Epoch Booklist: Recommended Reading for May 27–June 3

This week, we feature a history exploring how the United States decided to join World War I and a classic about a traitor who grows to love his homeland.


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Goodness Found, Even in War

‘All the Light We Cannot See’
By Anthony Doerr

A French girl named Marie-Laure LeBlanc has fled Paris with her father to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo. A German boy named Werner Pfennig is an expert transmitter, and he tracks the enemy. Two young lives, two warring cultures, both cling to survival in 1944.

Scribner Reprint Edition, 2017, 544 pages

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Stories From a Great Danish Writer

‘Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard’
By Isak Dinesen

This collection of stories includes the beautiful tale “Babette’s Feast,” later made into an equally fine film. Babette, a chef, now a refugee from revolutionary France, becomes a servant of two sisters bound to their past and the strictures of their pietistic religious faith. Both suffered romantic disappointment in their youths. After years of devoted service, Babette wins a lottery and spends the money on a lavish feast for the sisters and their friends. A beautiful tale of the meaning of sacramental grace.

Vintage Reissue Edition, 1993, 288 pages

Current Affairs

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When College Isn’t the Only Answer

‘Class Dismissed: Why College Isn’t the Answer’
By Nick Adams

A college degree often costs more than $60,000. Adams argues that college may not be the best road to a successful career. For many, it’s a four-year detour. He suggests alternative paths to career success. In fact, half the book discusses remunerative careers attainable through trade schools or community college certifications. He lists people who didn’t finish college, including James Cameron, Michael Dell, and Anna Wintour. Anyone uncertain about whether college is for them should read it.

Post Hill Press, 2019, 192 pages


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The Line Between East and West

‘Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age’
By Robert D. Kaplan

Where does the West end and the Orient begin? Kaplan claims the Adriatic Sea forms the dividing line. Part travelogue, part history, and part personal reminisce, this book explores the Adriatic from ancient times through the present day. Kaplan takes readers around the Adriatic, starting in Rimini, Italy, and working his way around the coast to Corfu, Greece. He examines each stop’s history, culture, and place in the modern world.

Random House, 2022, 368 pages

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America’s View of World War I

‘The Approaching Storm: Roosevelt, Wilson, Addams, and Their Clash Over America’s Future’
By Neil Lanctot

The United States had no interest in participating in The Great War, as Neil Lanctot makes very clear in his book. But those opinions began to change for its citizens and especially for its nation’s leaders. This book is a superb analysis of the views of Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Jane Addams that helped frame America’s decision to go to war.

Riverhead Books, 2021, 672 pages


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Be Careful What You Wish For

‘The Man Without a Country’
By Edward Everett Hale

Swept up in a treasonous plot along with Aaron Burr, Army Lt. Philip Nolan exclaims at his trial, “Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!” The judge grants his wish, and Nolan spends the rest of his life aboard a ship, never setting foot again in the states and never allowed to read a newspaper or discuss contemporary events. Hale’s short story about love of country remains pertinent today, reminding young and old alike of the importance of patriotism and the beauty of American ideals.

Independently Published Reprint, 2021, 41 pages

For Kids

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Animal Adventures Loved by Kids

‘Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales’
By Beatrix Potter

Here in one volume are 23 tales, plus their original illustrations, about such beloved icons as Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. This volume also includes four stories published after Potter’s death. This book is a delight for the little ones.

Warne Publishers, 2006, 400 pages

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That Sort of Bear

‘A Bear Called Paddington’
By Michael Bond

First published in 1958, “A Bear Called Paddington” tells the story of a marmalade-loving bear who finds a loving home with the Brown family of London. Paddington says: “Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of bear.”

HarperCollins, 2016, 176 pages

Dustin Bass
Dustin Bass is the host of Epoch TV's About the Book: A Show about New Books With the Authors Who Wrote Them. He is an author and co-host of The Sons of History podcast.
Anita L. Sherman is an award-winning journalist who has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for local papers and regional publications in Virginia. She now works as a freelance writer and is working on her first novel. She is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to four, and she resides in Warrenton, Va. Anita can be reached at
Mark Lardas
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, Texas. His website is
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See to follow his blog.
Barbara Danza
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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