Today in History: A Reading List

We’ve got some music and musicians and big political events on this day in history. Enjoy a nice reading list with a work of fiction and a work of non-fiction commemorating them.

1813 The Premier of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony

The Seventh Symphony was conducted by Beethoven for a charity concert in Vienna for soldiers wounded at the battle of Hanau during the Napoleonic wars.

Non-Fiction: Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris












Bashful with women and a stranger to romance, Beethoven was an abrasive, egotistical, and unsightly little man. Yet he was also a musical genius whose greatest works flowed from his deepest woes. His raging alcoholism and brooding psychosis seemed to stimulate not stifle his muse. But it wasn’t until he lost the precious gift of hearing that he composed masterpieces whose grandeur and beauty tower above all others  [Goodreads]

Fiction: Conversations with Beethoven by Sanford Friedman












A tour de force of fictional invention, tells the story of the last year of Beethoven’s life almost entirely through such notebook entries: Friends, family, students, doctors, and others attend to the volatile Maestro, whose sometimes unpredictable and often very loud replies we infer. [Goodreads]

1941 The US declares war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7

On the day after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt went before congress describing it as a “day that will live in infamy” and asking for a declaration of war.

Non-Fiction: Pearl Harbor by H.P. Willmott









It was the battle that would change the course of history. 2,395 military and civilian personnel killed. Another 1,178 wounded. 21 ships sunk, beached, or damaged. 323 aircraft destroyed. The Japanese surprise attack on the United States had succeeded; Pearl Harbor was burning. Through bold and striking images previously unseen outside of Japan, and an authoritative, thoroughly up-to-date text, you’ll look back at the shocking event. [Goodreads]

Fiction: Pearl Harbor by Randall Wallace












Childhood friends Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker are daring young pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Rafe has fallen in love with Evelyn Stewart, a beautiful U.S. Navy nurse. But when the sounds of war begin to rumble on the horizon, Rafe decides he must leave to join Europe’s fight. Swearing to Evelyn and Danny that he will return, Rafe heads off for England. Meanwhile, Evelyn and Danny are transferred to Hawaii’s peaceful paradise — Pearl Harbor — unaware of the approach of devastating forces that soon will forever change their lives. [Goodreads]

1980 John Lennon is murdered

John Lennon was shot to death by Mark Chapman in front of The Dakota where he lived. In spite of an insanity defense Chapman eventually pleaded guilty and has been imprisoned ever sense.

Non-Fiction: Memories of John Lennon. Edited and Introduced by Yoko Ono











He touched many lives in his brief forty years, and continues to move and inspire millions more to this day. Now, invited by Yoko Ono, friends, family, and fans from all walks of life—including some of the great artists of our day—reminisce about Lennon as a visionary and friend, musician and performer, husband and father, activist and jokester. [Goodreads]

Fiction: Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion by Alan Goldsher












For John Lennon, a young, idealistic zombie guitarist with dreams of global domination, Liverpool seems the ideal place to form a band that could take over the world. In an inspired act, Lennon kills and reanimates local rocker Paul McCartney, kicking off an unstoppable partnership. [Goodreads]

1991  Soviet Union is dissolved and the Commonwealth of Independent States is created.

Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine signed the agreement at the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Natural Reserve near Brest, Belarus creating the Commonwealth of Independent States ending the 69 year old Soviet Union.

Non-Fiction: Russia, Ukraine, and the Breakup of the Soviet Union by Roman Szporluk












Focusing on the critical relationship between Ukraine and Russia, renowned scholar Roman Szporluk chronicles the final two decades in the history of the Soviet Union and presents a story that is often lost in the standard interpretations of the collapse of communism. [Goodreads]

Fiction: Sleeper Spy by William Safire












A master sleeper spy, assimilated into American life for twenty years, has been made operative and given control of the vast financial assets of the old KGB – and has disappeared with the fortune. His reputation is deadly, and his manipulation of enormous wealth begins to alter the world’s political and financial structure. [Goodreads]


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