15 Aug, 2010  |  Written by  |  under Online Masters Degree Info
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Whether you know and love it as “theater” or “theatre,” the art of performances on stage stretches all the way back to the days of the Greeks. From the days of men playing women to state of the art sound systems, the technology and basic rules may have changed but the spirit of the theater remains the same, as is the spirit of those who love it.

No matter if you love it from the seat, the spotlight, or behind the stage, you are sure to find loads of news, information, gossip, and much more on the below 50 best blogs for theater enthusiasts. They can help you pick out a show, read an opposing viewpoint, or just make you feel as if you shared in their experience.

Best Blogs for Theater Enthusiasts by a Group

Two or more theater lovers gather on these blogs.

  1. Theatermania : This is the blog for theater everywhere. Latest news and reviews can be found by the stage load on the front page. You can also find discount tickets, trivia, and tons to keep you occupied.
  2. Wing Blog : The American Theatre Wing is the founder of the Tony Awards. They also have programs for theater enthusiasts in addition to an expert blog. Be sure to check out Theater References with more.
  3. Theatre Blog : The experts at “The Guardian” gather here to discuss theater. An excellent choice for theater enthusiasts for and from across the pond. Current hot topics include Ann Boleyn and arrogance in theater.
  4. About Last Night : This is a blog about the arts in New York City and the rest of America. Written by Terry Teachout, Laura Demanski, and Carrie Frye, the first is a drama critic for “The Wall Street Journal.” They not only feature the best of the stage, but also page and music as well. See what they recommend all across the country here.
  5. Play Blog : Visit here for a blog by the staff of Playbill.com. Various writers stop in to post about their favorite subject. You can also choose from many other sections on news, listings, castings, jobs, and more.
  6. Theater Loop : Chris Jones and “The Chicago Tribune” weigh in on theater happenings here. News, criticism, and even the occasional bit of juicy gossip is featured. The occasional commentary is also featured.
  7. Upstaged : The world of theater is edited by David Cote here. Part of Time Out NY, features include a theater news roundup, breakout actors, casting, and more. There are also many other art related blogs.
  8. NY Theatre : Read the newest reviews on the right hand column including many well and lesser known entries. The blog also has theater information, listings, and reviews.

Best Blogs for Theater Enthusiasts from Someone Behind the Curtains

These theater professionals operate behind the scenes.

  1. Inside Track : “Playbill” magazine editor Blake Ross is the author of this blog. “The Week Ahead” is often a topic of blog entries, where he explores the newest in comings and goings. Off topic posts are also occasionally included.
  2. Brian Dickie : He is the general director of the Chicago Opera Theater. Daily life and theater happenings are often the topic of posts. You can also get an expert behind the scenes look at a major theater with just a visit.
  3. The Playgoer : Stop here for “the musings of a dramaturg without the portfolio.” This blogger frequents playhouses and dramatic performances and often writes about them. Musings on the business, the politics of the business, and more are discussed.
  4. The Next Stage : Simon is a founding member and writer-in-residence of Lyric Stage Project. He has been producing, directing, and acting in independent stage productions for a while now and is a huge theater enthusiast. Be sure not to miss The Art of the Business or The Interview Series with loads more.
  5. Butts in the Seats : The blog is authored by the theater manager of a presenting venue. With a graduate degree in theater management, experience spans LORT, Shakespeare, and even professor. Visit for musings on practical solutions for art management.
  6. 99 Seats : Get rants, raves, rage, and righteous theater thought all in one place here. A formerly anonymous playwright stops to blog about life both inside and outside of the theater. One of the latest entries was on an occupational hazard.
  7. Kul : Aaron Riccio is a creative writer, critic, and editor. He has no trouble sharing his opinions on theater via the blog. Many topics include a “short-a-day” usually on a story he likes.

Best Blogs for Theater Enthusiasts With a Twist

These blogs work in other topics in addition to theater.

  1. Createquity : This is a unique virtual think tank exploring the intersection of the arts with a wide range of topics including politics, economics, philanthropy, leadership, research, and urban planning. Ian David Moss is the founder and began this blog while studying at the Yale School of Management. Popular posts include “Generation Y and the Problem of Entitlement” and “Economics Myths.”
  2. Arts Beat : Get “the culture at large” in this blog. Written by “The New York Times,” they are devoted to culture news and reviews. It features breaking stories in theater, as well as literature, important figures, and more on the arts.
  3. The Wicket Twist : Rob Weinert-Kendt is an editor at “American Theater Magazine.” Get your theater fix with a dash of news here. Travels, recommendations, and music are all included.
  4. Parabasis : The blog began in 2003 as a way for Isaac Butler to express his love of theater. It has now grown into a much beloved and top theater blog. Politics of theater are often mused on, along with the latest happenings.
  5. Jersey Boys Blog : If you enjoy this play, you will enjoy the blog dedicated to it. The blogger also focuses on the music of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. A recent entry was a response to a critic’s opinion.
  6. Theatre Notes : The twist on Allison’s blog is her location: Melbourne, Australia. She is a writer who doubles as a critic. You can get a review list, or learn more about her life married to playwright Daniel Keene.
  7. The SF Bay Area Theater Blog : Elisa blogs about theater in San Francisco. A special focus is given to the 42nd Street Moon Theater and its productions. She recently reviewed an iPad app for theater lovers.
  8. The A.V. Club : The Onion isn’t exactly known for their truthfulness, but the satirical content is worth a daily visit. In this section, all the arts are featured, including an occasional theater post. Be sure not to miss The Hater with the best of the worst.
  9. Theater : If the above aren’t enough for you, click here. It is the exclusive theater section of “The New York Times.” Are cent article is on Zach Braff’s newest Shakespearian role.

