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History Book Club of the Valley - SFV and Ventura Message Board › Suggestions for next history book club selection

Suggestions for next history book club selection

user 3887102
Group Organizer
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 2
Hi All,

Please reply to this discussion thread to post your suggestions for our next book selection. We'll wrap up suggestions on Aug. 26, with voting on the choices until Aug. 29.

Altadena, CA
Post #: 41
I think this book sounds fascinating (but then again I have a BS in ornamental horticulture mostly because of my love of trees so maybe it's just me...I can live w/that):

American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation
This fascinating and groundbreaking work tells the remarkable story of the relationship between Americans and their trees across the entire span of our nation’s history.
Like many of us, historians have long been guilty of taking trees for granted. Yet the history of trees in America is no less remarkable than the history of the United States itself—from the majestic white pines of New England, which were coveted by the British Crown for use as masts in navy warships, to the orange groves of California, which lured settlers west. In fact, without the country’s vast forests and the hundreds of tree species they contained, there would have been no ships, docks, railroads, stockyards, wagons, barrels, furniture, newspapers, rifles, or firewood. No shingled villages or whaling vessels in New England. No New York City, Miami, or Chicago. No Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, or Daniel Boone. No Allied planes in World War I, and no suburban sprawl in the middle of the twentieth century. America—if indeed it existed—would be a very different place without its millions of acres of trees.

As Eric Rutkow’s brilliant, epic account shows, trees were essential to the early years of the republic and indivisible from the country’s rise as both an empire and a civilization. Among American Canopy’s many fascinating stories: the Liberty Trees, where colonists gathered to plot rebellion against the British; Henry David Thoreau’s famous retreat into the woods; the creation of New York City’s Central Park; the great fire of 1871 that killed a thousand people in the lumber town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin; the fevered attempts to save the American chestnut and the American elm from extinction; and the controversy over spotted owls and the old-growth forests they inhabited. Rutkow also explains how trees were of deep interest to such figures as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Teddy Roosevelt, and FDR, who oversaw the planting of more than three billion trees nationally in his time as president.


Joe W.
user 10486244
Woodland Hills, CA
Post #: 2
Several good books:

The Few: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Save Britain in the Summer of 1940, by Alex Kershaw – In 1940, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph Kennedy (father of JFK) declared the war against Nazi Germany a lost cause. While he was busy fleeing to the USA, a handful of intrepid American pilots secretly traveled the other way to England to join the Royal Air Force, even though it was against American law to fight the Nazis. In the pivotal Battle of Britain, they stopped the Nazi war machine, though most of them perished in the fight.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard – An insane assassin shoots newly elected President James Garfield, hoping to change the course of history. Garfield lingers on for weeks, then succumbs to his incompetent doctors. The national tragedy inspires Alexander Graham Bell and Joseph Lister to make major breakthroughs in medical science.

The Crusades, by Zoe Oldenbourg – A huge tome on the Crusades, about how a few maverick knights overran Palestine, to the shock of Muslims. However, as the generations passed, the Muslims reorganized and got stronger, while the Europeans feuded among themselves. Despite superior weapons, the Crusaders were eventually driven into the sea. Interesting parallels to modern times.
A former member
Post #: 3
As requested, I have researched other books dealing with the Ptolemies of Egypt, I can add "The Last Pharaohs: Egypt Under The Ptolemies 305-30 BC by J G Manning as one that appears interesting.

I just finished Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney, Slavery, Secession and the President's War Powers by James F Simon.
A former member
Post #: 1

  • Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson by David S Reynolds - A history of America and the people driving it from 1815 to 1848.
  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. Lawrence of Arabia's chronicle of leading the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War. It goes into his struggles as a leader dealing with the British and still trying to be effective on the ground.
  • The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant. After they wrote their 11-volume "Story of Civilization", they wrote this, a compact summation of their work which focuses on the lessons history has to teach.

Anna M.
user 14468959
Valley Village, CA
Post #: 5
Since we had a brief discussion of Paganism in the US/Britain (btw, there are estimated to be somewhere between one and two million Pagans in the U.S., not counting Native Americans), I was thinking something on that history. While there are some great books on the history of Wicca and Druidry (the two main Pagan religions in the US today), maybe the most interesting way to explore the topic is by looking at the history of our holidays.

Ronald Hutton's Stations of the Sun:
Comprehensive and engaging, this colourful study covers the whole sweep of ritual history from the earliest written records to the present day. From May Day revels and Midsummer fires, to Harvest Home and Hallowe'en, to the twelve days of Christmas, Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain. He challenges many common assumptions about the customs of the past, and debunks many myths surrounding festivals of the present, to illuminate the history of the calendar year we live by today. (560 pages)

For a more American and shorter take:
The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays by Anthony F. Aveni
What is the connection between May Day and the Statue of Liberty? Between ancient solstice fires and Fourth of July fireworks? Between St. Valentine, the Groundhog, and the Virgin Mary? In The Book of the Year, Anthony Aveni offers fascinating answers to these questions and explains the many ways humans throughout time have tried to order and give meaning to time's passing. Aveni traces the origins of modern customs tied to seasonal holidays, exploring what we eat, the games we play, the rituals we perform, and the colorful cast of characters we invent to dramatize holidays. Along the way, Aveni illuminates everything from the Jack 'O Lantern and our faith in the predictive power of animals to the ways in which Labor Day reflects the great medieval "time wars," when the newly invented clock first pitted labor against management. Vividly written, filled with facts both curious and astonishing, this engrossing book allows us to hear that beat more clearly and to understand more fully the rhythms we all dance to throughout the year. (224 pages)
A former member
Post #: 3
I vote for Joe's book on the Crusades.
Joe W.
user 10486244
Woodland Hills, CA
Post #: 3
That's a good one. Well researched, but reads like a novel. The late author is recognized as a foremost authority. She wrote it in French, but the translation is excellent.

The first crusaders come across as almost entrepreneurial. It was the later generations that became indolent and careless. Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations, as the business saying goes.

I am seeing some synergies with the previous book on the restaurant side...
Altadena, CA
Post #: 43
I still think some of these sound interesting--The Few, the pharoah one......the Crusades. Good stuff
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