Timothy Garton Ash's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Timothy Garton Ash recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Timothy Garton Ash's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Diaries Of Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh kept a diary almost continuously from the age of seven until a year before his death in 1966, and extracts from the diaries caused sensation when they were published by in The Observer. Providing the background to the novels which made Waugh famous, these diaries are a sharp and baleful view of the social history of our times. less
Recommended by Timothy Garton Ash, and 1 others.

Timothy Garton AshI think Evelyn Waugh is one of the great English novelists of the 20th century and he kept this diary intermittently. A lot of it is about the absolutely amazing quantities that he drank. He started quite early in the day. It’s a document of its time. It’s full of hugely politically incorrect and, by the end, almost self-parodic episodes but it’s also brilliant at catching the moment that life is... (Source)

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The Last Days of Hitler

Late in 1945, Trevor-Roper was appointed by British Intelligence in Germany to investigate conflicting evidence surrounding Hitler's final days and to produce a definitive report on his death. The author, who had access to American counterintelligence files and to German prisoners, focuses on the last ten days of Hitler's life, April 20-29, 1945, in the underground bunker in Berlin—a bizarre and gripping episode punctuated by power play and competition among Hitler's potential successors.

"From exhaustive research [Trevor-Roper] has put together a carefully documented,...
Recommended by Timothy Garton Ash, Guy Walters, and 2 others.

Timothy Garton AshHe was sent by the British military occupation authorities to do this study, which was to try to establish that Hitler had died, and how he’d died, because we didn’t have the corpse. (Source)

Guy WaltersTrevor-Roper was working for M16 after the war and he had to piece together exactly what happened to the senior Nazis, including Hitler. Nobody knew then exactly what had happened, and the Russians, Stalin, were trying to make out that he was still alive and being sheltered by us, the British, so it was mandatory for us to show that this wasn’t true. (Source)

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Critical and Historical Essays, Vol 1 of 2

Recommended by Timothy Garton Ash, and 1 others.

Timothy Garton AshYes, the greatest historical essayist in the English language, in my view. This Everyman edition is two volumes of his essays from The Edinburgh Review, which, as you know, was The New York Review of Books of its time, or maybe I should turn that the other way round. It had long critical review essays of the kind people are still writing. Although Macaulay was a teeny bit dismissive of his own... (Source)

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The Landmark Herodotus

The Histories

From the editor of the widely praised The Landmark Thucydides, a new Landmark Edition of The Histories by Herodotus.Cicero called Herodotus "the father of history," and his only work, The Histories, is considered the first true piece of historical writing in Western literature. With lucid prose, Herodotus's account of the rise of the Persian Empire and its dramatic war with the Greek city sates set a standard for narrative nonfiction that continues to this day. Illustrated, annotated, and filled with maps—with an introduction by Rosalind Thomas, twenty-one appendices... more
Recommended by Timothy Garton Ash, Johanna Hanink, and 2 others.

Timothy Garton AshHe is the father of us all. I read it when I was at school and he’s really the first one who goes around with his eyes and ears and notebook open, recording all these fantastic stories and trying to put it all together to work out what happened and why. (Source)

Johanna HaninkThe main subject of his Histories is the Persian invasion of Greece, but he does a lot more than just write about the Greco-Persian wars. He’s very interested in ethnography and documenting the specificities of different cultures beyond Greece (Source)

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Homage to Catalonia

In 1936 George Orwell travelled to Spain to report on the Civil War and instead joined the fight against the Fascists. This famous account describes the war and Orwell’s own experiences. Introduction by Lionel Trilling. less

Timothy SnyderThe reason why I am so fond of Homage to Catalonia, and see it as an even more relevant precursor to dissent, is that in it you can see a man of the Left learning to make the distinction that breaks down the Left with a big L into lots of little lefts. He comes to understand what Soviet power actually is, and that it is qualitatively different to the other sorts of Spanish left, or to European... (Source)

Ben ShapiroA lot of people have read Orwell's 1984, he actually wrote a book that's better. It's [this book]. (Source)

Timothy Garton AshAnyone who wants to go off and write about Egypt, Tunisia or Libya today should pack a copy of Homage to Catalonia. It’s brilliant reportage. As you know, it opens with a vignette of an Italian militiaman in the barracks in Barcelona and he only saw this guy for a few moments but it captures the excitement. (Source)

