I was in a discussion with a family member who was heading for vacation, and he asked me if I had any reading recommendations. Most years I rarely get through more than a book or two, but this year for some reason I plowed through a bunch of books. I typically read histories and biographies, yet sprinkle in a little popular fiction when I want to give my mind a rest.
So since my year has been so productive, I decided I better put together a ‘best of list’ of the stuff I read this year. Since the fiction I read is just pop culture stuff, and usually pretty old, I didn’t include it. So I decided to limit it to history this year.
So, without further ado, here is my list of favorite history books I read this year.
We all know about Lewis and Clark, and their exploration to the Pacific. Soon after Lewis and Clark, in the early 1800’s, John Jacob Astor saw the business opportunity of this unexplored land and tried to build a huge monopoly in fur trading. Even though I have grown up in the Pacific Northwest and traveled extensively around this region, I wasn’t aware of this interesting story. As I sit here during a dreary December Day, I can only imagine the mental struggles this party went through. In addition to a great adventure story, an interesting business angle too.
A short book – only 140 pages – so it is a quick about the German soldiers stationed on the French coast on D-Day. As part of a German propaganda effort the author interviewed a number of soldiers prior to the invasion gathering patriotic stories. The author then tried to track down a number of these soldiers after the war to hear their story of what happened to them the day of the invasion. An angle on WW2 you don’t often hear, and you realize how tragic the war was for everybody involved.