TWEM: How to Read a Book: History


Since January 2012, I have been reading through The Well-Educated Mind reading lists - first the novels, then the biographies.  Next, I will begin the histories, which is my most favorite genre.  

In the beginning, I knew of several bloggers reading through the novels; in fact, I was able to catch up to them.  But they have since taken a break in their reading, or I passed them up. When I began the biographies, Cleo at Classical Carousel joined me, and she encouraged a group of readers via Goodreads to join us.

I am hoping to begin the histories in January 2017.  If you would like to read along, I have included Susan Wise Bauers' suggested questions to think about and the book titles (listed in chronological order).  There is a Goodreads group available, if you would like to follow along or join there.

Maybe you are a history fanatic and need an excuse to read more of it, or you loathe it terribly and need encouragement to exercise that part of your brain.  Either way, we would love to have you join us.  We read about one book a month, but depending on the size, it could take longer.  Consider it a three-year reading challenge, at least, if you choose to read every book.



How to Read History:

According to Susan Wise Bauer, these are questions to consider when reading a historical work.

Level I:
Who is the author, and does he/she state the purpose for writing?
Who is the story about, and what are the major events?
What challenge did this hero/heroine face, and what causes this challenge?  What is the result of the hero/heroine?
Do the characters progress/regress, and why?
Where/when does the story take place?

Level II:
What are the historians' assertions, and what questions is he/she asking?
What sources does the historian use to answer them?
Does the evidence support the connection between questions and answers?
Does the historian list his or her qualifications?

Level III:
What is the purpose of history?
Does this story have a forward motion?
What does it mean to be human?
Why do things go wrong?
What place does free will have?
What relationship does this history have to social problems?
What is the end of history?
How is this history the same as - or different than - the stories of other historians who have come before?

The List:

These are the titles to read in this order:

Herodotus: 
The Histories (441 B.C.)

Thucydides: 
The Peloponnesian War (c. 400 B.C.)

Plato: 
The Republic (c. 375 B.C.)

Plutarch: 
Lives (A.D. 100 - 125)

Augustine: 
The City of God (completed 426)

Bede: 
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731)

Machiavelli, Niccolo: 
The Prince (1513)

More, Sir Thomas: 
Utopia (1516)

Locke, John: 
The True End of Civil Government (1690)

Hume, David: 
The History of England, Vol. V (1754)

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: 
The Social Contract (1762)

Paine, Thomas: 
Common Sense (1776)

Gibbon, Edward: 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776 - 1788)

Wollstonecraft, Mary: 
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

De Tocqueville, Alexis: 
Democracy in America (1835 - 40)

Marx, Karl & Engels, Friedrich: 
The Communist Manifesto (1848)

Burckhardt, Jacob: 
The Civilization of the Renaissance in  Italy (1860)

Du Bois, W.E.B.: 
The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

Weber, Max: 
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904)

Strachey, Lytton: 
Queen Victoria (1921)

Orwell, George: 
The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)

Miller, Perry: 
The New England Mind (1939)

Galbraith, John Kenneth: 
The Great Crash 1929 (1955)

Ryan, Cornelius: 
The Longest Day (1959)

Friedan, Betty: 
The Feminine Mystique (1963)

Genovese, Eugene D.: 
Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1974)

Tuchman, Barbara: 
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous  Fourteenth Century (1978)

Woodward, Bob & Bernstein, Carl: 
All the President's Men (1987)

McPherson, James M.: 
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War  Era (1988)

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher: 
A Midwife's Tale: 
The Life of  Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary (1990)

Fukuyama, Francis: 
The End of History and the Last Man (1992)

4 comments:

  1. I've been wanting to reread Herodotus and Thucydides ever since I first read them at school. The beginning of 2017 maybe a tad busy, but I will see what I can do - great idea & good luck :-)

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    1. My start up post for The Histories - http://bronasbooks.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/the-histories-by-herodotus-readalong.html

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    2. Oops I meant to make that a hyperlink - The Histories

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    3. No problem, I got it.

      Thanks. : )

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