace
    By Jackson Lears
    Jill Anderson tells us that Jackson Lears’s No Place of Grace led her to majoring in history. In this book, “Lears draws on a wealth of primary sources—sermons, diaries, letters—as well as novels, poems, and essays to explore the origins of turn-of-the-century American antimodernism.”
  • History Matters
    History Mattersby Judith Bennett
    On Facebook Megan Springate suggested Judith Bennett’s History Matters for its impact on the field of history: “Written for everyone interested in women’s and gender history, History Matters reaffirms the importance to feminist theory and activism of long-term historical perspectives.”
  • Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
    By David Blight
    Blight’s book was recommended by Linda Frank on our Facebook wall. The Publisher’s Weekly Race and Reunionreview explains, “This book effectively traces both the growth and development of what became, by the turn of the 20th century and the debut of The Birth of a Nation, the dominant racist representation of the Civil War. A major work of American history, this volume’s documentation of the active and exceedingly articulate voices of protest against this inaccurate and unjust imagining of history is just one of its accomplishments.”
  • Silencing the Past
    By Michel-Rolph Trouillot
    Antonio Sotomayor lamented the difficult choice of picking just one book, but in the end suggested Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past. Booklist notes that “Trouillot, a widely respected scholar of Haitian history, has experienced firsthand how the recounting of historical “truth” Silencing the Pastcan be manipulated to serve the interests of a particular group in power. Nevertheless, he rejects the facile proposition that history is no more than self-justifying propaganda written by the “winners” of conflict. Rather, he suggests that we can gain a broader and more accurate view of past events by striving to listen to a broader spectrum of voices.”

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