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History - Wider Sixth Form Reading
The British Problem 1534-1707 – John Morrill
A look at English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh history – bringing the countries together and investigating the inter-relationships.
Britons: Forging a Nation – Linda Colley
A comprehensive, tour de force of national identity and how it shapes a nation. An absorbing and fascinating read, written in an engaging and entertaining style.
The book of Margery Kempe – Margery Kempe
Thought by some to be the first autobiography in the English language, this book chronicles the pilgrimages and experiences of a middle-class woman in the 14th and 15th century.
The Men Who Lost America – Andrew O’Shaughnessy
Interesting recent book giving the counterpoint to the view that America was ‘lost’ by incompetent, myopic leaders. It illuminates the many influences on these events and the subsequent careers of the apparently inept commanders.
Imperium – Ryszard Kapuscinski
Pulling together his journalism from three visits to disparate parts of the Soviet Empire, in the 1960s, mid 1980s and just after the collapse of the USSR, critically acclaimed author and journalist Kapuscinski’s account is easy to read, yet full of terrible but captivating stories. It is a fascinating insight into oral history, which conveys the power of snapshot accounts of real lives paralleled with devastating and brutal policies.
Witnesses of War – Nicholas Stargardt
An account of children’s experiences in Germany and the occupied territories of Eastern Europe, Stargardt uses a range of surprising sources such as children’s letters to their parents, diaries and pictures to explore how a whole generation of European children were shaped by the horrors of 1939 – 1945. Unusually, he looks at the terror for children in Jewish ghettos and concentration camps, as well as for German children in the extreme Allied bombing in German cities towards the end of the war and the level of deprivation they faced in 1945 (an area rarely covered by historians). The range of sources is fascinating, and the child’s perspective illuminating.
Le Feu (‘Under Fire,’ in English), Henri Barbusse
One of the first accounts of the First World War from the perspective of the French trenches. This is a powerful and explicit account of how ordinary men reacted to and were forced to deal with one of the most brutal wars inflicted on mankind.
Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky
On publication, Le Monde, the French national newspaper, called this ‘A masterpiece…saved from oblivion.’ In July 1942, the author was sent to the Nazi gas chambers where she died. Her daughters preserved her manuscripts. It is a superb and at times harrowing book.
History in Practice, Ludmilla Jordanova
The Nature of History, Arthur Marwick
We would also recommend George Orwell’s, Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighteen Four and Homage to Catalonia, in which he records his experiences as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. It is worth noting that after that war, Orwell said; ‘Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism as I understand it’.
Finally, have a look at Graeme Greene’s The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana – the plot of which appears to erringly predict the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. (There have been films of both these books, the first starring Michael Caine, and the second, Alec Guinness