Best Blogs for Broadway Enthusiasts

The below blogs are specifically devoted towards Broadway.

  1. Broadway World : The hot topics of the day are always changing on this blog, so be sure to stop by often. They also have a group of individuals with entries on recommendations, actors, musings, and more. Visit the message boards to get even more.
  2. Broadway Bullet : Broadway, Off-Broadway, and beyond are the topics here. Choose from interviews, news, reviews, and more. There are also videos with even more.
  3. All That Chat : Get several updates a day on this blog. Chat is contributed by several writers and readers and comes regularly. There are also sections for the West Coast, shopping, and more.
  4. Blogway Baby : Get a daily theater fix here. The latest post was on a new composer and his works. You can also get resources for viewing a show.
  5. Broadway Girl NYC : A fan’s perspective on all things theatre in New York City and beyond are featured here. This includes Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway show reviews, actor sightings, and more. A recent post was on Mitch Jarvis.
  6. Steve on Broadway : Also known as SOB, he is involved with politics and public relations. He also loves theater, good or bad, and writes all about it here. With an average of 70 shows per year, he really means it.
  7. The Broadway Critic : If you thought Broadway was exclusive to New York, think again. This critic writes from San Francisco where local, national, and international theater is looked at. You can also get local reviews and information on auditions.
  8. Broadway Musical Blog : Choose from award winners, recordings, coming soon, and many other sections on the blog. News and gossip are also a regular feature. A recent entry was on President Obama’s recent visit to Broadway.
  9. Broadway and Me : This theater lover is not happy unless watching or writing about theater. A fact which is made clear by the regular thoughts and entries. Even a recent vacation can’t stop the blog entries.
  10. Broadway Cares : This non-profit organization uses Broadway to raise donations for charitable causes. The news feed has the latest happenings. You can also learn more about upcoming events or how you can get involved.

Best Blogs for Theater Enthusiasts for Actor’s

The spotlight is turned toward these theater blogs for and by actors.

  1. Backstage : Stop here for a blog that is a virtual actor’s resource. Casting, advice, news, features, and more are distinct features of the blog. You can choose which side of the country to get your news from, or just enjoy it all.
  2. Backstage Unscripted : Getting actors in their unfiltered environment is the subject of this blog. Categories range from Angela Sauer to Touring the Far East. A recent entry was on the “too serious actress”.
  3. Blog Stage : Buzz on the biz for actors is featured here. Sections include Actor’s Life, Audition, Dance, and much more. Many well-known and newer stars are featured.
  4. Austin Actress : Jennymarie Jemison is an actress in Austin, Texas who used to be a graphic designer at Rockstar Games in New York City. After some soul searching, she decided to pursue a career in acting and chronicles it here. She was even in a movie recently and tells all about it.
  5. Jane Fonda : With appearances both on and off the stage, Jane has been a topic of conversation for decades. Read what she is up to, what she is seeing, and more on her blog. Activism is also discussed.
  6. The Ensemble : This is the blog of a Chicago based theater company. Many of its actors have gone on to star on the big screen, small screen, and stage. Stop by to read the entries of the latest cast.
  7. Drama Queen : Wendy Rosenfield covers drama both onstage and off. A theater critic for the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” she has lots to say. The politics of theater are often blogged about.
  8. Hollywood Actor Prep : You don’t have to be a film or television actor to enjoy this blog. Dana is an experienced actor working on both coasts and has loads of insider tips. She also brings tips from other actors.
  9. On Stage Lighting : What would an actor be without the spotlight? This blog is dedicated to information about the world of stage, theatre, and event lighting. A useful resource to help those new to lighting and hoping to gain more knowledge of the subject in theater.
  10. Penny Plain, Twopence Colored : How do you star in every role in theater? Toy theater. Learn more about what it is from Trish Short Lewis, who is also a librarian in training.

Best Podcasts for Theater Enthusiasts

Because theater is spoken, not read, check out these podcasts.

