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Halardfan
Mar 14th, 2012, 10:03 AM
Generally it's been novels and short stories I've read down the years.

But as I miss England a bit, I recently bought "A short history of England" by Simon Jenkins and I'm enjoying it. It's nice to fill in the glaring gaps in my knowledge even of my own country...

So this has given me a taste for Non-Fiction, what books would you recommend? I'm looking for middlebrow books I guess, not dry academic books, books that go over the head of the average enthusiastic reader. Equally I don't want something too simplistic, that teaches me nothing new.

The kind of fields that interest me most at the moment are History and Astronomy...but I wouldn't mind something else if you have a particular recommendation.

Most immediately I'd like an accessible book on Ancient Rome, particularly the many and various Emperors...

More generally, a World history book might be a good idea, something to give a taste of events, that might inspire me to look at an unfamiliar period in more detail in future.

Any recommendations gratefully received...

Sam L
Mar 14th, 2012, 11:37 AM
I don't really read non-fiction. But a book I have and read from time to time is "Europe: A History" by Norman Davies. I like the way passage of time is handled and the interesting facts you get. And the maps.

Stamp Paid
Mar 14th, 2012, 01:36 PM
Something middlebrow?
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

Errorette
Mar 14th, 2012, 01:44 PM
bill bryson - a short history of nearly everything. I can only recommend it. I learned so much from that book. Even stuff that you didn't even want to remember. And it is also fun to read.

Tripp
Mar 14th, 2012, 01:54 PM
I read "In cold blood" by Truman Capote a few months ago and it was extremely good.

Beat
Mar 14th, 2012, 02:15 PM
I read "In cold blood" by Truman Capote a few months ago and it was extremely good.

it might be based on true events, but it's still a fictional book.

Apoleb
Mar 14th, 2012, 05:52 PM
If you're into romanticized history from a travel journey, I'd recommend Mediterranean Winter by Robert Kaplan. Basically, he recalls a trip he did to Tunisia, Croatia and Sicily while going on about some of the history of the area. It's nice with a cup of hot chocolate in the evening if you're into romanticized crap. He also melds geopolitics with the whole thing, so it was pretty informative actually.

Other middlebrow I liked was Pompeii The Living City by Worth and Laurence. It's going through what we came to know about Roman culture and society from the ruins of Pompeii which had a lot of details about domestic life. Really cool.

If you're into Ancient Greece, then I 'd highly recommend The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece. It goes through by theme (war, status of women, art...etc) and not as a timeline and has stunning illustrations that come in big format.

Also look into the Oxford series of "A Very Short Introduction". They come on various subjects and they are succinct, interesting and very informative.

If you're into introductory philosophy stuff, I have a few recommendations, but these would fall on the more dry academic side.

I don't have time to read anymore. :sad: Of course I can't use this excuse that well because I still manage to post in this shit place, but it's true. I got one today on the Philosophy of Mathematics. Let's see if I can fit it in.

wta_zuperfann
Mar 14th, 2012, 05:53 PM
Sex And Society in Nazi Germany by Hans Peter Bleuel

http://www.amazon.com/society-Nazi-Germany-Peter-Bleuel/dp/0397009801

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PmufNqyNL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I read this stunning book in 1974 and feel it is every bit as relevant and illuminating today as ever.

Halardfan
Mar 15th, 2012, 02:53 AM
Some very intriguing recommendations, thanks everyone.

Looking for my next purchase, I have comeacross this apparently famous book which I have to shamefully confess I haven't heard of, "A little history of the world" meant to be a world history aimed at children, it is recommended by many adults too.

Written originally in German, it sounds a fascinating book...anyone more familiar with it than me?

Barktra
Mar 15th, 2012, 04:00 AM
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

ico4498
Mar 15th, 2012, 05:02 AM
Freedom At Midnight - Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre

hands down the most thrilling historical read i've come across. start to finish captivating. well researched account of India & Pakistan's nationhood with lots of local flavor despite the British bias.

the characters are larger than life but the authors present them well. great read!

http://i.imgur.com/Tck4R.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/tXUpP.jpg

So Disrespectful
Mar 15th, 2012, 05:14 AM
it might be based on true events, but it's still a fictional book.

