Friday, July 23, 2010


Recently, I felt that my education concerning history was lacking. After some soul searching, I felt I needed to take some kind of action to become better. I know a lot of histoy, but I felt that I was not as knowledgeable as I should be. So I contemplated taking some classes, but they would surely be very narrow in their scope, right? How then could I expand and deepen my knowledge? I identified several areas or time periods in American history that I felt I needed to know more about. Next I looked for books that addressed these time periods in a balanced way and I read them. So I've spent this last month or so reading and reading a lot.

I found that if someone arrives at the point where they feel they need more education it is that person's responsibility to educate themselves. Therefore, I embarked on a self-education program. I've read eight books so far in the last month. I identified periods of our history that I felt I didn't know enough about, found written material on those periods and read them. The amount that I've learned in the last month has been incredible. I would be arrogant to think that I'm done, but I feel I've broadened my knowledge and I look forward to the new school year and my opportunity to give my knowledge to my students. It's been an interesting ride and I have vowed to myself that the ride will continue.

For those of you who wrote to me in concern, thank you. My attention has been riveted in my self-education and with other obligations I was a little busy. I'll post some things about the books I've read and provide a list of them if anyone is interested. Thanks for the posts. I'll do more now.


Ducky's here said...

Which period do you find most interesting?

I'm interested in The Gilded Age at the moment and the period of empire building and anarchism. Don't really have a good grasp of the time and I think it gets neglected.

I've started with Stiles' biography of Vanderbilt as a buildup to the robber barons. Frightening, talk about a threat to freedom.

Reading up on the Haymarket riots at the moment.

Anonymous said...


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I would be very curious -- on which time periods have you concentrated? And how did you manage to vet the appropriate books for veracity?


Law and Order Teacher said...

I too am interested in the Gilded Age. I recently read "Dark Horse The Surprise Election and Political Murder of James Garfield." It's a great study of Gilded Age politics with some really great characters such as Conkling, Arthur, Grant, and Blaine to name a few. Power politics at its finest.

I read a biography of Carnegie some time ago and he too is a really interesting guy with a lot of contradictions.

Labor "relations" were certainly tense during this period, with interesting reactions by presidents. Thanks for the visit.

I don't read anything by Zinn except as a curiosity. There historians who have biases, but are professional enough to write without a lot slant. I read a Henry Clay bio, by the Fiedlers that was exceptional. "Henry Clay, Essential American" said it all. He is a particular interest of mine and this a great and fair bio of him.

David Kennedy wrote the textbook I use in class and has written a lot of good stuff. He's pretty liberal, but his writing is fair. I just finished "Freedom from Fear" Americans in Depression and War, 1929-1945." An exceptional book and a fair look at the New Deal. He admits it failed to end the depression, but it did realize FDR's hope for a permanent alliance of government entitlement recipients and the Demo party.

I greatly admire Joshua Chamberlain, northern general. "In the hands of Providence" is a great book about Chamberlain. He wrote the "Passing of Armies" which is also a good book, but written in Victorian style so it's a little tough to read. Larry Sweickart is a good writer and any of his books will educate you.

My best advice is if it sounds interesting read it and if it's full of slanted crap stop reading. I make ample use of the library, but I buy books I really want to have and read again.

I certainly would enjoy communicating with you about history books, my great interest. Thanks for the visit.

Ducky's here said...

If you are interested in Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain:

Conceived in Liberty:
Joshua Chamberlain, William Oates, and the American Civil War

by Mark Perry

Unfortunately out of print but you might spot it at a used bookstore or eBay.

Anonymous said...


Tapline said...

L&O Teach,,,,Since I go to camp during the summer months,,,I read....and This summer is no exception...I am current reading a very large book about the immigration to America, of the East-European Jew from the 1880's. It is certainly eyeopening...The millions who came from Russia, Germany and Romania......I just got back from camp, and left the book there, so I cannot give you the author, but it certainly is giving me an education into Historical events in New York City and beyond.....Stay well...

Z said...

And you REMEMBER what you READ? :-)
I'm impressed by you, tho I know that's not why you posted this...I'm looking forward to learning more from YOU (the lazy way!:-)
you have been missed!

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks. I'll check it out.

Thanks. I'm still mopping up a couple of books, but I'll post some about them and what I learned.

That sounds like something that I would like. I'll dig around to find it. The immigration patterns speak volumes about America. Thanks for the visit.

家唐銘 said...