  1. Playbill Radio : Seth Rudetsky’s Onstage & Backstage is often an entry in these podcasts. A week in the life of an actor, writer, music director, are all discussed. With weekly episodes, be sure not to miss out.
  2. Career Guides : Created in partnership with the New York Public Library, the Guides to Careers in the Theatre are a series of one-on-one video interviews with the theatre’s leading artists and professionals. Each explains each specific discipline in the theatre and what it takes to pursue that specialty and make a career in the theatre. Although they were taped years ago, they are required viewing for theater enthusiasts.
  3. Working in the Theatre : In another entry from the American Theatre Wing, these podcasts deal with those who actually work on or offstage. Recent episodes were on encores, veterans, musical theater, and much more.
  4. Talk Theatre in Chicago Podcast : You don’t have to live in the Windy City to enjoy this theater podcast. Every Monday they have interviews with professionals, reviews, and more. You can also learn more about what to see while you’re in town.
  5. Reduced Shakespeare Company : A three man touring company takes long serious subjects and turns them into short comedies. Read about their latest appearance, check out an episode, or read their latest news. With a tagline of “reducing expectations since 1981,” they deserve a look.
  6. Radio Drama Revival : It’s how our parents and grandparents experienced drama. Get a throwback to the days when radio was the main source of entertainment here. It features the best of contemporary audio drama and much more.

Even if you’ve never been to a theater show before, you are sure to find at least one to pique your interest in the above 50 best blogs for theater enthusiasts. With loads more out there, try and find the one for the local theater or a theater blog in the city you wish to visit on your next vacation.

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11 Aug, 2010  |  Written by  |  under Online Masters Degree Info
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From the Civil War to the current war in Iraq, there’s a plethora of literature out there to help you better understand the art (or madness) of war.

Books on Gettysburg

The bloodiest battle on American soil, Gettysburg has several books written about the epic battle.

    1. Gettysburg: The Second Day – Harry W. Pfanz. This is a comprehensive book on what went down during the battle of Gettysburg.

    2. Gettysburg – Stephen Sears. For a thorough introduction into Gettysburg, this book will help the general reader get started.

    3. Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg – Eric Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi. General Jeb Stuart’s role in the Civil War is glossed over in other books, but this one provides the full story.

    4. Gettysburg, July 1 – David G. Martin. There are many books that chronicle the first day at Gettysburg, but this one takes the cake.

    5. Gettysburg: A Journey in Time – William A. Frassanito.An amazing photography book chronicling Gettysburg.

    6. Gettysburg: The Second Day – Harry W. Pfanz. Widely regarded as the best single day history book of Gettysburg.

    7. Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign – Kent Masterson Brown Get the scoop on the retreat from Gettysburg, a topic that is only vaguely covered by the mass amount of Civil War books out there.

    8. The Killer Angels – Michael Shaara.This fiction book is a fabulous starting place for understanding what happened at Gettysburg.

    9. Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory – Carol Reardon. Reardon’s book is regarded as one of the best Civil War books in the past decade.

    10. Pickett’s Charge: The Last Attack at Gettysburg – Earl J. Hess.Hess is considered one of the best historians of the Civil War era, so you know his book is ace.

Books on the Civil War

The Civil War has spawned a cult group that studies it in great detail. Whether you’re a beginner or a full-fledged history buff, these books will add to your knowledge on the Civil War.

    11. R. E. Lee by Douglas – Southall Freeman. If you read one book on General Lee, be sure it’s this one.

    12. Battle Cry of Freedom – James McPherson. A brilliant read because it showcases the events leading up to the Civil War, as well as the war itself.

    13. An interesting look at the Chancellorsville campaign and insight on why Hooker lost to Lee.

    14. The Civil War: A Narrative – Shelby Foote. A complete look at the Civil War from a historian and writer that works with PBS and A&E specials on the subject.

    15. The Civil War – Bruce Catton. Catton puts together an easy-to-follow narrative complete with maps and timelines for the reader to reference.

    16. A Commitment to Honor: A Unique Portrait of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words – Gordon Leidner. This book is chock full of quotes from Lincoln and the people who knew him best.

    17. Men of Secession and Civil War, 1859-1861 by James Abrahamson This is a great book for those starting to explore the Civil War or students who wish to know more.

    18. With Malice Toward None – Stephen B. Oates.An insightful look at the personality of Lincoln.

    19. Lincoln: On God and Country – Gordon Leidner. A concise biography and personal look at President Lincoln.

    20. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant by U. S. Grant.Grant was a special man and his amazing writing voice creates a solid foundation for his memoir, which includes accounts of the Civil War.

Books on World War I

War World I was triggered by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and came to a close in 1918 with the fall of several empires, including the Ottoman and Russian.

    21. The First World War Volume 1: To Arms – Hew Strachan. This book is full of new info and insight on the events leading up to the war, but stops at 1914.

    22. Gallipoli: 1915 – Tim Travers.Gallipoli is a confusing event for some and this book does a great job of thoroughly explaining the incident of 1915.

    23. The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary – H. H. Herwig. This book covers the war from Germany and Austria-Hungary’s perspectives.

    24. The First World War – Gerard De Groot. This is the most recommended book for students or those beginners delving into WWI.

    25. World War I: An Illustrated History – Lloyd Clark. This is smart choice for those who want additional information on WWI, as it includes maps, timelines and more.

    26. The Longman Companion to the First World War: Europe 1914 – 1918 – Nicolson.This book serves as excellent supplementary reading for someone who already has substantial knowledge of WWI.