If that book were written today, it would most likely fall under the Creative Non-Fiction genre.

Sam L
Mar 15th, 2012, 11:50 AM
Something middlebrow?
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

I have this but I've never read it.

I read "In cold blood" by Truman Capote a few months ago and it was extremely good.

LOL that is fiction.

Some very intriguing recommendations, thanks everyone.

Looking for my next purchase, I have comeacross this apparently famous book which I have to shamefully confess I haven't heard of, "A little history of the world" meant to be a world history aimed at children, it is recommended by many adults too.

Written originally in German, it sounds a fascinating book...anyone more familiar with it than me?


Sounds interest but I've never heard of it. You also mentioned Astronomy. I'm also interested in Astronomy but I don't have any books on it. I do all my reading for it online. I think it's an area that's constantly changing. I would love to go stargazing in places like Hawaii or Atacama Desert.

oleada
Mar 15th, 2012, 03:26 PM
Not quite Ancient Rome, but these are all about history/society/etc in some part of the world that you might not know about before. I really recommend all of them (I love non-fiction).


The Warmth of Other Suns (http://www.amazon.com/The-Warmth-Other-Suns-Migration/dp/0679763880/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331825033&sr=1-1) by Isabel Wilkerson - Follows three individuals as it describes the migration of American blacks from the south to the north. Very lovingly written.
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-Envy-Ordinary-Lives-North/dp/0385523912/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331824646&sr=1-1) by Barbara Demick - An incredible book; I could not put it down. It follows five people in a small town in North Korea. Through everything - the good years, the famine, the escape, their lives now. North Korea is such a mystery and this sheds a lot of light on what life is like for your ordinary person there.
We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families (http://www.amazon.com/Wish-Inform-Tomorrow-Killed-Families/dp/0312243359/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331824807&sr=1-2) by Philip Gourevtich - This one's about Rwanda. It really breaks down the war there and like the other two, it's harrowing, heart breaking, etc. :P

miffedmax
Mar 15th, 2012, 05:03 PM
I definitely recommend Europe: A History, Guns, Germs and Steel, and In Cold Blood.

It's a bit out of date now, but The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy is quite good.

If you have any interest in military history, John Keegan's "The Face of Battle" is a still a classic.

I'm also a big fan of Dreadnought, by Robert K. Massie, and his followup Castles of Steel, chronicling the run-up to World War I and the naval battles of WWI. Of the two, I think Dreadnought is the more important, because it covers more of the social and diplomatic history that we're still sorting out 100 years later (yes, Iraq, Kosovo, the Sudan, etc. all spin out of the aftereffects of WWI).

Stamp Paid
Mar 15th, 2012, 05:22 PM
I have this but I've never read it.
Its a bit of armchair anthropology. But a suitable introduction to the discipline for non-anthropologists.

Brena
Mar 15th, 2012, 09:00 PM
''Black Lamb and Grey Falcon'' by Rebecca West

Gawain
Mar 15th, 2012, 09:15 PM
http://images.borders.com.au/images/bau/1f0e6f74/1f0e6f74-c7a1-434a-9797-62f34e98958c/0/0/plain/the-consolations-of-philosophy.jpg

Ryan
Mar 15th, 2012, 09:18 PM
People here are underrating Narrative Nonfiction as a type of non-fiction. In Cold Blood is not pure fiction - it isn't simply BASED on real events, it aims to recreate them. Is it 100% accurate? No. But thats why its so much more interesting than regular non-fiction. ;)

Tripp
Mar 16th, 2012, 03:07 AM
No need to be a smart ass about "In cold blood" being fiction. I know most of it is made up, but it's still catalogued as one of the first non-fiction novels.

