History

The World is Flat

Gary Smailes is the founder of OneBook and since it's his blog he says he can have as many OneBooks as he likes. But don't tell him that anyone is allowed to submit as many OneBooks as they please, he might just start crying...

Worldisflat

The World is Flat is one of those books that you read and just want to tell everyone about. The premise behind the book is simple - the Internet has made the world flat. The writer Thomas L. Friedman doesn’t mean physically flat, he’s talking metaphorically. In essence he is saying that the birth of the Internet, together with an number of related events such as the emergence of China, has meant that anyone, anywhere in the world can now do business. He argues that ten years ago a business’ competitor was often just down the street, or maybe in another town but almost certainly in the same country. Whereas today it is highly probable that workers from India, China, America and Europe are all competing for the same job. Freidman suggest that this means that if western world continues to ignore this fact and remains stationery, then they will be overwhelmed by bigger, hungrier countries.

This is essential reading for everyone.

Just one word of warning, it WILL change the way you think about the world.

  • Read wiki's bit on the book here.
  • Go here to watch a video about the book.
  • This page summaries the argument generated by the book.
  • You can buy a second hand copy here.

Terry Deary

Terry Deary is a children's author now living in County Durham, England. A former actor, theatre-director and drama teacher, Deary says he began writing when he was 29. Most famously, he is the author of the Horrible Histories series of books which is popular among children for their disgusting details, gory information and humorous pictures and among adults for getting children interested in history. Books in the series have been widely translated into other languages and imitated.

Note from Gary: Terry has cheated and given his top three OneBooks but who am I to argue?

The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe by Charles Nicholl

The_Reckoning

Historical detective work at its best. Not only does Nicholl recreate the Elizabethan underworld in all its chilling seediness, he investigates the murder with the pace and technique of a mystery novelist. In the end he doesn't quite convince me, but his book should be compulsory reading for all writers of popular history.

In Search of the Trojan War by Michael Wood

trojan

In children's non-fiction books it's not enough to inform the readers; first you have to engage them. Michael Wood is above all an engaging writer as well as an erudite historian. Whatever he writes about he brings to life. A rare talent.

 

They Called it Paschendale by Lyn Macdonald

PasschendaeleBooks like this transcend ordinary literature and provide a service to humanity. Macdonald has collected the testimonies of the men who fought in the first world war and tells the story from their point of view. It's humanity in the raw and it's not all bleak.

 

  • Find out more about Terry here.
  • You can read about the excellently researched Horrible Histories here.
  • More about The Reckoning here.
  • More about the author of Trojan War here.
  • Read a discussion about Lyn Macdonald here.
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The Making of the English Working Class

Angela Topping is a writer and poet who teaches English by day. Books and music are her mainstays in life. Her latest poetry collection is 'The Way We Came' published by bluechrome. She also writes critical books for Greenwich Exchange.

The_Making_of_the_English_Working_Class

The Making of the English Working Class by E.P.Thompson opened my eyes to the hidden history - not of kings and queens but of everyday people who risked their lives to free themselves from oppression and gain the vote. It made me prouder than ever to be working class. It's inspired poems - not just in me. I read it because I was researching Tony Harrison's 'School of Eloquence' sequence so I wanted to learn about The London Corresponding Society and the Poor Man's Guardian. Everyone should read this book - its narrative is as gripping as any novel - but it is all true!

  • Read Wiki's excellent summary of this important book here.
  • You can find out more about Thompson here.
  • If you like Thompson, you will love Eric Hobsbawm.
  • Learn more about Marxist history here.
  • Buy a new copy of the book here.
  • Or a lovely, well read copy here.

This video will either be your thing or not. Mix and match I say:

The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant

Birkenhead born Walter Hicks now lives in Beaverton, Oregon, and works for Nike IHM as a machine operator. He describes himself as a reader that tries to write. “Reading comes first and writing second, as it should do.” He's presently writing a book about the time he worked for David Guardino the self proclaimed “Psychic to the Stars”. “I got an education in the ways of the world, and a walk on the wild side free of charge.” He says.

The book...

Lessons_of_history “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Will and Ariel Durant make it clear that they can only offer their opinion in this small gem of a book. They have written, and published, thousands of pages on history, and as such their opinion is well worth reading; and in only one hundred pages they manage to sum up the lessons that we might have learned had we taken any notice of their other books.

Imagine you are looking at the world objectively, as a biologist, from a completely different place and time, where a thousand years in Earth time is only a day in your time; and then imagine that you take a few days to study the life of the dominant animal on the planet Earth. A pattern will emerge, a way of things, and you will have no idea at all about the hopes and the dreams of the microscopic animal that we call human beings. You will only see the big picture of life.

In the book they say the first biological lesson is that life is competition. The second biological lesson is that life is selective. The third biological lesson is that life must breed.

Any fool can make things complicated, but it takes genius to make it simple!

“If the human brood is to numerous for the food supply, nature has three agents for restoring the balance: famine, pestilence, and war.”

“The South creates the civilizations, the North conquers them, ruins them, borrows from them, spreads them: this is the summary of history.”

“The climate has a lot to do with progress. Would the white race have done any better in Africa than the black race?”

You can agree with them or disagree with them, but this book is a must read.

Buy Lessons of History.

Submit your own book here.

Face of Battle by John Keegan

Gary Smailes is a Military Historian and Writer. He studied for a Masters Degree in Military History at Liverpool University and specialises in British Military History. He has published two children's books and has eight other books due for publication later this year.
You can read Gary's blog here.

The book...
Face_of_battleIn many ways Military History has had a bad press in the past. It has been dominated by battle narratives, an obsession with the decisive battle and frankly poor writing. John Keegan's Face of Battle is none of these things. It was first published in 1976 and represents a new kind of Military History. Keegan looks in detail at three battles - Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme. However, rather than concentrating on the overall strategic concepts he looks instead at the experiences of the individual solider at the "point of maximum danger". Keegan's book marked a turning point in the way Military History was viewed and opened the door to a more modern interpretation of conflict that examines aspects beyond the traditional approach of looking at commanders and the role of grand strategy.

The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme
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