Historical Settings I Enjoy

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Salem Witch Trials. Growing up in the Boston area, Salem was a big part of our New England history curriculum. We even took a field trip there. I’d love to say it was as fun as Hocus Pocus, but alas, it was not. It was fascinating, however, and I love to take as many fictional (or non-fictional) trips there as I can. Books like The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, The Hereticโ€™s Daughter by Katheen Kent, and The Witches, Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff all are great options.

Rocky Mountain Fur Trade. This is a more recent interest of mine. I vaguely remember reading about it when I was younger, but I’ve now taken an active interest in those who set out for parts unknown in the interest of trapping. Books like The Revenant by Michael Punke and Teton Sunrise by Peggy Henderson are a fascinating look at what life might have of been like in the region I live now.

Civil War. I am fascinated by the Civil War, anything from Ken Burns’ documentary to a Lincoln biography, it is amazing how relevant some of the issues still are. And amazing is not used positively there… Books like Wilderness by Lance Weller, Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell, and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame Smith are excellent examples.

(That last one is a joke…)

18th Century Scotland. Blame this one on Outlander by Diana Galbadon. Castles! War! Gorgeous scenery!

1940s New Mexico during the Manhattan Project. The idea that a group of people came together to create a weapon that can destroy the world is enthralling. Kenneth Bainbridge called the Trinity nuclear test a “foul and awesome display” and declared “now we are all sons of bitches”, while Oppenheimer said “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”ย Books like The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit, The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church, and Red Alert by Peter George (the last one is not the best one, but the inspiration for Dr. Strangelove merits a mention) are good examples.

Late 18th/Early 19th Gothic England. Basically the setting of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (that general time frame and feeling). Those are kind of hard to beat.

What settings do you enjoy? For more lists, go here.

Image found on Atomic Archive.

29 thoughts on “Historical Settings I Enjoy”

  1. Ooo, more Jane Auten-like settings!? Yes please! Also, having watched PBS first episode of “Mercy Street,” I’m interested in more Civil War settings too. If the series does well, I suspect we just might see that. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I went through a long phase as a teen reading about the Salem Witch Trials – fascinating stuff. I’m also forever indebted to Arthur Miller for The Crucible – I INSISTED my husband come with me to see it a few years ago and at interval he said he hadn’t realised how much he enjoys live theatre. YAY! Since then, we have gone to dozens of different productions and his enthusiasm hasn’t waned – fab for me as he tends to be a bit of a homebody.
    I would add WWII Germany to my list – I went through a long Holocaust phase but have more recently sought books from the German perspective (e.g. All That I Am and All the Light We Cannot See).
    Also, I only have to read the word “twenties” to be sucked in (although the Gatsby movie a few years ago meant that every person and their dog were setting books in the twenties, so it dig lose it’s gloss a bit).

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    1. I was similar to you in regards to the 1920s, so I’ve been avoiding them as of late (because the influx of books were not exactly good…).

      And yay for The Crucible. That’s a good one to see first.

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  3. I totally agree with your assessment of the Salem Witch Museum1 I went first at 13 and then some years later, and wasn’t that impressed. Though I’d love to go back someday to visit the graveyard, since I adore old cemeteries.

    I most love 20th century history, the U.S. Civil War, Japanese history, and Russian history.

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  4. I would have to agree with you on late 18th/early 19th century England. I have also liked many civil war novels, as well as WWI and WWII. I also love the fur-trapping era, but usually read about it in the Hudson Bay area. I love books about early settlers in Canada and/or North America.

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  5. I read up on the Salem Witch Trials as a teenager. And now most of the titles and authors escape me. lol. Gothic England…there is nothing that makes me want to curl up with a cup of coffee and a blanket and my kindle more! (Well, maybe a good mystery. Also JK Rowling. lol).

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  6. I am such a sucker for anything set in the pre during and post WWII, the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. I’ll automatically buy the book just because of those times, even if I never get to read it.

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  7. What a great post! Thanks to Outlander, 18th century Scotland is now on my list! Lol But previously WWII always catches my attention. Puritan settings are simultaneously amusing and infruriating to me.

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  8. Great list! I have Salem, 1692 waiting on my shelf, but I haven’t got to quite yet. I also grew up in the Boston area and have an interest in colonial history. My interest in the witch trials specifically is a bit more recent, as I discovered when researching my family genealogy that many of my ancestors were puritans and some were involved in the trials.

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      1. Wow, that brings back memories. Johnny Tremain was the book that introduced me to colonial literature as well. I think they assigned it to us in the 3rd or 4th grade.

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