Most Anticipated Books Of 2016

Much like my Favorite Books of 2015, this is going to be a list of what I’m planning to read during the next year, regardless of when it was published. In fact, few if any of these books are due out in 2016 as I rarely learn about books of interest to me until after they are already published.  This is again just an attempt to spotlight some things that really interest me and might interest you also.

Postwar by Tony Judt
History after World War II, especially outside of the USA, is that part that always got skimmed or skipped at the end of the semester in school. Not only am I interested and the book is supposed to be pretty good, but I really feel like I should know this stuff.

American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 by H. W. Brands
I’ve read one American History book by this author which I really enjoyed, but I have yet to get around to reading a second.  Dr. Engle, my outstanding college professor also read and recommended this during my final semester.

The Chickamauga Campaign (3 volumes) by David Powell
I’m planning to visit the battlefield in May so I want to brush up on the latest (and probably most definitive) works on the subject.  I’ve only previously read Peter Cozzens’ book on the battle.

Shiloh: Conquer or Perish (and possibly Untold Story of Shiloh and Rethinking Shiloh) by Timothy Smith
I’m also planning to visit Shiloh so I’m going to try to read what possibly the top modern expert on the subject has to say. I’ve previously read Cunningham’s and Groom’s books on Shiloh.

Truman and The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
I’ve previously read McCullough’s excellent Path Between The Seas so I’m looking forward to his older book that I understand had a huge part in the reevaluation of Harry Truman’s presidency and also his most recent work.

Target: Rabaul by Bruce Gamble
I enjoyed Fortress Rabaul about operations against the Japanese stronghold through the death of Yamamoto and look forward to this sequel covering the rest of the war.

The Day of Battle and Guns At Last Light by Rick Atkinson
Continuing a trend of sequalitis, I really enjoyed Army at Dawn and want to complete the trilogy.

West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free by Mark Snell
I would want to read this as a Civil War buff, but also double curious as it is technically my home state.

Searching for George Gordon Meade by Tom Huntington
Meade interests me as both a Civil War buff, but also because of his lighthouse connections.  I understand this is not exactly an orthodox biography either.

Those are just my Top 10 (or so).  My official goal for the year is 75.

You can follow my reviews on Goodreads.


Favorite Books of 2015

I read 66 books in 2015.  As usual, most were non-fiction history, but there were some biographies and fiction as well, including some comic book trade paperbacks.  Few of them were published for the first time in 2015, which is not unusual for me.  I have always gotten most of my reading material from the public library and that often means getting books several years after publication.  So this is not any attempt at a “best of 2015” and merely my desire to spotlight what I liked the best during the last year.

10. Overland Campaign series by Gordon Rhea
I’m going to cheat a little on a “Top 10” by lumping together a series of 4 books by the same author. Rhea’s books cover the Grant-Lee battles of 1864 at Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, and Cold Harbor. They are all of the same style written chronologically in sequence so it’s rather difficult to pick a favorite, but I would give a slight nod to Cold Harbor simply because that is where the greatest common misconceptions are addressed.  Must read series for any Civil War buff.

9. Hernando de Soto and the Indians of Florida by Jerald Milanich
A rather interesting narrative of the infamous De Soto expedition to Florida that is as interesting for the subject as it is for the way the author weaves together the different narratives of the expedition along with archaeological evidence.

8. Ditch of Dreams by Steven Noll
The Cross-Florida Barge Canal is probably not something most Floridians are familiar with, but if you’ve ever been to Ocala National Forest or heard of Marjorie Harris Carr you want to read this book and learn the story.

7. Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson
You’ve probably heard of the myth of Lawrence of Arabia, especially thanks to the famous Hollywood movie of the same name.  This is a modern biography/history of Lawrence and some of his contemporaries in the Middle East.

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The lone fiction on this list.  Fun dystopian sci-fi loaded with geek references and 80s nostalgia.  This book is being made into a movie.

5. A Short Bright Flash by Theresa Levitt
If you’re interested in lighthouses or science then you’ll be interested in this biography Augustin Fresnel which doubles as a history of the development and implementation of his eponymous lighthouse optic.

4. American Warlords by Jonathan Jordan
If you liked Doris Keane Goodwin’s Team of Rivals then you’ll like this treatment of FDR’s top military advisers in World War II.

3. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
The ideas presented in this book may not be groundbreaking, but their synthesis is monumental.  This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand some of the broad patterns of world history. Environmental determinism isn’t a two word explanation for all pre-colonial history, but it’s a significant factor that needs to be understood by everyone.

2. The Men Who Lost America by Andrew O’Shaughnessy
Americans too often see the American Revolution from the American perspective.  This outstanding book looks at the British leaders, both military and political, and the role each played in Britain’s defeat.

1. The Swamp by Michael Grunwald
Excellent history of the Florida Everglades that should be read by anyone who lives in South Florida and anyone else who wants to know more about them (or have an opinion on what should be done about it).  The Everglades have been in the news regularly as long as I have lived in Florida.

You can follow my reviews on Goodreads.

Privleging of the Present

“This leads to my third major concern: the excessive privileging of the present. So powerful are the online forces of conformity and political correctness that it sometimes seems that knowledge of the past is being judged as irrelevant and every former age dismissed as unenlightened. For centuries, antiquity might have been over-reverenced; now earlier eras are condescendingly patronized, smugly disdained at racist, imperialist, classist, sexist, and generally reprehensible. Such presentism is intellectually impoverishing, as well as generally bad for one’s character, and should be resisted. The timeworn adage remains at least partly true: we are but pygmies standing on the shoulders of giants.”

An example of this is the school of thought that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were actually terrible people because, regardless of what good they did, they did not believe black people where the equal of white people.  They also scoff at the term “Age of Enlightenment” and will write books about how history is nothing but rich white men abusing and oppressing minorities.

The ironic thing is those guilty of privileging the present are basically all people who will vocally rail against white privilege, male privilege, etc.

This isn’t theoretical; I have met some of these people on the internet and in person.