    27. Forgotten Victory – Gary Sheffield. While some see WWI as unnecessary, Sheffield argues the war was essential for combating imperialism.

    28. The Eastern Front 1914 – 1918: Suicide of the Empires – Alan Clark.This book covers pivotal events that led to the downfall of the Russia and beyond.

    29. The Hazy Red Hell – Fighting Experiences on the Western Front, 1914 – 1918. This book is a collection of firsthand accounts of World War I, making it a great read for those who want the real deal.

    30. The First World War – John Keegan.Full of maps and photography, Keegan’s book has become the go-to for modern scholars.

Books on World War II

World War II is one of the most written about wars of all time. Spanning over 10 years, there are books over the cause and effects of the war and the main cast of characters and their victims.

    31. Ships From Hell: Japanese War Crimes on the High Seas – Raymond Lamont-Brown. First person stories about the crimes that happened at sea.

    32. We Die Alone: A World War II Epic of Escape and Endurance – David Howarth. This book reads like a fiction thriller and you’ll be shocked to know it’s real story.

    33. Flags of Our Fathers: The Battle of Iwo Jima – James Bradley and Ron Powers. This is a must-read for those exploring WWII. Even if you’ve seen the movie, the book offers an experience that exceeds it.

    34. Crossing the Sauer: A Memoir of World War II – Charles Reis Felix. This book tracks Patton’s Third Army moving through Germany.

    35. They Came Unseen: Epic Submarine Actions of the Second World War – Richard Compton-Hall and William Scanlan Murphy. Read about the amazing feats overcome by those in submarines during WWII.

    36. The Deadly Brotherhood: The American Combat Soldier in World War II – John C. McManus. What was it really like fighting in World War II? Get a feel for the every day struggles that soldiers faced with this book.

    37. Island Victory : The Battle of Kwajalein Atoll – Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall An in-depth look at war in the Pacific sans any heavy direction or supervision.

    38. Crumbling Empire: The German Defeat In the East, 1944 – Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr..Learn about the last days of the war and the German defeats that lead to the end of the Third Reich.

    39. Decision at Nagasaki: The Mission that Almost Failed – Lt. Col. Fred Olivi (USAF Ret.). This writers manned the plane that almost dropped the second atomic bomb. That sentence alone should make you want to read this book.

    40. Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest – Stephen E. Ambrose. This book spawned an HBO mini-series but the book allows a closer look at the characters.

    41. Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II – Belton Y. Cooper, foreword by Stephen E. Ambrose. When American troops reached France, it became clear they were in for a rude awakening and not equipped for the heavy German artillery.

    42. The Brigade: An Epic Story of Vengeance, Salvation, and World War II – Howard Blum. This is the epic story of Jewish soldiers who fought during the latter days of the war, using friends and family in concentration camps to seek revenge on Nazi soldiers.

    43. Day of Infamy – Walter Lord. A great pick for someone beginning to explore D-Day or the events of WWII.

    44. At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor – Gordon Prange. This is a long one (700+ pages), but well worth the read since it features both sides of the story.

    45. Company Commander – Charles B. MacDonald.A first hand account of a young American soldier on the frontlines.

    46. D-Day June 6, 1944 : The Climactic Battle of World War II – Stephen Ambrose. Ambrose researched a bevy of people involved with D-Day for this fascinating read.

    47. Currahee: A Paratrooper’s Account of the Normandy Invasion – Donald R. Burgett, foreword by Stephen E. Ambrose Between its 5 star rating on Amazon and a foreword by Ambrose, this book is a must-read.

    48. Anthony Blunt: His Lives – Miranda Carter.If you love a good espionage story, you’ll enjoy this riveting book about a real life double agent.

    49. Hitler’s Shadow War: The Holocaust and World War II – Donald M. McKale. This book looks at Hitler’s history with the Jews (prior to WWII) and examines German mentality that supported his movement.

    50. I Am Alive – Major Bruce H. Norton, USMC, (Ret.). The harrowing POW story of a major in Vietnam.

Books on Vietnam

An interesting war that is still relatable today due to the war going on in Iraq. Here are some of the best fiction and non-fiction books on the Vietnam War.

    51. Fields of Fire – James Webb. Written by a Marine serving in Vietnam, this is an engrossing and a serious look at the war.

    52. The 13th Valley – John M. Del Veccio . This realistic fictional story is about Gis fighting in Vietnam.

    53 Chicken Hawk – Robert Mason. This non-fiction book was written by a helicopter pilot with over 1,000 missions under his belt.

    54. Utter’s Battalion: 2/7 Marines in Vietnam, 1965-66 – Alex Lee. Though Lee’s anti-war sentiment is apparent throughout the book, it’s well-written and fascinating.

    55. The Hill Fights: The First Battle of Khe Sanh – Edward F. Murphy. This is an eye-opening look at a battle that is absent from history books and other Vietnam literatur.

    56. SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam – John L. Plaster. This book isn’t for those with weak stomachs It explains the Special Forces operation that took down over 50,000 North Vietnamese soldiers.

