Marvin Olasky has just posted his list of ten must-read narrative American histories for high school students
(or adults, parents, and teachers wishing to educate themselves). It is
a good list. World War I and II are both not represented, perhaps
because these were not uniquely American events. But understanding
those two wars is a must for any student of American history or the
20th century. For World War
I, I would add The First World War
by John Keegan for an overview, or Sergeant York and the Great War by
Tom Skeyhill for a narrower look which focuses on the most popular
American hero to arise from World War I.
For World War II, I would add
The Second World War by John Keegan for an overview, or for all the
detail, Winston Churchill’s six-volume history cannot
It is a classic of history and English literature. Volume I: The
Gathering Storm, II: Their Finest Hour, III: Grand Alliance, IV:
Hinge of Fate, V: Closing the Ring, and VI: Triumph and Tragedy. I must
stress again that Churchill’s history fulfills all the requirements of
the enduring great books of Western Civilization. One amazon.com
reviewer (a retired military officer) first read these with a
dictionary at one hand and a Bible at the other. That about explains
it. For those
who would like more
detail than Keegan provides but not as much as Churchill, William L.
Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is also excellent.