By: John Muir
Travels in Alaska
In 1879 John Muir went to Alaska for the first time. Its stupendous living glaciers aroused his unbounded interest, for they enabled him to verify his theories of glacial action. Again and again he returned to this continental laboratory of landscapes. The greatest of the tide-water glaciers appropriately commemorates his name. Upon this book of Alaska travels, all but finished before his unforeseen departure, John Muir expended the last months of his life.
A collection of Muir's previously unpublished essays, released shortly after his death. "This volume will meet, in every way, the high expectations of Muir's readers. The recital of his experiences during a stormy night on the summit of Mount Shasta will take rank among the most thrilling of his records of adventure. His observations on the dead towns of Nevada, and on the Indians gathering their harvest of pine nuts, recall a phase of Western life that has left few traces in American literature...
By: William E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
The Souls of Black Folk
“Few books make history and fewer still become the foundational texts for the movements and struggles of an entire people....” One such great work was The Souls of Black Folk by William EB Du Bois. Published in 1903, it is a powerful and hard-hitting view of sociology, race and American history. It became the cornerstone of the civil rights movement and when Du Bois attended the first National Negro Conference in 1909, he was already well-known as a proponent of full and unconditional equality for African Americans...
By: Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)
After completing the famous Mme Bovary, Flaubert put all his efforts into researching the Punic Wars and completed the lesser known Salammbô. In this volume, Flaubert describes in detail the Mercenary Revolt and the fight of the Mercenaries against the all-powerful Carthage, the theft of the magical Zaimph and the love and hate between the Carthaginian princess Salammbô and the fiercest leader of the Mercenaries, Matho.
By: William Makepeace Thackeray
The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne
A classic Victorian novel and a historical novel rolled into one! Read about court and army life during the reign of Queen Anne – a story of Catholic – Protestant intrigue, and the party which aspired to the restoration of Bonny Prince Charlie. And, a good love story as well.
It tells the story of Henry Esmond's twin grandsons, George and Henry Warrington. Henry's romantic entanglements with an older woman lead up to his taking a commission in the British army and fighting under the command of General Wolfe at the capture of Quebec. On the outbreak of the American War of Independence he takes the revolutionary side. George, who is also a British officer, thereupon resigns his commission rather than take up arms against his brother.
By: Hendrik van Loon
The Story of Mankind
A book that won the Newberry Prize in 1921 for an Outstanding Contribution in Children's Literature, The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik van Loon is indeed a classic that has been enjoyed by generations of children and adults. The book is an engagingly written work, dedicated to the author Hendrik van Loon's two young son's Hansje and Willem. It was created to convey the history of the human race to young people in a way that was interesting, memorable and would spur them onto further research and reading into the subject...
By: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Considerations on Representative Government
Mill's volume was published in 1861 as an argument favoring this form of governance. Mill covers what forms of government work best, including when representative government is applicable and when not. He details appropriate functions of representative bodies and warns of problems to avoid. He distinguishes between true and false democracy. Other areas covered include how voting is carried out, the role of a second chamber in Parliament, and how an executive branch might function.
Auguste Comte and Positivism
Part 1 lays out the framework for Positivism as originated in France by Auguste Comte in his Cours de Philosophie Positive. Mill examines the tenets of Comte's movement and alerts us to defects. Part 2 concerns all Comte's writings except the Cours de Philosophie Positive. During Comte's later years he gave up reading newspapers and periodicals to keep his mind pure for higher study. He also became enamored of a certain woman who changed his view of life. Comte turned his philosophy into a religion, with morality the supreme guide. Mill finds that Comte learned to despise science and the intellect, instead substituting his frantic need for the regulation of change.
By: Sir John Barrow (1764-1848)
Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty
On December 31 1787, the HMS Bounty, a small sailing vessel embarked from Spithead Harbor, England bound for Tahiti. Her mission was sponsored by the Royal Society in London and aimed at picking up breadfruit plants and fruit from Tahiti and conveying them to the West Indies, where it was hoped they would take root and become a commercial crop. The Bounty was an old ship with a young captain and 46 young officers. The captain's cabin was converted into a potting shed for the expected breadfruit cargo...
By: Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832-1899)
Adrift in New York
Set in 19th century New York, this is the story of a wealthy old man who adopts his orphaned nephew and niece after his own four year old son mysteriously disappears. However, under a smooth exterior, the nephew is a conniving and avaricious villain who wants to grab all the old man's wealth for himself. This is also the story of a young boy, who doesn't know he's the sole heir to a fabulous fortune, but grows up homeless in the streets of New York. The villainous nephew proposes marriage to his cousin with a view to grabbing the entire inheritance...
