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Recommended Reading



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,886 ✭✭✭ Marq

    oh and forget suetonius and plutarch if you want to read about the early empire. Just read the genius that is the Annals of Tacitus. History as dense anti-establishment propaganda, and literary flair

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,588 ✭✭✭ Lorddrakul

    To change the subject slightly, just read Orlando Figgis' "Natasha's Dance".

    It's a cultural history of Russia from the establishment of the Muscovite kingdoms to the fall of the Soviet regime.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 9 Corcaigh

    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is one of the best books you'll read. It is fiction but Heller did serve in WW2 as a bombadier which the main character (Yossarian)is about. Comical and mad all about Yossarian trying to get out of flying any more missions, also an anti-capitalist concept to it. A tip though don't read the author's introduction, i read it after reading the main book and the fecker goes a good ways in spoiling the end.

    The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer. True story about the author who was conscripted to the German Army in WW2 when he was 17 because he had a German mother. Touches all the feelings of war i guess, hate, fear, love, desperation and emptyness on the Eastern front.

    Che Guevara-A Revolutionary life by Jon Lee Anderson. A fairly un-baised biography of Guevara, 600 odd pages but it's interesting.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 334 ✭✭ tim3115

    Is Catch 22 not meant to be dragged out in places? I haven't read it myself but that's what I've heard from some people who have read it.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 121 ✭✭ the real ramon

    For an excellent one volume general history of the world, try JM Roberts' "history of the World (I think it's now called the Penguin History of the World), I couldn't put it down!

    For a more specific history try 'A Basque history of the world', very readable

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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,137 ✭✭✭✭ Sand

    Tom Holland has written two very readable and interesting narrative histories, Rubicon ( Dealing with Sulla, Pompey, Crassus, Caesar and the subversion of the Republic) and Persian Fire (Dealing with the the Persian conquest of their empire and the unprecedented defeat of their invasion by the Greeks). Point of warning, repeated by the author, is that many of the conclusions he draws and context he provides are hotly disputed but he references these, and moves on with the flow which means you can fly through the books. I found Rubicon to be unputtdownable, and Persian Fire is shaping up very nicely as well.

    I also picked up Harry Sidebottoms A very short introduction: Ancient Warfare. Small, very readable book that concentrates on the development of warfare in Greece and Rome, comparing them to Eastern and Barbarian foes, as well as the changing role of Generals, from front line inspirations to organisers. He argues that the "Western Way of War" is an idealogy, rather than a historical reality and that there is no continuity in a tradition that ended with the fall of the Roman Republic and wasnt revived until Napoleonic times.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,856 ✭✭✭ Valmont

    You just got there before me Sand.

    Rubicon is absolutely brilliant. It is just so exciting from start to finish. There really was some amazing figures in ancient Rome.

    Sulla was my absolute favourite. He had the control of the entire republic to himself and he just fixed it up and resigned his post, amazing considering how power hungry they all seemed to be back then.

    I recommend it to anyone, you will not be disappointed.

    Beevors Stalingrad was pretty good too. I loved that book

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 445 ✭✭ nollaig

    Can anyone recommend any books that covers the land war? And Land League?

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 445 ✭✭ nollaig

    Can anyone recommend any books that covers the land war? And Land League?

    Has there ever been a book written on this area?

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 215 ✭✭ Fenian

    "Guerilla days in Ireland" by Tom Barry is an excellent account of the Tan war in Cork.

    "On another mans wound" by Ernie O' Malley is also a good read. Abit drawn out in places but readable and interesting none the less.

    "Ten dead men" by David Beresford is without a doubt the best book on the 1981 hunget strike, a must read.

    "Battle Cry" by Leon Uris is a fictional account of a marine corp platoon during the war in the Pacific, he was a marine during WW2 so he knows what he's on about. Heart wrenching and an excellent read.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,137 ✭✭✭✭ Sand

    You just got there before me Sand.

    Rubicon is absolutely brilliant. It is just so exciting from start to finish. There really was some amazing figures in ancient Rome.

