First history book

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First history book

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maj 27, 2007, 10:32 am

The first history book I remember reading was The Story of Mankind. I should say I read the first 150 pages about four times. I think I was about ten or eleven years old. When I read it history became a very interesting story of different people and places. The fact that it was about real people and places stimulated the interest that has made me a life long amateur historian. What was your first history book?

maj 28, 2007, 11:54 pm

The first general history I recall reading was Leo Huberman's Man's Worldly Goods, which was not so much a general history as a general explanation (Marxist) of history. However, it made be think (at the time) that there might be general laws of historical change, rather than just a lot of interesting stories, which made history much more interesting to me.

maj 29, 2007, 12:24 am

In one of the Librarian groups I had help identifying the first history books I read. It was a series for young people I found in the school library when I was in the 5th grade. I'm not sure which one I read first but included in the series, were Dolly Madison, The Swamp Fox (Francis Marion), Zebulon Pike, B. T. Washington, and George W. Carver. There were others but I don't remember them now. These books sparked my life long love of history.

Later when I was about 12 I found copies of Black Boy and the Invisible Man. They were fiction but they were such a revelation to me that they made me read everything I could find about black history.

When I was in the 7th grade I was at my aunts house looking for something to read. On the bookcase was a book called Treblinka. I liked the name, so I chose it with no idea what it was about. This got me interested in WWII, Jewish hisotry and world history in general.

Redigeret: maj 30, 2007, 1:42 pm

Though there were certainly others but Kenneth Macksey's Afrika Korps is the first I can remember; if only because I can remember a cousin teasing me about it!

maj 30, 2007, 1:46 pm

To be honest, the first history related book I remember reading was my 4th grade social studies textbook. I can remember sitting in class staring at the map of the movements of barbarian groups. It was covered with colored arrows, a different color for the Goths and the Vandals and Huns, and so on. I kept waiting for my teacher to get to that part of the book, but we never did. So, I took it home and ended up reading most of the textbook myself.

I'm still fascinated by the "barbarians" and maps in general.

Redigeret: jul 20, 2007, 10:28 pm

My first was Soldier of Destiny after seeing Patton on TV in the third grade. I've never looked back.

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Redigeret: aug 31, 2007, 2:21 pm

As a child, I read many historic biographies in a series called 'Signature Books'. During and after college, I read a lot of English (U.K.) history. Then after ignoring the field for many years, I returned to it.

My return was prompted by picking up a copy of George Washington's war : the saga of the American Revolution in 1998. My company had me working near Philadelphia, so I visited Valley Forge, etc. I got hooked by visting the area of a battle with this book in hand. Liecke's description of movements and terrain was enough to visualize parts of the action... but what a change. The American general Alexander's left wing was strung out on the ridge from McDonald's, past the dry cleaner and Chineese food, up to the Grocery store. The Hessian, von Knyphausen, crossed the stream and assembled his men just north of the turnpike, near the Wendy's parking lot before scaling the hill. The images and changes over the years have prompted a lot of reading and visits to other sites.

sep 22, 2007, 5:13 pm

The first "grown up" history I read was Caesar's Commentaries (Rex Warner translation).

jan 15, 2008, 7:31 am

The first history books I read were some comic book form of Australian History stories - I devoured them in the third grade, but what really spiked my interest were the ladybird history books (small hardcovers with probably only 20 pages or so). I read about Robert the Bruce, Joan of Arc, Henry V, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, Richard the Lionheart and King John. I had a little trouble reconciling the way they (mostly) presented the main character in sympathetic light (if Henry V was the good guy how could Joan of Arc also be the good guy).

However I think it was A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. Tuchman that was my first serious history book, certainly the most influential.


feb 7, 2008, 5:27 pm

Oh I wish I still had my first history book. It was a set of paper-bound ethnology books published by the Smithsonian's Department of Ethnology. At the time, mid 1960's, my Grandmother had several very low rent apartment houses in the "Over the Rhine" section of Cincinnati. It was just off the bus route to the University of Cincinnati and offered graduate students would rent from her. In those days the Smithsonian would give this set, 35 to 40 volumes if I remember correctly, to scholars at no charge. When one grad student moved away he left behind all except the 4 or 5 volumes that were indexes. Grandma thought that I would like to look at the pictures and read about the Indians (Native Americans now). She was right. I was only 8 or nine years old but I loved spending time reading them and looking at all of the drawings. So did my two younger brothers.

Jump ahead to last summer. I am back in school, majoring in history and I mention those books to an anthropology professor. He went nuts. It seems they are out of print and highly thought of. The next semester in my first history class one of the required books is on the Seminole Indians in Florida. It looked familiar and after doing a little checking I found out it was one of the reports hat had been included in that set.

My parents still had them when they moved fifteen years ago but they left them at the old house. The same people that bought the old house from my parents still live there. Sometimes I wonder if I should drive out there and ask if they remember what became of the books.

feb 8, 2008, 10:09 am

I don't remember the title of my first history book but it would have to be by Roy Chapman Andrews. Andrews wrote all sorts of kid dinosaur books and I remember reading them over and over in elementary school. And though its been over 3 decades, I can still vividly recall his excitement at finding dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert.

But perhaps this is stretching the definition of history :)

Redigeret: apr 9, 2008, 1:37 pm

I think it was Gods, graves and scholars by C.W. Ceram, in Dutch: Goden, graven en geleerden.

I still love to read about archaology. My latest purchase on this subject is Minotaur by J.A. Macgillvray.

apr 9, 2008, 9:14 am


I think Afrika Korps was one of the first books I owned as well. I remember buying a few of those Ballantine books when I was a kid (I still have them). I also remember swallowing hard before turning over that outrageous amount of $1 or $1.50 to buy it.

apr 9, 2008, 5:02 pm

>>In one of the Librarian groups I had help identifying the first history books I read. It was a series for young people I found in the school library when I was in the 5th grade. I'm not sure which one I read first but included in the series, were Dolly Madison, The Swamp Fox (Francis Marion), Zebulon Pike, B. T. Washington, and George W. Carver. There were others but I don't remember them now. These books sparked my life long love of history.

Now that I think about, that was my first introduction to history as well, in first or second grade. They were books in sturdy bright turquoise and orange library bindings, on the lives of various famous Americans while growing up. I can't remember the first one of those I read (I suspect Franklin or Jefferson), but I know the last - Henry Ford, proof of my very first case of reading something because it was only part of a series. I followed this up by getting a very thin Scholastic book of biographies, which I still have.
It probably helped that I started reading on a host of Great Illustrated Classics, so I was already somewhat familiar with historical fiction, from reading their version of Robin Hood.

apr 19, 2008, 10:55 am

I remember in third grade (1957) reading a series of biographies of famous Americans that were in turquoise covers, I don't remember any orange on the covers. I remembered them as the blue biographies. They got me interested in history as the story of all the people who have ever lived. One that stuck in my head was the biography of Mad Anthony Wayne.