    57. Green Berets at War: U.S. Army Special Forces in Southeast Asia 1956-1975 – Shelby L. Stanton This book also chronicles Special Forces in Vietnam.

    58. Semper Fi Vietnam: From Da Nang to the DMZ, Marine Corps Campaigns, 1965-1975 – Edward F. Murphy. This is the history of the Marines during the Vietnam war. It’s a must-read even for non-Marines because of the concise, yet complete, story.

    59. Pleiku: The Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam -J.D. Coleman. In addition to strong content, there’s maps to lead you through the war zone for a better feel of the landscape.

    60. We Were Soldiers Once…And Young – Ia Drang: The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam – Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway.Critics love this book because it evokes the true sense of fighting in Vietnam.

Books on the Cold War

The Cold War spanned from the late ‘40s to the early ‘90s. It was a brutal time for those in varying parts of Eastern Europe. Learn more about the war and the world’s role in helping with these Cold War books.

    61. Four Essays on Liberty – Isaiah Berlin . The Cold War era spawned the idea of negative liberties – doctrines or constitutions that tell us what the government can’t do, versus what they have to do to protect their people.

    62. Under the Frog – Tibor Fischer . This book picks up at the end of WWII and goes through the Hungarian Revolution.

    63. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carre. This fictional book tracks the hunt for a Russian mole and is based on true events.

    64. The Cold War: A History – Martín Walker. This is a concise look at the Cold War without going into every detail of each event. A smart read for beginners.

    65. Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire – Victor Sebestyen. This book gives a thorough explanation of the fall of communism in Russia.

    66. The Wall Jumper – Peter Schneider.This book examines the people that were effected by the Berlin Wall. A fantastic read for those who love personal stories.

    67. The Magic Lantern – Timothy Garton Ash Garton Ash traveled to Russia during the Cold War to collect information on the government. This book tells the story of his 1989 escapades.

    68. The File: A Personal History – Timothy Garton Ash. Garton Ash returns to Russia post-Cold War to look at files collected on himself after the government realized what he was after.

    69. Main Currents of Marxism – Leszek Kolakowski . Because Communism employs philosophy, religion and political beliefs, it’s necessary for someone with experience in all three subjects to discuss the movement at its finest.

    70. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell .From the man that coined the phrase, “cold war,” this novel best defines the mood of the era.

General Books on War

Some of these don’t fit into a category, but they’re still fantastic books on war that will give you insight on the subject.

    71. The Forgotten Soldier – Guy Sajer. The battle of the Red Army and Wehrmacht is chronicled in this book.

    72. Nella Last’s War – Nella Last.This diary dates from 1939-1945 and has first hand accounts of the atomic bomb dropping.

    73. The Cruel Sea – Nicholas Monsarrat. Monsarrat’s book was a bestseller in the early ‘50s, but has fallen from the critics best-of list. Still, there’s no better way to get a feel for the true state of a nation than by someone who was there.

    74. Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought – Michael I. Handel. This book deals more with the strategic side of war and a must-read for military professionals.

    75. The Forgotten Soldier – Guy Sajer .A look at WWII from the other side. This tells the story of a teenager joining the Wermacht.

    76. Jarhead – Anthony Swofford . A memoir of Marines in the Gulf War, this book is as real as it gets when it comes to describing the frustrations that come with war.

    77. The Guns of August – Barbara W. Tuchman Touted as one of the most essential reads on history, Tuchman’s book describes the events that led to the first World War and how it set the tone for Europe for decades.

    78. One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer – Nathaniel Fick . Marines see this as one of the most accurate looks at battle and the writer was among the first in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    79. The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII’s Most Decorated Platoon – Alex Kershaw . This book chronicles the last battle by one platoon as they attempt to defeat German soldiers for good.

    80. The Greatest Generation – Tom Brokaw . A collection of stories and interviews from the men and women in WWII. Instead of harping on gruesome details, it focuses on the human aspect.

    81. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany – William L. Shirer . This is a heavy read that’s fit for those with knowledge of WWII and the patience and time to get through 600+ pages of details on the Third Reich.

    82. Generation Kill – Evan Wright . A look at young soldiers during the early days of the Iraq war.

    83. The Letters of Private Wheeler, 1809-28 – William Wheeler. Letters from Wheeler’s time at war are some of the first examples we have of modern war diaries.

    84. Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam – Bernard Edelman. This best-seller is packed with letters home from the men and women serving in Vietnam.

    85. Flyboys – James Bradley. This book examines the major role that aerial advancements played for the US fighting in the Pacific.

    86. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II – Iris Chang. This best-selling book is one of the first accounts of the horrific raids done by the Japanese during WWII.

    87. Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills – Charles W. Henderson, foreword E. J. LandA look at a prolific sniper during the Vietnam war.

    88. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 – Antony Beevor . A graphic look at war. Over half a million copies have been sold in the UK and a critics favorite.

    89. Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany – Stephen E. Ambrose . A thorough look at the lives of soldiers on the beaches of Normandy during WWII.

