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Fins Left
04-08-2012, 11:08 PM
I'm writing about a future where the powers-that-be have decided that using books as fuel is preferable to keeping them. My MC is collecting books for that day when people may once again want to know 'the real' history of the world, America, etc.

I'm hoping some on this forum can help me with some history book titles. I'm looking for books that provide accurate documentation. (As opposed to books that have been edited to promote a certain point of view).

What history books would you save? Can you provide the title/author or publisher so I can look them up.

Thanks in advance for any help.

RichardGarfinkle
04-08-2012, 11:32 PM
Kind of tricky. I would save the writings of historians I trust and contemporary accounts. But they all have a POV. I don't think there are histories that are authoritative in that sense.

For more or less modern histories. I would save the works of Barbara Tuchman and Simon Schama.

For earlier times I would save Herodotus and Thucydides as well as Livy's History of Rome. For early Chinese history, there's The Spring and Autumn Annal. It really depends on what kind of history you're asking for.

lbender
04-08-2012, 11:39 PM
Kind of tricky. I would save the writings of historians I trust and contemporary accounts. But they all have a POV. I don't think there are histories that are authoritative in that sense.

For more or less modern histories. I would save the works of Barbara Tuchman and Simon Schama.

For earlier times I would save Herodotus and Thucydides as well as Livy's History of Rome. For early Chinese history, there's The Spring and Autumn Annal. It really depends on what kind of history you're asking for.

I don't know any particular books, but don't expect to find any without a point of view.

Two eyewitnesses to the same event frequently give different accounts. An historian researching events has his opinion colored by what he can find out, by things that have been written in the past. We all have points of view. Historians are no different.

Remember, also, that the old saying is true: Winners write the histories.

Snick
04-08-2012, 11:49 PM
There are so many histories of so many periods, that you might as well go to Amazon and search for history and use a random selection of what shows up.

Even after we get the time machines working well, there will be questions as to what really happened.

Fins Left
04-09-2012, 02:47 AM
To clarify the POV issue. It is my understanding that current school books are being edited to ommit some issues. As an example, it's my understanding that the civil war is being recast to emphasize it as an economic liberty issues and de-emphasize (ommit?) slave ownership issues.

Snick
04-09-2012, 02:02 PM
To clarify the POV issue. It is my understanding that current school books are being edited to ommit some issues. As an example, it's my understanding that the civil war is being recast to emphasize it as an economic liberty issues and de-emphasize (ommit?) slave ownership issues.

That's good to hear. Mr Lincoln's War was not about slavery, until he introduced that issue toward the end. It was about states' rightts and the bounds of federal power. Alas, the U.S. Constitution was cast aside then.

Flicka
04-09-2012, 05:51 PM
What particular part of history are we talking about? Everything from ancient Egypt to the dot com bubble? What aspects; political history, social history, history of religion? And is he looking for secondary (such as biographies and sourcebooks) or primary sources (such as compilations of letters, diaries etc)? Both kinds can be found published in book-form.

I mean, I could say that he ought to save the diaries of Samuel Pepys, but only if he suspects someone is going to spend a lot of time trying to distort what daily life was like in 17th century London... And that somehow seems unlikely.

So what would the main targets for distortion be?

RichardGarfinkle
04-09-2012, 06:03 PM
There is a relevant thread on the Politics and Current Events board:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=242146

There's also this one from the SFF board:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=241373

Some of the ideas and examples under discussion in these threads show the ways in which history can be changed and ideas modified without the direct actions of suppression.

Buffysquirrel
04-09-2012, 06:24 PM
History is constantly being rewritten. New data come to light, old data are reinterpreted. Everyone has an agenda. So you can preserve this book or that book, but it'll only be a snapshot of the author's view of history based on the data available to them at the time and their interpretation of them in the space available. It won't be objective truth.

ETA: far more useful would be retaining the skills involved in interpreting sources as against just learning the current version of history and never questioning it. Critical thought.

