Top products from r/history

We found 172 product mentions on r/history. We ranked the 3,195 resulting products by number of redditors who mentioned them. Here are the top 20.

Next page

Top comments that mention products on r/history:

u/miss_j_bean · 38 pointsr/history

A lot of people here are giving shitty answers and not helping because they disprove of your use of "dark ages."
On behalf on the internet I apologize. They are giving you crap for not knowing something you have expressed interest in learning about.
I am fascinated by the "Dark ages" and I have a history degree and I'm still using the term. I understand it to usually mean "the medieval times" or "the huge time-span that is not usually taught to the average student." Most history in public schools (at least that I've seen) tends to gloss over the time from the Romans to the early renaissance so I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that's the era you want. It's my favorite era to study for that reason - most people know so little about this 1000 year span in history.
A good starter book for you would be A world lit only by Fire I loved this book. It's not overly scholarly and is a good read.
Another great one is Mysteries of the Middle Ages... Thomas Cahill is a great writer and if this version of the paperback is anything like my copy it is a visually stunning read. I discovered him through "How the Irish Saved Civilization" which was also great.
Mark Kurlansky's books (Salt and Cod specifically come to mind) are well written, specific histories that cover parts of this time period.
I wish my books weren't still packed (recently moved) because I want to dig through the stack and share them all. :) I suck at remembering names of stuff. I recommend browsing the amazon pages section of "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" for other good recommendations.
Happy Reading!! :)
edit - just remembered this one on the byzantine empire of all the books I've read on the Byzantines, that one is my favorite.

edit I'm getting a lashing for "A World Lit Only By Fire" due to the fact that it contains historical inaccuracies.
Please read this one instead In the year 1000.
I'm not trying to recommend dry scholarly tomes, I am trying to think of books that are fun, interesting, and entertaining to read while still being informative.

u/omaca · 6 pointsr/history

I'm going to be lazy and simply repost a post of mine from a year ago. :)

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes is a well deserved winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A combination of history, science and biography and so very well written.

A few of my favourite biographies include the magisterial, and also Pulitzer Prize winning, Peter the Great by Robert Massie. He also wrote the wonderful Dreadnaught on the naval arms race between Britain and Germany just prior to WWI (a lot more interesting than it sounds!). Christopher Hibbert was one of the UK's much loved historians and biographers and amongst his many works his biography Queen Victoria - A Personal History is one of his best. Finally, perhaps my favourite biography of all is Everitt's Cicero - The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician. This man was at the centre of the Fall of the Roman Republic; and indeed fell along with it.

Speaking of which, Rubicon - The Last Years of the Roman Republic is a recent and deserved best-seller on this fascinating period. Holland writes well and gives a great overview of the events, men (and women!) and unavoidable wars that accompanied the fall of the Republic, or the rise of the Empire (depending upon your perspective). :) Holland's Persian Fire on the Greco-Persian Wars (think Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes! Think of the Movie 300, if you must) is equally gripping.

Perhaps my favourite history book, or series, of all is Shelby Foote's magisterial trilogy on the American Civil War The Civil War - A Narrative. Quite simply one of the best books I've ever read.

If, like me, you're interested in teh history of Africa, start at the very beginning with The Wisdom of the Bones by Alan Walker and Pat Shipman (both famous paleoanthropologists). Whilst not the very latest in recent studies (nothing on Homo floresiensis for example), it is still perhaps the best introduction to human evolution available. Certainly the best I've come across. Then check out Africa - Biography of a Continent. Finish with the two masterpieces The Scramble for Africa on how European colonialism planted the seeds of the "dark continents" woes ever since, and The Washing of the Spears, a gripping history of the Anglo-Zulu wars of the 1870's. If you ever saw the movie Rorke's Drift or Zulu!, you will love this book.

Hopkirk's The Great Game - The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia teaches us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I should imagine that's enough to keep you going for the moment. I have plenty more suggestions if you want. :)

u/randomnewname · 2 pointsr/history

All the podcasts already mentioned are amazing, I highly recommed Hardcore History and History of Rome to start. [Western] history begins with the Greeks and the Romans, I personally find the Romans far more fascinating (and History of Rome covers it all, sorta, hooray!). A great read for the Greeks is Persian Fire by Holland (already mentioned and my favorite history author). You can continue learning about Rome by listening to 12 Byzantine Rulers by Lars Brownworth. If you learn Roman history you follow a timeline from 750 BC to 1450 AD. In Our Time is produced by the BBC and covers a ton of subjects.

Almost every old text is already posted on Librivox, and lots of lesser know works. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and The History of the Peloponnesian War are two very famous ones. I personally enjoy Jacob Abbott with Richard I-III being pretty good. It's all read by volunteers so some tolerance is expected.

You have months if not years of free podcasts to listen to, however I also love Audible for history. One of my favorites is The History of the English-Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill, all four volumes are on there; it covers mostly British history, but much of Europe and all of American history (his telling of the Revolutionary and Civil wars are amazing) from before Romans to 1900 AD. You can also listen to the whole book if you liked Brownworths podcast on Eastern Rome/Byzantium.

Since you don't know where to start I'll just list some of my favorites. The Vikings influence on history is quite enthralling. The story of the fall of the Roman Republic is the best there is. Hannibal of Carthage is easily one of the most famous generals of all time, so you might as well enjoy the Battle of Cannae.

One of my favorite reads is The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, it's like the tv show Band of Brothers...but you're Hitlers brother, and you learn how frighteningly easy it all was (and you get a great understanding of Russia). Honestly though, just listen to all of Dan Carlin's podcasts, my favorites being Bubonic Nukes and Prophets of Doom (this one takes a while to get going, but the decent into madness is fascinating). Understand that not everything is going to be accurate, so enjoy the stories but dont focus on memorizing the details, and if something interests you enough seek out some deeper material on it.

edited some more links.

u/Independent · 2 pointsr/history

I really like history books that don't at first seem to be history books, but are explorations of societies sometimes seen through the lens of a single important concept or product. For instance, Mark Kurlansky has several books such as Salt; A World History, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, The Basque History of the World, Nonviolence: 25 Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea that teach more history, and more important history than is usually taught in US public schools.

History need not be rote memorization of dates and figures. It can, and should be a fun exploration of ideas and how those ideas shaped civilizations. It can also be an exploration of what did not make it into the history books as Bart Ehrman's Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament or his Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why and Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels attest.