    Ive got to say, Persian Fire was as good as if not better. Holland is a very strong writer, his description of Marathon and the mood of the Athenians as they advanced outnumbered on an enemy widely considered ( and proven up to that point) to be invincable - having already described the slaughter of the Athenian hoplites in Asia Minor by the Persians just shortly before - is fantastic. He turns history from dry quotations and numbers into unmissable reading. Rubicon read like a political thriller, which it was. The way he writes Persian Fire makes it clear why the Greeks (and later Europeans) were so in awe of Marathon, Thermopylae (300 Spartans of semi-legend, who were no libertarians themselves) and Salamis, helped by the fact he illustrates the achievements of the Persians in forging the largest empire the world had ever known at that point.

    Im going to have to keep an eye out for his next one as it will be an instant purchase.

  • Registered Users Posts: 267 ✭✭ AdrianR

    "Ten dead men" by David Beresford is without a doubt the best book on the 1981 hunget strike, a must read.

    Yes excellent, but I think it's actually "Ten men dead" as far as I can remember.
    Tim Pat Coogan wrote a book just before the hunger strike called "On the blanket" also well worth a read, I reckon it gets overshadowed by what happened later with regard to the hungerstrikes, it really shows how bad things were in the maze before the hungerstrikes.

    One of the most interesting books I've read was "Celt and Saxon" by Peter Berresford Ellis, starts from the fall/decline of Roman Britain and Subsequent invasion by Angles, saxons and Jutes and the gradual push back of the British celts to Wales, Scotland and Cornwall.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 215 ✭✭ Fenian

    Yes excellent, but I think it's actually "Ten men dead" as far as I can remember.

    Sorry, my bad! :rolleyes:

    I havne't read "On the Blanket", but anything by Coogan is usually excellent.

    Bobby Sands wrote an essay called "one day in my life" ,which coincidently enough is about what a day in the H Blocks was like. This romantic notion of glorious heros defiantly opposing the system are swept aside when you think about waking up every morning crawling with maggots.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7 HellOrConnaught

    "The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism" by Robert Kee looks like a good one volume read on modern Irish History. I haven't got to it yet, but it's sitting on my shelf. It's got class reviews though.

    At the moment I'm reading "The Year of the French" by Thomas Flanaghan. It's a fascinating look into the French expedition to County Mayo during the 1798 rebellion. It's an historical novel, painstakingingly accurate as far as I can tell, and told from the perspective of generals, yeomen, landlords and peasants etc etc. Very fair treatment in all corners.

    It's been mentioned already, but I really recommend "Provos: The History of the IRA and Sinn Fein" by Peter Taylor as a good one volume history of the modern Republican movement. Coming from an English writer I was suprised at how fair and objective his analysis was. It made me reconsider prejudices, both good and bad about modern Republicamism.

    For Classical history buffs I would recommend "Alexander Of Macedon 356-323 B.C" by Peter Green. It's a great overview, focusing mainly on the military and politicial aspects though, so don't expect a soap opera treatment of his personal life (*cough* Oliver Stone *cough*).

    For the Roman Republic, other than Rubicon I'd suggest Colleen McCullough's Master's of Rome series of historical novels. They start a few years before Marius' Numidian campaign and end with Caesar's death. I've only read the first two "First Man in Rome" and the "Grass Crown" but I'm hooked.

    I'm going to place an order for a few books soon myself, thinking of getting the Oxford Companion to Irish History for sure and maybe Coogan's biography of Michael Collins. Does anyone know of a good book dealing with Cromwell in Ireland and the Irish Confederacy?

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,983 ✭✭✭✭ Hermione*

    I'd definitely recomment the Oxford Companion. Got mine for €10 in Galway and it's so useful and well-presented. I also liked Green Flag (bought at the same time, I was on a book buying spree!)

