Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Books notes: best histories of 2021

We were recently linking to a number of lists and suggestions about the best history books of 2021, and I've been pondering my own favourites -- though there must be a thousand candidates I have not read or heard of.

I've concluded that the Canadian history I most enjoyed this year was Neville Thompson's The Third Man: Churchill, Roosevelt, Mackenzie King and the Friendship that Won World War II, about Mackenzie King's relationships with Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. There was a rather sour review of The Third Man in a recent Canadian Historical Review, suggesting the author was trying to equate King with the British and American leaders. I did not think that the author was attempting that at all. Rather, I was taken with the book's argument that King's detailed observations of both men in his many interactions with them opened new perspectives on all three of them. It made a fresh and interesting read in an already well-trodden field.  (I did have some other candidates, but they all turn out to have been 2020 books.)

For non-Canadian histories, I'd go with Marie Federeau's The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World, just for being so new and original and persuasive about a history about which I was entirely uninformed.  

Alternate suggestions remain welcome. 

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