Posted in Books & Film News

Different Perspectives on History: Cool Reference Books


To acknowledge the brouhaha over Sarah Palin’s Paul Revere comment and offer inspiration to students in the U.S. in Modern Times history course Robin Morris is teaching this term, we are dedicating today’s post to fun history reference books.  Here are some of our favorites!

The American Years: Chronologies of American History and Experience

Ernie Gross, Robert D. Johnson, Russell Lawson, and Paul Rosier. New York: Thomson Gale, 2003.

Location: Reference Collection, First Floor – Call Number Ref. E174.5 .G753 2003

Description:  “American history has undergone dramatic changes in the last few decades.  On the surface this seems strange, since of course the past cannot change. However, scholars interpretations of the past can, and indeed consistently do, change.  This new edition of The American Years attempts to provide some sense of these changes as reflected in contemporary historians’ fresh interpretations.”  This book provides interesting timelines of historical events and includes informative essays that offers additional context and meaning.  In addition, it is infused with primary sources that allow the reader to develop his/her own conclusions about history.

World War II and the Postwar Years in America: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia

William H. Young and Nancy K. Young.  Santa-Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010.

Location: Reference Collection, First Floor – Call Number Ref E806 .Y73 2010.

Description:  It is hard not to fall in love with a reference book like this one.  It attempts to shade light on the unquenchable optimism of the post-war era by showing the “interplay between everyday life and popular culture.”  Just flipping through the entries it is easy to imagine an era obsessed with automobiles, drive-in movies, horse-racing, and comic books. In addition to offering insights into how these activities permeated American culture, several of the enteries offer lists of popular movies, books and music.

Milestone Documents in American History: Exploring the Primary Sources that Shaped America

Paul Finkelman and Bruce A. Lesh, eds. Dallas, TX: Schlager Group, 2008.

Location: Reference Collection, First Floor – Call Number Ref E173.M62 2008

Description: This four volume set provides the text of 133 important historical documents and speeches in American history accompanied by scholarly analysis of the document.  Through these documents readers may explore “politics, economics, science, race relations, gender equality, foreign policy, and religious liberty.”  Interesting entries include:  Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech; Civil Rights Act of 1964, Black Code of Mississippi, Patrick Henry’ “Liberty or Death” Speech, and much more.

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