The Historians

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Dr. Donna McBride

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The Historians reading group meets monthly to discuss books from all areas of history.  Do you want to learn more about political history?  Social history?  Military history?  This is your chance to read and discuss history books recognized by historians as the best in their discipline.  Under the expert guidance of Dr. Donna McBride, who has taught history for almost forty years at both the secondary and university levels, The Historians will be reading and discussing one book per month.  If history is your passion, your interest, or the discipline you want to know better, this group is designed for you.

Dr. McBride has written a letter of introduction for the first session, when the group will discuss Valiant Ambition. Read it here.

September 5 Valiant Ambition: George Washington,
Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution
Nathaniel Philbrick
October 3 The Gamble: General Patraeus and
the American Military Adventure in Iraq
Thomas E. Ricks
November 14 SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome Mary Beard
December 5 Hero of the Empire:  The Boer War, a Daring
Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill
Candice Millard

Four Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:00 pm: September 5, October 3, November 14, & December 5
6:30 to 8:00pm; $125 per semester; $35 per session.
Membership discounts starting at 15% off.

Registration for Fall 2017

Single Session: September 5 | October 3November 14 | December 5

Sign up for our email newsletter for updates! Dr. McBride is also teaching Alien Worlds for the Institute.

About the selections

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution: In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental Army under an unsure George Washington (who had never commanded a large force in battle) evacuates New York after a devastating defeat by the British Army. Three weeks later, near the Canadian border, one of his favorite generals, Benedict Arnold, miraculously succeeds in postponing the British naval advance down Lake Champlain that might have ended the war. Four years later, as the book ends, Washington has vanquished his demons and Arnold has fled to the enemy after a foiled attempt to surrender the American fortress at West Point to the British. After four years of war, America is forced to realize that the real threat to its liberties might not come from without but from within.
Dr. McBride has written a letter of introduction for the first session, when the group will discuss Valiant AmbitionRead it here.
(Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble)

The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq: Now updated to fully document the inside story of the Iraq war since late 2005, The Gamble is the definitive account of the insurgency within the U.S. military that led to a radical shift in America’s strategy. Based on unprecedented real-time access to the military’s entire chain of command, Ricks examines the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with itself, the surge was launched, and a very different war began. His stunning conclusion, stated in the last line of the book, is that “the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably have not yet happened.”
(Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble)

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome: In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome “with passion and without technical jargon” and demonstrates how “a slightly shabby Iron Age village” rose to become the “undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean” (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating “the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life” (Economist) in a way that makes “your hair stand on end” (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this “highly informative, highly readable” (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.
(Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble)

Hero of the Empire:  The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill: At the age of twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England. He arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels and jumpstart his political career. But just two weeks later, Churchill was taken prisoner.  Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape—traversing hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him. Bestselling author Candice Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters—including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi—with whom Churchill would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an extraordinary adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect twentieth century history.
(Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble)

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