Stamp Paid
Mar 16th, 2012, 03:23 AM
King Leopold's Ghost was really good as well, but I don't know if thats an area of history you're interested in (Colonial Africa).

miffedmax
Mar 16th, 2012, 03:55 AM
If you like biography that reads like fiction, I'd recommend Henri Troyat's bio of the 2nd greatest woman in Russian history, Catharine the Great or Massies Nicholas and Alexandra.

wta_zuperfann
Mar 16th, 2012, 03:58 AM
one of my all time favorites though some small parts of it may be folklore rather than actual history:

http://img.getglue.com/books/gangs_of_new_york_an_informal_history_of_underworl d/herbert_asbury/normal.jpg

wta_zuperfann
Mar 16th, 2012, 04:06 AM
Plunkitt of Tammany Hall:

http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/book/plunkitt-of-tammany-hall-a-series-of-very-plain-talks-on-very-practical-politic-by-george-washington-plunkitt


This brief but exciting book is available for FREE online in that site.

http://americangovernment110.wikispaces.com/file/view/George_Washington_Plunkitt.jpg/212249600/910x631/George_Washington_Plunkitt.jpg


Yup - one of my all time faves.

Halardfan
Mar 16th, 2012, 04:57 AM
Thanks again for all the further recommendations! I have a lot of reading to do!

One thing that i wonder about history books in particular, is to what extent you need to broadly share their outlook. For example British historian David Starkey. I really enjoyed his TV shows on great historical figures and events, but I'm wary of him because when it's comes to contemporary politics he is such a reactionary. I worry how much his reactionary views taint not only his view of the present but also the past.

Of course I don't just want to read something that mirrors my views...it's good to be challenged.

But still...

fantic
Mar 16th, 2012, 06:23 AM
the one and only,

Edward Gibbon's 'The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

fantic
Mar 16th, 2012, 06:26 AM
''Black Lamb and Grey Falcon'' by Rebecca West

A classic, though West's bias is pretty evident, is what I heard :lol:
Still, should buy this (Penguin pbk) some other time..

fantic
Mar 16th, 2012, 06:29 AM
If you're into romanticized history from a travel journey, I'd recommend Mediterranean Winter by Robert Kaplan. Basically, he recalls a trip he did to Tunisia, Croatia and Sicily while going on about some of the history of the area. It's nice with a cup of hot chocolate in the evening if you're into romanticized crap. He also melds geopolitics with the whole thing, so it was pretty informative actually.

Other middlebrow I liked was Pompeii The Living City by Worth and Laurence. It's going through what we came to know about Roman culture and society from the ruins of Pompeii which had a lot of details about domestic life. Really cool.

If you're into Ancient Greece, then I 'd highly recommend The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece. It goes through by theme (war, status of women, art...etc) and not as a timeline and has stunning illustrations that come in big format.

Also look into the Oxford series of "A Very Short Introduction". They come on various subjects and they are succinct, interesting and very informative.

If you're into introductory philosophy stuff, I have a few recommendations, but these would fall on the more dry academic side.

I don't have time to read anymore. :sad: Of course I can't use this excuse that well because I still manage to post in this shit place, but it's true. I got one today on the Philosophy of Mathematics. Let's see if I can fit it in.

I read one, Helen Graham's on the Spanish Civil War, it was pretty good :yeah:

fantic
Mar 16th, 2012, 06:59 AM
if you're interested in WWII I would recommend Rick Atkinson's informative and at times hilarious books;

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, Volume One of the Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson (May 15, 2007)

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (Liberation Trilogy) by Rick Atkinson (Sep 16, 2008)

nevetssllim
Mar 16th, 2012, 07:48 AM
But as I miss England a bit, I recently bought "A short history of England" by Simon Jenkins and I'm enjoying it. It's nice to fill in the glaring gaps in my knowledge even of my own country...


Keeping with this theme, I love the Dominic Sandbrook books. :worship: They might be a bit too concentrated in terms of their focus but I really recommend them. He's written Never Had It So Good - A History of Britain from Suez to The Beatles, 56-63 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Had-So-Good-History/dp/0349115303/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331883665&sr=1-1), White Heat - A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties (http://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Heat-1964-1970-History-Swinging/dp/0349118205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331883694&sr=1-1), State of Emergency, the Way We Were, 1970-74 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/State-Emergency-Were-Britain-1970-1974/dp/0141032154/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331883763&sr=1-3) and his fourth book about Britain between 1974-79 is released very soon.

The books are quite long but they are incredibly well researched and very humurous too.

Londoner
Mar 16th, 2012, 10:37 AM
Generally it's been novels and short stories I've read down the years.