    Ireland from Independence to Occupation, 1641-1660 by Jane Ohlmeyer is a good place to start on the Confederacy. It's also very interesting to read on the English Civil War and see how the immediate requirements of both the Cavavliers and Roundheads affected events in Ireland.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 102 ✭✭ Ohyeah

    There is a film about James Connolly that is supposed ot come out next year, so I decided to read books about the 1916 left wing leader. Two very different but decent books were Donal Nevin's James Connolly a Life (G&M)which is a long, detailed,but well written bio,

    while David Lynch's too short, but interesting study of JC's early political life in Ireland is worth having a look at 'Radical Politics in Modern Ireland- A History of the Irish Socialist Republican Party 1896-1904' (Irish Academic Press)

    Looking forward to the flick, lets hope its not rubbish :eek:

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,178 ✭✭✭ Fabio

    "Khrushchev. The Man. His Era." by William Taubman is an excellent read and very detailed giving an account of the mans whole life up until his death. There are also some rare photos in the centre of the book which are accompanied by interesting notes. I read somwhere that it took two decades to research...

    "Twentieth Century Ireland" by Dermot Keogh is also a very deatiled but readbale book which covers this country's history from independence up to pretty much now.

    "Mao - the Unknown Story" by Juan Chang and Jon Halliday is a book tha looks quite good. I got it as a Christmas present so hope to get stuck into it soon.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5 Paddy Geoghegan

    Dun wrote:
    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.

    I would like to add, "A Tragic Troubadour" The collected works of Edward Walsh ( John J. O'Riordain, CSSR) " A man of exquisite genius" "An erudite Irish Scholar" Sir Charles Gavin Duffy. An absolutely must have book. The stories and poems reflect Walsh's love for Ireland. Walsh from North Cork, traveled as a School teacher and author in Cork Waterford and Dublin.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 ✭✭✭ Amtmann

    da_deadman wrote:
    I have recently bought Mein Kampf by Hitler
    Has anyone else here read it? I am only 3 chapters into it, but i think this is a fascinating book and am looking forward to reading the rest of it. It is an interesting insight into his mind and way of thinking.


    I've read it, though not sequentially. It's quite turgid. Amazing, though, considering he dictated the whole thing!

    But you might find it interesting to read these books too: Foundations of the Nineteenth-Century (1899), by HS Chamberlain (esp. vol i); and The Passing of the Great Race (1916), by Madison Grant.

    These two books directly influenced Hitler, and the way he wrote Mein Kampf, and are fascinating primary sources.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,093 ✭✭✭ Amtmann

    On general European history:

    Norman Davies, Europe: A History.


    On witch hunts:

    B.P. Levack, The witch-hunt in early modern Europe; Kramer and Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum.


    On the Black Death, see Ziegler's book of that title; for the BD in Ireland, see the book by Maria Kelly.


    On the emergence of twentieth-century forms of scientific racism - and I'm talking primary sources here - see

    Gobineau, Essay on the inequality of the human races (1853);
    HS Chamberlain, Foundations of the nineteenth-century 2 vols (1899);
    M. Grant, The Passing of the Great Race, or, the racial basis of European History (1916);
    Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy;
    Hitler, Mein Kampf; see also

    Coon, The Races of Europe (1939);
    Ripley, The Races of Europe (1899);
    Deniker, The Races of Man (1899).



    Bainton, Here I stand: a life of Martin Luther;
    Guy, My Heart is my own: Mary Queen of Scots;
    Jenkins, Churchill.


    Irish interest

    For medieval-early modern, see anything by:

    Hiram Morgan;
    David Edwards;
    Brendan Bradshaw;
    J. Ohlmeyer;
    N. Canny;
    K. Nicholls;
    D. O'Corrain.

    Of course, for modern Irish, see Roy Foster's Modern Ireland 1600-1972.


    I could go on...!

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,686 ✭✭✭✭ PDN

    Two excellent books I read recently:

    1. Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger. A very matter of fact memoir of trench warfare in World War I from the German perspective. It avoids making moral judgments so has a very different tone to most of what I've read about the trenches (the British war poets etc). Unfortunately Junger became a bit of a poster child for the Nazis, but that doesn't lessen the impact of this remarkable book.

    2. God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot by Alice Hogge. This is Hogge's first book, but she writes well and describes how the Jesuits sent missionaries to England during the anti-Catholic paranoia that followed the Spanish Armada. I was struck by the savagery of the persecution and the courage of the Jesuits. The missionaries slowly gained a foothold, helped by Nicholas Owen - the Oxford joiner who became a master architect of 'priest holes' and secret hiding places. The book skilfully builds up to the needless tragedy (for English Catholicism) of the Gunpowder Plot.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,026 ✭✭✭ Killaqueen!!!

