Today In History: A Reading List

Ever looked up the historical events of a particular day just to see what happened? Well I have done that for this lovely September 5 but I’ve added a twist. I’ve included some reading material to go along with some of today’s events. Where ever possible I’ve tried to do a work of non-fiction and a work of fiction for each event.

1666 Forth day of the Great London Fire

The fire started in a bakery on September 2 and burned for four days. In the end 373 acres of London were burned including 13,200 houses and 84 churches. The death toll was officially set at 4 but there is anecdotal evidence that puts it much higher.

Non-Fiction: By Permission of Heaven: The Story of the Great Fire of London by Adrian Tinniswood.

great1A magnificently told and thrilling account of one of the most dramatic events in British history. Adrian Tinniswood’s magnificent new account of the Great Fire of London explores the history of a cataclysm and its consequences, from that first small blaze in a baker’s house in Pudding Lane in the early hours of September 2nd, 1666 to the inferno that would devastate the third largest city in the Western world. The statistics are terrible: 436 acres of closely packed streets burned; 13,200 houses destroyed; 10 million lost at a time when 10 million represented the City’s annual income for 800 years.

Fiction: From the Charred Remains: A Mystery by Susanna Calkins.

charedIt’s 1666 and the Great Fire has just decimated an already plague-ridden London. Lady’s maid Lucy Campion, along with pretty much everyone else left standing, is doing her part to help the city clean up and recover. But their efforts come to a standstill when a couple of local boys stumble across a dead body that should have been burned up in the fire but miraculously remained intact–the body of a man who died not from the plague or the fire, but from the knife plunged into his chest. Searching for a purpose now that there’s no lady in the magistrate’s household for her to wait on, Lucy has apprenticed herself to a printmaker. But she can’t help but use her free time to help the local constable, and she quickly finds herself embroiled in the murder investigation. It will take all of her wits and charm, not to mention a strong stomach and a will of steel, if Lucy hopes to make it through alive herself, in From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins

1793 French National Convention initiates the Reign Terror 

During the French Revolution, caught up in foreign and civil wars, the French government resorted to mass executions to eliminate suspected political opposition.

Non-Fiction: Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution by Ruth Scurr

fatalSince his execution by guillotine in July 1794, Maximilien Robespierre has been contested terrain for historians, at once the most notorious leader of the French Revolution and the least comprehensible. Was he a bloodthirsty charlatan or the only true defender of revolutionary ideals? Was his extreme moralism–he was known as “The Incorruptible”–a heroic

Fiction: A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel.

PlaceIt is 1789, and three young provincials have come to Paris to make their way. Georges-Jacques Danton, an ambitious young lawyer, is energetic, pragmatic, debt-ridden–and hugely but erotically ugly. Maximilien Robespierre, also a lawyer, is slight, diligent, and terrified of violence. His dearest friend, Camille Desmoulins, is a conspirator and pamphleteer of genius. A charming gadfly, erratic and untrustworthy, bisexual and beautiful, Camille is obsessed by one woman and engaged to marry another, her daughter. In the swells of revolution, they each taste the addictive delights of power, and the price that must be paid for it.

1836 Sam Houston elected president of the Republic of Texas.

Houston was one of the founding members of the Republic of Texas which broke away from Mexico in early 1836. He went on to serve as a general in the Texan army. His victory at the Battle of San Jacinto ended the war. In September he ran for president beating Stephen Austin and Henry Smith. He would serve as president again in 1841.

Non-Fiction: Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Republic by William C. Davis.

loneIn the whirlwind of revolutions in the Americas, the Texas Revolution stands at the confluence of northern and southern traditions. On the battlefield and in the political aftermath, settlers from the United States struggled with those who brought revolutionary ideas from Latin America and arms from Mexico. In the midst of the conflict stood the Tejanos who had made Texas home for generations.

Fiction: The Eagle and the Raven by James A. Michener

eagleJames Michener’s narrative based on one of the most exciting periods of American history, when a firebrand renegade from Tennessee, Sam Houston, emigrated to the Mexican state of Texas and helped lead the revolution of 1836. It paints portraits of Houston and his adversary, Santa Anna.

1877 Lakota chief Crazy Horse killed

An Oglala Lakota war leader, Crazy Horse is most known for his participation in the Battle of the Little Big Horn 1876. In 1877 he surrendered to US forces and was sent to the Red Cloud Reservation. Four months later he was stabbed to death with a bayonet while being arrested on the questionable charge of threatening to kill General George Crook.

Fiction: The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers

killing Investigates the enigmatic Native American figure, assessing critical battles attributed to his leadership within the context of the Great Sioux Wars, exploring the relationships between the Lakota Sioux and other tribes, and analyzing the subjugation of North Plains Native Americans.

Fiction: Stone Song: A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse by Win Blevins

StoneCrazy Horse’s entire life was a triumph of the spirit. In youth, Crazy Horse was set aside by his powerful vision of Rider, the spiritual expression of his future greatness, and by the passion and grief of his overwhelming love for a woman. It was only in battle that his heart could find rest. As his world crumbled, Crazy Horse managed to find his way in harmony with the age-old wisdom of the Lakota—and to beat the US Army on its own terms. He lived, and died, his own man.

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