But as I miss England a bit, I recently bought "A short history of England" by Simon Jenkins and I'm enjoying it. It's nice to fill in the glaring gaps in my knowledge even of my own country...

So this has given me a taste for Non-Fiction, what books would you recommend? I'm looking for middlebrow books I guess, not dry academic books, books that go over the head of the average enthusiastic reader. Equally I don't want something too simplistic, that teaches me nothing new.

The kind of fields that interest me most at the moment are History and Astronomy...but I wouldn't mind something else if you have a particular recommendation.

Most immediately I'd like an accessible book on Ancient Rome, particularly the many and various Emperors...

More generally, a World history book might be a good idea, something to give a taste of events, that might inspire me to look at an unfamiliar period in more detail in future.

Any recommendations gratefully received...

Nicholas And Alexandra was riveting - for me. Not dry, but very illuminating and balanced. It explained and put into context many issues in a gripping way, and you could see how events unfolded due to the actions of the last Russian Tsar and Tsarina, leaving you wondering 'what if'. It demolished a lot of Pre-conceptions, and for once a book left me feeling more informed and better for reading it.

The same with Antonia Fraser's biographies of Mary, Quuen of Scots, and Marie Antoinette. Both also clear up mis-conceptions and are very readable.

HippityHop
Mar 17th, 2012, 03:23 PM
I'm currently reading J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson known in Washington circles as J. Edna and Mother Tolson. These were two of the most destructive closet queens in the history of the world.

Halardfan
Apr 26th, 2012, 09:45 AM
Quick update on what I'm now reading...and what I've finished reading...

Recently finished Gombrich's "A little history of the world"...though aimed at children it is a wonderful book for everyone and taught me plenty I didn't know, particularly about German and Austrian history.

I'm in the early stages of History of the decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, on my Ipod, never read that way before. I prefer a physical book I think.

Halfway through "The Japanese Experience" a short history of Japan. It's good but a bit dry so far.

Another book on Ancient Rome came today, Ancient Rome: The Rise and fall of an Empire by Simon Baker. Based on a BBC series, it promises to be an interesting read I think.

Pondering a book about Space next...or maybe the Jack the Ripper murders.

fantic
Apr 26th, 2012, 03:37 PM
I'm in the early stages of History of the decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, on my Ipod, never read that way before. I prefer a physical book I think.



:yeah:

Did you buy it on Amazon?(Kindle) I think those covers only like until Ch. 15 or something, the infamous Chapter that bashes Christianity :lol:

If you haven't bought the actual book yet I would recommend Everyman's Library 6 vol. hardcover edition, they sell it on Amazon pretty cheap..more than 30% discount.

If you want to read the footnotes in its entirety, TRANSLATED, try Wordworth one-book pbk edition, I bought it too via Amazon and it's pretty cool, it has in total some 25 chapters of 71 I think?

Or you can buy the gorgeous 8? vol. Folio hardcover edition for like $14.95 if you become a member(you have to buy at least 4 bks per year so it isn't cheap to put it mildly :lol:)

Or, AMS edition sold at secondhand bookstores, also at Amazon used books..

Modern Library and Penguin has abbreviated one-book pbk editions too, I guess it's the most popular ones.

Hope this helps.

*JR*
Apr 27th, 2012, 12:37 AM
http://www.amazon.com/1066-All-That-memorable-history/dp/0750917164

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51H5GZM7C0L._SS500_.jpg

Sam L
Apr 27th, 2012, 11:33 AM
The same with Antonia Fraser's biographies of Mary, Quuen of Scots, and Marie Antoinette. Both also clear up mis-conceptions and are very readable.

Unless if he loves reading these women, it's going to be a hard read for him. :lol: But I agree that it's very readable. I love Antonia Fraser. :)

Halardfan
Apr 27th, 2012, 12:33 PM
:yeah:

Did you buy it on Amazon?(Kindle) I think those covers only like until Ch. 15 or something, the infamous Chapter that bashes Christianity :lol:

If you haven't bought the actual book yet I would recommend Everyman's Library 6 vol. hardcover edition, they sell it on Amazon pretty cheap..more than 30% discount.