Debbie V
04-10-2012, 12:31 AM
Actually, the slavery issue is being added back as a driving force of the Civil War. It was the primary states' rights issue of the time.

I'd look for diaries and documents not history books: first person accounts of events, primary sources, as many as possible from as many sides as possible. Let the generation that next decides it wants to know analyze those the same way the prior ones did and draw its own conclusions.

JJLindsell
04-19-2012, 05:25 AM
This is an interesting question - I 'majored' history at Oxford and never even considered this kind of thing. I think Buffysquirrel makes an excellent point - that the most important thing would be preserving the different 'tools' we have for historical analysis, which would at least prevent one skewed 'master narrative' being created or abused. In that sense (and I could go on for a looong time) you would probably want:
Marx and Hobsbawm (Marxist/economic),
Trevelyan and Gardiner (Whiggish),
von Ranke (positivist),
Foucault (postmodernist), possibly Freud or Lacan (attempts at psychology were vogue for a while),
Geertz (anthropology)
EH Carr "What is history?" and P Burke "History and Social Theory" are great introductions to multiple approaches. Then there's qualitative, literary, social, feminist (N Zemon Davis is a big name)

In your terrifying scenario, a smattering of those might help, in coalition with whatever primary material one could get one's hands on (and remember 'texts' can include art, archaeology, objects, even landscapes)

Lhipenwhe
04-19-2012, 11:20 PM
Actually, the slavery issue is being added back as a driving force of the Civil War. It was the primary states' rights issue of the time.


To expand on the issue further, it concerned the legalization of slavery in the new Western territories. States right is something I find ironic when it comes to Confederacy defenders; the Fugitive Slave Act, which forced Northerners to aid in the re-capture of the slaves, was obviously adored by slave owners.

If you're interested in some history books, I can offer a few historians I hold in high regard; Bernard Lewis is a venerable, respected scholar in issues regarding the Middle-East, and Alistair Horne's work displays an excellent analysis of battle. If you don't mind ideologues, I've heard (some) good things about Niall Ferguson, and Howard Zinn is a household name among historians (although I can't stand him, personally).

If you'd like to add poignancy to great purges/destruction of history, I'd add Raul Hillberg's seminal works on the Holocaust; he's regarded as the establishing authority in the matter, and his works often form the basis of new histories.

Puma
04-20-2012, 06:01 AM
You might want to check in historical genre (down below this area of AW) - resources by era. Puma

jeseymour
04-20-2012, 05:01 PM
I'm writing about a future where the powers-that-be have decided that using books as fuel is preferable to keeping them. My MC is collecting books for that day when people may once again want to know 'the real' history of the world, America, etc.

I'm hoping some on this forum can help me with some history book titles. I'm looking for books that provide accurate documentation. (As opposed to books that have been edited to promote a certain point of view).

What history books would you save? Can you provide the title/author or publisher so I can look them up.

Thanks in advance for any help.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Written by a reporter who was there while it was all happening, with access to seized German documents after Nuremburg. All history is written from the viewpoint of the victor, as this is, but it's still undoubtedly accurate. I'm reading it right now, and it's not a fast read, but it's really good.

Debbie V
04-20-2012, 10:57 PM
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.



There's an article on the book and its writing in a recent Smithsonian, in case you're curious.

steamforged
04-20-2012, 11:11 PM
I'm writing about a future where the powers-that-be have decided that using books as fuel is preferable to keeping them. My MC is collecting books for that day when people may once again want to know 'the real' history of the world, America, etc.

This sparks ideas in me, forgive my theorizing... but wouldn't this MC have unprecedented power in deciding what becomes official history? Every person on earth has an agenda. Maybe the MC's picks are colored by their own perspective on world history. Just a thought.

jeseymour
04-21-2012, 01:35 AM
There's an article on the book and its writing in a recent Smithsonian, in case you're curious.

Saw that article and promptly checked the book out of my local library. That was about two months ago, I think. I'm a little more than halfway through. The Germans just invaded Poland.