100 books like The Age of Extremes

By Eric Hobsbawm,

Here are 100 books that The Age of Extremes fans have personally recommended if you like The Age of Extremes. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Thinking Europe: A History of the European Idea since 1800

Caner Tekin Author Of Debating Turkey in Europe: Identities and Concepts

From my list on European identity for history readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a postdoctoral researcher, I'm fascinated by the notions of cultural belonging to Europe and European nation-states, as they have evolved throughout history in relation to what the holders of these notions call their "others". I know of few cases in the field of identity and memory politics that are as controversial, as curious, as fragile, and yet as fascinating as the idea of a Europe, a social and political construct that emerges from past events but is shaped for political purposes. Debates about a common European history and memory are intertwined with those about the geographical and cultural definitions of Europe, and my book list often includes the most recent examples of these interactions.

Caner's book list on European identity for history readers

Caner Tekin Why did Caner love this book?

My first point of concern is the fact that ideas and concepts are historical products altered in time.

In his book, Professor Andrén provides a historical context for the ideas of Europe and their sources that have emerged over the last two centuries. He neatly shows the historicity of the thoughts as constructs linked to the regional and global conditions of their time.

He highlights the visions of Europe in the 19th century marked by revolutions and unifications; in the first half of the 20th century, marked by wars and crises. He then examines the visions in the second half of the century characterized by the search for peace and prosperity, European integration and a pan-European identity.

Let us navigate from Andrén's point of view that ideas about Europe did not die out, but evolved into more current constructs in modern European history.

By Mats Andrén,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thinking Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presenting a new historical narrative on European integration and identity this title examines how the concept of Europe has been entangled in a dynamic and dramatic tension between calls for unity and arguments for borders and division. Through an in-depth intellectual history of the idea of Europe, Mats Andren interrogates the concept of integration and more recent debates surrounding European identity across the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the post-war period. Applying a broad range of original sources this unique work will be key reading for students and researchers studying European History, European Studies, Political History and related fields.


Book cover of European Regions and Boundaries: A Conceptual History

Caner Tekin Author Of Debating Turkey in Europe: Identities and Concepts

From my list on European identity for history readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a postdoctoral researcher, I'm fascinated by the notions of cultural belonging to Europe and European nation-states, as they have evolved throughout history in relation to what the holders of these notions call their "others". I know of few cases in the field of identity and memory politics that are as controversial, as curious, as fragile, and yet as fascinating as the idea of a Europe, a social and political construct that emerges from past events but is shaped for political purposes. Debates about a common European history and memory are intertwined with those about the geographical and cultural definitions of Europe, and my book list often includes the most recent examples of these interactions.

Caner's book list on European identity for history readers

Caner Tekin Why did Caner love this book?

How have the regions of the continent been imagined and constructed in relation to a European framework? Bringing together contemporary experts such as Stefan Berger, Bo Strath, Stefan Troebst, and Alex-Drace Francis, the editors aim to explore the political, cultural, and intellectual contexts of European regions at the meso level.

They examine conceptualisations in relation to counter-concepts or clusters of concepts (e.g. Western Europe vs. Southern or Southeastern Europe) and relate them to debates on coexistence and the construction of the 'self' versus the 'other'. 

As such, the chapters provide an insightful discussion of the historicity and reflexivity of the spatial terminology of Europe.

By Diana Mishkova (editor), Balazs Trencsenyi (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked European Regions and Boundaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is difficult to speak about Europe today without reference to its constitutive regions-supra-national geographical designations such as "Scandinavia," "Eastern Europe," and "the Balkans." Such formulations are so ubiquitous that they are frequently treated as empirical realities rather than a series of shifting, overlapping, and historically constructed concepts. This volume is the first to provide a synthetic account of these concepts and the historical and intellectual contexts in which they emerged. Bringing together prominent international scholars from across multiple disciplines, it systematically and comprehensively explores how such "meso-regions" have been conceptualized throughout modern European history.


Book cover of History, Memory, and Trans-European Identity: Unifying Divisions

Caner Tekin Author Of Debating Turkey in Europe: Identities and Concepts

From my list on European identity for history readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a postdoctoral researcher, I'm fascinated by the notions of cultural belonging to Europe and European nation-states, as they have evolved throughout history in relation to what the holders of these notions call their "others". I know of few cases in the field of identity and memory politics that are as controversial, as curious, as fragile, and yet as fascinating as the idea of a Europe, a social and political construct that emerges from past events but is shaped for political purposes. Debates about a common European history and memory are intertwined with those about the geographical and cultural definitions of Europe, and my book list often includes the most recent examples of these interactions.

