Good History Reads For Your Springtime


I find myself in a really pleasant place with the current history books I am enjoying, and as often the case on Caffeinated Politics, wish to call them out for my readers. As usual, I have a number of books ‘underway’ at the same time, making it easy to pick up a chapter or two based on the mood of the day.

If you are looking for a book that is ‘timely’ and just well-constructed, then The Romanovs would be a grand idea. With the past few months of Russian military build-up and aggression, I have turned more attention to Russian history. (Russia has long been a region I love to read about.) An online friend gave me this book idea, and it is a very compelling read. As I write today Peter the Great has sent his half-sister, Sofia, far way—oh, to have such power (LOL). Simon Sebag Montefiore’s writing is excelled only by his research. Masterfully done on all counts! The narrative is tight yet expansive with tidbits and pacing of the kind I find to be superb. However, if you are squeamish about being thrown out a castle window onto a pike……

Thomas Jefferson: The Art Of Power was high up on my shelves for a number of years, just waiting to come down. Jon Meacham is a wonderful historian and writer, and while the Founders are a great interest of mine there always seemed to be another book that made for the ‘top of the pile’. The latest unnecessary dust-up over the naming of a Madison school was what brought out my footstool to reach up and start the book. I am to Part Five, 1785, and his journey to Europe as a diplomat. What attracts me now, as always to Jefferson and the whole of the Founders, is the ability to have ideals and yet know that pragmatic reasoning must be undertaken to achieve forward progress. History always bends towards modernity, then as now. Just never at the pace, we desire.

Prisoners of Geography is a short, and snappy around the world read with some background, that while not necessarily new information, is compacted and presented in such a way as to connect the ten maps that Tim Marshall presents.

For the meat of international relations, however, I head to the master. I find Henry Kissinger essential to understanding our world. Some revile him, and I understand that. But for pure realism about not only how the world is constructed with complex relationships but why that is so, there is no one better to explain it. Or pose the questions we need to ponder moving forward. One reviewer for World Order stated the book should be read by every new member of Congress. Presently am at The Multiplicity Of Asia, after Kissinger expounded on the irrationality that is present-day Iran.

Whatever book(s) you pick up to read…the main thing is to read books. I am troubled with too much of our world reading nothing more than what can be typed for a Twitter posting. The knowledge we need, the questions we should wish to be posed and answered, demand books in our lives.

Happy reading.

And so it goes.

2 thoughts on “Good History Reads For Your Springtime

  1. Cornelius_Gotchberg

    The Gotch has stacks of books in the On Deck Circle, which continue to mock him daily with smug sanctimony.

    One that did make it through the rotation, and one he’d highly recommend, is the exhaustively researched Nancy Isenberg’s WHITE TRASH: The 400-Year Untold History Of Class In America

    The Gotch

    1. That book you mention, though not on my bookshelves, is on the mental one, as it is part of the reading I have tried to undertake to better understand the political and social times in which we live. In 2017 I read Hillbilly Elegy and meandered around on the topic. I consider Nixonland by Rick Perlstein utterly brilliant as he captured the Silent Majority in the making before it was so termed. His followup on Reagan, “The Invisible Bridge” awaits my time–but both are deep period pieces about culture and society and how it created our politics—and of course how our social forces were used to market politicians. He also wrote, “Before The Storm” which has not been read, either. It tackles the Goldwater era. How we got to this point–having lived the past decades–is not clear to me. Anyway–a long comment to say thanks for the book idea.

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