The Best Beach Read Books for History Buffs


Simply because we at HistoryNet are obsessive about the previous doesn’t imply we don’t chill from time to time. Typically, consider it or not, we even shuffle out of our tweed jackets, classic flapper attire and recreated Union uniforms and go to the seaside — to examine historical past some extra, after all! With the peak of summer time kicking in, we current our editors’ favourite books to sink into among the many dunes.

I Might By no means Be So Fortunate Once more

I recall a Dennis the Menace cartoon the place the titular character is quizzing a visiting army man. The little scamp mentioned one thing like, “If he did a lot, why did they name him ‘do little’?” A dumb joke, sure, but it surely does apply to the profession of Gen. James “Jimmy” Doolittle. He wasn’t a giant man bodily, however he was a large within the aviation world, making his mark as a record-setter, racer, scholar and warrior — the final most memorably with the raid on Tokyo he commanded in April 1942. Doolittle covers all that in his fantastic 1991 autobiography, “I Might By no means Be So Fortunate Once more.” It’s positively value a learn — on the seaside or anyplace else it’s possible you’ll end up this summer time. 

— Tom Huntington, Editor, Aviation Historical past 

I Might By no means Be So Fortunate Once more

by James Doolittle, Bantam, April 24, 2001

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Ragtime: A Novel

This pioneering best-seller, the premise for a preferred movie and a Broadway musical, debuted in 1974 and stays an excellent summer time learn or reread because it have been. E.L. Doctorow masterfully stirs collectively fin de siècle America because it was and that America because it conceived itself to be. For instance these distinctions, he populates his fourth e book with real historic figures who, in context, work together with characters from a affluent fictional household in New Rochelle, New York, an immigrant household from the Decrease East Aspect and a Black couple whose experiences knit the story collectively.   

— Michael Dolan, Editor, American Historical past

Ragtime: A Novel

by E.L. Doctorow, Random Home Commerce Paperbacks, Could 8, 2007

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With Wings Like Eagles: The Untold Story of the Battle of Britain

The complete story of the epic air battle that saved Britain is my selection for an excellent summer time learn. The e book is historian Michael Korda’s With Wings Like Eagles: The Untold Story of the Battle of Britain.

— Stephen Harding, Editor, Army Historical past 

With Wings Like Eagles: The Untold Story of the Battle of Britain

by Michael Korda, Reprint version January 19, 2010, Harper Perennial

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Boots and Saddles, or Life in Dakota with Normal Custer 

If you’re a Western historical past fan and romance is in your thoughts this summer time, your greatest wager may be the 1885 traditional “Boots and Saddles, or Life in Dakota with Normal Custer.” The creator, Elizabeth “Libbie” Custer, knew George Armstrong Custer higher than anybody else — she was his spouse and No. 1 supporter lengthy after her man died on the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.

The well-known Western couple married in 1864 when the “Boy Normal” was 25 and Libbie was 21. The creator begins her story when the couple met in the course of the Civil Struggle in Monroe, Michigan, offering a unique facet to the controversial Military officer. The very best a part of this well-written e book is her intimate and loving portrayal of George whereas she lived with him on the northern Plains earlier than he met his finish in Montana Territory.

“Someday,” Libbie wrote, “my husband known as me to the door,with a warning finger to come back softly. He whispered to me to look at a hen perched on a department and making an attempt to get beneath the shade of two or three tiny leaflets that have been struggling to stay. Such a harbinger of hope made us stuffed with vibrant anticipations of the day when our timber would solid overseas shadow.” 

— Gregory Lalire, Editor, Wild West

Boots and Saddles, or Life in Dakota with Normal Custer

by Elizabeth B. Custer, CreateSpace Unbiased Publishing Platform, December 5, 2014

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Group America: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, Eisenhower, and the World They Cast

Robert L. O’Connell’s irreverent four-pronged biography follows the lives and careers of World Struggle II’s high generals: George S. Patton, Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Melding rock-solid analysis with energetic evaluation of their larger-than-life personas, O’Connell makes a convincing case for why the foursome —whom he dubs “Group America” — is, and continues to be, historical past’s most influential cabal of army leaders. Sure, it’s named after the 2004 puppet film. And in some components, O’Connell’s prose is equally hilarious (albeit all true). 

