This month there are several events around the Internet called Nonfiction November. In the past I have even participated in one with a group of book bloggers. It is led by Rennie at the blog What’s Nonfiction. To find out more about that event, click on the hyperlink. However, that is not what I am doing. Instead, as the title of this post says, I am doing My Own Personal Nonfiction November.
To wit, this year I have only read four nonfiction books, but I want to read more. So, this month I have picked three nonfiction books to try to get through before the end of the month. I found all of them while shelf reading at the library where I work. Shelf reading, for those who might not know, means “reading the spines of the items on the shelf and rearranging any materials that are out of order.” It’s not always a fun job, especially when the call numbers in a Dewey decimal system get long, but it can be rewarding when you find books that interest you.
The list is as follows:
- Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with The Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point
- Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holiday, And the Vendetta Raid from Hell by Tom Clavin
- The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged the Secret War Against Japan by Sam Kleiner.
The first two were published last year; the third, in 2018.
While I’m not usually one to quote from a summary on a book jacket, in the case of Robert E. Lee and Me, I will make an exception, because it’s what drew me. This is the second paragraph of the summary:
In a unique blend of history and reflection, Seidule deconstructs the truth about the Confederacy—that its undisputed primary goal was the subjugation and enslavement of Black Americans—and directly challenges the idea of honoring those who labored to preserve that system and committed treason in their failed attempt to achieve it. Through the arc of Seidule’s own life, as well as the culture that formed him, he seeks a path to understanding why the facts of the Civil War have remained buried beneath layers of myth and even outright lies—and how they embody a cultural gulf that separates millions of Americans to this day.
Back in college, I took a class on Reconstruction with one of the central themes being that the Civil War was about slavery, period. The main book used for the course, which I highly recommend, is A Short History of Reconstruction 1863-1877 by Eric Foner. It is an abridged version of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. So, Seidule’s book will be like extra credit reading for me for that class almost 30 years ago.
In the case of Tombstone, I’ve always had an interest in “The Gunfight at the OK Corral” and with The Flying Tigers, I grew up watching the TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep, about U.S. Marine Corps aviator Greg “Pappy” Boyington and his Black Sheep Squadron. He also was a member of the Flying Tigers. I’ve also always wanted to see the movie Tombstone and never have. Now maybe after reading the book, I will watch it with maybe a better understanding of the real event.
So, do you read nonfiction? If you do, what is one of your favorites from this year or any other year, for that matter? If you don’t, why not?