    90. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War – Mark Bowden. This is a modern tale of war and Bowden does a fantastic job of putting you front and center to show the emotional weight that comes while in battle.

    91. Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission – Hampton Sides. A haunting look at American POWs in Japan during WWII.

    92. Sagittarius Rising – Cecil Lewis.A young soldier takes flight at the beginning of the 20th century.

    93. The Middle Parts of Fortune – Frederic Manning Though Manning’s career in the service was hardly successful, his account of soldiers in the trenches will haunt even the well-read war buff.

    94. Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae – Steven Pressfield. The battle of Thermopylae is chronicled here with a realistic edge that is engrossing for the reader.

    95. The Ten Thousand: A Novel of Ancient Greece – Michael Curtis Ford. A realistic look at ancient Greece, complete with maps for the reader’s reference.

    96. The Art of War – Sun Tzu.Regarded as one of the best books on war ever written, this book offers advice for life, which for most of us, is the ultimate battle.

    97. My Early Life – Winston Churchill. This one’s considered the best book under Churchill’s belt.

    98. A Rumor of War – Philip Caputo. This non-fiction story of Caputo serving in Vietnam explains the atrocities committed by American soldiers and mimics the war in Iraq in some respects.

    99. Suite Française – Irène Némirovsky. This is a first-hand account story of living in France during WWII.

    100. Quartered Safe Out Here – George MacDonald Fraser. Read this story of an 18 year old private in Burma.

Learning from history is one of best investments we can do with our time. Whether you are looking to expand your horizons or brushing up on a topic that interested you in school, the best books on war can give you a solid look at what it’s like to be on the frontlines, without risking your life.

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One of the little-known facts about the office of President of the United States is that the president doesn’t usually keep the gifts given to him during his time in office. Many previous presidents accepted these gifts and used certain gifts on a regular basis, but in the post-World War II era, the practice of keeping gifts has been discontinued.

Beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, each subsequent president has established a presidential library and museum in order to preserve letters and documents as well as items such as gifts of state and personal gifts received from admirers in America and abroad. Items from these massive collections rotate in and out of exhibits around the country as well as in the National Archives.

Here are thirty of the most unusual gifts that a United States president has received while in office, to enrich your knowledge of presidential trivia. We can’t say for sure that they’re the absolute strangest, but they’re certainly not something you could pick up at the local Hallmark store!

The Presidential Menagerie

Many foreign officials have presented the president with animals. Here are a few memorable animal gifts:

    1. George H.W. Bush: Komodo dragon The president of Indonesia presented a Komodo dragon to Bush “41″in 1990. In case you weren’t aware, the Komodo dragon is a vicious predator whose venom is extremely toxic. Nothing says friendship like a deadly reptile! Naga, the reptile in question, went to live at the Cincinnati Zoo and finally passed away in 2007 at the ripe old age of 24.

    2. Theodore Roosevelt: Coyote This unfriendly beast apparently rampaged around the White House grounds, frightening President Roosevelt’s staff.

    3. Theodore Roosevelt: Zebra and lion The ebullient President Roosevelt was known worldwide for his appreciation of wildlife. Perhaps it was for this reason that the King of Abyssinia sent him a live lion and zebra. One can only assume they were kept in separate crates during the overseas journey. In case you’re curious, Abyssinia is now called Ethiopia.

    4. Richard Nixon: Two giant pandas These two pandas were for years the star attraction at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, the two adorable, fuzzy giant pandas, were given to the United States after Nixon’s friendship tour of China in 1972. Ling-Ling passed away suddenly in 1992 and Hsing-Hsing died in 1999, having outlasted the terms of five presidents.

Food Gifts

Food is a tricky item to handle due to its perishability. While the president can’t always make use of a food gift, all efforts are made to ensure such gifts don’t go to waste.

    5. George W. Bush: 300 pounds of raw lamb In 2003, the president of Argentina sent this unusual gift of meat to President Bush. It was sent to the General Services Administration for storage and distribution.

    6. Franklin D. Roosevelt: Giant birthday cake The Bakery and Confectionary Workers Union presented an enormous 300-pound birthday cake to President Roosevelt for his 59th birthday. They also contributed to his anti-polio campaign.

    7. Rutherford B. Hayes: Carved Lemon President Hayes was presented with a lemon, carved to look like a pig. Why? Nobody knows. Perhaps Hayes’ wife, Lucy, was the gift’s inspiration. People called her “Lemonade Lucy”because she would not allow alcohol to be served at official dinners and parties.

    8. William McKinley: Giant watermelon President McKinley received a three-foot-long, eighty-pound prize watermelon from Congressman Livingstone of Georgia.

Dueling Cheeses!

One of the more interesting presidential gift stories revolves around a couple of behemoth cheeses given to two presidents twenty years apart.

    9. Thomas Jefferson: 1,235-Pound Cheese When Thomas Jefferson was elected, the Republican Baptists of Cheshire, Massachusetts presented him with a half-ton cheese. The cheese was made only with milk from good Republican cows. Jefferson refused to accept the cheese without paying $200 for it.

