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Pacific Ocean 1589 by Abraham Ortelius. // Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) Map Collection, Public Domain

Pacific Ocean 1589 by Abraham Ortelius. // Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) Map Collection, Public Domain

This year in notable history books

December 19, 2014 — 

UM Today asked Kyle Feenstra, the liaison librarian for history at Elizabeth Dafoe Library, for a few book and gift suggestions for those who might be seeking some history reading over the winter holiday break.


Liaison librarian for history Kyle Feenstra’s Top 5 History Books for 2014

Deciding on the Top 5 History Books for 2014 turned out to be a nearly impossible task so instead I give you my top 5 suggestions for holiday reading compiled from a list of books that I purchased for Elizabeth Dafoe Library in the past year.


MargaretMacMillan The War that Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War

Margaret MacMillan (Random House, 2013)

D 511 M257 2013

Margaret MacMillan’s book stands out as one of the important titles published at the centenary of World War I. The renowned scholar examines a complex array of contributing factors that set the stage for the Great War, with particular attention to decisions made by Europe’s leading statesmen. Margaret MacMillan will deliver the CBC Massey Lectures in 2015.


Noble_IllusionsNoble Illusions: Young Canada Goes to War

Stephen Dale (Fernwood Publishing 2014)

P96.W352 C3 2014

Our memory of First World War is one of contrasting narratives, the patriotic valour of a generation of young men and women set against the senseless atrocities of trench warfare. In Noble Illusions, Stephen Dale critiques pop-culture propaganda used to persuade young Canadians to enlist in one of history’s most brutal wars.


congoCongo: The Epic History of a People

David van Reybrouk (Harper Collins, 2014)

DT 652 R4913 2014

A new English translation of van Reybrouk’s book sheds light on the Congo’s colonial history and its ongoing struggle to establish political stability and lasting peace. The book is exceptionally researched with the fluidity of a well written novel.



great_oceanThe Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush

David Igler (Oxford University Press, 2013)

DU 20 145 2013

David Igler brings together the competing interests of nations and indigenous peoples to tell a modern history of the world’s largest ocean. The author illustrates how the interplay of scientific exploration, imperialism, trade expeditions, and the harvesting of marine life resulted in dramatic transformations of the commerce, cultures, and ecology of the Pacific.


ParisBluesParis Blues: African American Music and French Popular Culture, 1920-1960

Andy Fry (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

ML 3059 F7 F79 2014

Andy Fry offers an alternative view of the history of African American jazz music in Paris. Fry’s book argues that the widely accepted view of Paris as an egalitarian refuge for jazz icons, such as Josephine Baker, Django Reinhardt, and Sidney Bechet, is an oversimplified portrayal of race relations in France in the early 20th Century.


KyleFeenstraKyle Feenstra is the history librarian at Elizabeth Dafoe Library. He is currently researching information literacy instruction and the role of ICTs in development. When he is not working he reads books on African History, collects analogue cameras, and enjoys cycling, kayaking and fine scotch.

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