To continue from yesterday’s post about Iris Chang, I mentioned that she was among the brave historians who choose to study some of the most horrible and painful periods in human history. There are many others like her, and though these books are not a pleasure to read, the knowledge that they impart is a valuable reminder of, as I said yesterday, what we are capable of. So, because I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve compiled an informal list of brave history books. I’m sure there are many others that I don’t have here, so feel free to add your suggestion in the comments field.
- Gulag by Anne Applebaum (excerpt) — the Soviet forced labor system that underpinned Communism
- We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch (excerpt) — “An anatomy of the war in Rwanda, a vivid history of the tragedy’s background, and an unforgettable account of its aftermath.”
- Maus by Art Spiegelman — Spiegelman’s unique and emotional look at how the Holocaust shaped his family history.
- “A Problem from Hell” : America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power (excerpt) — “A character-driven study of some of the darkest moments in our national history, when America failed to prevent or stop 20th-century campaigns to exterminate Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Iraqi Kurds, Bosnians, and Rwandans.”
- Shah of Shahs, The Emperor, and Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski (excerpt from Imperium) — Each book describes how a sick government can destroy its people.
- Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami (excerpt) — A bizarre cult poisons innocent commuters on the Tokyo subway.
- Hiroshima by John Hersey — We ended the war, but at what cost?