Publication Date

July 28, 2023

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities, Perspectives Daily

As July wraps up, the second month of the AHA Summer Reading Challenge ends with it. We asked AHA members, Council, and staff to share with us what history they had read in July to fulfill tasks in #AHAReads and we’ve compiled some of their responses.

Read a history written for young readers.

Claire Boyle (DePaul Univ.) was excited to read a children’s book set in her home state of Illinois with The Fighting Infantryman: The Story of Albert D. J. Cashier, Transgender Civil War Soldier by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Nabi Ali.

Brittany Huner (Univ. of North Texas) checked out Elizabeth Wein’s A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II.

Claire Mayo (Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville) is thinking through how to incorporate Laika by Nick Abadzis into her course on the history of science, technology, and society.

Claire Potter (New School) found the graphic memoir Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud Anyabwile “incredibly moving” and likely to appeal to both “sports-mad kids” and their parents.

Kara Swanson (Northeastern Univ.) picked up a book from the popular Horrible Histories series: Terrible Tudors by Terry Deary and Neil Tonge.

Rebecca L. West (AHA operations and communications assistant) enjoyed the audiobook of Kenneth C. Davis’s In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives, which used a different narrator for each of the five parts.

Read a history of your local community or state.

Debbie Doyle (AHA meetings manager) went hyperlocal for this task, reading Arlington County, Virginia: A History by Cornelia B. Rose Jr.

Read a graphic history.

Both Laura Ansley (AHA senior managing editor) and Michael Novak (Washington, DC) read the graphic microhistory The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empire, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam by Michael G. Vann and Liz Clarke.

Claire Boyle also read Dolley Madison Saves History by Roger Smalley and illustrated by Anna Maria Cool, Scott Rosema, and Charles Barnett III.

Brittany Huner also completed this task with John Hendrix’s The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler.

Emily Matson’s (Coll. of William & Mary) students recommended she check out American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, which she called “outstanding!”

Pernille Røge (Univ. of Pittsburgh and AHA Council) has been completing the challenge alongside her two sons, ages 6 and 9. Together, they read graphic editions of The Odyssey, The Iliad, and The Aeneid, all adapted by Diego Agrimbau, with illustrations by Smilton, Marcelo Zamora, and Marcelo Sosa (respectively).

Read a history written by someone with a different background from your own.

Laura Ansley also read Michael W. Twitty’s The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South, calling it “a remarkable book, unlike any I’ve read before.”

Angela Jill Cooley (Minnesota State Univ., Mankato) chose a book that also blends culinary history with the personal memoir with Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family by Rabia Chaudry.

Emily Matson finished Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song for a second task this month.

Michael Romero (Colonial Williamsburg) turned to Porter Alexander Halyburton’s Reflections on Captivity: A Tapestry of Stories by a Vietnam War POW for this task.

Read a history that’s been on your shelf for too long.

Joseph Adelman (Framingham State Univ.) read the Pulitzer Prize–winning Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America by Nicole Eustace.

Suzanne Marie Litrel (Woodstock, GA) recommends Jerry Brotton’s A History of the World in 12 Maps for others preparing for a world history survey.

Melissa Ziobro (Monmouth Univ.) pulled Edison 64: A Tragedy in Vietnam and at Home by Richard Sand off her shelf.

Read a history published before 2000.

Inspired by the Long Overdue tribute to W. E. B. Du Bois in Perspectives, Laura Ansley read “Reconstruction and Its Benefits,” published in the American Historical Review in 1910.

Read a piece of historical fiction set in the time or place you study.

Joseph Adelman also has an ongoing quest to read anything about the US Postal Service, so he picked up Women of the Post by Joshunda Sanders this month.

Claire Potter (New School) called historian Tiya Miles’s novel, The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts, “a fantastic beach book, as well as a great way to learn something about the tangled histories of the African American and Cherokee past.”

Melissa Ziobro got a little behind on the challenge when she read not one but five of Alyssa Maxwell’s Gilded Newport mysteries. Whoops!

Read a history that’s been challenged or banned.

Kara Swanson also read Queer, There, and Everywhere: 27 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager and illustrated by Zoe More O’Ferrall.

Read a history of a place you know little about.

Hilary Green (Davidson Coll.) headed northwest with Brian G. Shellum’s Buffalo Soldiers in Alaska: Company L, Twenty-Fourth Infantry.

Katharina Matro (Walter Johnson High School and AHA Council) read The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iranby Nazila Fathi to prepare for a history course she’ll teach next year.

Michael Romero and his oldest child read John Hersey’s Hiroshima to fulfill this task.

Patrick Sheridan (Univ. of Georgia) headed to the American Southwest with Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics by Elizabeth Tandy Shermer.

It’s not too late to join the challenge! Simply select three tasks to complete one row (or more!) on the bingo card before Labor Day. Post about your reading on the AHA Member Forum or on social media using the hashtag #AHAReads. And be sure to tell us how your children or students are completing the kids’ edition of the challenge. You might even see your books show up in a future post on Perspectives Daily.

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Laura Ansley
Laura Ansley

American Historical Association