1. David Edgerton, Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources, and Experts in the Second World War. This would appear to be a new angle on WWII, arguing that Britain circa 1940 was not the lame duck — either economically or technologically — that it is often made out to be. Readable, persuasive to this non-expert, and it does help explain why the Nazis didn’t just take them over.
2. Robert F. Moss, Barbecue: The History of an American Institution. This is in fact the first serious history of barbecue, as a historian might write it, and it is a good one.
3. E.A. Wrigley, Energy and the Industrial Revolution. This is both one of the best books on the history of energy and one of the best books on the Industrial Revolution, definitely recommended to anyone who reads in economic history.
4. Simon Reynolds, Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to its Own Past. Imagine TGS applied to musical aesthetics, excerpt: “Pitchfork writer Eric Harvey recently observed that the 2000s may be destined to be “the first decade of pop music…remembered by history for its musical technology rather than the actual music itself.” Napster Soulseek Limewrire Gnutella iPod YouTube Last.fm Pandora MySpace Spotify…these super-brands took the place of super-bands…It’s glaringly obvious that all the astounding, time-space rearranging developments in the dissemination, storing and accessing of audio data have not spawned a single new form of music.”