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Recommended Books on World and United States History

Overview of Twentieth Century Culture and History. These books provide a general chronological overview of national and world events including numerous interesting pictures.

Ambrose, Stephen and Brinkley, Douglas, Editors. (1999). Witness to America: An Illustrated Documentary History of the United States from the Revolution to Today. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Evans, Harold. (1998). The American Century. New York: Knopf.

Garner, Joe. (1998). We Interrupt This Broadcast. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks. (includes two audio CDs).

Glennon, Lorraine. The 20th Century: An Illustrated History of Our Lives and Times. (2000). North Dighton, MA: JG Press, Inc.

Jennings, Peter and Brewster, Todd. (1998). The Century. New York: Doubleday.

Jennings, Peter and Brewster, Todd. (1999). The Century for Young People. New York: Doubleday.

Time/CBS News. (1999). People of the Century: One Hundred Men and Women Who Shaped the Last One Hundred Years. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Histories of the United States

Many of these outstanding books have won Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards or both which commend the talented authors writing about American history. In addition to teaching gifted students and their teachers about the history of our nation, these works demonstrate the pleasure of reading well-written books. This reviewer read A Stillness at Appomattox with much pleasure while an adolescent during the 1950's. It was not just Catton's lucid descriptions of the battles that I liked, but also his casting of the last great bloody campaign between Generals Grant and Lee as an epic struggle of American history. One of the following authors, the historian Allan Nevins, won two Pulitzer Prizes for political biographies, and the National Book Award for a history of the Civil War.

Boorstin, Daniel J. (1985). The Americans: The Democratic Experience. New York: Random House. The Pulitzer Prize

Boorstin, Daniel J. (1988). The National Experience. New York: Random House.

Catton, Bruce. (1986). America Goes to War: The Civil War and Its Meaning in American Culture. Hanover, NH: Univ. Press of New England.

Catton, Bruce. (1990). A Stillness at Appomattox. New York: Anchor Books. Original pub. date: 1953. The Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award

Foote, Shelby. (1974). The Civil War: A Narrative, Vols. I-III. New York: Random House.

Freeman, Douglas Southall. (1998). Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

McPherson, James M. (1989). Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Ballantine. The Pulitzer Prize

Nevins, Allan. (1960, 1971). War for the Union, Vols. I-IV. New York: Konecky & Konecky.

Nevins, Allan. (1992). Ordeal of the Union: The Organized War 1863-1864, and The Organized War to Victory 1864-1865, Vol. IV. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. National Book Award

Nevins, Allan and Commager, Henry Steele, with Jeffrey Morris. (1992). A Pocket History of the United States. New York: Pocket Books.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. (1945). The Age of Jackson. New York: Little, Brown & Co. The Pulitzer Prize

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. (1957-60). The Age of Roosevelt, Vols. I-III. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Sneden, Private Robert Knox. (2000). Eye of The Storm: A Civil War Odyssey. New York: The Free Press.

Ward, Geoffrey, with Burns, Ric And Burns, Ken. (1990). The Civil War: An Illustrated History. New York: Knopf.

Ward, Geoffrey, with Burns, Ric And Burns, Ken. (1994). The Civil War.New York: Vintage Books.

Zinn, Howard. (1999). A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present. New York: HarperCollims.

Histories and Remembrances of Two World Wars

The authors included in this section have accomplished a yeoman's job of writing about the difficult subjects of World Wars I and II. Barbara Tuchman won two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award for her outstanding histories. Winston Churchill won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953, "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values." Stephen Ambrose is one of the best writers on the American soldier's role in the major battles of World War II.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (1995). D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climatic Battle of World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (1997). Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (1998). Eisenhower and His Boys: The Men of World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Brokaw, Tom. (1998). The Greatest Generation Speaks. New York: Random House.

Brokaw, Tom. (1999). The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections. New York: Random House.

Brokaw, Tom. (2001). An Album of Memories: Personal Histories from the Greatest Generation. New York: Random House.

Churchill, Winston. (1986). The Second World War, Vols. 1-6. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. Nobel Prize in Literature

Fussell, Paul. (2000). The Great War and Modern History. New York: Oxford University Press. National Book Award

Keegan, John. (2000) The First World War. New York: Vintage.

Lord, Walter. (2001). Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor. New York: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.

Prange, Gordon W. (1981). At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor. New York: Penguin.

Tuchman, Barbara W. (1994). The Guns of August. New York: Ballantine Books. The Pulitzer Prize

Tuchman, Barbara W. (1996). The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914. New York: Ballantine Books.

The World Is My Home: The Memoir of a Gifted Writer, James Michener by Michael E. Walters Center for the Study of the Humanities in the Schools

As the result of our nation's participation in several wars during the 20th century, our sons and daughters paid the ultimate price of being killed, wounded or psychologically affected. World War II has been realistically depicted by the Academy Award film, "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), with its horrifying battle scenes of Normandy beach. This was followed by two violent conflicts in Korea and Vietnam that resulted from the Cold War. As the century ended, the United States entered the Persian Gulf War where the tensions of the Middle East again affected our destiny. Now in the beginning of the 21st century, the United States is involved as a major participant in international cooperation designed to reduce conflicts and promote worldwide development.

James Michener's entire literary life involved his and the United States' interaction with other nations as described in The World Is My Home (1992, Random House). This book will help gifted students understand the roots and recent development of our nation as a major player in the international economy and culture. During World War II, Michener worked for Samuel Eliot Morison, who was the official U.S. Naval Historian in the Pacific theater. Michener not only observed major battles involving Guadalcanal, but was a cultural historian for the Pacific islands, e.g., Tahiti, Bora-Bora and the Fiji Islands. During the Korean War, he saw aircraft carrier operations and wrote about them in The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1953). He also wrote about American servicemen and their interaction with Japanese culture, Sayonara (1954). In The Bridge at Andau (1957), Michener was an eyewitness during the Hungarian revolution and a portent for the collapse of the Soviet Empire. His novel about Israel, The Source (1965), is an insightful account into what is presently occurring there - cultural and religious warfare. He even perceived the pivotal role Afghanistan would play in world events in Caravans (1963). Among his last books was Mexico (1992) which captured the importance this nation would have for the United States.

Gifted students will benefit from reading his novels and The World Is My Home (1992) in which he describes his intellectual development and his ability to relate to world events. Michener was a gifted student from a poor family who obtained scholarships to Swarthmore College and Harvard University. By reading this memoir, one can gain a better understanding of how giftedness is affected by an individual's intellectual sensibility. Here is a discussion of the United States and the world told in an informative and exciting narrative. James Michener's giftedness was greatly influenced by his belief that the world was his home.

Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright by Gifted Education Press, August-September 2001