    I don't know any books about the land war or Land League but I'd have to recommend Parnell by F.S.L Lyons. It's THE book on Charles Stewart Parnell. I'm going through a phase of being really interested in this man! It, of course, has elements of the Land League in it so if you're interested in that era it's worth getting your hand on a copy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,910 ✭✭✭ thusspakeblixa

    I don't know if they've been mentioned but I'd really recommend either ''Atatuerk'' by Andrew Mango, or ''Gallipoli'' by Alan Moorehead. Particularly the latter.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,355 ✭✭✭ Belfast

    Free to download all out of copyright.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,355 ✭✭✭ Belfast

    Middle east
    Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark: Amazing Revelations of the Incredible Power of Gold by Laurence Gardner

    Atlantis of the West: The Case For Britain's Drowned Megalithic Civilization by Paul Dunbavin

    Age of Enlightenment
    The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment by Henry Steele Commager

    American politics
    The Right Nation: Why America is Different by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

    The myth of the great war :a new military history of world war one by John Mosier (How the Germans won the battles and how the Americans saved the Allies)

    A Low Dishonest Decade: The Great Powers, Eastern Europe, and the Economic Origins of World War II, 1930-1941 by Paul N. Hehn

    The Luftwaffe : Strategy for Defeat by Williamson Murray

    The Last Year of the Luftwaffe, May1944 to May 1945, by Alfred Price

    This Is Berlin: Radio Broadcasts from Nazi Germany by "William Shirer"

    Hitler's Greatest Defeat: The Collapse of Army Group Centre, June 1944 By Paul Adair

    Hitler's Espionage Machine: The True Story Behind One of the World's Most Ruthless Spy Networks by Christer Jorgensen

    very good site about the u-boat war

    David Irving is one of the most controversial authors of history books.
    He is one of the few English speaking historians and can read and speak German and was able to read original source documents in German and interview witness in German.

    David Irving books
    Download for free or buy

    Vietnam war
    The Linebacker Raids: The Bombing Of North Vietnam, 1972 by John Smith

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 105 ✭✭ Flume

    Belfast wrote: »
    David Irving is one of the most controversial authors of history books.
    He is one of the few English speaking historians and can read and speak German and was able to read original source documents in German and interview witness in German.

    David Irving books
    Download for free or buy

    Be very careful when reading through these. I find a lot of the ideas while striving to be original are slightly far fetched. Still good to read though.

    The third reich by michael burleigh is an excellent book and very easy to read and covers from the fall of the weimar to the fall of the nazis in great detail.

    Reformation by Diarmuid MacCulloch is also very well written, dealing with the reformation period and its effect throughout Europe.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,355 ✭✭✭ Belfast

    Flume wrote: »
    Be very careful when reading through these. I find a lot of the ideas while striving to be original are slightly far fetched. Still good to read though.

    All history books need to be treated with a degree of scepticism

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,729 ✭✭✭ Pride Fighter

    The thread is 5 years old and not a mention of Herodotus, the father of history.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 156 ✭✭ reregholdsworth

    Manach wrote: »
    From a rather conservative and pessimistic view of human nature:
    3 tips:

    The 30 year war - CV Wedgewood, the stupidites that kept this German Civil war going for so long and the human cost.

    If you are interested in the early seventeenth century and the Thirty Years War you could do worse than to look up Frances Yates' 'The Rosicrucian Enlightenment' which is a well-researched and tightly argued thesis on the prehistory of the Thirty Years War and the Royal Society.

    Yates' focus on the marriage of the Rhine and the Thames (Frederick, Elector of the Palatinate and Elizabeth, daughter of King James) and the consequent enthusiasm for universal reform is very well constructed and paced across the seventeenth century.

    oh yeah, and Herodotus

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,752 ✭✭✭ pablomakaveli

    id recommend Barbarians by Terry Jones (he was one of the Monthy Python guys). its a fascinating book and shows how roman propaganda gave people the view that the civilizations they defeated were backward when in fact this is completely untrue.