The Book List for Modernity 300

The Book List for Modernity 300


One long range assignment I give my students on the first day:

. Each student in the class is required to choose a separate text from the list at the end of the syllabus and read that text,  and then write about it and present it to the class. Your paper must have an engaging  introduction, a thesis, and evidence to develop it.  A Works Cited page is crucial and  must list all sources, including web sites and ideas from other students expressed outside  class.  More details of this assignment will be provided in class.

Here is the list.  It's a mixed bag of fiction and non-fiction, classic and popular. These books have one thing in common:  they each give a picture of what life was like for the regular people who lived in that particular country at that particular time:

Set in:

1859  England        The Origin of the Species   Darwin  (NF)


1900-present     Man and Microbes: Disease and Plagues in History and Modern Times ~ Arno Karlen  (NF)



1911   France          Madame Curie    by Eve Curie  (NF)



1914    Europe     CATASTROPHE 1914: Europe Goes to War. By Max Hastings.This excellent chronicle of World War I’s first months by a British military historian dispels some popular myths.


1918   The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History   John Barry 




1917 Germany       All Quiet on the Western Front                    Erich Maria Remarque



1918 – 40      The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug        by Thomas Hager (NF)




1930   Russia               Darkness at Noon    Arthur Koestler



1939 Germany              The Book Thief     by  Markus Zusak


1939    Soviet Union                             The Good Republic     William Palmer


1940s    Germany/Italy                  Survival In Auschwitz   Primo Levi

It describes his arrest as a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War, and his incarceration in the Auschwitz concentration camp from February 1944 until the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945.


THE GERMAN WAR: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945. By Nicholas Stargardt.  A dramatic look at the lives of ordinary German men and women during World War II.


1940’s Germany    Forty Autumns       Nina Willner



1940’s France and Germany      All the Light We Cannot See     Anthony Doerr


1940  Russia               A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch   Solzhenitsyn


1940  South Africa        Cry, the Beloved Country   Alan Paton


1940’s London               Life After Life      Kate Atkinson


1940 Hungary                 Fateless     Imre Kertész   


1940’s  North Africa                 The Stranger   Albert Camus


1940’s North Africa                  The Plague     Albert Camus


1945  Europe             Year Zero: A History of 1945 . By Ian Buruma.  This lively history shows how the Good War turned out badly for many people and splendidly for others less deserving



1940’s  Europe      Battlefield Surgeon: Life and Death on the Front Lines     Paul Kennedy


1940’s Russia    Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II      

by Svetlana Alexievich  (Author), Richard Pevear (Translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translator)     Available on Kindle


1945  Japan                    Hiroshima     John Hersey  (NF)


1948  Israel               Exodus    Leon Uris


1950’s Eastern Europe      Iron Curtain:The Crushing of Eastern Europe(NF)Anne Applebaum


1950’s Europe          Savage Continent   Europe in the Aftermath of WWII       Keith Lowe


1950  Nigeria                 Things Fall Apart    Chinua Achebe


1950’s    Europe       Aftermath: The Remnants of War  (NF)   Donovan Webster


1965-90  Prague                Open Letters: Selected Writings, 1965-1990, by Vaclav Havel 

1950’s   Turkey                          Istanbul: Memories and the City     by Orhan Pamuk  (NF)


 1965 South Africa           African Stories     Doris Lessing


1963  Kenya      Dance of the Jakaranda by  Peter Kimani  


1960’s   South Africa   Red Dust   by  Gillian Slovo   


1970  Moscow                          Gorky Park    Martin Cruz Smith


1970s  Ireland                   Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

                                         Patrick Radden Keefe  (NF)


1978  Albania      Broken April,  Ismail Kadare


1980s England/France        Black Dogs    Ian McEwan


1980s   Turkey                             Snow        Orhan Pamuk


1986   Soviet Union     Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster   by  Adam Higginbotham



1987  Hungary        The Door       By Magda Szabo.  Szabo’s haunting 1987 novel examines the bonds between two very different women in Communist Hungary.



1989   Berlin                      The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of 89 witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague                 Timothy Garton Ash  (NF)


1980’s  Russia    The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal.  David Hoffman    available on Kindle



1989  Cuba                               Havana Bay     Martin Cruz Smith


1989  Germany     Revolution 1989  by Victor Sebestyen, (NF)

1990   South Africa          Boyhood Scenes from Provincial Life by J. M. Coetzee ( 1998)   (NF)


1990 Kenya                   The Constant Gardener    John LeCarre




1980s  Ireland     Belfast Diaries: War as a Way of Life   by John Conroy NF)


1990s   Romania                      The Appointment                 Herta Muller


1993    Eastern Europe         Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History (NF)

~ Robert D. Kaplan


1996   Eastern Europe     Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey (NF) Isabel Fonseca


1996   Russia                           Wolves Eat Dogs   Martin Cruz Smith


1990’s  London     Londongrad: From Russia with Cash       Mark Hollingsworth and Stewart Lansley (NF)


1990’s   Zimbabwe   The Hairdresser of Harare   by Tendai Huchu

1990’s   Zimbabwe   We Need New Names   by Elizabeth Tshele,  NoViolet Bulawayo, .



Now I ask you:  which books caught your eye?  Which ones have you already read?
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