I don't wish to come across as too glib about this, but I feel like the average person might well retain more useful knowledge reading a book like A History of the World in 6 Glasses than if they sat through a semester of freshman history as taught by most boring, lame generic high schools. I feel like often the best way to understand history is to come at it tangentially. Want to understand the US Constitution? Study the Iroquois confederacy. Want to understand the French? Study cuisine and wine. Want to understand China? Study international trade. And so it goes. Sometimes the best history lessons come about from just following another interest such as astronomy or math or cooking. Follow the path until curiosity is sated. Knowledge will accumulate that way. ;-)

u/Wylkus · 1 pointr/history

I feel the best way to go about this is to gain a general sense of the outline of history, which isn't nearly so difficult as it may seem as first once you realize that the "history" that mainly gets talked about is only about 3000 years. Learn some sign posts for that span, and then from there you can fit anything new you learn into the general outline you've gained. A couple good books for gaining those signposts are:

A History of the World in 6 Glasses. A phenomenal starting book. Gives very, very broad strokes on the entirety of human development, from pre-history when we first made beer inside hollowed tree trunks (it predates pottery), all the way to the dawn of the global economy with the perpetual success of Coca-Cola.

Roots of the Western Tradition An incredibly short (265 pages!) overview of Ancient Mesopotamia up to the decline of the Roman Empire written in very accessible language. Phenomenal text.

The Story of Philosophy. A bit more dense than the other's, but a tour de force breakdown of the history of Western thought.

Obviously the above is very Western centric, I wish I could recommend similar books that cover Asian history, but sadly I can't think of any (though hopefully others will point some out in the comments). Still though, once you gain the signposts I talked about, learning Asian history will still be easier as you can slot things into the apporpriate time period. Like "Oh, the first Chinese Empire (Qin Dynasty) rose up in the same era as Rome was rising as a power and fighting it's wars against Carthage". Or, "Oh, the Mongols took power in Asia just about right after the Crusades."

As a little bonus, they may not be accurate but historical movies can still help pin down those first signposts of your history outline. Here's a little list.

u/Sixteenbit · 14 pointsr/history

This is something that takes a lot of practice, and many schools don't or can't teach it. Fear not, it's easier than it sounds.

First, some background:

This will introduce you to most of the historical method used today. It's quite boring, but if you're going to study history, you'll need to get used to reading some pretty dry material.

For a styleguide, use Diana Hacker's:

It will teach you everything you need to know about citations.

As far as getting better at source analysis, that's something that comes with time in class and practice with primary and secondary source documents. If you're just going into college, it's something you're going to learn naturally.

However, I do have some tips.
-The main goal of a piece of historiography is to bring you to a thesis and then clearly support that argument. All REAL historiography asks a historical question of some sort. I.E. not when and where, but a more contextual why and how.

-Real historiography is produced 99.9% of the time by a university press, NOT A PRIVATE FIRM. If a celebrity wrote it, it's probably not history.

-Most, if not all real historiography is going to spell out the thesis for you almost immediately.

-A lot of historiography is quite formulaic in terms of its layout and how it's put together on paper:

A. Introduction -- thesis statement and main argument followed by a brief review of past historiography on the subject.

B Section 1 of the argument with an a,b, and c point to make in support.

C just like B

D just like B again, but reinforces A a little more

E Conclusion, ties all sections together and fully reinforces A.

Not all works are like this, but almost every piece you will write in college is or should be.

Some history books that do real history (by proper historians) and are easy to find arguments in, just off the top of my head:

For the primer on social histories, read Howard Zinn:

What you're going to come across MORE often than books is a series of articles that make different (sometimes conflicting) points about a historical issue: (I can't really link the ones I have because of copyright [they won't load without a password], but check out google scholar until you have access to a university library)

Virtually any subject can be researched, you just have to look in the right place and keep an open mind about your thesis. Just because you've found a source that blows away your thesis doesn't mean it's invalid. If you find a wealth of that kind of stuff, you might want to rethink your position, though.

This isn't comprehensive, but I hope it helps. Get into a methods class AS FAST AS POSSIBLE and your degree program will go much, much smoother for you.

u/blackcatkarma · 3 pointsr/history

Sapiens is a general history book about humanity, not so much traditional countries' history. It explores things like how did agriculture and warfare start, why is homo sapiens the only surviving human species etc.

For fun reading about history, I recommend anything written by Robert K. Massie. This is not general history; he wrote mostly about Tsarist Russia, but Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War is a good starter for pre-WW1 European history.
I say "a good starter" because Massie's approach is very biographical - he mostly tells the story through the lives and actions of the decision makers, with less "modern" emphasis on economic factors etc. But he's a really good writer and it's the kind of history book you can read on a beach.

u/MisterE_MD · 1 pointr/history

After I graduated high school/college, one of the first books I picked up for myself was A Short History of the World by H G Wells. It's ~300 pages and, I'm sure, is not a perfect account of world history... but, Wells takes the universe back to its origins to his present day (post WWI).

If you just want an explanation as to how civilizations formed and why some seem more successful than others, I loved Guns, Germs, & Steel. My world history teacher used it as a template for our course, and I read it after. Excellent book.

u/Feuersturm-CA · 3 pointsr/history

Most of my knowledge regarding the matter is European, so I'm going to give a list of my favorites regarding the European / African front.

To get the German perspective of the war, I'd recommend:

  • Panzer Commander - Hans von Luck - One of my favorites

  • Panzer Leader - Heinz Guderian - He developed Blitzkrieg tactics

  • The Rommel Papers - Erwin Rommel - Written by my favorite German Field Marshal up until his forced suicide by Hitler. Good read of the Western and African theaters of war. Also a good book to read if you're interested in what German command was doing on the lead up to D-Day.

    I have a few battle-specific books I enjoy too:

  • Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege 1942-1943 - You really don't know the brutality of Stalingrad till you've read this book. You'll see it in a whole new light I think.

  • Berlin: Downfall 1945 - Battle of Berlin at the end of the war, another good book.

    Now if you want to play games, Hearts of Iron series is great (someone recommended the Darkest Hour release of the game. Allows you to play historical missions based on historical troop layouts, or play the entire war as a nation. Historical events are incorporated into the game. While you'll rarely get a 100% accurate game as it is abstracted, it is an excellent way to see what challenges faced the nations of the time. You could play as Russia from 1936 and prepare yourself for the eventual German invasion. Or maybe you decide to play as Germany, and not invade Russia. But will Russia invade you when they are stronger? Will warn you: It does not have a learning curve. As with almost all Paradox Interactive games, it is a learning cliff.
u/diana_mn · 1 pointr/history

I see a lot of great books already listed. I'll offer a few lesser-known books that haven't been mentioned yet.

Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe series is brilliant for general readers of almost any age.

I see William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich has been mentioned, but I find his book on France - The Collapse of the Third Republic - equally compelling.

For those who love Barb Tuchmann's Guns of August,
Dreadnought by Robert Massie and The Lions of July by William Jannen are excellent additions in covering the lead up to WWI.