Fame and Fortune
Richard Hunter, in this sequel to Ragged Dick, continues his way in the world through hard work and excellent morals. He, along with his friend Henry, continue their positive outlook as they try to advance their lives. But Dick soon finds envy and jealousy leads others to work against him. How will Dick react as he tries to strive forward while others conspire to hold him down? (Written by Barry Eads)
By: Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)
Once regarded as a cult book in the 1960s by the Flower Power generation, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse remains even today a simple and fresh tale of a man's spiritual quest. Penned by a deeply spiritual German author, Siddhartha explores multiple themes of enlightenment, thinking beyond set rules, love and humanity. Siddhartha is a young contemporary of the spiritual master Gautam Buddha who lived in India at some time during the 4th century BC. The story has striking parallels to Buddha's own life story in which he abandons his wealth and status as the young prince of Kapilavastu, his wife and young son and his family to embark on a voyage of self discovery...
By: Bill Nye
Comic History of the United States
For American journalist and humorist Edgar Wilson Nye who wrote under the pen name Bill Nye in the late 19th century, facts are not to be presented in their newborn, bare state. They should be properly draped and embellished before they can be presented before the public. Hence, in the Comic History of the United States published in 1894, he gives his readers the facts. But in a bid to make the historical figures more human he describes them as “people who ate and possibly drank, people who were born, flourished and died, not grave tragedians posing perpetually for their photographs...
Comic History of England
If you thought history was dull, dry and boring, you haven't read Bill Nye's books! He brings wit, humor, satire, irony and sheer nonsensical fun into the subject, making it both entertaining and memorable. The Comic History of England was published posthumously in 1896 after the writer's tragic and untimely death half-way through the project. Hence it remains incomplete and covers the history of the island nation only up to the Tudor period. However, beginning with Julius Caesar, the Roman invasion of Britain, the Druids and Stonehenge, this book is still a rib-tickling ride through the centuries...
By: Amelia B. Edwards (1831-1892)
A Thousand Miles up the Nile
Known as the Godmother of Egyptology, Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards traveled through Egypt at a time when archeology was in its infancy in that country and literally anyone with a spade or trowel could go exploring through the magnificent, untouched ruins. She was one of a group of amazing Victorian women who ignored the repressive 19th century attitudes toward female scientists and defied society to follow their passion for history. A Thousand Miles up the Nile was first published in 1877. The title refers to the approximate distance from Alexandria to the Second Cataract of the Nile river, a journey that the author undertook over the course of a year in Egypt...
By: Patrick Henry (1736-1799)
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
This speech was given March 23, 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, and is credited with having singlehandedly convinced the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution delivering the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. In attendance were Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Reportedly, the crowd, upon hearing the speech, jumped up and shouted, “To Arms! To Arms!”
By: Susanna Moodie (1803-1885)
Life in the Clearings
If you've read Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, the historical fiction novel that describes a gruesome double murder in Canada in 1843, you would be interested to know the sources that were used by Atwood during her research. Life in the Clearings by Susanna Moodie was one such reference book in which the author, Susanna Moodie recounts her meeting with the infamous murderess Grace Marks, a young house help who was convicted to life imprisonment for her role in the slaying of her employers. Susanna Moodie was an Englishwoman born in Suffolk...
Roughing It in the Bush
'Roughing It In the Bush' is Susanna Moodie's account of how she coped with the harshness of life in the woods of Upper Canada, as an Englishwoman homesteading abroad. Her narrative was constructed partly as a response to the glowing falsehoods European land-agents were circulating about life in the New World. Her chronicle is frank and humorous, and was a popular sensation at the time of its publication in 1852.
By: Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)
A social satire, Main Street became a best-seller soon after its publication, fascinating readers with its biting humor and realistic portrayal of small-town communities. Published in 1920, the novel follows Carol Milford as she moves to a conventional small town, where she encounters its conceited residents characterized by their ignorance, hypocrisy, and smugness, while simultaneously being the target of their careless ridicule. Furthermore, the novel efficiently exemplifies the dividing line between the sophisticated urban setting and the conventionally governed small-town, as it tackles issues of embracing differences, social class, disillusionment, feminism, and community...
The Trail of the Hawk
By: Charles Kingsley
Charles Kingsley (June 12 1819 - January 23 1875) was an English divine, university professor, historian, and novelist, particularly associated with the West Country and north-east Hampshire. As a novelist, his chief power lay in his descriptive faculties, which are evident in this novel as he pictures the Egyptian desert and the ancient city Alexandria. Hypatia, 1st published in 1853, is set in 5th Century A.D. Egypt. It centers upon a young orphan monk from a desert monastery who feels called to continue his religious life in the city...
