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Fun Stuff => ENJOY => Topic started by: Thrillho on 19 Jun 2018, 05:42

Title: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: Thrillho on 19 Jun 2018, 05:42
Hello all!

So as I get more emotionally healthy in life, I've rediscovered a love of American history. After repeatedly watching Ken Burns' The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, I got a biography of FDR and read the shit out of it very quickly. I'm currently halfway through the Pulitzer-prize winning trilogy about Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.

My interest in a load of political figures, mainly American presidents, has been piqued.

So, my fellow forumite history buffs, I seek your recommendations of books. Some of them might not exist, but I take personal recommendations from people I respect and who share my values much more seriously than reviews.

Here are the things I would like to read about:
- Is there a history book that gives a small encapsulation of the life and work of each American president (doesn't have to be up-to-date because Christ knows I don't want to read about Trump) in order, so I can decide which ones to read about next?
- Huey Long, legendary Louisiana independent, is already on my list and I've found a book to read about him. The footage I have seen of him is absolutely extraordinary, and hearing him referenced in songs by Randy Newman and as a footnote in FDR's story is fascinating.
- I'm interested in presidents, some of the more significant ones (Grant, Lincoln, Kennedy) but also just ones I personally find curious (Cleveland, Hoover, Eisenhower, Johnson, Wilson).
- I have a specific interest in the times when the Republican and Democratic parties kind of reversed positions as the main choice for people leaning right or left, which mostly seems to focus around the McKinley/Roosevelt/Wilson/Hoover/Roosevelt era.
- I'd also like to understand the American electoral system. I thought it was largely similar to the UK's first-past-the-post system, but I really don't understand the whole electoral college thing and what the purpose of your different houses of legislation is. I'd really love to read a book that breaks this down to me (not least because it will then leave me better informed to read about all the above presidents).
- I'd love to read something good about the American Civil War from the causes of it onto the beginnings of the Reconstruction.
- A slightly sideways note - the more I read about Woody Guthrie, the more I find him mesmerising. If there's a strong biography of him out there I'd like to read that.

Those of you with a similar interest in this kind of history to me - which presidents do you think are the most interesting? What books have you read?

Let me have it, people!
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: LeeC on 19 Jun 2018, 06:15
I'm currently halfway through the Pulitzer-prize winning trilogy about Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.
What a coincidence! So am I!  I am listening to it on audible and I'm on chapter 19 out of 29 of "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt."  Its a wonderfully written biography and the most remarkable and inspiring person I've ever read/heard about.  :parrot:  Sadly the second book in the trilogy is narrated by a very dry and boring sounding man so I may stop after this book.  I am waiting for audible to get the copy with the same narrator as book 1 and 3 for 2.

Delighted!  :-D
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: Thrillho on 19 Jun 2018, 08:20
I'm currently halfway through the Pulitzer-prize winning trilogy about Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.
What a coincidence! So am I!  I am listening to it on audible and I'm on chapter 19 out of 29 of "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt."  Its a wonderfully written biography and the most remarkable and inspiring person I've ever read/heard about.  :parrot:  Sadly the second book in the trilogy is narrated by a very dry and boring sounding man so I may stop after this book.  I am waiting for audible to get the copy with the same narrator as book 1 and 3 for 2.

Delighted!  :-D

Bully!

I'm actually at the almost exact mid point because he just got elected to his second term. Halfway through both book and trilogy.
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: Thrillho on 05 Nov 2019, 12:21
Hey, so I am necroposting in this thread because on the off-chance anybody else wants a book like one of the ones I was describing in the opening thread, I kinda found one:
- Is there a history book that gives a small encapsulation of the life and work of each American president (doesn't have to be up-to-date because Christ knows I don't want to read about Trump) in order, so I can decide which ones to read about next?

Maybe there is, I don't know. But in the meantime I have found American Caesars by Nigel Hamilton [2010].

It covers, in 50-70 pages, 12 modern Presidents, starting with FDR, and ending with W.

It's a scintillating read, but it's kinda hard to recommend it to anybody other than me, because it requires a good deal of knowledge about overall American history and culture in the time period covered (1933-2009) but it kinda needs you to know little about these Presidents to learn anything. The opening chapter is of course FDR, who I know shitloads about, and I learned nothing.

But the Truman and Eisenhower chapters were absolutely fascinating; the JFK one also. I'm now partway through LBJ's chapter and increasingly wishing somebody had written a decent damn book about the guy.
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: Akima on 05 Dec 2019, 15:40
It is a specialised area, and I suppose it isn't strictly American politics, but I recommend "JFK's Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA, and the Sino-Indian War (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0815726996)"

I bought it for my Kindle on the basis of its strong reviews, and it is good. The perspective is American, of course, but it is no bad thing to get multiple views of these events (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_War), especially for those of us who were exposed to "patriotic education" in China. The author makes use of recently declassified sources which shed interesting light on the barmy things the CIA was getting up to in China at the time.
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: Wingy on 06 Dec 2019, 04:54
Take a look at the teach12.com site and scan through their history section.  Many libraries have their dvd courses, or can get them via interlibrary loan, if you don't want to purchase yourself.  You can vet the presenters credentials on-line to avoid the loonies (the homeopath one for example).
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: sitnspin on 08 Dec 2019, 10:49
"The Nine Nations of North America" is an interesting look at how the different cultural and political divides between various regions in post-colonial North America developed and why they are so different.
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: tabeeR on 15 Mar 2021, 11:15
None of the books can beat the reality we're facing now!
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 16 Mar 2021, 11:58
"Bitterly Divided", about the South during the US Civil War. Lots of people didn't want secession. The planter class coerced legislatures into voting for it, then continued growing cash crops while food riots happened. Anti-Confederate militias controlled territory, and by the end of the war 2/3 of the Confederate army was AWOL.
Title: Re: History book recommendations about American Politics
Post by: Sappina3 on 26 May 2021, 05:02
Well, if you want to study the politics behind the decisions made and understand what exactly happens in the President's Office, you can read the works of Henry Kissinger. You can also try Gary Bass' - Blood Telegram (https://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/books/review/the-blood-telegram-by-gary-j-bass.html), this is not exactly American politics, but it is about America's involvement and politics behind the 1971 war of Bangladesh.