For Roman History, I'd recommend Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar: Life of a Colossus and Anthony Everitt's Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor

u/KillsOnTop · 426 pointsr/history

There's a great book called "Achilles in Vietnam" by psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who compares PTSD symptoms seen in his patients (Vietnam vets) to the descriptions of Greek soldiers experiencing psychological trauma in Homer's Iliad. It's a really interesting book -- the two main points are that PTSD is not a modern ailment but has been affecting soldiers since the beginning of history, and that honoring soldiers' experiences in a heroic narrative promotes psychological healing in numerous ways.

u/Gorm_the_Old · 1 pointr/history

There's a lot of discussion on this subject, and a lot of debate between academics, but no real consensus. Some people think they have the answer - William McNeill is an older example and Jared Diamond is a more recent example - but the debate is still ongoing.

I would say, though, that at a very basic level, the Old World was simply larger and more interconnected than the New World. With more people in the Old World and more people connected to each other, technology was developed more quickly and transmitted across a wider distance. That meant that even though the Old World had its ups, like the dramatic technological advancement of the Roman Empire, and its downs, like the Mongol conquest, it more or less moved forward.

The New World actually had significantly better technology several hundred years prior to the arrival of the conquistadors. The Mayan civilization was much more advanced than the Aztec civilization, including a much more sophisticated system of writing that let them preserve knowledge. But the Mayans went into a long-term decline for reasons that are still not entirely clear. They didn't have as much contact with neighboring groups as civilizations in the Old World did, so when they went into decline, they took much of their technology with them. Contrast that with the fall of Rome - even as Rome fell, much of its knowledge and technology was preserved in the Islamic world or in the monasteries of Europe. That didn't happen for the Mayans, and so the native peoples that were met by the conquistadors were significantly behind where they had been a thousand years previous.

u/Borimi · 3 pointsr/history

I'm assuming here that you haven't really studied any history since high school, and at the time you likely found it dreadfully boring (don't we all). If this is correct, take solace in the fact that you were being taught history in likely the worst way possible, and the system almost seems designed to bore you and the rest of the students to death.

One tactic, then, would be for you to work on thinking about history more as it is: seeking answers to the fundamental "why" questions that tell what it means, collectively, to be us. It's a study of choices and struggles and understanding the challenging, horrible, daunting circumstances they faced. High school curriculum drives out such notions of struggle and difficulty because they invite controversial questions, like why the rich manipulated the poor or why the white mistreated and killed the black/Native American. In doing so they deny any of the historical actors, whether oppressed or oppressor, their humanity, and without that who cares about studying them?

I would hope that once you get more exposed to actual history and not names and dates, that you'll grow more of a natural interest for the subject. As such, I have two books to recommend you:

  1. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. This book, initially controversial, will turn your initially learned narrative of American history on its head. The good people are usually bad and the quiet people are loud. Be careful, though. It's a new, highly useful angle from which to view American history but its not some gospel of truth either, just because it has a forbidden fruit feel, like you're learning what they don't want you to know.

  2. Lies my Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. This book says in better words that I mentioned already, how school textbooks water down American history into nothing so that everyone swallows it without complaint. It'll also shake up a bunch of assumptions and, hopefully, leave you wanting more.

    These books won't give you a complete view of American history but my hope is that they'll introduce you to a form of history that's interesting while also exposing you to a wide array of American history topics. From there you can see what you actually enjoy learning about and pick better books from there.
u/innocent_bystander · 10 pointsr/history

Very interesting original report of a POW interrogation that details the weeks after the Normandy invasion for a SS PzG division from the perspective of one of the division staff officers. Summary in the article and the entire actual report is provided as well.

EDIT: This intel report covers a similar time frame, location, and scope as one of the memoirs I have, Panzer Commander from Hanz Von Luck. It's a good read if you haven't gone through it, and want to get into additional first hand experience at a similar level on the same battlefield.

u/sgtredred · 2 pointsr/history

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. A surprisingly fun read and interesting read.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage. Another fun read. Touches on some great topics, like the "which came first: beer or bread" debate, but doesn't go into topics as deeply as I would have liked.

I haven't read these two yet, but it's on my list:

Spice: The History of a Temptation by Jack Turner

An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage

u/baconautics · 43 pointsr/history

I'm partial to A Cartoon History of the Universe for several reasons:

  • It is actually surprisingly well researched and written. It is pithy and covers a lot of material, including some subjects a lot of other histories gloss over.
  • More importantly, the bibliography (and bibliographical comments) are very extensive, so if you find something you like or want to research more about, you can flip to the bibliography and find the reference material.
  • Well, it is entertaining, too.
u/WIrunner · 1 pointr/history

I've got three books that would be pretty good. If you only read one, I would suggest the last one that I've listed. It focuses on US history after WWII. Not gonna lie, but most people in the US don't seem to care about much from events earlier than, oh, Desert Storm. This will give you a good idea of what has lead up to things more recent.

First is "That's Not in My American History Book"

Second is "Lies my Teachers Told Me"

Lastly: American Dreams: The United States Since 1945

Bonus books:
American Revolution:
Civil War:

Edit: This is a monster looking book, but it is visual as well. (Okay it is a monster book) but it touches on nearly everything. I've used it as a reference multiple times during college and Kurin is fairly spot on with his assessments.

u/huxtiblejones · 2 pointsr/history

History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer. I'm reading this now and I've really enjoyed it, very clear writing and introductory overviews to cultures all over the world - Europe, North Africa, China, Korea, India, you name it.

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman. This one was highly recommended on /r/medievalhistory

u/vidimevid · 35 pointsr/history

I you're interested in this subject, I highly recommend Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher R. Browning. Very interesting read that tries to find out why and how did ordinary middle aged German men commit those attrocities.

u/Skookum_J · 1 pointr/history

For maps, it’s a little tricky.
Most of the folks living in the Americas were tribal people; they didn’t exactly have countries or defined borders. Closest you’re probably going to get is a distribution of language families.
North America
South America
Within these Language Families there were sometimes multiple tribes & bands
Here’s a link to a listing of many of the tribes, broken up by area. Don’t know how complete it is for all areas, but the listings cover a lot of the tribes.
There are quick summaries for each of the tribes & links to more info.

As far as info on large civilizations, technology & Cultures, A good general overview is 1491 by Charles C. Mann. He does a pretty good job of coving several areas, & how the locals organized their societies & impacted the land they lived on. It’s a really broad overview, covering all of the Americas. To get more details, you’re going to have to focus in on a specific region or people.

u/Gulchgamer · 5 pointsr/history

The German Wehrmacht did use flame throwers. And they were very effective during WWII. However flame thrower operators were always high priority targets and therefore were offered bonuses. For reference please read Anthony Beevor's book Stalingrad.

Also the US Marine Corps while fighting the Japanese loved using flame throwers against bunkers.

u/artofwelding · 2 pointsr/history

I've not read this, but a good friend did and loved it. Ordinary Men.

u/lochlainn · 1 pointr/history

A Distant Mirror, Barbara Tuchman

Words don't do it justice. One of the reviews was "real life Game of Thrones" and while it's somewhat trite, it's also true. The subject is an example of the best of the medieval era, and his life touched on many events that shaped western history.

