The Best History Books of February

Chris Schluep on February 25, 2019
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The Best History Books of February are a varied lot. So much so, that I'm having a difficult time trying to summarize the list. I've included two Western-themed books below; I've also included two very different books about the African American experience. Don't let that mislead you: the book topics on this list are wide and varied. For example, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, which goes on sale tomorrow (and is likely to be a best seller), is another one to check out. You'll definitely be seeing more of that one in the days to come.

You can see the full list here.


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Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier's First Gunfighter by Tom Clavin - I don't know when the term "living legend" was first coined, but James Butler Hickock, a.k.a. Wild Bill Hickock, fit that description. He was a soldier, Union spy, scout, lawman, gunfighter, gambler, showman, and actor. He was also master of the quick draw. In many ways, he was the ultimate frontiersman--and his legend grew right along with the legend of the West. 

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The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film by W. K. Stratton - Keeping with the Western theme, this year is the 50th Anniversary of Sam Peckinpah's seminal Western "The Wild Bunch." Conceived by a stuntman, directed by a blacklisted director, and shot in the sand and heat of the Mexican desert, the movie seemed doomed. Instead, it became an instant classic with a dark, violent take on the Western movie tradition.

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Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation by Steve Luxenberg - The 1896 Supreme Court decision "Plessy v. Ferguson" is the case that established "separate but equal" as the law of the land. That ruling helped to codify segregation, and this history looks at a broad and fascinating cast of characters involved with the case. I dipped into it one day and ended up devouring it. This is a masterful book.

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Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman - This is a unique history, a look at black women in the early 20th Century who sought to transform their intimate society. As they questioned what makes a free life, and as they pushed back against Victorian norms, they built a beautiful experiment in places like New York and Philadelphia.


==>> see all of our Best History Books of February here.



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