Madam How and Lady Why
Did you ever wish you knew how to explain natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanoes to your children? Search no more, this book has all the answers (at least all the ones that were known in 1869) and gives them in a pedagogical way. Listed on the Ambleside homeschooling list.
By: Thucydides (Θουκυδίδης) (c. 460-395)
The History of the Peloponnesian War
The History of the Peloponnesian War is an account of the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece, fought between the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta) and the Delian League (led by Athens) in the 5th Century BC. It was written by Thucydides, an Athenian general who served in the war. It is widely considered a classic and regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history. The History is divided into eight books. These book divisions are the work of editors in later antiquity. W. R. Connor [...] describes Thucydides as “an artist who responds to, selects and skillfully arranges his material, and develops its symbolic and emotional potential.”
By: Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
From October to Brest-Litovsk
This account by Trotsky is of the events in Russia from the October Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd, to his signing of the Brest-Litovsk treaty with Germany on 3rd March 1918 which took Russia out of the First World War. The treaty exacted heavy losses for Russia in terms of annexations of land and financial indemnities to Germany. In this extended essay, Trotsky argues the reasons as to why he decided to sign what appears to be a disastrous agreement for Russia.
By: Publius Cornelius Tacitus
The Germania (Latin: De Origine et situ Germanorum, literally The Origin and Situation of the Germans), written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire. Germania fits squarely within the tradition established by authors from Herodotus to Julius Caesar. Tacitus himself had already written a similar essay on the lands and tribes of Britannia in his Agricola. The Germania begins with a description of the lands, laws, and customs...
The Annals was Tacitus’ final work, covering the period from the death of Augustus Caesar in the year 14. He wrote at least 16 books, but books 7-10 and parts of books 5, 6, 11 and 16 are missing. Book 6 ends with the death of Tiberius and books 7-12 presumably covered the reigns of Caligula and Claudius. The remaining books cover the reign of Nero, perhaps until his death in June 68 or until the end of that year, to connect with the Histories. The second half of book 16 is missing, ending with the events of the year 66...
The Agricola (Latin: De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae, lit. On the life and character of Julius Agricola) is a book by the Roman historian Tacitus, written c 98, which recounts the life of his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola, an eminent Roman general. It also covers, briefly, the geography and ethnography of ancient Britain. As in the Germania, Tacitus favorably contrasts the liberty of the native Britons to the corruption and tyranny of the Empire; the book also contains eloquent and vicious polemics against the rapacity and greed of Rome. This translation by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, was first published in 1877.
The Histories was written between 100 and 110 A.D. It covered the Year of Four Emperors following the downfall of Nero, the rise of Vespasian, and the rule of the Flavian Dynasty up to the death of Domitian. Only the first four books and 26 chapters of the fifth book have survived, covering the year 69 and the first part of 70. The work is believed to have continued up to the death of Domitian on September 18, 96. As a prelude to the account of Titus’s suppression of the Great Jewish Revolt, Book 5 features a short ethnographic survey of the ancient Jews as seen from the Roman point of view. This translation was first published in 1912
By: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
Democracy in America
Arguably, one of the most influential and insightful pieces of work concerned with American political life, Democracy in America directs itself towards American politics and society, and is considered to be one the best books written on the subject. Published in 2 volumes, in 1835 and 1840, Tocqueville records his findings after studying the thriving nation in his nine month exploratory journey. The young French aristocrat first came to America on an official assignment to study the American penal system, but instead used this as a pretext to study American society...
By: Herodotus of Halicarnassus (440 BC)
The Histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus is considered the first work of history in Western literature. Written about 440 BC, the Histories tell the story of the war between the Persian Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus traveled extensively around the ancient world, conducting interviews and collecting stories for his book. The rise of the Persian Empire is chronicled, and the causes for the conflict with Greece. Herodotus treats the conflict as an ideological one, frequently contrasting the absolute power of the Persian king with the democratic government of the Greeks.
By: John H. Haaren (1855-1916)
Famous Men of the Middle Ages
“THE study of history, like the study of a landscape, should begin with the most conspicuous features. Not until these have been fixed in memory will the lesser features fall into their appropriate places and assume their right proportions. The famous men of ancient and modern times are the mountain peaks of history. It is logical then that the study of history should begin with the biographies of these men. Not only is it logical; it is also pedagogical. Experience has proven that in order to attract and hold the child’s attention each conspicuous feature of history presented to him should have an individual for its center...