One warning, it's probably going to be a tough nut for a 15 year old to crack. It's accessible as a narrative, but you should expect to have to wiki things, look at maps, and use supporting material to explain the basics.

For a less intense look, one of the "Life in" books by Joseph Gies and Frances Gies (Life in a Medieval City, LIA Medieval Castle, LIA Medieval Village), is a look at the everyday in that time. Medieval Village is the best one to start with. Rather than the names and dates of "big history", they are the traditions, customs, and anecdotes of everyday life, based on specific examples in specific time periods.

I don't see a 15 year old having trouble going through them. They are written plainly and attempt to explain the backdrop of history that those places are in. Additional material will be minimal beyond wikipedia.

I'm not homeschooling, but I'm certainly going to expose my children to these books when they're old enough.

u/jones1618 · 4 pointsr/history

I'd really recommend Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.

It's one of the rare history books that takes on the grand sweep of human history, upending a lot of what you were taught and weaving it all together in a highly-readable and entertaining way.

u/AlienJelly · 16 pointsr/history

If you're interested in Genghis Khan, you should read Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. It paints him in a different light than we are used to seeing him in. When I read this book for a college course, it was the first time I realized how amazing learning about history can be. The author even came to give a talk at my school.

Now to get my history fix, I listen to Dan Carlin - he has a Hardcore History podcast on Genghis Khan that gets mentioned on reddit when he is brought up.

And if you still can't get enough on Genghis Khan, there's a good movie available on youtube worth watching

u/wallweasels · 100 pointsr/history

I watched a one man play last year that, more or less, talked about this. It was just him talking about his experiences in war and how it effected him. But also how he sought comfort in reading and then performing Shakespeare. The most interesting part is the concept of the "berserker" as a form of PTSD. A seeking requirement towards death that leads one down a destructive path. Hence the concept of removing armor and rushing into the melee.

His concept was that Margaret of Anjou was, effectively, a P.O.W and...goes berserk later. I'm not 100% sold on it, but researching it did lead me to read Jonathan Shay's novel "Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character". Which was pretty amazing to read. Comparing Achilles fall into madness to PTSD and veterans was quite interesting and helpful to me.

Here's a link to an article written by the playwright mentioned and link to the book in question

u/davidreiss666 · 25 pointsr/history

Confirmed that this is Lars Brownworth of the 12 Byzantine Rulers and Norman Centuries podcasts. Two very excellent podcasts.

12 Byzantine Rulers even pre-dates the History of Rome podcast from Mike Duncan.

Lars homepage and a link to his Amazon page, and his book: Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization.

Thank you for agreeing to do this, sir.

u/Senrabil · 1 pointr/history

A really interesting history of Salt that I read a couple year's back is Kurlansky's (sp?) "Salt: A World History". It's pretty long, but I found it intriguing!

Edit: Here's an Amazon link -

Edit 2: He also has a couple of good books on Cod and Oysters!

u/Hanginon · 4 pointsr/history

IMHO, here's a very good place to start learning about the European history of WW2. Get yourself to a Library, or better yet, just buy the book. It's a good, in depth look at what happened and how it happened.

u/Naughtysocks · 1 pointr/history

The Fall of Berlin by Antony Beevor is an amazing book.

Also Stalingrad The Fateful Seige by Beevor is great too.

u/cassander · 3 pointsr/history

Robert Massie is my favorite historian, and he has 3 amazing books on the period. Dreadnought, about the Anglo-German naval rivalry that led to WWI, Nicholas and Alexander, a biography of the last Czar and the fall of the Russian Empire, and the beautifully titled Castles of Steel, about the naval battles of WWI.

u/moxy801 · 1 pointr/history

Nothing is perfect or without issues, but Cartoon History of the Universe is as good a place to start as any.

If anything particularly piques your interest, then start going down that road to learn more.

u/Fimbul-vinter · 6 pointsr/history

I read a lot of historical fiction, hope thats allowed to recommend:

The book that made the greatest impression on me with regards to the frontlines in WW2 was It is a fantastic story seen by the footsoldier. I really, really, REALLY dont want to be on the receiving end of artillery fire after reading this book.

A very different book is this

Here you experience the war from a senior officers point of view. It mostly works on a division/batallion level. Instead of describing the horrors in detail, it often just states "we took heavy losses". Still it takes you from Germany to France to Russia to Africa to France to Germany to Russia to Germany, so you get to experience the war in many different places, stages, viewpoints (attacker, defender, prisoner) and times.

Edit: If you are interested in Alexander the great and want action packed historical fiction, do this one:

u/TheByzantineEmperor · 5 pointsr/history

Lost to the West: The Forgotten Empire That Saved Western Civilization. A great great book that really helped me learn a lot about the Byzantines. Like how we think of the Roman Empire ending in 476AD, but that was only the western half. The Eastern, more Greek half, lived on for 1000 more years! Imagine that! A Roman Empire in the Middle Ages!

u/tommywantwingies · 1 pointr/history

Soldat ... if you have any interest in WWII this is by far the BEST account I have ever read from the German perspective.

Also, I believe someone else mentioned them, but anything by Cornelius Ryan - I've read The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far and The Last Battle and all three were absolutely fantastic ... the historical detail that are in those books are UNRIVALED

u/NYC_summer · 4 pointsr/history

I would recommend you read Guns, Germs and Steal by Jared Diamond. Talks about this subject and it is an easy read.

u/subpoenaduece · 8 pointsr/history

Anthony Beevor's Stalingrad was a pretty gripping read about the battle and the fate of the 6th army. I'm sure some of the more hardcore history buffs out there have more detailed suggestions, but if you're looking for a good layman's history of Stalingrad you can't go wrong with it.

u/CantLoseCudi · 2 pointsr/history

This book seems surprisingly interesting. Thank you!

u/ac312 · 3 pointsr/history

Came here looking for Frederick. I'm reading Iron Kingdom now and I'm finding him to be an especially fascinating figure. I think I'll look for a good biography after I'm through with the other book.

u/BogdanD · 0 pointsr/history

I liked Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949 by Siegfried Knappe, and Red Road from Stalingrad by Mansur Abdulin.

Edit: Sorry, I gave you the Canadian Amazon links. I'm sure you can find them on the regular Amazon.

u/Mycd · 3 pointsr/history

A fantastic book, A Distant Mirror is a detailed glimpse of medieval 1300's French and English life, from royalty to peasantry.

