This reviewer can't reiterate often enough that a history book isn't a historical novel. There's no curling up in a chair or lying in bed reading a chapter of a tome penned by a historian on a subject of his choice. To be sure, some historians have a more agreeable style than others, but they are by and large dry.
The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark 700pp, 2013 Penguin paperback. Available at Asia Books and leading bookshops, 550 baht
Then again, it comes down to whether the subject is meaningful. If you couldn't care less about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, you'll yawn after a few pages, put the volume down and not return to it. (Of course there are more than a few who are fascinated by it and will read on.) I, for one, enjoy reading histories. Many are contradictory. Determining the most likely truth after weighing several versions helps keep my mind active, an exercise I forgo when a history book is definitive. Take The Sleepwalkers by Cambridge history professor Christopher Clark. In 700 pages _ photographs, maps, footnotes galore, index _ he quotes everybody who was anybody about how Europe went to war in 1914. That's WWI, not WWII. Unlike the Second World War, in which the Nazi fuhrer alone decided which country to invade, the decisions a quarter-century earlier were considerably more complex.
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