Friends of the Aiken Public Library

Historical

These works, both fiction and nonfiction, reveal a glimpse of what life was like during important historical periods. See also:Daniel S. Burt's Recommended Historical Novels

O Pioneers

O Pioneers by Willa Cather

The story of the Bergsons, a family of Swedish immigrants in the farm country near Hanover, Nebraska, around the turn of the 20th century. The main character, Alexandra Bergson, inherits the family farmland when her father dies, and she devotes her life to making the farm a viable enterprise at a time when other immigrant families are giving up and leaving the prairie.

Suitable for children ages 4 to 10 Easy to read for anyone over 10 Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

The most famous of the Leatherstocking Tales. The story is set in the British province of New York during the French and Indian War, and concerns a massacre of a colonial garrison and a fictional kidnapping of two sisters, who were the daughters of the commander of Fort William Henry. Rugged pioneer Natty Bumppo, also known as Hawkeye, along with his indian friends Chingachgook and Uncas, escorted the girls to the fort and felt responsible for recovering them from the kidnappers.

Requires some effort but contains a unique concept or truth Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

An impressionistic novel about the meaning of courage, as it is discovered by Henry Fleming, a recruit in the American Civil War. After agonizing about whether he will run or hold in his combat, Fleming in fact survives his first battle by running away and we are led through his emotional journey, as he tries to make sense of the reality of battle and his own role within it.

Easy to read for anyone over 10 Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The tale is set in England and France during the time of the French revolution. Charles Darnay is a romantic French aristocrat. Sidney Carton is a cynical English barrister. Both men share the same appearance and are in love with the same woman, Lucie Manette. When Charles is captured by the Jacobins, Sidney mounts a rescue attempt on Lucie’s behalf.

Requires some effort but contains a unique concept or truth Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
The Story of Civilization

The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant

The Durants attempted to tell the story of the history of mankind from the earlest recorded times to the Twentieth Century. They got off to an outstanding start, writing eleven volumes totalling over two million words during a lifetime of writing, but died before they could get beyond the age of Napoleon.

Requires some effort but contains a unique concept or truth Held by the Library Amazon Barnes and Noble
South Carolina: A History

South Carolina: A History by Walter Edgar

A sweeping narrative of the state, describing in human terms some 475 years of recorded history, encompassing the experiences of rich and poor South Carolinians, male and female, and those with roots in Africa and Europe as well as Native Americans. Letters, diaries, and other writings let voices from the past take part in telling the state's story. Includes many photos and illustrations.

Easy to read for anyone over 10 Held by the Library Amazon Barnes and Noble
The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The general outline of the story is the decline of the Compson family, a once noble Southern family descended from U.S. Civil War hero General Compson. The family falls victim to those vices which Faulkner believed were responsible for the problems in the reconstructed South: racism, greed, selfishness and, ultimately, psychological impotence. Over the course of the thirty years or so related in the novel, the family falls into financial ruin, loses its religious faith and the respect of the town of Jefferson, and many of them die tragically. The novel is in four sections, telling the same story from four different points of view.

Easy to read for anyone over 10 Held by the Library Amazon Barnes and Noble
Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain is the story of Inman, a wounded and soul-sick Confederate soldier who, like Odysseus, travels home from war only to find the way home littered with impediments and prowled by adversaries. Inman's Penelope is Ada, a headstrong belle who has forsaken her place in Charleston society in order to accompany her father to a new home in the mountains of North Carolina.

Easy to read for anyone over 10 Held by the Library Amazon Barnes and Noble
The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthone

Set in Puritan Boston in the seventeenth century, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery, refuses to name the father, and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout, Hawthorne explores the issues of grace, legalism, and guilt.

Requires some effort but contains a unique concept or truth Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
The Aubrey/Maturin series

The Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian

Many books have been written about the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars, but none have captured the essence of the period as well as this series of twenty novels. It follows the career of Jack Aubrey, a somewhat unsophisticated country gentleman turned sea officer and his “particular friend” Stephen Maturin. Aubrey commands and Maturin joins his crew as surgeon, but Maturin also has a secret identity as an intelligence officer, unbeknownst to Aubrey.

Requires some effort but contains a unique concept or truth Held by the Library Amazon Barnes and Noble
The Aubrey/Maturin series

The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo

Chosen as one of the ten best adventure books of all time by National Geographic Adventure. Chronicling the thirteenth-century world from Venice, his birthplace, to the far reaches of Asia, Marco Polo tells of the foreign peoples he meets as he travels by foot, horse, and boat through places including Persia, the land of the Tartars, Tibet, India, and, most important, China. There he stays at the court of Kublai Khan, venturing to the capital of Beijing and to Shangtu, made immortal in Coleridge's poem "Xanadu." This is a gripping look at a legendary place and time.

Requires some effort but contains a unique concept or truth Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble
Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Stowe was a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Academy and an active abolitionist. She first published this book in 1852. The story focuses on the tale of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave, the central character around whose life the other characters — both fellow slaves and slave owners — revolve. The novel depicts the harsh reality of slavery while also showing that Christian love and faith can overcome even something as evil as enslavement of fellow human beings.

Easy to read for anyone over 10 Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
The Guns of the South

The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove

An exercise in “alternative history”. What if modern weapons technology were made available to the Confederacy during the Civil War? This book explores how different the outcome would have been if the South had had overwhelming military superiority.

Easy to read for anyone over 10 Held by the Library Amazon Barnes and Noble