Caner's book list on European identity for history readers

Caner Tekin Why did Caner love this book?

How was the common European memory constructed in the second half of the 20th century and how does it serve the common understanding of Europeanness?

Transforming memory constructions into a common European culture of remembrance requires political will and capacity, which today is mostly represented by the EU and its nation states. By analysing the speeches of political elites at commemorative events, Sierp shows how 'European memory' was materialised between pan-European and national initiatives after the Second World War, and how regional conceptions of the Holocaust and its perpetrators were transformed into a common understanding.

The book also recalls the historicity of European memory and its function for the project of European identity.

By Aline Sierp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History, Memory, and Trans-European Identity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book questions the presupposition voiced by many historians and political scientists that political experiences in Europe continue to be interpreted in terms of national history, and that a European community of remembrance still does not exist. By tracing the evolution of specific memory cultures in two successor countries of the Fascist/Nazi regime (Italy and Germany) and the impact of structural changes upon them, the book investigates wider democratic processes, particularly concerning the conservation and transmission of values and the definition of identity on different levels. It argues that the creation of a transnational European memory culture does not necessarily…


Book cover of Agonistic Memory and the Legacy of 20th Century Wars in Europe

Caner Tekin Author Of Debating Turkey in Europe: Identities and Concepts

From my list on European identity for history readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a postdoctoral researcher, I'm fascinated by the notions of cultural belonging to Europe and European nation-states, as they have evolved throughout history in relation to what the holders of these notions call their "others". I know of few cases in the field of identity and memory politics that are as controversial, as curious, as fragile, and yet as fascinating as the idea of a Europe, a social and political construct that emerges from past events but is shaped for political purposes. Debates about a common European history and memory are intertwined with those about the geographical and cultural definitions of Europe, and my book list often includes the most recent examples of these interactions.

Caner's book list on European identity for history readers

Caner Tekin Why did Caner love this book?

Critical approaches are essential for the democratic formation of a common European and national memory.

The integration of the components (events and their commemoration) into a common European memory runs the risk of homogenising the descriptions and transforming them into a discourse in support of national or continental supremacy. With this in mind, Stefan Berger, Wulf Kansteiner and many of the contributors under their editorship explore how an agonistic approach to memory, a logic proposed in opposition to nationalist, teleological, and progressivist memory politics, can serve European memory culture.

The collection is based on a completed project, analysing the confrontation between agonistic memory and war memory in well-known European museums. All in all, memory politics should stimulate local democratic participation, promote ethical development, and influence social dynamics for collective solidarity.

By Stefan Berger (editor), Wulf Kansteiner (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Agonistic Memory and the Legacy of 20th Century Wars in Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book discusses the merits of the theory of agonistic memory in relation to the memory of war. After explaining the theory in detail it provides two case studies, one on war museums in contemporary Europe and one on mass graves exhumations, which both focus on analyzing to what extent these memory sites produce different regimes of memory. Furthermore, the book provides insights into the making of an agonistic exhibition at the Ruhr Museum in Essen, Germany. It also analyses audience reaction to a theatre play scripted and performed by the Spanish theatre company Micomicion that was supposed to put…


Book cover of Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China's First Great Victory Over the West

John Grant Ross Author Of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

From my list on Taiwan’s history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink).

John's book list on Taiwan’s history

John Grant Ross Why did John love this book?

Few stood against many as the fate of Taiwan hung in the balance. This is a gripping account of the 1660s clash between Ming loyalist Koxinga and besieged Dutch colonists at Fort Zeelandia. Written by a historian with a flair for narrative, Taiwan’s most exciting historical episode is recounted in fascinating detail, with twists and turns, and wide zooms out for comparisons of European and Chinese technological prowess. It’s an accessible book yet so richly informative and dramatic that it rewards multiple readings. 