There are some sections in the book that describe mercenary groups, including some interesting bits about groups that don't get paid, and essentially leaderless bands that pillaged 'friendly' countrysides just to survive. Some were as big as standing armies, but without a war to fight, bank to fund them, or often even a purpose just hardend soldiers - and how they roamed pilliaging summer seasons and forcefully occupied random towns for winters .

u/superduperly1 · 1 pointr/history

They talk about this in A History of the World in 6 Glasses:

A pretty good book all in all, even if some of the connections seem tenuous.

u/changeworld9 · 0 pointsr/history

Ask them to try Cartoon history of the universe by Larry Gonick. 5 volumes of comics covering history to the 21st century :)

Thats the link to the first volume :)

u/aurelius_33 · 7 pointsr/history

I hear you. If you're interested in reading on the topic, this book by John Keegan is excellent. I read it once for a class in college and could not recommend it more highly.

u/vimandvinegar · 2 pointsr/history

Christianity: I've heard that Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch is fantastic. I haven't read it. It's called "Christianity", not "Catholicism", but it might work for you given that Catholicism pretty much was Christianity until (relatively) recently.

French Revolution: Citizens by Simon Schama.

Can't help you with Zoroastrianism.

u/Braves3333 · 1 pointr/history This book i found to be very interesting when talking about old egyptian history. It gives a look into early society and how they went from scattered communities to a kingdom, but it focuses on the religious aspect.

I would think a book on Napolean would be a good start, and also a book on the French Revolution.

u/machete_io · 1 pointr/history

If this topic really interests you, you'll really like the book "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond. It discusses the multitude of ways that make some civilizations spread and dominate others. IIRC, a contributing factor for the "migration" to Europe was that originally the Tigris/Euphrates had a ton of forrest and as the society advanced they essentially cut it all down and it turned into a desert.

Here is a link to the book:

u/Morazan1823 · 1 pointr/history

Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York:Norton, 1999. Print.

Paperbacks on Amazon selling from $5.50


If you're into Mythical Legends, The Nobel Literature Prize winning author, Miguel Angel Asturias wrote Legends of Guatemala, a collection of Mayan Mythical Legends. I highly recommend it, it's a bit trippy, and surreal. $13 on Amazon.

... And there's Popol Vuh, The 'Book of Genesis' for the Mayan people. It's FREE via PDF, starts at page 51. If I recall my favorite story, two brothers (Xb‘alanke & Junajpu) avenge the demons who killed their father. They are summoned to the seven level of Hell and are forced to play an ancient form of what is soccer (World's first sport, Mayans invented the rubberized ball), for their lives... they failed purposely and escape with their lives to accept harder challenges, in order to find the head demon and obtain sweet revenge, It's an epic.

u/M0nthu · 0 pointsr/history

My favorite is Howard Zinn's A people's history of the United States . It is concise and to the point.

u/CumfartablyNumb · 2 pointsr/history

I don't know about pictures, but the Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson is fantastic and covers US involvement thoroughly.

Also the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Ron Rosenbaum is downright chilling. He actually lived in Nazi Germany.

u/SynapticStatic · 6 pointsr/history

Also, check out Lost to the West, it's an audiobook by Lars narrated by Lars which covers the East, and it's pretty amazing.

u/dhpye · 5 pointsr/history

Hans von Luck was Rommel's favorite junior officer. While he was no Nazi, he was from a strong Prussian military background, and he fought from the invasion of Poland through to 1945. His autobiographical book offers a somewhat rare perspective on good soldiering on the Axis side.

u/_WishIThoughtOfThat · 1 pointr/history

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond covers pretty much most of these details, while looking at how different societies progressed differently.

u/HistoryNerd84 · 3 pointsr/history

Was going to recommend Keegan as well, so at least that's two random internet strangers who agree this would be a good starting point!

There is also Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It may be a bit massive, but it's a damn good read.

u/wiking85 · 4 pointsr/history

Don't waste your time, the entire field of Holocaust studies has panned the book as utter trash. The author isn't even a historian.

I'd suggest reading this book instead:

It was written about the same subject/unit, but by an actual historian and widely praised by Holocaust historians for it's treatment of the subject.

u/SweetAndVicious · 9 pointsr/history

The book Salt: a world history is pretty cool.

Salt: A World History
by Mark Kurlansky

u/[deleted] · 9 pointsr/history

The French knights of this era are nothing like what you're describing here, J. Alfred. Please take a look at this book for a fascinating look at this period. Most French knights in the 14th and 15th century were closer to Sir Jack Falstaff than Sir Lancelot.

u/BlindPaintByNumbers · 2 pointsr/history

Check out this book. Written by a corespondent who lived in Germany at the time and who had access to all the Nuremberg evidence and many personal journals of prominent Nazis. The first third of the book takes place before Hitler assumes the Chancellorship of Germany.

TLDR; He played up to peoples hatred of the Versailles treaty, belief that they didn't lose WWI, they were betrayed, mostly by the Jews and the democratic government, and he got support from the military by promising to break the treaty and rebuild the armed forces. Then he won some key elections.

u/mymybrimi · 1 pointr/history

Mark Kurlansky wrote one a few years ago.

I read his book on Cod, which was surprisingly interesting, if not a bit exhaustive.

u/Natemick · 1 pointr/history

This books is excellent if you're interested in reading more on the topic. Some of it is absolutely stomach churning and unbelievably disturbing to give a fair warning, but an excellent account of the extent of the atrocities and the toll it took on both the victims and the people perpetrating them.

u/mule_roany_mare · 1 pointr/history


We take for granted how important salt is since it so ubiquitous.

Salt: A World History

Salt shaped cities and societies and industries.

Supposedly salt is so rare in the rain forests that certain natives have evolved to not sweat.

u/MONDARIZ · 1 pointr/history

The best current writer on World War II is without doubt Anthony Beevor. A great historian and a riveting writer.

Anthony Beevor: Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943

Anthony Beevor: The Fall of Berlin 1945

Anthony Beevor: D-Day: The Battle for Normandy

u/ProdigalSkinFlutist · 1 pointr/history

Ordinary Men, Browning

German first hand perspective on execution.

u/urboro · 2 pointsr/history

This is really good:

It changes your perspective on any history of Native Americans interacting with Europeans. Native Americans were essentially in a post-apocalyptic society.

u/toomuchcream · 1 pointr/history

A World Undone about WWI.
I've never read it myself, but many people have recommended it to me.

Also you can never go wrong with something about Stalingrad

u/dnd_in_op · 3 pointsr/history

I liked Iron Kingdom by Christopher Clark.

u/MAI742 · 8 pointsr/history

TLDNR: the average German person never had strong positive or negative feelings about Jews, they just said that they hated Jews when the Nazis were in power and then said that they were okay with Jews when they were removed.


If you're not familiar with group psychology and conformity then the idea that you don't need to hate a people to commit genocide upon them might seem like a bold assertion to you, so I'd urge you to pick up one of the best (and cheapest) texts on this exact topic:

In that particular case it proved possible to get almost every member of a unit full of people who'd never killed anyone before, recruited from an anti-Nazi city (Hamburg), to kill a whole village's worth of innocent people by explaining how it was necessary to safeguard their country's National Security and indirectly making them feel embarassed about backing out in front of their friends and coworkers. They didn't have to threaten them, order them, or indoctrinate them. They just had to tell them that it would protect their loved ones and let them feel pressured not to slack off when they were with their peers.

