What Book Titles Can Tell You

By: Daniel Nardini

Every now and then I go to visit a bookstore in one of my favorite shopping malls. The bookstore, Dalton Books, has a lot of books in just about every category you can name from science fiction to romance novels to travel guides (local, national and international), and my favorite section history. Experience has taught me that the books on sale in the history section reflect the mood of how people may feel. What I mean by this is how Americans may view themelves and their place in the world. In more economically good times, Americans may have more interest in the world and what is going on. In time of war or social and economic upheaval where we as a nation are involved, many Americans may be interested in the place, culture and history of the people we may have a conflict in.

In the 2000’s, there were many book titles on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Such books on these two wars were either written by “experts” or historians or by the soldiers themselves. As of this year, I am seeing fewer book titles on the Afghanistan War and so far none on the Iraq War. It seems that many Americans, still hurting from the economic problems this country is experiencing, seem less interested in the Iraq War and in the present Afghanistan War. My feeling is that when both wars are behind us, more veterans of these two wars will be writing their memoirs about their experiences and more books on the people and culture of these two countries. After the war was long since over, a whole slew of books by former veterans of the Vietnam War (1964-1973) came out. These books, and many other books on that war, came out five or more years after the conflict had ended for the United States. I suspect the same thing will happen for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Most of the other books in the history section dealt with various aspects of American history and politics—past and present. Some of the books dealt with past conflicts such as the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), the Second World War (1941-1945), and the Vietnam War. Many books dealt with the settling of the Wild West, and on the writings of the American revolutionaries and Abraham Lincoln. There were also titles on John F. Kennedy and the events that took place in the 1960’s. Many book titles dealt with many of America’s problems from the national debt to racism and the growth of poverty. Clearly, these book titles are in keeping with demand for books on subjects many Americans are interested in now. The book titles just as equally reflect on American sense of being more interested in what is going on in the United States today than elsewhere in the world. In a way it is like how many Americans felt back in the middle and late 1990’s when they were more interested in the problems then taking place in this country. But like everything else, nothing stays forever. In five years, the way we view history could be very different from how many of us see it now. Any bookstore will reflect that current trend.

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