— Kirstin Fawcett, Affiliate Editor, World Struggle II

Group America: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, Eisenhower, and the World They Cast 

by Robert L. O’Connell, Harper, Could 17, 2022

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The Battle of An Loc 

When the North Vietnamese Military’s Easter Offensive smashed throughout the Laotian and Cambodian borders on March 30, 1972, and thrust into South Vietnam, President Richard Nixon’s “Vietnamization” of the conflict (the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops and elevated fight tasks for the South Vietnamese) was close to completion. Solely two U.S. floor fight brigades remained in-country — the 196th Mild Infantry Brigade in Army Area I close to Da Nang and the third Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in MR III close to Saigon. However Hanoi egregiously miscalculated American willpower to commit logistical and, particularly, dominant air energy assets to have interaction and nearly remove the NVA’s fight energy.  

No higher instance of that dedication is the 66-day battle for An Loc in MR III. One of many members in that wrestle was James H. Willbanks, a U.S. Military adviser working with the Military of the Republic of Vietnam who was wounded and evacuated in the course of the battle. His e book, “The Battle of An Loc,” is the traditional account of this pivotal battle that turned again the 1972 NVA offensive, after inflicting grievous losses on communist forces (100,000 NVA casualties, over 250 tanks destroyed). Furthermore, the ARVN/U.S. victory in 1972 clearly reveals how the top of American army assist prevented South Vietnam from prevailing three years later when Hanoi launched primarily a repeat of its 1972 Easter Offensive and overran Saigon, handing the North the ultimate victory within the Vietnam Struggle in April 1975.

— Chuck Springston, Editor, Vietnam

The Battle of An Loc 

by James H. Willbanks, Indiana College Press, August 27, 2015 

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SAS: Rogue Heroes

Should you like riveting battle tales, journey and larger-than-life warriors, I’d extremely suggest Ben Macintyre’s “Rogue Heroes.” Macintyre charts the origin story of Britain’s elite Particular Air Service (SAS) throughout World Struggle II with a mixture of meticulous element and colourful writing that makes you’re feeling as if you’re studying a rollicking thriller novel.

This e book, nevertheless, is straight nonfiction, primarily based on details the creator uncovered by means of methodical analysis. The creator conveys the personalities and strategies of the founding fathers of the SAS and their comrades. This motley bunch of fighters used grit and wits to provide the Germans a run for his or her cash on multiple event — and in doing so revolutionized warfare and shaped what grew to become one of many world’s high particular forces items. I loved studying in regards to the battlefield bravery of Robert Blair “Paddy” Mayne, one in all my favourite heroes. If you would like stable conflict historical past that can be a great learn, that is one e book you may’t miss.  

— Zita Ballinger Fletcher, Senior Editor, Vietnam and Army Historical past

SAS: Rogue Heroes

by Ben Macintyre, Random Home, DATE

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Meade at Gettysburg: A Examine in Command

Do we’d like one other e book on the Battle of Gettysburg? On this case, sure! I extremely suggest, “Meade at Gettysburg: A Examine in Command” by Kent Masterson Brown. Brown, already acclaimed for his 2005 e book, “Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Marketing campaign,” has confirmed as soon as once more there’s nonetheless extra to study in regards to the epic battle in Pennsylvania.

Brown digs deep to supply a brand new take a look at Meade, one which brings to mild difficulties in provide and communication confronted by the brand new Military of the Potomac commander that different research haven’t talked about. You’ll be fascinated, for instance, by the efforts and talent Herman Haupt exerted to restore harm to railroads and telegraph wires working to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., attributable to Jeb Stuart’s horsemen.

Get this e book, sit on the porch (or within the AC in the event you choose), and luxuriate in this summer time learn on the U.S. commander on the largest summer time battle of the Civil Struggle.

— Dana B. Shoaf, Managing Editor of Print, Editor, Civil Struggle Instances

Meade at Gettysburg: A Examine in Command

by Kent Masterson Brown, The College of North Carolina Press, June 7, 2021

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