You were absolutely right about the hardcore believers. They formed groups like the Wehrmacht Veterans Association and the SS Veterans' Association (which campaigned for the Waffen-SS to be decriminalised and its members to receive state pensions). People like Field Marshall Erich von Manstein went to the grave either refusing to say a single negative thing about Hitler or the regime or its policies, or outright saying (usually just to trusted friends) that they had been right.

Of course, even during the war the strong supporters of the regime and direct participants in War Crimes would have found it extremely emotionally damaging to change their views. To believe that what they had done was evil would have destroyed them. So they doubled down and believed as hard as they could that they had done the right thing and therefore were good people. Post-war 'De-Nazification' just strengthened their convictions.

Between the lacklustre response from average Germans, and the counterproductive effect among most hardcore ex-Nazis, even observers of the time called "De-Nazification" an abject failure. Later scholarship has made the depths of this failure even clearer.


Compare and contrast the relatively mainstream fear of Asian Communists, which endured in the public sphere/polite conversation even after the war - but with progressively softer rhetoric and more emphasis on the "Communist" than the "Asian" part.


EDIT: I can see why you'd want to believe that De-Nazification worked, but that doesn't make it true... I've yet to see the words "De-Nazification was a success" in any book or journal covering the process.

u/Hollowgolem · 1 pointr/history

If you want a book that takes a look at this dynamic, regarding pack animals, check out Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond or Why the West Rules—for Now by Ian Morris.

u/nikkos350 · 5 pointsr/history

PRobably the Cahokia Mounds in IL. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, check out the book "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus."

u/GloriousWires · 3 pointsr/history

Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland is a book about... well, a Reserve Police Battalion composed of Ordinary Men participating in the Final Solution in Poland.

Depending on point of view, one might consider the younger population- those who were given the full brainwashing in the Hitler Youth -to be slightly less than fully guilty for their actions; the elders, though, who had not been indoctrinated to such a thorough degree... well, they're a different story.

u/timoleon · 22 pointsr/history

All those things?

That would be a the sizeable part of the entire late antiquity and middle ages.

If there's public library in your neighborhood, I would suggest browsing through their offerings on these periods. There's probably no one book that covers all subjects, especially not one that is accessible enough to non-historians, and doesn't cost a fortune.

On the Eastern Roman Empire, these could be a good introduction:

u/Daitenchi · 17 pointsr/history

This is a great book on a related subject. It's about the polish police force during that era. When they were ordered to round up jews and execute them some did it willingly, some did it reluctantly because it was an order, and some just outright refused.

u/rkk2 · 2 pointsr/history

The only thing I can recommend is Ordinary Men by Dan Browning.

u/Pdub77 · 1 pointr/history

Gonna hijack this comment to recommend a book on this very subject: 1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

u/Dilettante · 1 pointr/history

A History of the World in Six Glasses is a nice, very approachable book for someone who's not very into history. It's not a deep book, but it has some interesting ideas and can serve as a jumping-off point for people.

Another very easy-to-get-into source is one that I cannot recommend highly enough: Larry Gonick's series of cartoon histories: The Cartoon History of the Universe, in three volumes, covers world history from the age of the dinosaurs to Columbus' journey, and his later two-volume series Cartoon History of the Modern World picks up where that leaves off, going all the way up to 9/11. They are surprisingly well-researched, with each volume having pages of references at the end. There are unfortunately few pages of this series online to read - here's one I found from the first volume, and here's another in low resolution from his later volumes.

u/youarearobot · 1 pointr/history

I highly recommend Dreadnaught by Robert K Massie. It is a fascinatingly in depth, if a bit dense, history of the events leading to World War I starting from the foundation of Germany. To be honest, I started it 5 years ago and still have not finished it (it is huge!), but I do not think there is another book on the subject that comes close to the level of detail it contains. Read it if only to understand the complex personal relationships of the Royal families of that era that had such a great impact on the coming war.

u/tikitrader · 3 pointsr/history

Although Genghis Khan did possibly kill up to 40 million people, the lasting impact of the Mongolian empire and subsequent Great Khans effectively changed the world for the better in the long run. Before him, China and Europe had almost zero knowledge of each other's existence, his empire was one of the first without a nationally imposed religion, and he changed warfare completely.


40 million deaths: (I know this is a terrible source but whatever.)

Effects on the world: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

u/jaythebrb · 3 pointsr/history

Lies My Teacher Told Me was a good read, but kinda the opposite of textbook.

u/WeakStreamZ · 49 pointsr/history

I remember this from reading Ordinary Men in college. It’s worth checking out.

u/Trexdacy · 3 pointsr/history

Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie. It starts well before the war (1900-ish) and is a bit of a dry read. I found it fascinating, however.

u/Juz16 · 18 pointsr/history

The Byzantines had plenty of big beefy guys standing around, so the Varangians weren't too big a problem. They were hired specifically because they were from incredibly far away (Scandinavia, the Byzantines were based mostly in Greece and Asia Minor) and didn't have any ties to the various political factions within the empire.

Source: Lost to the West by Lars Brownsworth

u/DeadFyre · 1 pointr/history

While you're at it, you may want to check out Not everything you may have been taught prior to 1960 is taught without bias.

u/RochnessMonster · 1 pointr/history


Book I read last year after a deep dive into Carlin's Hardcore History podcast. I got curious about how and why certain civilizations form the way they do and how quickly they advance, and I knew if you toss out the obvious, wrong answer (racism) there had to be a whole bucket of knowledge exploring it.

u/Zedress · 1 pointr/history

/u/AlienJelly linked Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. What I have learned I learned while I was in Mongolia. You might want to check out this book too.

u/MBAMBA0 · 3 pointsr/history

u/RenixDC · 187 pointsr/history

I remember reading a book called Guns Germs and Steel back in the day that seemed to cover all of these developments!

u/unbibium · 1 pointr/history

I've just started reading The History of the World in 6 Glasses. Chapter 1 is beer, so I suppose you're right.

u/secesh32 · 6 pointsr/history

Read a book called 1491 opened my eyes to a lot of ideas id never heard.

u/Carthonas · 1 pointr/history

This one takes you through the 30 years war all the way to the downfall and dissolution of the Third Reich. Pretty Prussia-Centric, but still damn good.

u/ZeusHatesTrees · 13 pointsr/history

> New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

I need to get me a hard copy of this puppy.

u/Khan_Bomb · 271 pointsr/history

That'd be 1491 by Charles Mann.

EDIT: Just to note. This is a controversial book among historians. Much of the info presented can largely be seen as conjecture without a lot of veritable proof behind it. So take it with a grain of salt.

u/LogicCure · 1 pointr/history

John Keegan's First World War has some good sections that cover the African part of the war.

u/Intraviews · 2 pointsr/history

A great book on the topic is 'Achilles in Vietnam' by Jonathan Shay.
He compares the depiction of ptsd in the Iliad with accounts of Vietnam veterans, where their experiences align and where they differ.