    10. Andrew Jackson: 1,400-Pound Cheese Not to be outdone, a New York dairyman named Meacham presented President Jackson with a huge cheese of his own. It was four feet in diameter and

    two feet thick. Meacham wanted everyone to know that his cheese was bigger than President Jefferson’s cheese.

Presidential Portraits

Some of the most unusual presidential gifts are portraits created by admirers. Some of these are professional, some decidedly not.

    11. Bill Clinton: Azerbaijani carpet portrait Heydar Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan, commissioned a carpet portrait from one of his country’s leading artisans. The finished product was a double portrait of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    12. Ronald Reagan: Jelly Bean Portrait An admirer of Reagan, knowing about the president’s love of jelly beans, created a portrait of the president out of 10,000 jelly beans. The portrait, which measured 24 inches on each side, is just one of 75,000 gifts sent to Reagan.

    13. Jimmy Carter: Octavio Ocampo portrait Commissioned by Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo, the portrait is a showcase of Ocampo’s “metamorphic”style, in which separate objects are combined to form a larger image. This picture of Don Quixote is an example.

    14. Richard Nixon: Portraits on rice S. Nabi Ahmed Rizvi, a Pakistani man, created two different portraits of President Nixon on two grains of rice. Rice engraving is extremely difficult even when engraving simple characters, but portrait artistry requires an enormous amount of skill.

    15. Gerald Ford: Painted-rock portrait. Ford’s unusual caricature sculpture portrait weighs almost 70 pounds and is made of river stone from Pennsylvania. Shipping costs must have been brutal.

    16. John F. Kennedy: Carved peach pit R. J. McErlean carved a peach pit with the likeness of President Kennedy. This is impressive enough, but the pit also has his name inscribed, along with an eagle on a shield and St. Christopher.

Useful Stuff

These are gifts that the presidents who received them actually used at some point.

    17. Harry S Truman: Bowling alley In 1947, donors from Missouri bought President Truman a two-lane bowling alley. It was installed in the White House originally and moved to the Old Executive Office Building in 1955. Truman’s staff liked the little alley so much they formed a league.

    18. Abraham Lincoln: Clothes President Lincoln gave away the alcoholic beverages that people gave him, but he accepted many other gifts, including clothes. In fact, the suit he wore to his inauguration was given to him by a Chicago clothing company.

    19. George Washington: A day off Actually, Congress gave everybody a day off on President Washington’s behalf. The 1880 decision of Congress was the first time a federal holiday was created in honor of an American. “Washington’s Birthday”was observed yearly on February 22 until 1968, when it was decided that federal holidays should always be on a Monday.

Not Useful Stuff, And Definitely A Little Weird

This category is self-explanatory.

    20. Herbert Hoover: Model of San Francisco in wood and bronze. Gov. James Rolph sent Hoover the model in 1932 as an invitation to attend a Shriners’ convention. It is not known what Hoover would actually do with a model of San Francisco.

    21. Gerald Ford: Purple Heart and Silver Star medals. When Ford granted amnesty to deserters and “draft dodgers”who had left the country, many Vietnam veterans were angered. Hundreds of veterans sent their medals to President Ford in protest.

    22. George H. W. Bush: Desert Storm chess set The father of one of our servicemen used his concern for his son’s well-being as inspiration for a Desert Storm chess set, which featured vehicles such as the Stealth bomber sitting on tiny oil drums.

    23. Richard Nixon: Colt .45 pistol from the World War II era In a now-famous meeting, Elvis Presley came to the White House one day, gave President Nixon a commemorative Colt .45 from the World War II era and shared his desire to help him fight the growing drug problem in America.

    24. George W. Bush: Electric harp and speakerphone The president of Vietnam gave George W. Bush an electric harp and a speakerphone, for some reason.

    25. Franklin D. Roosevelt: 25 pieces of pre-Columbian pottery Manuel Prado, president of Peru, gave FDR twenty-five pieces of valuable pre-Columbian Peruvian pottery.

    26. Ulysses S. Grant: Coffee pot and leopard skins received a silver coffee pot and several magnificent leopard skins from the ruling dons of Mexico upon reaching office.

    27. Richard Nixon: Dinosaur’s footprint Yes, someone gave President Nixon a dinosaur’s footprint. No word on what sort of dinosaur it was.

Super-Weird Stuff, Made Out Of Other Stuff

We’ve saved the most unusual for last! Not much is known about these last few gifts, except that they were definitely given… because they’re too strange to make up.

    Gerald Ford: Eagle made of beer-can tabs Theodore Roosevelt: Collage of world leaders made of cigar wrappers

    Harry S Truman: Rocking chair made of bottle caps

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Born in 1905, Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum is better known as Ayn Rand. Born in Stalinist Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926, where she developed a philosophy known as Objectivism. She first achieved fame in 1943 with her novel “The Fountainhead,” which in 1957 was followed by her best-known work, the philosophical novel “Atlas Shrugged.” The later still is thought of as one of the most influential books ever written, second only to The Bible.

