Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ideas for the Hard-to-buy-for Historian #6

Chris Raible, writer, bookseller, Creemore, Ontario, has two suggestions:

By far the best book on Canadian history I've seen in the past year is Robert Malcomson's Capital in Flames: The American Attack on York, 1813. Despite - or perhaps because of - its extraordinary detail, it presents a balanced and coherent chronology, not only of the event itself, but the build-up and the aftermath. It is required reading for anyone (Canadians and Americans) with claims expertise in the War of 1812 era.
Perhaps the best history book I've read in a decade was published last year (but I read it early this year): Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1816-1848. It melds political, social and religious history into a single narrative, with fascinating anecdotal material that does not distract from the main theme. It is (of course) a bit weak on Canadian history of the era, but it makes an attempt to look north of the border from time to time. It makes the Whigs understandable and it shatters the heroic image of Jackson.

Chris is not alone. Howe's book won the Pulitzer Prize last year.
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