Libraryreads.org’s Top Ten Books for November 2014

Libraryreads.org has named their Top Ten books for November.  These books are picked by librarians across the country.

David Nicholls, Us (Harper)

Sarah MacLean, Rule of Scoundrels #4: Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover: The Fourth Rule of Scoundrels (Avon)

Marilyn Johnson, Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble (Harper)

Michael Connelly, The Burning Room (Harry Bosch Novel) (Little, Brown and Company)

Robin LaFevers, His Fair Assassin Trilogy #3: Mortal Heart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books)

Jojo Moyes, The Shop of Brides: A Novel (Penguin)

Bradford Morrow, The Forgers (Mysterious Press)

Ed. Leslie S. Klinger and Laurie R. King, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon (Pegasus)

Stephanie Barron, Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Being a Jane Austen Mysteries) (Soho Crime)

Lydia Millet, Mermaids in Paradise (W.W. Norton & Company)

 

 

When Tobacco Was King

Evan P. Bennett has a new book entitled When Tobacco was King. The Florida Bookshelf has brief description of his new book.

The Florida Bookshelf

WheWhen_Tobacco_Was_King_RGBn Tobacco Was King: Families, Farm Labor, and Federal Policy in the Piedmont

Evan P. Bennett

In When Tobacco Was King, Evan Bennett examines the agriculture of tobacco, the South’s original staple crop. Advances in technology and shifts in labor and farming policy have altered the way of life for tobacco farmers, but rather than putting an end to tobacco culture, these developments have sent it in new directions and accelerated the change that has always been part of the farmer’s life. From Emancipation to the abandonment of federal crop controls in 2004, Bennett highlights changes endured by blacks and whites, landowners and tenants to show how tobacco farmers continued to find meaning and community in their work despite drastic changes.

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The History Manifesto: Video Interview with Jo Guldi and David Armitage

The History Manifesto is new book from Jo Guldi and David Armitage that argues historians need to shift back to longer-term narrative history.  This may help historians recapture the prestige and influence that allowed them to help shape public policy.  The shift to microhistories (writing about time periods of 30 years or less) has limited historians influence.  Guldi and Armitage believe that the shift to longer narrative histories will encourage policy makers to take a longer approach to issues relating to human rights and the environment. The authors want the entire history profession to shift to long term thinking.

Guldi and Armitage make a fascinating argument.  Additionally, new digital analytical tools will make it easier for historians to research and write about longer periods of time.  Whether or not this shift would increase the prestige and influence of historians is debatable.  There are a number of reviews about The HIstory Manifesto online.  Scott McLemee has a brief review of their book at Inside Higher Ed.

Here is a short interview with the authors where they describe their project.

 

The Best Books and Historians According to Pulitzer Prize Winner James M. McPherson

Recently, the New York Times published a brief interview with noted Civil War historian James McPherson, The George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University.  He is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning book Battle Cry of Freedom.  In the interview McPherson identified who he believes are America’s top historians, the best book on  the Civil War, the best military history books, the best books about African American history, most overrated history book (it’s a biggie), and the book most responsible for shaping his career.

All of the historians and books cited by McPherson are outstanding, but they are representative of his generation.  Not surprisingly, this was pointed out by several younger scholars on twitter.  It is also not shocking his preferences were predominantly from historians of either his generation or books that he read during his career.  In many ways books are like music, people like the music of their formative years better than anything that came before it or after.  His choices are certainly understandable, but open to debate.

In the interview, McPherson often referred to an author, but failed to specify which books he preferred. In a number of cases, I have extrapolated which books he might specifically be recommending.  There are certainly other books from the authors he mentions that fit his descriptions.

Here were his answers:

Last Great Book He Read:

James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865

Best Books on the Civil War:

Allan Nevins eight volume set on the Civil War –

1. Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847-1852

  1. A House Dividing, 1852-1857
  2. Douglas, Buchanan, and Party Chaos, 1857–1859

4. Prologue to Civil War, 1859–1861

5. The Improvised War, 1861–1862

  1. War Becomes Revolution, 1862–1863

7. The Organized War, 1863–1864

8.The Organized War to Victory, 1864–1865

 

Favorite Biography of Civil War figure:

Jean Edward Smith, Grant

Best Military Histories:

John Keegan, The Face of Battle

Craig Symonds, Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War

Craig Symonds, Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings

Craig Symonds, Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History

Craig Symonds, The Civil War at Sea (Reflections on the Civil War Era)

Stephen W. Sears, Gettysburg

, Stephen W. Sears, Chancellorsville

Gordon C. Rhea, Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, May 26-June 3, 1864

, Gordon C. Rhea, The Battle of the Wilderness May 5-6, 1864

Gary W. Gallagher, The Union War

, Gary W. Gallagher, The Confederate War

Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers

, Joseph T. Glatthaar, Partners in command : The relationships between leaders in the Civil War

Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943

Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944

Rick Atkinson, The Guns Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945

Best African American History Books:

John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom

Ira Berlin, Generations of Captivity : History of African-american Slaves (03 Edition)

Many Thousands Gone Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America

Edited by Ira Berlin, Freedom: Documentary History of Emancipation

Most Important for His Career:

C. Vann Woodward, Origins of the New South, 1877-1913

Book Every President Should Read:

Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

Most Overrated History Book:

Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics)

Books on His Nightstand:

Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life

Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

His Next Book:

Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton

 

Here is the link to McPherson’s interview – James M. McPherson: By the Book – NYTimes.com.

Wilderburbs and Wildlife in the American West: A Q & A with Lincoln Bramwell

Lincoln Bramwell has a new book coming from University of Washington Press on wilderburbs. Wilderburbs are housing developments nestled up to “the edges of forests, deserts or mountain slopes of the American West.” When folks accustomed to suburban life move to a wilderburb they are often several new threats: wildfire, water scarcity and wild animals. Bramwell talks about Wilderburbs in an interview posted on the University of Washington Press Blog.

University of Washington Press Blog

Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge is the environmental history of a housing phenomenon that places human developments in close proximity to wild places: on the edges of forests, deserts, and mountain slopes of the American West. Author Lincoln Bramwell, chief historian for the USDA Forest Service, spoke with us recently about what drove his interest in this topic and some of the major challenges that can accompany life in wilderburbs.

Q: Are wilderburbs and the sort of human/nature encounters they introduce a new phenomenon? 

Lincoln Bramwell: Wilderburbs are in no way a new phenomenon. People with means around the world have maintained country estates outside of the crowded metropolis for millennia. Wealthy Americans began imitating English country estates following the Revolution when cities like Philadelphia and Boston grew in population and density. While these spaces were definitely out of reach for all except the upper class, by the nineteenth…

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