History Department Reading Recommendations
Dr. Todd Ewing, History Department:
1. Bob Woodward, State of Denial. An in-depth look at the origins and development of the Iraqi War and a fair assessment of what went right and what went wrong in the early part of the conflict.
George Bush, Decision Points
. A great presentation of Bush's side of how he saw his decisions in his presidential years. It provides a nice
balance to the anti-Bush rhetoric and allows one to see what the man himself was thinking as opposed to the pundits. One may still not agree with his policies, but I think this work goes far in de-demonizing him.
3. Simon Sebag Montefiore, Young Stalin. A very readable biography of one of the arch villains of history and the development of his personality and leadership style.
Prof. Daniel Spillman, History Department:
1. Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922). This classic novel offers an uproariously funny view of middle-class life in America during the Roaring Twenties. You’ll find the protagonist, George F. Babbitt, hilarious, especially when he tries to buy “bootleg liquor” from a speakeasy for the first time.
2. Frank McCourt, Teacher Man (2005). McCourt’s memoir about his thirty years as a high school English teacher in New York City is delightful. McCourt, an Irishman, responded to ornery American teenagers in the 1950s and 1960s with humor, wit, and occasionally wisdom. If you’re a secondary education major, you simply must read this little book.
3. Shusaku Endo, Silence (1966). Endo's classic novel follows a persecuted Portuguese priest as he tries to evade capture by Japanese officials in the 1600s. This is historical fiction at its finest, and it will make you think about all sorts of interesting subjects such as religious syncretism and the ethics of religious persecution. You’ll never forget the macabre torture scene.
Dr. Ken Startup, History Department:
1. Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll (1972). Still stands—after a generation—as the premier “dissection” and description of Southern slavery and Southern culture.
2. Bertram Wyatt-Brown, In The House of Percy: Honor, Melancholy, and Imagination in a Southern Family (1994). Wyatt-Brown traces—across several centuries—the tragic and tumultuous (epic) story of this family of soldiers, planters, scholars, politicians, and writers.
3. Correlli Barnett, Desert Generals (1961). In 1961, a (very) young British military historian ignited a dramatic (and ongoing) controversy with his Desert Generals. Barnett certainly demonstrated the potential of well-crafted revisionist history to change the accepted narrative of great events.