Staff-picks: Docos and eBooks for history buffs!

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Are you a history buff? How much do you know about Australian history? Take a look at our list of staff-picked eBooks and documentaries about Australian and World history. They're all available free with your Randwick City Library card number and PIN – just click the links and create an account with your RCL credentials.

We'll be creating lists of all the fabulous resources that your RCL card can bring to you so keep an eye out for our series of staff-picks!

History eBooks

Australians: A Short History, Tom Keneally:

This three volume history is a fantastic chronicle of our country. Beginning from the original Australians all the way through the convict era to pastoralists, bushrangers, gold seekers and the 21st Century, this is an engrossing read. Just be prepared – it’s almost 1000 pages long!

Stalingrad, Vasily Grossman:

This is a fantastic, monolithic historical novel. Originally published in the 50s, it has recently been translated into English. In April 1942, Hitler and Mussolini began the largest battle in human history. A large cast of everyday characters will be forced to fight in it. This is a fascinating and scary book about the brutality and scale of the Second World War.

Women to the Front, Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee:

This book explores the stories of the Australian women who served as surgeons, pathologists, anaesthetists and medical officers between 1914 and 1919. Despite saving hundreds of lives, their experiences are almost totally absent from official military records, both in Australia and Great Britain, and many of their achievements had remained invisible for over a century.

Acclaimed historical docos

Mountain, Jennifer Peedom:

Only three centuries ago, setting out to climb a mountain would have been considered close to lunacy. Mountains were places of peril, not beauty, an upper world to be shunned, not sought out. Why do mountains now hold us spellbound, drawing us into their dominion, often at the cost of our lives? This doco explores the troubled and triumphant history of our timeless fascination with mountains.

I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck:

James Baldwin was one of the most proficient African-American authors of the 20th Century. His involvement with the American civil rights movement added to his sterling reputation. This documentary is about his life and his involvement with academic institutions as well as his relentless pursuit for equality.

The Most Dangerous Man in America, Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith:

This movie follows Daniel Ellsberg who leaked 7,000 pages of top secret documents declaring the Vietnam War was based on lies. He himself was a high-level Pentagon official and war strategist. Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2010 Academy Awards, this film proves that people can have a change of heart.

Historical texts in other languages

Todo se van (Everybody Leaves), Sergio Cabrera (Spanish):

Through her diary entries, eight-year-old Nieve reveals intimate details of a turbulent family life, which create an authentic portrait of the social and political unrest in Cuba under the rule of Castro. A celebration of freedom and a confrontation with the authoritarian Cuban regime of the 1980s, which led to one of the country's worst economic crises.

Amor por Chile y una gran nostalgia son el origen de este libro: la presencia continuada del pasado, el sentimiento de verse ausente de la patria, la conciencia de haber sido peregrina y forastera... todo ello lo transmite Isabel Allende con inteligencia y humor.

The Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo (French):

Gillo Pontecorvo vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafes, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents.

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