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Research Book Recommendations

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1 Research Book Recommendations on Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:02 pm

Hi, I hope this is allowed. I figure since we're all history buffs here, and there's a 'Dreamer Readalike' thread already, maybe we'd like to have a history book recommendation. Like, if there's a time period or a particular historical person someone's interested in but they can never find books about that person/ time, this can be the thread for them! I know I'm always on the look out for more research on the civil war.

Some history books I can recommend off the top of my head:

'Sleeping With Kings' by Eleanor Herman, a book full of short stories and facts about Europe's kings and their mistresses, it's very entertaining and manages to be both a light read and thought provoking at the same time.
'Shakespeare Alive!' by Joseph Papp and Elizabeth Kirkland: I recently took a Shakespeare course and this was one of the books, and it was really a good read. It's short but the authors were able to get a lot of information into it, cutting right to the core of the information. It's about life during Shakespeare's time and how it influenced his writing and how the culture was then, which allowed me to read his plays with a deeper appreciation.
'Stealing Secrets' by H. Donald Winkler: I just started this book and hopefully my first impression of it is accurate: it's about female spies in the Civil War and how their actions impacted the outcome of the war. So far it's fascinating and I love it.

Those are easy reads however, because I'm not able to root out the 'good' research books from the 'biased' ones, and I'm hoping this thread will be a good place for people to come to get recommendations and leave some!
I'm focused on the Civil War for two reasons: One, I'm doing a special project next semester with my history teacher on women spies in the Civil war, the other is personal interest.
Does anyone have any recommendations for books about: the Know Nothings and Life in Louisiana before/during the War? Thanks!

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2 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:17 pm

Off the top of my head

The two lives of Sally Miller : a case of mistaken racial identity in antebellum New Orleans / Carol Wilson

I don't know if that will really help your particular topic (civil war female spies) but it was a fascinating look at the slave culture in New Orleans. It was the story of a white looking slave girl that German immigrants claimed had been the daughter of one of their friends who had died on the voyage over. The idea that this white German girl was forced into slavery upset a lot of people and it eventually went to court. The real mystery was if this girl was the lost German girl or not.

That unfortunately is the only book I have really read about pre-Civil War Louisiana. But it was fascinating.

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3 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:54 pm

Oh my gosh. You guys HAVE to read "The Devil in the White City". It's about the Chicago World Fair and it's absolutely INSANE.

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4 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:28 pm

Alyce: Thanks for that recommendation! I'll add that to my list of 'Find this Book now" It sounds interesting and can provide information about life in Louisiana from a slavery viewpoint. Did they ever find out what happened to the actual german girl or are you going to tell me to read the book to find out? Smile

Caera:I think I've heard of it, but the review I read made it sound like it was made up(fictional), was I wrong?

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5 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:58 pm

It reads like a fiction but it's not. If you read it you know where half of modern American lifestyle comes from. The Ferris wheel is the best part.

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6 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:50 am

Huh, sounds really unusual, I've added it to my list, if only to see how something like that could be pulled off.

Oh and another book I just started: "The Princes in the Tower' by Alison Weir, she read all the documents she could find on Richard III and is trying to figure out whether or not he actually is responsible for the Princes' deaths.

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7 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:06 am

Tiger86- I don't remember if they actually say what happened to the real Salome Muhler (the German girl) but the slave girl ends up not being her. She just played along to try to get out of slavery.

Here's just a general thought for everyone when picking research books. Pay attention to who the author and publisher are. Most history books that you can pick up in Borders and such places are not actually written by historians, they are written by journalists. Why is this important? Journalists are trained to look at a topic superficially to get their story out quickly. Historians are trained to look at a question from several angles and disciplines. Its always best to rely on books that have been written by historians with degrees and published by colleges.

Not to say that there aren't some great books by non-historians, but just be careful when researching. It never hurts to get a "second opinion." *^^*

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8 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:42 pm

Huh you know, I didn't even THINK about that aspect!
Now I have to go double check that the books I have are by legit historians. There's nothing wrong with a book by a journalist, but for a project I'm doing next semester, I need the historically intense books. And like you said, nothing wrong with a second opinion Smile

I can look up some historians to be sure of what books they wrote, but you mentioned publishers? Are there specific publishers I should look out for, to either find or avoid?

Maybe I should rephrase this thread title to "Good research books AND historians to look for"?

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9 Re: Research Book Recommendations on Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:23 pm

We read Devil as required reading in my history class this past semester, and my history professor is the god of American History so I still recommend it. lol To say nothing of all the awesome trivia you learn reading the book. Cool

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