Earlier this week at my personal blog, I engaged in the annual ritual of going through several year-end “Best Books” lists to suggest some histories and biographies for my readers to give as gifts. You can find all three dozen books here, plus I’d add two more suggestions via John Wilson, editor of the great Christian review Books & Culture: among his “Favorite Books of 2014” are Grant Wacker’s biography of Billy Graham and Timothy Larsen’s intellectual history The Slain God: Anthropologists & the Christian Faith, Wilson’s book of the year.
Now, most of these books I haven’t read and probably never will, so I always end the title of this annual post with a question mark. I tend to trust the sources I use at least to suggest interesting books, but as usual there’s disproportionate emphasis on biographies, political history, and U.S. history (which is why I now include Britain’s Guardian as a source for the lists). And despite the skyrocketing popularity of religious history within the profession, that field had only one representative from the three secular lists I consulted (which is why I now include Christianity Today as a source and earlier mentioned Wilson’s favorites).
Still, this year’s lists include the life stories of an 18th century English woman novelist-social reformer and a 20th century Italian woman who battled Fascism, they range beyond politics to cover the histories of workplaces and the Pill, and they go beyond the USA to probe the histories of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and other parts of the globe. And as our resident WWI buff, I’m tickled that, in the year of its centenary, three of them are about that epochal conflict, including one on the religious history of the war.
– Chris Gehrz
What do you think? What’s missing from the list? What’s your favorite history book of the past year?