Historical literature is abundant in Irish Bookstores, however its really tough to know which is the best one to get on a topic you are interested in/studying.This is a recommended reading list based on the submissions of users, as well as book reviews, for those who enjoy writing them as well as those who enjoy reading them!
I recently bought a book written by Geoffrey Roberts called Victory at Stalingrad, apart from being quite a good read, its great for research purposes due to its well structured layout. It also has an extensive recommended reading section. Which is nice.
Anything by A.J.P. Taylor
Historical period is 1870s to ~1960s
Ill also recommend AJP Taylor, Antony Beevor too. Beevor's books on Stalingrad / Berlin / The Spanish civil war are very readable. Alan Moorehead's books on Gallipoli & the Russian revolution also
Anything by Eric Said and Eric Hobsbawm.
If you like history and stories about ordinary people, there is a brilliant book called "The Last of The Name" by Charles McGlinchey. He lived in Donegal around the end of the 1800s/start of the 1900s, and his stories were taken down and published by a local schoolteacher (whose name escapes me now - he was Kavanagh anyway). It is a real insight into the life of ordinary Irish people during the late 1800s - their traditions and customs and the way of life in rural Ireland.
Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" takes an interesting look at the underbelly of a London of the past, while Diana Gabaldon's series of books (starting with "Cross Stitch" - aka "Outlander" in the US) tell of a fascinating and eerily (she hadn't been to Scotland before) accurately portrayed adventure through the wilds of wild Scotland, set a few hundred years ago.
I would start off reccomending the following three.(as pimped on feedback/suggestions)
One Palestine Complete,by Tom Sergev
The Taliban by Ahmed Rashid
"Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did" by Loren Baritz
From a rather conservative and pessimistic view of human nature:
Modern Times - Paul Johnson, from 1920 to present era, on how the growth of totalitatism had made the 20th Century of the bloodiest.
The 30 year war - CV Wedgewood, the stupidites that kept this German Civil war going for so long and the human cost.
The Western Way of War - Victor Hanson, how Greek Hoplite battles set the template on how Western Armies seek to fight a descive battle, see Iraq today.
Heres a few more
"Eye Witness Bloody Sunday" by Don Mullen.
"Babi-Yar" By A Anatoli. First hand account of Life in Nazi Occupied Kiev where the occupiers executed 200,000 enemies of the state.
"Saddam's War" By John Bulloch and Harvey Morris
Someone mentioned the Spanish Civil War. Hugh Thomas's book on this war is an excellent and very readable overview with the right balance of interesting annecdotes and general analysis.
Another very good account of the pre war period is Gerald Brennan's South From Granada.
I read Eithne MacDermot's history of Clann na Poblachta a while back (it was published in 1998) - it's very well written and brings Irish politics in the 1940's alive. Along with characters like Seán MacBride and Noël Browne (both of whom she treats fairly evenhandedly, but does give MacBride more of a bashing) there are also colourful political players of the time whom I'd never heard of like Captain P Cowan.
Finally, I've had The Oxford Companion To Irish History now for a few years and still find dipping into it enormously satisfying. The internal referencing system brings you off to corners of Irish history you may never have really thought about before.
Btw, I see History Ireland is back in action again after quite a long gap. Do any of you read it?
I read that Berlin book really and I found it kinda boring tbh.
He keep it interesting by refering to an interesting political development and then went back to the mass rape, then after another 50 pages, one page of really interesting politics at Yalta, then back to the mass rape for another 50 pages.
Course Hitlers death was, as always, very interesting.
I dont think the book was meant as a political analysis really - more so an account of what happened to the ordinary civilians / soldiers during the last days of the battle for Berlin. I thought it was very well written and easy to get into / interesting at any rate. Plus I think your obsession with the politics of history skews your view somewhat dave
Politics and economics is what its all about
I suppose if you want to take the book as that well then it would be fairly good, but its not the most interesting read, but its fairly horrific stuff in some cases.
Steer clear of Russian history people unless you want to be incredibly depressed!!!!
Rich will claim otherwise
Politics and economics is what its all about
Absolutely not . People is what it's all about. Politics and economics are made by people. They best recent history combines all these elements.
Personally I find reading about Stalin and Roosevelt and Yalta a million times more interesting than the
"Young girl then hid here for the night"
"Young girl then saw her best friend get raped" and then here it repeated about 20 times.
or the really interesting
"Bill the soldier at 11am went to place A" "Bill the soldier then went to place B where he say for 4 hrs and 37 minutes"
Personal taste though