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David Spear recommends Bruce Catton’s Waiting for the Morning Train: An American Boyhood (1972). Catton earned fame as the author of some fifteen books on the Civil War, but his best work might be his memoir. He grew up in northern Michigan at the turn of the twentieth century. The sentimental title, leads one to expect something boring or treacly. Instead, the book is utterly engaging. Catton’s writing is stellar; his memories are vivid, his thoughtful analysis of the so-called march of progress leaves you reeling, and his insights into human nature are at once steely-eyed yet sympathetic. This title is available through PASCAL.
Marian Strobel recommends Kathryn Smith’s The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency (2016). Smith is a journalist from Anderson, South Carolina, and she has written a revealing biography of Marguerite (“Missy”) LeHand, the fun-loving and highly competent private secretary/ executive assistant who worked closely with Franklin Roosevelt from the 1920’s until her own death in 1944. Through meticulous primary research, Smith has provided an intimate look at the private FDR and his working and social relationships, not only with LeHand, but also with Eleanor and many other New Deal luminaries. This title is available in our General Collection.
Erik Ching recommends the latest installment of his ‘reading history books to his dad.’ This year’s selection is Anne Hyde’s Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800–1860 (2012)—winner of the 2012 Bancroft Price (top prize for U.S. history by the American Historical Association) and a finalist for a Pulitzer in 2012. Hyde combines close detail with expansive overviews and has written a book that is gripping in a subtle way. Some of its content bears remarkable similarity to the film “The Revenant,” namely the fur trade in the upper Missouri, and the importance of family ties and ethnic mixing. This title is available in our General Collection.
Courtney Tollison recommends Adam Makos’s and Larry Alexander’s A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II (2012). It’s the story of a damaged American bomber flying over wartime Germany as a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up behind it, flown by the German ace Franz Stigler. But instead of destroying the bomber, Franz….well, you’ll just have to read the book, which Courtney describes as “an unlikely, riveting history of the relationship between a Luftwaffe pilot and USAAF pilot who find each other once again later in life. If you enjoyed Unbroken, you will really enjoy A Higher Call.” This title is available in our catalog as an eBook.
Hilary Falb-Kalisman recommends Tom Segev’s One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (2000). Trained as a historian, but working as a journalist, Segev offers a panoramic view of the Mandate for Palestine, from British, Jewish and Arab perspectives. Under Britain’s tutelage, sanctioned by the newly created League of Nations, the Mandate lasted from 1922 until 1948. Meant to ease the transition from empire to nationstate, while advancing Britain’s interests, the Mandate for Palestine had the added hurdle of different national aspirations: only the Jewish national home was required by the Mandate’s charter. Segev’s book is not the easiest introduction to historical events, or controversies. However, it’s a wonderfully entertaining book that makes this period come alive in a way few histories, particularly histories of the Middle East, manage to do. This title is available in our General Collection.
These titles were recommended in the most recent edition of the History at Furman newsletter. To find more book recommendations, search the History Department’s newsletter archive.