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J.M. Coetzee presents a coherent, unorthodox analysis of censorship from the perspective of one who has lived and worked under its shadow. The essays collected here attempt to understand the passion that plays itself out in acts of silencing and censoring. He argues that a destructive dynamic of belligerence and escalation tends to overtake the rivals in any field ruled by censorship.
From Osip Mandelstam commanded to compose an ode in praise of Stalin, to Breyten Breytenbach writing poems under and for the eyes of his prison guards, to Aleksander Solzhenitsyn engaging in a trial...
Recommended by Timothy Garton Ash, and 1 others.

Timothy Garton AshHere is a writer, a very fine writer, going at it through literature, and what is literature about if not free speech? (Source)

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Are Nazis entitled to freedom of expression? In 1977, Frank Collin, leader of the National Socialist Party of America, sought to hold a Nazi march in Skokie, Illinois. Skokie had one of the largest Holocaust survivor populations outside New York City. In this Chicago suburb, over half the population was Jewish. The proposed march sparked a host of legal actions: the Village of Skokie asked for an injunction to prevent the Nazis from marching, and new ordinances were adopted to do so; Collin applied to hold a march on a later date, but was denied; an ACLU lawsuit was brought in federal court,... more
Recommended by Timothy Garton Ash, and 1 others.

Timothy Garton AshIt’s not just a very coherent and powerful argument, it’s a very moving argument coming from the guy who’s writing it. (Source)

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How to Cure a Fanatic

Internationally acclaimed novelist Amos Oz grew up in war-torn Jerusalem, where as a boy he witnessed firsthand the poisonous consequences of fanaticism. In two concise, powerful essays, the award-winning author offers unique insight into the true nature of fanaticism and proposes a reasoned and respectful approach to resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. As an added feature, he comments on contemporary issues--the Gaza pullout, Yasser Arafat's death, and the war in Iraq--in an extended interview at the end of the book.

Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a...

Recommended by Timothy Garton Ash, and 1 others.

Timothy Garton AshI absolutely love this book. (Source)

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On Liberty

Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780140432077

Published in 1859, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty presented one of the most eloquent defenses of individual freedom in nineteenth-century social and political philosophy and is today perhaps the most widely-read liberal argument in support of the value of liberty. Mill's passionate advocacy of spontaneity, individuality, and diversity, along with his contempt for compulsory uniformity and the despotism of popular opinion, has attracted both admiration and condemnation.

Nick CleggThe tradition is that it is given to the president of the Liberal Democrats rather than the leader, which is a subtle but important distinction in Lib Dem land. But you’re quite right. The traditions of J. S. Mill are still handed down like some sort of totemic emblem of everything that we’re supposed to still believe in, even now. It’s extraordinary, given it was written in 1859……What we’re... (Source)

A C GraylingOn Liberty is a very important document, and one which, because of the clarity with which one can read it and its brevity, is slightly passed over. (Source)

Peter SingerMill points out that very often, throughout history, people have thought that they were certainly right, and then turned out to be quite wrong. (Source)

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In this age of an open Internet, it is easy to forget that every American information industry, beginning with the telephone, has eventually been taken captive by some ruthless monopoly or cartel. With all our media now traveling a single network, an unprecedented potential is building for centralized control over what Americans see and hear. Could history repeat itself with the next industrial consolidation? Could the Internet—the entire flow of American information—come to be ruled by one corporate leviathan in possession of “the master switch”? That is the big question of Tim Wu’s... more

Andrew ChenNow starting the section now these information empires eventually got dismantled, by the internet, cable, and the government antitrust efforts on the 1950s! Awesome book so far (Source)

Seth GodinThis one really stuck with me--a top level analysis of how changes in media change the culture and change the structure of industry. (Source)

Nicholas CarrIf The Information is a sprawling, sweeping story of how information has changed over time, one thing it doesn’t get into is the commercial nature of information as a good that is bought and sold. That’s the story Tim Wu tells in The Master Switch. His basic argument is that whenever a new communication medium arises, a similar pattern occurs. The technology starts off as a hobbyist’s passion,... (Source)

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