Best History Titles of 2008

Brace yourself for this shocker:  a distinct political theme runs through the top history books of 2008.  Five presidents (and one presidential candidate) dominate our Editors' Top 10, while customers looked back at the birth of liberalism, our founding mothers, and the political blunders surrounding World War II.

Interestingly, only Rick Perlstein's Nixonland and Thurston Clarke's The Last Campaign were tabbed as Top 10 reads by both editors and customers.  Although Kennedy and Nixon were distinctly different characters, both titles depict a common struggle to calm a confused (and often violent) America in search of answers.  The Last Campaign was my Best of June pick in large part to Clarke's aching ability to reveal the wounds of RFK's America, while Nixonland was my colleague Tom's choice for May due to Perlstein's true-to-the-era style that is "equal parts Walter Winchell and Hunter S. Thompson."

Check out the full lists below and be sure to visit our Best of 2008 Store for more of the year's top books.


Editors' Top 10 Picks in History
1) Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
2) The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
3) The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America
4) The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
5) The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington
6) The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer
7) One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War
8) Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World
9) American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
10) Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Customers' Top 10 Picks in History
1) Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
2) Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
3) This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
4) Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution
5) Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45
6) The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
7) Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
8) Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World
9) Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization
10) The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

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