Jun 29, 2015

Possible Books for September 2015

Irish History (This is a reduced list after the discussion in June.)

Guerilla Days in Ireland: A Personal Account of the Anglo-Irish War by Tom Barry. 242 pages, 4.8 stars. This was written by one of the IRA flying squad members in the late 40's and was very influential in the liberation movements of the 1950's and 1960's. Plus it is a first person history of the conflict. Here are some reviews of the book from GoodReads.

The Irish War of Independence by Michael Hopkinson. 274 pages, 4.5 stars (but only 4 reviews) The Irish War of Independence was a sporadic guerrilla campaign taht lasted from January 1919 until July 1921. Michael Hopkinson makes full use of the recently opened files of the Bureau of Military Archives in Dublin, which contain valuable first-hand contemporary accounts of the war, meticulously piecing together the many disparate local actions to create a coherent narrative. The first half of this from History Ireland reviews the book.
We considered a historical novel for the first time, and postponed the decision to a later meeting.
A Star Called Henry (Last Roundup) by Roddy Doyle. 400 pages, 4.0 stars. Born at the beginning of the twentieth century, Henry Smart lives through the evolution of modern Ireland, and in this extraordinary novel he brilliantly tells his story. From his own birth and childhood on the streets of Dublin to his role as soldier (and lover) in the Irish Rebellion, Henry recounts his early years of reckless heroism and adventure. At once an epic, a love story, and a portrait of Irish history, A Star Called Henry is a grand picaresque novel brimming with both poignant moments and comic ones, and told in a voice that is both quintessentially Irish and inimitably Roddy Doyle's. Doyle is a winner of the Booker Prize and perhaps the best living Irish writer. Here is The New York Times Review of the Book.  Here is a video of  Roddy Doyle on the book from the Abbey Theater. Here is the trailer for Terry Gilliam's film from the book. This review from an Irish reader: "Certainly a page turner it is a fiction from the perspective of a 'foot soldier' in Dublin IRA. It clearly shows that behind the men of action are a group from whom the soldiers will always be excluded. This group will assume power when the New Day dawns, as such groups do worldwide."

As 2015 Comes to a Close, Anniversary Books

A Short History of Reconstruction, Updated Edition by Eric Foner. (Unrated 2015 edition, but previous versions highly rated) 352 pages. From the “preeminent historian of Reconstruction” (New York Times Book Review), a newly updated abridged edition of the prize-winning classic work on the post-Civil War period which shaped modern America. Here is a review of the bookHere is a video discussion of the earlier, longer book on the topic by Foner. Will be read by a member to evaluate and decision will be based on his recommendation.  On the second round, this was selected to be discussed in October.

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner. 4.6 stars, 448 pages. A definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth.Won the Pulitzer Prize for history, the Bancroft Prize and the Lincoln Prize.  Here is The New York Times review of the book. Here is a video discussion of the book by author Foner.

Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker.  4.5 stars, 464 pages. Waged in 1415, the Battle of Agincourt still captivates. It is the classic underdog story, and generations have wondered how the English--outmanned by the French six to one--could have succeeded so bravely and brilliantly. The book describes both the lead up to the battle and its aftermath. Here is a review of the book.

1215: The Year of Magna Carta by Danny Danziger and John Gillingham. 4.4 stars, 336 pages. The events leading up to King John’s setting his seal to the famous document at Runnymede in June 1215 form this rich and riveting narrative that vividly describes everyday life from castle to countryside, from school to church, and from hunting in the forest to trial by ordeal. Here is the History Net review of the book. Here is a brief video on the book.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert  D Putnam (Only available in hardcover and ebook, but affordable.) 4.4 stars, 400 pages (278 pages of text.) A groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility. (Walter Isaacson called this the most important book of the year, perhaps the decade.) Here is a video of an interview with Putnam on the book. Selected for September.

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