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History Reading Suggestions
By Bob Frost, 2010

This is Part Four of a Seven-Part Article.
Here for the List of Categories.


"Terrorism: Understanding the Global Threat" by David J. Whittaker (2006, second edition). A good short introduction.

"Inside Terrorism" by Bruce Hoffman (2006, revised edition).

"The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda’s Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright (2006).

"Terrorism: A Documentary History" by Bruce Maxwell (2003).

"Dictionary of Terrorism" by John Richard Thackrah (2004).

"Encyclopedia of Terrorism" by Harvey W. Kushner (2003).

"Blood & Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism" by Michael Burleigh (2008).

"Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies" by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit (2004).

"The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians" by Caleb Carr (2002).

"Holy Terror" by Terry Eagleton (2005).

"Talbian: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia" by Ahmed Rashid (2000). Rashid is an occasional guest on NPR's "Fresh Air." See also his "Descent Into Chaos" (2008).

"Culture and Conflict in the Middle East" by Philip Carl Salzman (2008). Anthropology has informed historical studies on many occasions (Ruth Benedict, Alan Macfarlane, etc.); here’s a recent excellent effort.

Article: "Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Traditions" by David C. Rapoport, American Political Science Review (September 1984). Perspective on the "ancient lineage of terrorism."

DVDs: "The Terrorist" directed by Santosh Sivan (2000, fiction). "One Day in September" directed by Kevin MacDonald (1999, about Munich 1972). "102 Minutes That Changed America" produced by The History Channel (2008). "Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terrorism" directed by Alex Jones (2006).

Websites: The Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan think tank, has an array of terrorism papers here. The Center for Defense Information (CDI) has a Terrorism Program here (the CDI offers a 3,000-word history of terrorism here.) The University of Georgia offers a wealth of links here.

War: Various Aspects

(See also specific conflicts within this section, and "Fifty Important Battles of Modern History" within this Website. See here for a Q-and-A interview with a leading editor of scholarly military history works.)

"The Reason Why: The Story of the Fatal Charge of the Light Brigade" by Cecil Woodham-Smith (1953).

"The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since AD 1000" by William H. McNeill (1982).

"The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West 1500-1800" by Geoffrey Parker (1996, second edition). First edition published in 1988. A key book in the recent evolution of military history. (See next entry.)

"The Face of Battle" by John Keegan (1976). This book, like Geoffrey Parker's (preceding entry), together with other works, helped re-engineer the writing of military history. Keegan steers the study of warmaking away from exclusively focusing on the generals, toward inclusion of, in the words of historian Joseph Ellis, "the chaos and confusion on the ground experienced by ordinary soldiers in battle."

"Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography" by Robert Graves (1929). A memoir of the First World War; one of the greatest books on war, ranking with "The Iliad," "The History of the Peloponnesian War," "The Art of War," "The Muqaddimah," "War and Peace," "On War," "Storm of Steel," "A Farewell to Arms," "The Naked and the Dead," "The Reason Why," "Catch-22," "The Face of Battle," "Dispatches," and a very few others. Best read in its original 1929 edition, which was republished in 1995 by Berghahn Books with an introduction by Richard Perceval Graves; the version put out in 1957 is a bit diluted though still powerful.

"War in Human Civilization" by Azar Gat (2006).

"The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West" by Niall Ferguson (2006).

"Why Wars Happen" by Jeremy Black (2005).

"Warriors: Portraits From the Battlefield" by Max Hastings (2005).

"Military Blunders: The How and Why of Military Failure" by Saul David (1997). A reviewer at has an interesting comment: "Worth reading for managers too (you can learn a lot about modern business from a book like this)."

"The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power" by Max Boot (2002).

"The Transformation of War: The Most Radical Reinterpretation of Armed Conflict Since Clausewitz" by Martin van Creveld (1991). A technical study using history as a guide.

"Great Battlefields of the World" by John MacDonald (1984). Uses computer-generated graphics to illustrate the meaning and importance of terrain.

"The Dynamics of Military Revolution 1300-2050" by MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray (2001).

"Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean 1521-1580" by Roger Crowley (2008). The subtitle varies slightly in U.S. and British editions respectively. See also "Lepanto" at this Website.

"In Search of the Warrior Spirit" by Richard Strozzi Heckler (1990).

Historical Novel: "Pride of Carthage: A Novel of Hannibal" by David Anthony Durham (200).

DVDs: "The Fog of War" directed by Errol Morris (2003). "Paths of Glory" directed by Stanley Kubrick (1957, fiction). "Why We Fight" directed by Eugene Jarecki (2004). "War and Civilization" produced by The Learning Channel (1998). "The 3 Rooms of Melancholia" directed by Pirjo Honkasalo (2005). "Taxi to the Dark Side" directed by Alex Gibney (2007). "The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends" directed by Patricia Foulkrod (2006). "They Drew Fire: Combat Artists of World War II" directed by Brian Lanker (1999).