By Tonio Andrade,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lost Colony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the seventeenth century, Holland created the world's most dynamic colonial empire, outcompeting the British and capturing Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Yet, in the Sino-Dutch War - Europe's first war with China - the Dutch met their match in a colorful Chinese warlord named Koxinga. Part samurai, part pirate, he led his generals to victory over the Dutch and captured one of their largest and richest colonies - Taiwan. How did he do it? Examining the strengths and weaknesses of European and Chinese military techniques during the period, Lost Colony provides a balanced new perspective on long-held assumptions about Western…


Book cover of African American Childhoods: Historical Perspectives from Slavery to Civil Rights

Hoda Mahmoudi Author Of Children and Globalization: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

From my list on childhood and globalization.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been interested in children’s lives for as long as I can remember. I think my own childhood experiences provoked my curiosity about the world as observed and perceived by children. My own childhood was affected by globalization in the broadest sense. When I was a child, my family moved to the United States from Iran. I grew up in Utah where I encountered a different way of life than the one I left behind. The shift from one culture to another was thrilling and scary. The encounter with a new world and a different culture has taught me important lessons about children’s creativity, strength, and curiosity as well as their fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities.  

Hoda's book list on childhood and globalization

Hoda Mahmoudi Why did Hoda love this book?

I am very interested in the unique challenges that African American children face in the United States. The impacts and continuing effects of slavery and systemic racism begin affecting them before they can articulate the discrimination they experience. This book makes me question the root causes of prejudice and how it is instilled in and inflicted on children.

By Wilma King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked African American Childhoods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

African American Childhoods seeks to fill a vacuum in the study of African American children. Recovering the voices or experiences of these children, we observe nuances in their lives based on their legal status, class standing, and social development.


Book cover of The Age of Empire: 1875-1914

Philip B. Minehan Author Of Anti-Leftist Politics in Modern World History: Avoiding 'Socialism' at All Costs

From my list on modern world history and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

My expertise comes through my work and degrees as an undergraduate, Master’s, and Phd student, in history and comparative historical sociology. It is demonstrated mainly in my two books, one on the Spanish, Yugoslav, and Greek Civil Wars, the other on Anti-Leftist Politics, listed above. It also comes through my teaching, which includes the entire world history sequence, in addition to numerous specialized courses and seminars. My passion could be described as a love for the world and its peoples, and a loathing for systems and politics of inequality and injustice.

Philip's book list on modern world history and politics

Philip B. Minehan Why did Philip love this book?

The Age of Empire is a momentous history of Europe and the world in the era that contained the immediate origins and dynamics that led into World War One, but was also crucial in shaping world history to this day. 

At the beginning of the book, Hobsbawm offers a grand-scale perspective on the ‘contradictions of liberal bourgeois society in the age of empire’, which, for me, is among the most helpful and insightful big – and dialectical – ideas about modern history. 

In the form of ‘the contradictions of neoliberal bourgeois society’, I went so far as to update and apply his original idea to world history since WWI and right up to our own times.

By Eric Hobsbawm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Erica Hobsbawm discusses the evolution of European economics, politics, arts, sciences, and cultural life from the height of the industrial revolution to the First World War.  Hobsbawm combines vast erudition with a graceful prose style to re-create the epoch that laid the basis for the twentieth century.


Book cover of After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000

Christopher Goscha Author Of The Road to Dien Bien Phu: A History of the First War for Vietnam

From my list on empires in world history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Christopher Goscha first fell in love with world history while reading Fernand Braudel's La Méditerranée in graduate school in France and doing research for his PhD in Southeast Asia. He is currently a professor of international relations at the Université du Québec à Montréal where he teaches world history and publishes on the wars for Vietnam in a global context. He does this most recently in his forthcoming book entitled The Road to Dien Bien Phu: A History of the First Vietnam War.

Christopher's book list on empires in world history

Christopher Goscha Why did Christopher love this book?

You might not know who Tamerlane is, but you should. He was one of the last of the ‘World-conquerors’ in the tradition of Genghis Khan, the man who marched the Mongols from one end of Eurasia to the other in the 13th century. Tamerlane died in 1405 and with him the last nomadic empire of the Eurasian steppes. The Europeans then took up the quest ‘to conquer the word’. But John Darwin tells this story like no one else before him: Rather than starting the story of the European “Age of Discovery” on the bows of Iberian ships crossing the Atlantic ocean, Darwin keeps his readers grounded in Eurasia. He redirects our gaze to this massive continent as we follow emerging European empires as they had to compete with pre-existing ones. Anyone interested in understanding the global dynamics of the early 21st century should read this book with…

By John Darwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked After Tamerlane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tamerlane, the Ottomans, the Mughals, the Manchus, the British, the Soviets, the Japanese and the Nazis.

All built empires they hoped would last forever: all were destined to fail. But, as John Darwin shows in his magnificent book, their empire building created the world we know today.

