Tag Archives: history

The Medici!

Our book today is that hugely durable old 1910 war-horse, The Medici by G. F. Young, a quintessential example of the particular breed of monumental Victorian history that holds up effortlessly under the onslaught of time. It’s amazing, really, how widespread across the breadth of art and literature are these great histories – and it’s […]

Best Books of 2013: History!

History, too, was thriving in 2013, although I saw the usual reasons for concern – mainly two: the continued rise of imbecilic cardboard garbage calling itself history and increasingly mistaken as such even in respected venues, and the (connected, obviously?) decreasing historical competence among the average citizens of the Republic of Letters. In a word: […]


Our book today is Max Hasting’s smashingly good 2004 Armageddon: The Battle for Germany – 1944-1945, a fat, heavily-detailed account of the final months of World War II in Western Europe, the fitful and protracted mopping-up about which Winston Churchill said in February of 1945, “Tonight the sun goes down on more suffering than ever […]

Twelve Against the Gods!

Our book today is that hilarious, engrossing, inimitable classic, Twelve Against the Gods, written under the pen-name of “William Bolitho” in 1929 (the same author also wrote the enormously enjoyable Murder for Profit) and celebrating a baker’s dozen historical figures who epitomize one aspect or another of the adventurer’s ideal as conceived by our author, […]

A Military History of the Western World!

A magnificent three-volume history of warfare in the West.

The German Dictatorship!

Our book today is a tonic the poor patient might not even agree he needs! After the sybaritic pleasures of a seaside vacation – a blessed time of bike-rides and home-made breakfasts and wine and idle robin-watching, say – nothing will quite bring a reader back to down to Earth faster than Karl Dietrich Bracher’s […]

The Nazi Doctors

Our book today is Robert Jay Lifton’s horrifying 1986 masterpiece, The Nazi Doctors, a copy of which I recently found at my beloved Brattle Bookshop and so of course not only bought but sat down and re-read. If the watchword nightmare of Nazi Germany was the ability of an advanced, scientific, cultured modern nation to […]

The Chronicles of Froissart!

Our book today is most commonly translated into English as the Chronicles of the great fourteenth century historian Jean Froissart, who was born (somewhere in the 1330s) in Valenciennes, a French-speaking Netherlander town in what was then the independent kingdom of Hainault. He was that familiar writerly pattern, an unusually clever son of unimaginative but […]

Six for the War!

Six must-read books on the Second World War!

War in Human Civilization!

Our book today is Azar Gat’s monumental War in Human Civilization from Oxford University Press, which arrived on the scene in 2006, just a bit too early for me to give it the full panoramic treatment in Open Letters Monthly. Gat has been studying military history for a long time (and lives and works in […]


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