War Memoirs

"Anabasis" by Xenophon (circa 400 BC, various editions).

"Gallic War" by Julius Caesar (circa 50 BC, various editions).

"The Siege of Malta" by Francisco Balbi di Correggio (1568).

"Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States" by Light Horse Harry Lee (1812).

"Memoirs of William T. Sherman" (1875, two volumes). The best Civil War memoir. Good companion books are "Sherman: Fighting Prophet" by Lloyd Lewis (1932) and "Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order" by John F. Marszalek (1993).

"Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant" (1885, two volumes). See also "Grant" by Jean Edward Smith (2001).

"Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography" by Robert Graves (1929). This work is also cited in the preceding section, "War: Various Aspects."

"Memoirs of an Infantry Officer" by Siegfried Sassoon (1930).

"A Rumor of War" by Philip Caputo (1977).

"Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir" by Danielle Trussoni (2006).

"Jarhead" by Anthony Swofford (2003).

"Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army" by Kayla Williams (2005).

A dozen excellent memoirs of the Second World War: "Alamein to Zem Zem" by Keith Douglas (2008 reprint). "Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War" by William Manchester (1979). "Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic" by Paul Fussell (1996; a couple of chapters in the middle of the book give a superb feeling for the life of an infantryman crossing Europe 1944-45). "With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa" by E. B. Sledge (1981). "Recollections of Rifleman Bowlby, Italy, 1944" by Alex Bowlby (19969). "The Last Enemy: The Memoir of a Spitfire Pilot" by Richard Hillary (1942; 1997 edition with new introduction)."Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II" by Charles B. MacDonald (1999, new edition). "Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945" by Field-Marshal Viscount Slim (1956; 2000 new edition with an introduction by David W. Hogan Jr.). The latter book can be profitably read in conjunction with "Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II" by George MacDonald Fraser (1992). "A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman With the Red Army, 1941-1945" edited and translated by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova (2005). "Through the Maelstrom: A Red Army Soldier's War on the Eastern Front, 1942-1945" by Boris Gorbachevsky (2008). "Penalty Strike: The Memoirs of a Red Army Penal Company Commander, 1943-1945" by Alexander V. Pyl'cyn (2009).

The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

"The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815" by Tim Blanning (2007). Europe from the Thirty Years' War to Waterloo.

"The Birth of the Modern World: 1780-1914: Global Connections" by C.A. Bayly (2004).

"The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition" by M.H. Abrams (1953). Scholarly examination of the roots of modern life in the first 40 years of the 19th century.

"The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830" by Paul Johnson (1992). Johnson is, as ever, intensely readable.

"William Blake and the Age of Revolution" by Jacob Bronowski (1965; 2008 new edition).

Eric Hobsbawm’s trilogy: "The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848" (1962), "The Age of Capital: 1848-1875" (1975), and "The Age of Empire: 1875-1914" (1987).

"The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-71" by Geoffrey Wawro (2003). Comprehensive, accessible, engaging. You'll find here, among other things, an answer to the question, "What was the world's first machine gun?" Many reference works cite the Maxim gun; Wawro insists it was a French weapon used in this war, the Montigny mitrailleuse.

The Twentieth Century

"The Penguin History of the Twentieth Century" by J.M. Roberts (2008). Also titled "Twentieth Century: The History of the World, 1901 to 2000."


"Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945" by Tony Judt (2005).

"Barbarism & Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time" by Bernard Wasserstein (2007).

"Europe: A History" by Norman Davies (1996).

"Europe in the Twentieth Century" by George Lichtheim (1972).

"The Balkans: A Short History" by Mark Mazower (2000).

"The Discovery of France" by Graham Robb (2008).


"Africa: A Biography of the Continent" by John Reader (1998).

"A History of Modern Africa" by Richard Reid (2008).

"Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience" edited by Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1999).

"The Black Man's Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State" by Basil Davidson (1992).

Websites: "The Story of Africa" published by the BBC. See here for examinations of individual nations created by the Library of Congress.

The Middle East

(See also "Islam" and "The Crusades" in History Reading Suggestions and a review of a memoir by Sari Nusseibeh.)

"The Modern Middle East: A History" by James L. Gelvin (2007, revised edition).

"Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel" by Eric H. Cline (2004).

"The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War" by James L. Gelvin (2007, new edition).

"One Land, Two Peoples: The Conflict Over Palestine" by Deborah J. Gerner (1994, second edition).

"The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East" by Robert Fisk (2005).

"A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East" by David Fromkin (1989).

"1948: The First Arab-Israeli War" by Benny Morris (2008).

"Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood" by Idith Zertal (2005).

DVDs: "The 50 Years War: Israel and the Arabs" directed by David Ash, Dai Richards, Michael Simkin, and Charlie Smith (2000). "The Long Way Home" directed by Mark Jonathan Harris (1997).

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