This feature (for now in the custody of sarah.of.a.lesser.god) is our way of sharing those book titles, both fiction and nonfiction, that have been standouts in recent reading, and hopefully getting some from our readers in return. The focus is primarily, but not necessarily exclusively, on books concerning women and feminism, and/or written by female authors.
My Pick: The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890 – 1914 by Barbara W. Tuchman. After a long semester that featured a ton of (generally enjoyable) fiction reading, I’m thrilled to have the time to return to my recreational non-fiction reading! Tower was first published as a series of essays in the early sixties and then released in a book form in 1966 (a paperback reissue was published thirteen years ago). Each chapter is devoted to different aspects of Europe and the United States in the twenty-five years that preceded World War I, dealing with subjects such as the Dreyfus Affair, turn-of-the-century anarchist movements in America, and the culture of Berlin.
Tuchman does a wonderful job of tying everything together and never allowing the sheer volume of information to become overwhelming. Unlike other works of history that are decades old, the writing is clear and never in an antiquated or fussy style; the book draws you in and leaves you able to clearly envision the period that is being written about. What is most impressive is that Tuchman deftly illustrates the gathering storm that would erupt into a World War, so that the reader gets a sense of dread as layer upon layer of events pile up to inextricably lead Europe into a deadly conflict.
Tuchman won the Pulitzer Prize for another one of her books The Guns of August — which is on my birthday gift wish list –about the beginning of WWI, and I have her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century lying unread on my bookshelf. A completely self-trained historian, Tuchman once said, “Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” I have to agree.
What say you? Have any titles to share with the Harpies and your fellow readers? Note: while I tend to focus on books, your input does not strictly have to be a literary recommendation if you have something extraordinary that is in another medium such as music or film that you would love to let us know about.