Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Favorite American Historians

ALL-AMERICAN BOYS: FOURTH OF JULY, 1996

BLAND AMBITION: FROM ADAMS TO QUAYLE -- THE CRANKS, CRIMINALS, TAX CHEATS, AND GOLFERS WHO MADE IT TO VICE PRESIDENT

ALMOST AMERICA: FROM THE COLONISTS TO CLINTON: A "WHAT IF" HISTORY OF THE U.S.


Both by Steve Tally

You know all those books that are supposed to be more fun, fair, lively, and wise than your high school history book? Well, I've tried a number of those, and they all make me feel just like I did in history class: drowsy! But not Steve Tally's books! I stay wide awake for these and read out all the jokes to whoever will listen because they are just too entertaining to keep to myself.

As soon as I finished Bland Ambition (well, maybe even before I was done), I ordered five additional copies to give as Christmas presents. Yes, I enjoyed it that much, and felt sure my friends and family would too. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a new edition that will include Tally's thoughts on Gore, Cheney, Biden and near - miss Palin.

My favorite chapter in Almost America is the one on The Articles of Confederation. What if States' Rights took precedence over the Union? Surprise! The "what if" scenario is a description of what really did happen during the Civil War, the most comprehensible explanation I've ever read.


TAKE THE CANNOLI (part memoir, about growing up in the Midwest: Oklahoma, Montana, then Chicago; part American History, tons of wit)
PARTLY CLOUDY PATRIOT (how to love the United States of America, even when you're feeling sad and worried)
ASSASSINATION VACATION (about Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley)
THE WORDY SHIPMATES (Pilgrims & Puritans)

All four by Sarah Vowell, all excellent. I've never loved American History so much! Between Steve Tally and Sarah Vowell, I've learned more American History than I ever did in grade school, high school, and college put together.

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