Through the Reading Glasses — July

By Janet Moore

Yes, there are summers when all one wants is light fiction and maybe a compelling memoir or two. On the other hand, when you’ve finished with the garden and clean-up and the evening meal, how about delving into a real tome, a masterpiece of history, either nonfiction or an accurate fictional rendering of world events? 

Choices below! Did I forget to mention that these are old books but still available?

Barbara Tuchman has written so much, it’s hard to choose, but here are three. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century reveals what it was like for the ordinary serf or peasant behind the glittering facades of castles and crusades. The Proud Tower and The Guns of August detail what took place in the two decades before World War I and then, specifically, the machinations of those who led Europe into the war in 1914. You may find these dated in their worldview, but Tuchman was a historian and writer of unquestionable repute.

Then there’s James Michener, 20th-century American fiction writer who produced some true epics. Hawaii is just that, the history of the island chain, and The Covenant takes one back to the early days of South Africa. Centennial is a wonderful depiction of the founding (and ongoing years) of Colorado, beginning with the dinosaurs! 

What really caught my attention in later years was Michener’s The Source. Billed as a history of the Jewish people, it dovetails with Tuchman’s Distant Mirror and provides background for the current state of affairs in the Middle East. Again, more recent books have appeared with perhaps a clearer and more grounded view of history; however, both of these authors are well worth the time and effort to gain a decent understanding of world events.