From the death of Tamerlane in 1405, last of the 'world conquerors', to the rise and fall of European empires, and from America's growing colonial presence to the resurgence of India and China as global economic powers, After Tamerlane provides a wonderfully intriguing perspective on the past, present and future of empires.


Book cover of Inventing the American Astronaut

Slava Gerovitch Author Of Soviet Space Mythologies: Public Images, Private Memories, and the Making of a Cultural Identity (Russian and East European Studies)

From my list on astronauts and cosmonauts.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in space history began with stamp collecting and continued much later with visits to Russian archives, Star City, and aerospace companies, and interviews with cosmonauts and space engineers, who often told their personal stories for the first time. As a historian of science and technology teaching at MIT, I was especially interested in cases where technology and society intertwined: cosmonauts and engineers lobbied politicians with competing agendas, personal rivalries tore apart ambitious projects, and pervasive secrecy perpetuated public myths and private counter-myths. My digging into tensions and arguments that shaped the Soviet space program resulted in two books, Soviet Space Mythologies and Voices of the Soviet Space Program.

Slava's book list on astronauts and cosmonauts

Slava Gerovitch Why did Slava love this book?

Hersch applies the sober, decidedly unsentimental, and almost brutally incisive analytical framework of labor conflict and professionalization to a whole range of issues negotiated within NASA—from the criteria for astronaut selection to the degree of spacecraft automation to mission programming. Each of these issues emerges loaded with interests of various professional groups—test pilots, military pilots, scientists, engineers, and managers. The astronaut profession is born through a series of clashes of professional cultures, each competing for influence within the US space program.

In my view, comparing this story with the parallel developments on the Soviet side reveals drastic differences. While the pilots-cosmonauts found themselves almost completely at the mercy of powerful space engineers, the astronauts skillfully used their symbolic capital to gain influence on decision-making at NASA.

By Matthew H. Hersch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inventing the American Astronaut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who were the men who led America's first expeditions into space? Soldiers? Daredevils? The public sometimes imagined them that way: heroic military men and hot-shot pilots without the capacity for doubt, fear, or worry. However, early astronauts were hard-working and determined professionals - 'organization men' - who were calm, calculating, and highly attuned to the politics and celebrity of the Space Race. Many would have been at home in corporate America - and until the first rockets carried humans into space, some seemed to be headed there. Instead, they strapped themselves to missiles and blasted skyward, returning with a smile…


Book cover of Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War

Noel Keough Author Of Sustainability Matters: Prospects for a Just Transition in Calgary, Canada’s Petro-City

From my list on myth demonstrating why sustainability matters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Injustice has always motivated my research and activism. I have always been fascinated by nature and by the complexity of cities. For 25 years I have pursued these passions through the lens of sustainability. In 1996, I co-founded the not-for-profit Sustainable Calgary Society. My extensive work and travel in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, have given me a healthy skepticism of the West’s dominant cultural myths of superiority and benevolence and a keen awareness of the injustice of the global economic order. My book selections shed light on these myths and suggest alternative stories of where we come from, who we are, and who we might become. 

Noel's book list on myth demonstrating why sustainability matters

Noel Keough Why did Noel love this book?

In these times of Black Lives Matter, emboldened white-supremicists, and with European dominance descendant, Born into Blackness is a revelatory and blunt dose of historical reality. I was not fully aware of the centrality of the slave economy in Europe’s rise to global dominance. Most importantly, I was ignorant of the level of cultural, political, and economic sophistication of the African nations when the Portuguese first explored the west coast of Africa. I had some understanding of the Haitian revolution and its manifestation of the enlightenment ideals, but this book opened my eyes to the historical ripples of the revolution: the Louisiana purchase, ceding much of present-day Southern US from Napoleon’s France; the sale and forced-march of thousands of slaves into the cotton-growing south, fueling an economic take-off that made the US an imperial power.

By Howard W. French,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Born in Blackness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a sweeping narrative that traverses 600 years, one that eloquently weaves precise historical detail with poignant personal reportage, Pulitzer Prize finalist Howard W. French retells the story of medieval and emerging Africa, demonstrating how the economic ascendancy of Europe, the anchoring of democracy in America and the fulfillment of so-called Enlightenment ideals all grew out of Europe's dehumanising engagement with the "darkest" continent.

Born in Blackness dramatically retrieves the lives of major African historical figures whose stories have been repeatedly etiolated and erased over centuries, from unimaginably rich medieval African emperors who traded with Asia; to Kongo sovereigns who…


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