If you want to read the footnotes in its entirety, TRANSLATED, try Wordworth one-book pbk edition, I bought it too via Amazon and it's pretty cool, it has in total some 25 chapters of 71 I think?

Or you can buy the gorgeous 8? vol. Folio hardcover edition for like $14.95 if you become a member(you have to buy at least 4 bks per year so it isn't cheap to put it mildly :lol:)

Or, AMS edition sold at secondhand bookstores, also at Amazon used books..

Modern Library and Penguin has abbreviated one-book pbk editions too, I guess it's the most popular ones.

Hope this helps.

I picked it up free on the Ibooks app on my iPod touch. I'm rather enjoy the book itself. Though the obviously old-fashioned English takes some getting used to (even for a native speaker like me) its a good read.

I find the Romans endlessly interesting. The book that on Rome that arrived yesterday, I'm already 100 pages into!

Thanks for the advice...I'm tempted by Amazon's Kindle devices, though they seem more expensive in Japan than back in England.

Halardfan
Apr 27th, 2012, 12:36 PM
http://www.amazon.com/1066-All-That-memorable-history/dp/0750917164

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51H5GZM7C0L._SS500_.jpg

Read some reviews and excerpts, it seems ahead of it's time, almost Monty Pyhtonesque, decades before there was such a thing.

the jamierbelyea
Apr 27th, 2012, 01:07 PM
No need to be a smart ass about "In cold blood" being fiction. I know most of it is made up, but it's still catalogued as one of the first non-fiction novels.

This response kind of shows you're unaware of what non-fiction novel truly is.

When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him is a look inside Cambodia under Pol Pot's reign that I found fascinating and heartbreaking.

pov
Apr 27th, 2012, 04:26 PM
The Holographic Universe - Michael Talbot


Wholeness and the Implicate Order - David Bohm

NAT
Apr 27th, 2012, 11:18 PM
Just finished Long walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela's autobiography. Amazing.

doni1212
Apr 29th, 2012, 02:31 AM
King Leopold's Ghost was really good as well, but I don't know if thats an area of history you're interested in (Colonial Africa).

I've been thinking about reading that...

Morning Morgan
Apr 29th, 2012, 08:29 AM
Try "Born To Run" by Christopher McDougall

Sam L
Apr 29th, 2012, 09:00 AM
Try "Born To Run" by Christopher McDougall
I have this. But I haven't read the whole thing. It is actually a very interesting read.

Stamp Paid
Apr 29th, 2012, 09:04 AM
I've been thinking about reading that...
I read it really quickly, like maybe in a week? I really enjoyed it.

Rocketta
Apr 29th, 2012, 12:00 PM
I wish I had the ability to read non-fiction but it never seems to hold my attention enough to ever finish but if I decide to give it a try again, this will probably be the first book I read.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lILnrBZ3L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

Bismarck.
Apr 29th, 2012, 01:04 PM
I'm not that much into non-fiction unless it's about a topic that I have a lot of interest in, but I read one about Stalin called "Court of the Red Tsar" by Simon Sebag Montefiore and it was fascinating. It's a very long read but the depth of research isn't something I'd expect to find in many other mainstream books.

Barrie_Dude
Apr 29th, 2012, 02:59 PM
Dr Gabor Mate "In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts"

Brilliant book


http://www.writersintreatment.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/hungry-ghosts1.jpg

doni1212
Apr 29th, 2012, 04:11 PM
I read it really quickly, like maybe in a week? I really enjoyed it.

Ok, I'll have to check it out then.

I wish I had the ability to read non-fiction but it never seems to hold my attention enough to ever finish but if I decide to give it a try again, this will probably be the first book I read.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lILnrBZ3L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

This is supposed to be a really good book. I'll probably read it this summer. This and "Warmth of Other Suns" for sure. Someone already mentioned that book in this thread.

Rocketta
Apr 30th, 2012, 05:24 PM
Thanks for the advice...I'm tempted by Amazon's Kindle devices, though they seem more expensive in Japan than back in England.

I loved my Kindle UNTIL my daughter broke my screen. :sobbing: Don't know when I'm going to get the money to get another one. :sad: