15 Holiday Gift Ideas for History and/or Book Lovers

The holidays are here and you haven’t bought a present yet for your history and/or book lover! No judgment-I haven’t gone holiday shopping either. But my own frantic panic inspired me to put together this list of 15 books about Central Asia for that special history or book lover in your life.


Central Asian literature is some of the most beautiful works produced in the world ranging from heart-rending poems dedicated to the complicated nature of love to massive epics about the gatherings of humans who call the unending and unconquerable Steppe home. Here are some of our favorite works of fiction that anyone who in interested in history or literature are bound to love:

This book is a most have for anyone interested in Central Asian poetry or Central Asian history. The first 12 ghazals by Alisher Navoiy, the founder of early Turkic literature, is a perfect overview of 15th century Turkic poetry and his influence is noticeable in the modern poems written by Abdulhamid Cho’lpon. Cho’lpon is the founder of modern Central Asian poetry and a Jadid who partook in the Rusian Civil War in Central Asia. Thus, his poems provide not only a glimpse into the evolution of Central Asian poetry but also serves as a record of what life was like at the time of revolution and nation building. This book is a most have for anyone interested in Central Asian poetry or history

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Hello! I’m Sam Amenn, host of the Art of Asymmetrical Warfare, a history podcast that focuses on asymmetrical warfare and colonialism/imperialism. I have a Masters in International Relations with a focus on insurgencies and state formation. My podcast utilizes a holistic approach to discuss one conflict per season. This means that I never talk about a conflict as if it’s occurring within a vacuum but pull in economic, political, and even cultural and social elements into the conversation when appropriate. To learn more about me and my podcast, watch our welcome video:

And list to the first episode from my podcast:

This website is meant to supplement the podcast, so not only will you find all of our podcast episodes on this website (as well as on Spotify and Itunes) but you’ll find articles, book reviews, and other fun content to enhance your learning experience. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram for content that isn’t suited for the audio or blog medium. We’ll also be launching a TikTok soon!

If you want to support my work, please join my Patreon where you will receive exclusive episodes available only through Patreon, access to ALL episodes before anyone else, community book club, have your name read at the end of the episode, and more!

We have a Patreon!

We’re excited to announce that we launched a Patreon! And if you sign up now you’ll get access to an exclusive episode on Michael Collins and the Irish War of Independence.

Available Tiers

We have five tiers you can choose from with awesome rewards such as

Lecture Attendee-$1 per month

A tip jar level where you get a thank you email for your support!

(Unpaid Intern)-$2 per month

Like all unpaid interns, this tier carries my podcast but usually doesn’t get any of the praise or glory. Well, I see you and I thank you! Donate $2 a month and you’ll get the following perks:

  • Thank you message
  • Behind the scene videos
  • Book Reviews

Research Assistant-$5 per month

You are a vital member of the team, but still don’t get quite the credit you deserve. But I appreciate you and all your support! Donate $5 a month and you’ll get the following perks:

  • Thank you message
  • Behind the scene videos
  • Book Reviews
  • Early access to content
  • Exclusive Content

Scholars-$15 per month

The hard working experts who are the core of the team. Thank you for your contribution! Donate $15 a month and you’ll get the following perks:

  • Thank you message
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  • Book Reviews
  • Early access to content
  • Exclusive Content
  • Virtual Book Club

Curators-$25 per month

The superstars of the team! Donate $25 per month and you’ll get the following perks:

  • Thank you message
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  • Early access to content
  • Exclusive content
  • Virtual Book Club
  • Virtual Shoutout

What you’ll be supporting

Your contribution will allow us to do the following:

  • Cover all expenditures that go towards making a podcast (domain names, hosting costs, etc.)
  • Continue to make great podcast episodes but grant us the flexibility to be more experimental with the format and topics
  • Allow us to create more content beyond podcast episodes
  • Enable us to buy even more books for research purposes
  • Pay for a safer hosting platform for our existing content
  • Pay for a better microphone and editing program
  • Pay others to conduct research for us (and allow us-some day-to establish an internship for researchers/fellows)

I’m Launching a Podcast!

Hello all! I am very excited to announce that on March 23rd, I’ll be launching a podcast!

It is called the Art of Asymmetrical Warfare and it is a history podcast that focuses on asymmetrical warfare (surprise, haha!) I’m very excited. I’ll be posting the episodes on this blog and will also upload them to Spotify, Itunes, and Youtube. Once I have the accounts created and the first few episodes uploaded, I’ll update this post with links.

Right now, I’m working with a graphic designer to design and create a beautiful banner and icon. Soon we’ll have a Twitter page and a Ko-Fi page to support the research and I’ll be creating a newsletter as well, so you’ll always know when an episode is posted. I just finished recording episode two today and will spend the rest of the week editing (nothing makes you hate podcasts more than having to listen to yourself say the same sentence over and over and over again because you’re hyper focusing on the weird way you pronounce the word conflict, but the project must go on!).

This batch of episodes will focus on Easter Rising. First, we’ll take a quick overview of the Rising itself and contextualize it within the great history of Ireland’s struggle for self-governance. Then, we’ll do a deeper dive and talk about the brave women who participated in Easter Rising. (Please tolerate my terrible pronunciation of Gaelic words and names. I’m very nervous and self-conscious about my tongue’s inability to say anything correctly).

The next few episodes after that will focus on the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish Civil War but then I hope to expand into other conflicts such as the Algerian War, the Palestine Mandate, and the many, many, many uprisings and rebellions experienced by the Russian and Austrian-Hungarian Empires. And then expand into topics I don’t know as well such as the Mau-Mau rebellion, the Vietnam war-both against America and France-the Indian Mutiny, etc.

I will discuss the various battles and skirmishes that occurred but want to focus on how the engagements were fought as well as contextualize the conflicts within the greater political and social narrative.

I’m super excited and hope you’ll enjoy the podcast!

Overview of Pamela Toler’s Lecture on Women Warriors

A few weeks ago, I went to the Pritzker Military Museum and Library to attend Pamela Toler’s lecture on her new book Women Warriors: An Unexpected History. Toler is a well-known historian who studies the often over looked aspects of history such as women contributions and noncombatants contributions during war. Her book focuses on women warriors from all over the world, breaking down when we are most likely to see women engaging in combat and dismantling common assumptions when it comes to women warriors.

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Hatshepsut was one of the most successful pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, a woman who took the name pharaoh after serving as Thutmose III’s regency for seven years. She oversaw the expansion of Ancient Egypt’s trade, a great reign of peace, and oversaw a series of large building projects such as one of the architectural wonders of Ancient Egypt, the Temple of Deir el-Bahri. Her reign was revolutionary in every sense, requiring Hatshepsut to use all her wits and skills to justify. Continue reading

Treaty of Versailles

Last week, I attended a fantastic given by Michael S. Neiberg at the Pritzker Military Museum and library about his latest book the Treaty of Versailles: a Concise History (which I also read) and I thought I’d write about the experience.

Mr. Neiberg modeled the structure of his lecture on the structure of his book, starting with a breakdown on how complicated of a situation the Big Three were facing when they drafted the treaty, America’s role in the treaty, and ending by focusing on an interesting, but often overlooked aspect of the Treaty: the case of Shandong. He wrapped his lecture up by quickly assessing the impact of the Treaty of Versailles immediately after it was written and the decades that followed.

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Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells is a giant, not only within the civil rights movement, but in American history. She was an African-American investigative journalist, educator, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. A founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a co-owner of the newspaper Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. Starting her career by investigating and documenting lynching across the United States, she quickly became a formidable figure arguing for civil and women’s rights. She died in 1931 at the age of 68, Ida remains a giant in American history.

Ida B. Wells

Born a slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, one of eight children born to James and Lizzie Wells. James was the son of a white man and an African-American women and became a carpenter’s apprentice. Her mother, however, was sold from her family and struggled to find her family again after the Civil War. Ida was the oldest child and became the sole bread winner when both of her parents died during a fever epidemic. Ida attended the black liberal arts college Rust College in Holly Spring, allowing her to develop the skills needed to become a teacher.


After her parents died, her grandparents wanted to separate the Wells siblings, but Ida refused. When she was away teaching, her other family members would help care for the younger children. They stayed in Holly Springs until two Wells sister died, convincing Ida to move to Memphis, TN and resettle with her aunt. While in Memphis, Ida attended summer classes at Fisk University and Lemoyne-Owens College and surprised many people with her strong feminist and civil rights views.


While riding a train in 1884, Ida was ordered to move form the first-class ladies car and move to the smoking cars. Ida refused and she was dragged out of the car. She wrote a newspaper article about the experience and sued the railroad and won $500 awards. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court shot down the verdict and made Ida pay court fees.


After her experience on the train, Ida continued to teach, but also started her career as a journalist. She became an editor for the Evening Star, wrote articles about The Living way weekly newspaper, and became an editor and co-editor of the Free Speech and Headlight. In 1891, Ida was fired from her teaching position, and recommitted herself to the newspapers.


In 1889, Ida’s friend Thomas Moss was entangled in a fight between a group of white men attacking a young African American by. Moss owned a grocery shop and two of his employees rushed to protect the boy. Eventually, a sheriff came down and arrested Moss and his employees. In 1892, men in black masks took Moss, McDowell, and Stewart out of their cells and to a rail yard in Ohio and executed them.


Ida was devastated by the loss of her friends and began to investigate other lynchings and published an editorial about her findings. Her newspaper office was burnt to the ground and she left Memphis and moved to Chicago.


On 1892, Ida published her lynching investigation in a pamphlet called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Phases, claiming that Southerners cried rape to justify lynching African-Americans that they felt threatened by, especially economically. She recommended African-Americans arm themselves to defend against lynching. She followed this up with the pamphlet The Red Record covering lynching since the Civil War and the struggles of African-Americans.


Ida had hope that white Americans would turn against lynching, but she knew that African-Americans needed to arm themselves to be truly safe and she went to Britain to bring economic pressure on white America. She went to England to speak about her research and agreed to write for the only newspaper that decried lynching, the Daily Inter-Ocean. This made Ida the first paid woman correspondent for a mainstream white newspaper.


In 1895, Ida married Ferdinand L. Barnett, another journalist and civil rights activist. Barnett founded the Chicago Conservator, which Ida wrote for and even became an editor for.


While Ida remained dedicated to her work, she had gained a notorious reputation and many traditional activists saw her as a threat and too radical. This seems to have prevented her from being included in the list of founders of the NAACP.


While Ida was heavily involved with the civil rights movement, she was also involved with the Suffrage movement. This started with her founding of two Chicago Women’s Clubs in response to a new state law that gave women the right to vote in certain elections. She also organized the National Associations of Colored Women’s Clubs and the National Afro-American Council. While she believed all women should have the right to vote, she also saw the suffrage movement as a chance for African-American women to become involved in their own communities. This led to a public fight with Frances Willard, the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a strong advocacy group for women’s suffrage. Ida claimed that Frances did not condemn the lynching occurring in the South and even blamed African-Americans for the defeat of the temperance legislation. This may have also contributed to her exclusion from the National Associations of Colored Women’s Club in 1899


Despite these setbacks, Ida continued to fight for equality and human rights until her death, in 1931 at the age of 68.

Image Sources: public domain, wikicommons

Sources: Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching by Paula Giddings. Published by Harper Collins in 2009

When Ida B. Wells Took on Lynching, Threats Forced Her to Leave Memphis

Ida B Wells

9 things you must know about Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B Wells Wikipedia

Ida B Wells National Women’s History Museum

Ida B Wells Biography

Two Giants of the Civil Rights Movement

Saturday was the Women’s March and today is MLK Day, making me reflect on the Civil Rights movement and social change in general. MLK represents many different things to so many people and I think everything we project on him can sometimes obscure the man and the many people around him, who fought just as hard and sacrificed just as much. And I think that was MLK’s greatest gift and legacy-empowering, not only a nation, but each and every individual who came in contact with him to fight for justice and for what’s right. Today, I want to write about two such people, two women who I deeply admire and can’t help but be inspired by: Dorothy Height and Fannie Lou Hamer. Hopefully, this way I can pay my respects to the Women’s March and MLK’s and the Civil Rights Movement’s legacy.

Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height, once described by civil rights leader, James Farmer, as one of the “Big Six” of the civil rights movement, was a women’s and civil rights activist who dedicated herself to African-American issues such as unemployment, illiteracy, and voter awareness. She was a well-recognized figure of the civil rights era, presiding over the National Council of Negro Women from 1957 to 1997, founding the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership, and forming the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.

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Thoughts on World War I

Yesterday, I was going to write a blog post about the 100th year anniversary of the WWI armistice and of Poland’s independence, but I couldn’t find the right words. I wanted to celebrate with Poland (lord knows they deserve it), while also properly reflecting on the war that killed 7 million civilians and 10 million military personal, shattered three empires, and created a decade of instability and civil wars, culminating in the Second Word War.

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The Fall of Vicksburg

Today is the first week of July, an important week for American Civil War buffs. During this week, a 150 years ago, Lee took a great gamble at Gettysburg and lost, and Vicksburg finally fell to General Grant’s army.

While the Battle of Gettysburg is an important battle and has reached mythical proportions in the American mindset, I would argue that Vicksburg is just as important, if not more so, and had a longer, far more reaching impact on the war as a whole. This doesn’t negate the importance of Gettysburg, but Gettysburg legacy and its aftermath cannot be properly understood without acknowledging the affects Vicksburg’s fall had on the Confederacy. Consequently, Vicksburg may not have meant anything if Lee had won at Gettysburg. The battles, occurring separately, feed into each other, one affecting the other, and we cannot understand this important week if we don’t understand both battles.

Therefore, I decided to write about Vicksburg this year.

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The Importance of Remembering

“I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway. I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written.”-George Orwell

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) and it made me think about the importance of remembering and of preserving the testimony of witnesses.

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Why We Need Another Movie on the Battle of Britain

As a history buff, I was ecstatic when Darkest Hour came out. Gary Oldman’s performance brought life into Winston Churchill again and the cinematography and editing provided the adrenaline and fear needed when dealing with a foe like the Nazis. However, the ending left me wanting it to continue and include the Battle of Britain. This is partially because it is the natural continuation of the story started in Darkest Hour, but also because it would provide an in-depth look at the international dimension of the battle.

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The Importance of Land

I have recently finished R. F. Foster’s book Modern Ireland 1600-1972 and it got me thinking about land distribution during and after conflict.

In Ireland, Cromwell targeted the land once owned by those who rebelled. This happened to be the elite of Irish society and he redistributed the larger tracts to his followers and Anglo-Irish as well as small tracts of land to Catholics who swore fealty to the crown. The Protestant population was always a minority within Ireland, but because of the land they owned and the favor they received from England, they were able to build a Protestant Ascendancy whereas the Catholics remained poor farmers or out migrated.

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