In a chapter that is fresh in my memory he argues people may have suffered less from ptsd in wars like the Trojan one because of how the enemy was seen among other things. A subhuman thing, vermin in Vietnam, as opposed to an equal, noble opponent in antiquity.

u/Tempest_1 · 5 pointsr/history

Yes, Hitler made tons of tactical blunders with Russia. Timing was his biggest blunder (he should have waited to invade). But even then he had assembled a 6million man army that proceeded to crush Russian forces for the first couple months. The defeats only came with trying to take Moscow and Stalingrad. Many historians conjecture that if Hitler had diverted forces to the oil fields in the Caucasus instead of Stalingrad, the Eastern Front would have looked much differently for the Germans.

If you haven't This is a great book on the subject

u/plokijuhujiko · 15 pointsr/history

Well, it was the deciding factor in the birth of human civilization. Without the shift to agriculture from hunter/gatherer societies, we could never have achieved the necessary population to create virtually every human innovation that has ever happened. It is true that agriculture led to most of humanity's woes as well: war, plagues...Glenn Beck, etc... But without that shift we would still have an average lifespan of 30-40 years, and our population would be in the thousands instead of the billions. There are pretty valid arguments for why that's not such a great thing, but it's really a moot point. We're here, we did what we did, so that's that.

On a side note, anyone who hasn't read this book is missing out.

u/radiumdial · 1 pointr/history

Citizens by Simon Schama well written and a compelling read, though with a somewhat anti-Jacobin slant
a good but less thorough book is Paris in the Terror by Stanley Loomis

u/BetterTextSaul · 1 pointr/history

I recently read about this in Wiliam Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"

There's a few factors that Shirer notes, but is clear that there is obviously still much dispute as to what happened. It is theorized that Hitler was worried about his generals gaining too much power, thus left it for Göring's Luftwaffe to deliver the deciding blow. However, there were many other factors that weighed into the consideration. Sending in the army would have severely limited the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe. There were concerns about the effectiveness of the Panzer divisions in the marshy soil around Dunkirk, and around the supply lines needed for the advance.

Part of me wants to give Hitler the benefit of the doubt (that feels horrible just to type) that we have the ability to use hindsight to see how horrible of a blunder this was, but the other part reads the (albeit biased) testimonies of several of the generals that knew immediately that this was a ridiculous decision. I do not think for one second that he did it as a sign of sportsmanship. I personally think he was talked into the sharing of the glory by Goring,

u/awesley · 4 pointsr/history

> He was a warhawk and an imperialist.

And a big racist. See Lies My Teacher Told Me

u/AntiChr1st · 31 pointsr/history

It depends a lot on when exactly we're talking. For a famous and spectacular example you have Albert Battel, who had the "deal with him after the war" added to his file by Heinrich Himmler personally. You have other examples like Erwin Rommel who was insubordinate on a general basis (wouldn't hunt jews, wouldn't tell anyone else to do it, refused to kill captured commandos) and got mightily unpopular for it. At that point they certainly had a hope of winning and losing people wasn't worth and there was still a general idea of "we want to keep this quiet".
At that point they also tried to keep the actual atrocities to volunteers (to prevent people from getting the option of insubordination in the first place).

If I remember correctly it was sometime late '44 that the feltgendarmerie (Military Police) was given the authority to shoot German soldiers on the spot (for desertion, cowardice, or refusing orders). Along with a rise in drummed up military courts wherever they happened to be handily available.
A lot of people were sent to penal battalions much easier then, as it didn't take actually sending someone to a proper judgement and sentencing.

Reading on the subject is difficult (the subject is surprisingly little covered directly, mostly referred to in passing by people covering other subjects. Far as I know there's no book on that one subject).
However, if you have a JSTOR account there is this. (this is the basis of the "nobody ever got punished claim btw). talks about how atrocities were committed and how people who might refuse to participate directly rather helped indirectly.
Sadly I don't know any easy way to gain a lot of insight into military insubordination in the German armed forces, not because it was rare (it happened more than you'd think), but because it's been covered surprisingly little and going over the old execution cases is something of a sore subject that's been met with a lot of resistance.

For civilian insubordination it's a bit easier as you can read up on people like Sophie Scholl who was beheaded for resistance, nonviolent resistance in her case as she was participating in the white rose.
People were regularly imprisoned for saying things critical to the regime (or Hitler, which is why Sophie Scholls father was in prison), so it's not a stretch to say that at the very least people believed insubordination would carry severe consequences.

Youknow, I'm more interested in history, and especially WW2 history, than the average person. I've seen videos of executions, pictures and videos from the most horrid camps and battles, I've read testimonies...
I have a strong constitution, I can "disengage" emotionally from most of these things. You have to in order to see it in the first place. As a result my response to things like Holocaust deniers saying it was impossible to burn that many bodies is to literally just do the math.

That picture of Sophie Scholl is one of only two things that I can honestly say makes me physically unwell.

u/qwteruw11 · 1 pointr/history

Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography

Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization

Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (General Military)

u/umapriyadarsi · 14 pointsr/history

TLDR: as General von Blumenthal, Chief of Staff of the Prussian I Army, put it about the austro-prussian war of 1866, ‘we just shoot the poor sods dead.’ This is repeated all over from Frederick the Great till unification of Germany.

read : Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947

u/jetpacksforall · 3 pointsr/history

I see. I lost track of the thread. I'm currently reading Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Amazing read. Quick thumbnail: the Black Death wasn't the only, and may not have even been the worst thing that happened during what sounds like an unusually crappy time to have been alive (in Europe at least). War, famine, rape, pillage, robbery, bandits, a stark contrast between the ideals of courtesy and the actual behavior of mounted knights. Seemingly small value placed on life at all levels of society, but of course especially for the regular people.

u/dharmaBum0 · 4 pointsr/history

I find John Keegan's analysis (in his WW1 book) most convincing. The Schleiffen plan:

was out of date when it was implemented

badly underestimated Russian mobilization, not entirely but significantly due to racism and stereotyping

had no real contingency for British intervention in the west

was held in secret from the German diplomats

u/Machonun · 1 pointr/history

Achillies in Vientam

It's about the mentality of soldiers in combat and combat, using Homers Illiad as a way of showing that PTSD and combat stress is the same no matter the era. It's nuts. My highschool english teacher was a Green Beret and it was literally the only book or published work of any sort he deemed appropriate for recalling Vietnam. Pretty grim.

u/Drijidible · 10 pointsr/history

I'd strongly recommend people read Ordinary Men.

"Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, a study of German Ordnungspolizei (Order Police) Reserve Unit 101, used to massacre and round up Jews for deportation to the Nazi death camps in German occupied Poland in 1942. The conclusion of the book, which was much influenced by the experiments of Stanley Milgram, was that the men of Unit 101 were not demons or Nazi fanatics but ordinary middle-aged men of working-class background from Hamburg, who had been drafted but found unfit for military duty. In some cases, these men were ordered to round up Jews and if there was not enough room for them on the trains, to shoot them. In other, more chilling cases, they were ordered to merely kill a specified number of Jews in a given town or area. The commander of the unit gave his men the choice of opting out of this duty if they found it too unpleasant; the majority chose not to exercise that option, resulting in fewer than 15 men out of a battalion of 500 opting out of their grisly duties."

u/saltandvinegarrr · 8 pointsr/history

Hey OP, the book you want to read about this is Ordinary Men

The book covers the activities of an honest-to-god Einzatsgruppen unit, recruited from policemen around Hamburg. It's one of the most chilling books I've ever read about Nazi atrocities. The perpetrators of these massacres really were just ordinary people, yet as the author discovers, fell quite naturally into their role as executioners.

Browning provides a summary like so. ~10% of the unit committing atrocities became enthusiastic killers. ~80% performed their roles joylessly, but killed reliably and made no refusals. ~10% refused or hesitated at some point, without any real consequences.
A minority (13 of 500), abstained from killing outright.

In reality, if a German officer or soldier wished to abstain from committing atrocities, there was no real consequences for them. This held true even for the Einzatsgruppen, and certainly held true for regular army units.

u/marketfailure · 1 pointr/history

The new hotness in WWI history right now is "Sleepwalkers", but that has a lot in common with the scope of Catastrophe 1914. It's mainly focused on the lead-up to the war, beginning with the turmoil in Eastern Europe around the start of the 20th Century and zooming into much more in-depth diplomatic history about why the war actually started. It's excellent (if you're into that sort of thing) and offers a long, gripping tick-tock that is much more up-to-date than the classic "Guns of August".

If you're interested in reading about the military conflict itself, it's hard to go wrong with Keegan's The First World War. It's a broad overview history of the war that is very readable and might give you some ideas of topics worth further diving into.

u/eorld · 7 pointsr/history

You clearly didn't read the second link, (also wtf is executing leaders of an opposing ideology, they were murdering prisoners of war) here's a few crimes by the 'ordinary men' of the Wehrmacht

> The 707th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht put this principle into practice during an "anti-partisan" sweep that saw the division shoot 10,431 people out of the 19,940 it had detained during the sweep while suffering only two dead and five wounded in the process.[64]


> At Mirgorod, the 62nd Infantry Division executed "the entire Jewish population (168 people) for associating with partisans".[65] At Novomoskovsk, the 444th Security Division reported that they had killed "305 bandits, 6 women with rifles (Flintenweiber), 39 prisoners-of-war and 136 Jews".[65] In revenge for a partisan attack that had killed one German soldier, the Ersatz-Brigade 202 "as an act of retaliation shot 20 Jews from the villages of Bobosjanka and Gornostajewka and burnt down 5 Jew-houses".[66] Even more extreme was the case in Serbia, where the majority of the Jews there were murdered by the Wehrmacht, not the SS.[67] At Šabac, "Central European Jewish refugees, mostly Austrians, were shot by troops of predominantly Austrian origin in retaliation for casualties inflicted by Serbian partisans on the German Army".[65] The orders issued by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in September 1941 called for the German Army to shoot 100 Serbs for every German soldier killed by the Serb guerrillas and did not call for Jews to be singled out.[68] But because of rampant anti-Semitism in the German officer corps, it was more or less automatically assumed that the Serbian Jewish community were behind all of the partisan attacks, hence the targeting of Jews in the mass shootings carried out in retaliation for guerilla attacks.[68] The German historian Jürgen Förster, a leading expert on the subject of Wehrmacht war crimes, argued that the Wehrmacht played a key role in the Holocaust and it is wrong to ascribe the Shoah as solely the work of the SS while the Wehrmacht were a more or less passive and disapproving bystander.[67]

Edit: Just to add, when you say that part about "normal people not liking that" that just isn't true, the Nazis made regular people key parts of the holocaust all the time. You should read about the 101st reserve police battalion, very regular normal people. They were middle aged, didn't grow up under Nazi propaganda, working class people from Hamburg, drafted but found ineligible for regular military duty. They ended up being a major part of the holocaust in Poland. (The citation for most of this is 'Ordinary Men' by Christopher Browning)

u/PM_me_Gonewild_pics · 3 pointsr/history

This has such a long and many faceted answer. Be aware this is just my opinion, if you want an in depth look at how it happened The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is well written and does not read like a textbook, I recommend it.

The heart of it lies in the years following The Great War, WWI, or what your local history chooses to calls the European war from 1914-1918. At the end of that war The Treaty of Versailles drove the German economy into the dumpster. The resulting Germanic generation that grew up in the 20's and 30's were barely getting by. They had little to look forward to or be proud of. Their country was broken up, they were basically allowed no heavy industry, and they were paying billions of Reichsmark in reparations that left them with no working capital and very broken economy. This goes right along with the world experiencing the [Great Depression] ( No money, no jobs, no hope. This makes for a very unhappy people willing to do almost anything to be proud again.

Along comes a man wanting to "Make Germany Great Again". This man is a great orator, he speaks to the pride of the German peoples. He terrorizes the established political setup and through force of will and quite a bit of jack-boot thuggery finds himself in charge. He tells the rest of the world that he is going to industrialize his nation and in the process make a small army just for their own protection. "Sorry about your treaty but, we're going to ignore it." He then found a scapegoat that they can demonize and blame for their problems.

We now have political machine that knows how to use violence to get into power and keep it. We have a government that has successfully told the rest of the world to go away and let Germany ignore the treaties. You have a scapegoat to blame any remaining problems on. You have a large enough portion of your populace either complacent enough or afraid enough to allow it all to happen. Now they ramp up the industrialization and build a real army.

A large percentage of the German population have spent their lives beat-down, poor, and barely getting by with no hope for the future. But now there is hope! The economy is working again, the German people are strong and proud. They are taking back lands that are traditionally belonging to Germanic peoples with their new army. They are removing their scapegoats from their towns and villages. Pretty quickly this leads to war.

By 1944 Germans know there are massive problems. They can't write it in the papers but, they do whisper it. They are losing the war and they remember what comes of losing wars.

I really feel the slaughter at Oradour-sur-Glane is frustration and fear of what will happen when Germany looses again. The soldiers fear a return to the Germany of the 20's and 30's. They don't want another gutted economy, no luxury items, barely enough to eat, no work, no hope, and no pride. That type of fear is primal. There's a deep seated need for violence and domination of your adversaries in the human brain that goes back to our earliest survival. To survive you must crush your competition and drive them out if not for yourself, for the next generation. I'm not saying that is the only reason but I do believe this animal drive is a significant contributing factor that was satiated through this violence. But, like a lot of violence it only made things worse.

tl;dr Fear is a powerful thing.