Here’s a selection of histories that should satisfy your reading club’s yearning for learning.
A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Presentby Howard Zinn – Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, this is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of — and in the words of — America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highlcere by Countess of Fiona Carnarvon – This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawaby E.B. Sledge – Based on notes Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, this book captures with utter simplicity and searing honesty the experience of a soldier in the fierce Pacific Theater. Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life. Here, too, is the story of how he learned to hate and kill—and came to love his fellow man.
Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson – A behind-the-scenes story of how the United States forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from the perspective of three key American players in London: Edward R. Murrow, the handsome, chain-smoking head of CBS News in Europe; Averell Harriman, the hard-driving millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program in London; and John Gilbert Winant, the shy, idealistic U.S. ambassador to Britain.
Helmet for my Pillow by Robert Leckie – From the live-for-today rowdiness of marines on leave to the terrors of jungle warfare against an enemy determined to fight to the last man, Leckie describes what war is really like when victory can only be measured inch by bloody inch.
The Lost City of Zby David Grann – In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” Journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.
The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes – Amity Shlaes, one of the nation’s most-respected economic commentators, offers a striking reinterpretation of the Great Depression. She traces the mounting agony of the New Dealers and the moving stories of individual citizens who through their brave perseverance helped establish the steadfast character we recognize as American today.
April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik – A brilliant new look at the Civil War’s final days that will forever change the way we see the war’s end and the nation’s new beginning. Uniquely set within the larger sweep of history and filled with rich profiles of outsize figures, fresh iconoclastic scholarship, and a gripping narrative, this is a masterful account of the thirty most pivotal days in the life of the United States.
Here are some additional titles that might interest your club: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin; The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt; Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan; The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts; A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins; Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott; Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution by T.J. English