Although she died in 1982, her works are still a hot topic around the globe for its views on the evils of communism and the virtue of selfishness. With both being a hot topic of the airwaves and screen, the subjects are also discussed in detail via blog. To help keep the Google searches short, we have collected the 50 best blogs for Ayn Rand readers. Useful for students, professors, professionals, and those with a lingering curiosity of how one simple woman could do so much with just a few written works.

Best Blogs for Ayn Rand Readers by a Group

These groups have made Ayn Rand and her philosophy the focus of their blogs.

    1. Voices for Reason : This blog is headed up by the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. A multitude of authors write on the principles of Ayn Rand in the modern world. The latest posts include subjects such as profits, Elena Kagan, and the divine right of hacking.

    2. Cato Unbound : This is a state-of-the-art virtual trading floor in the intellectual marketplace, specializing in the exchange of big ideas. Each month, they present an essay on big picture topics by the world’s most noted thinkers. They include Darwin, Slopes, and of course, Ayn Rand. A January essay looks at what is living and dead in her thoughts.

    3. Atlas Shrugged : The site’s focus is the study of the novel. Topics include news, opinion, ideas, and more. You can read the latest update or even join in an Ayn Rand related discussion.

    4. Times Topics : One doesn’t usually associate Ayn Rand with “The New York Times,” but they have many articles in relation to her. The Ayn Rand Navigator gives you loads of selections about her as selected by editors. They include reviews of her books written as early as 1943, as well as the most recent developments.

    5. Big Government : With the over bloated, over regulating government that Ayn Rand warned us against in mind, Andrew Breitbart brings you this blog. Updated several times a day, topics include the latest findings in government waste. Others include financial reform, the Tea Party, and many other topics.

    6. Citizens Against Government Waste : Stop here for another watchdog keeping tabs of where tax money is going. New stories include billions in earmark spending,endorsements, and the regular pork alert. They even offer a 2010 Congressional Pig Book Summary, detailing the latest in government waste.

    7. Modern Paleo : The blog offers writings by Objectivists on the principles and practice of nutrition, fitness, and health most conducive to human flourishing. They seek the best that modern life has to offer, informed by a broadly paleo approach. In addition to the occasional recipe, you can also get juicy tidbits such as a “Playboy” interview with Ayn Rand.

    8. The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans : Visit here to meet and read thoughts by others who are also Ayn Rand readers. Facts, values, and even experts are featured. Read the entry of your choice, or sign up to join in.

    9. Politics Without God : This blog is sponsored by the Coalition for Secular Government. It advocates government solely based on secular principles of individual rights. Ayn Rand is often the topic of blogging, as is public policy in today’s world.

Best Blogs for Ayn Rand Readers by an Individual

These individuals have also devoted part or all of their blogs to Ayn Rand.

    1. Atlas Shrugs : After engaging in various forms of activism in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Pamela Geller became convinced of the crying need for an alternative to the mainstream media, and began AtlasShrugs.com in February 2005. She brings the less examined side of the news, along with commentary. In addition to the blog, you can also view videos and articles authored by her.

    2. Leonard Peikoff : At 17, Leonard Peikoff was invited to the home of Ayn Rand and began a friendship that lasted until her death. Dr. Peikoff applies Ayn Rand’s revolutionary philosophy to real-world questions in his lectures. Download them with just a click.

    3. Scott Holleran : If you enjoyed the above blog, stop here to get the official blog of his former assistant on Peikoff’s talk radio show. Scott later moved on to reporting, reviews, interviews, and is now a freelance writer. The blog is intended as an informal forum for thoughts, subject to corrections and updates, on a variety of topics and with links to other points of interest.

    4. Dr. Hurd : He is a psychologist who has been in practice since 1988. His reading list is comprised of the obvious choice, along with lesser known others. Visit his blog to get comments on mental health, therapy, and much more.

    5. Powell History Recommends : Get history resources, pedagogy, commentary, and history for adults here. Scott Powell works on the development of an accessible history program for adults in homeschooling. He also completed the Undergraduate Philosophy of Ayn Rand Seminars of the Ayn Rand Institute and attended classes at the Objectivist Graduate Center. She is often the topic of blog posts.

    6. The American Individual : Joseph Kellard is from New York where he is a journalist and freelance writer. The blog is devoted to “rational commentary and articles on American culture and politics.” A recent entry was on the nature of spending.

    7. Leitmotif : Ergo Sum is many things including an objectivist, atheist, and editor. One of his most popular articles is “Why is Ayn Rand Respected More in India?” Other questions are asked and answered in an interesting manner.

    8. Who is John Galt? : He is the hero from “Atlas Shrugged” who makes many passionate speeches and is more or less a paper version of the author. This blog is devoted to who he is, as well as who Ayn Rand wanted to be. Must reads include economics and the predictable future.

Best Blogs for Ayn Rand Readers by a Student

These young people have devoted their educational lives and at least some of their blogs to Ayn Rand.

    1. NoodleFood : Diana Hsieh is a philosopher specializing in practical ethics. Topics discussed in the blog range from abortion to welfare. There is also a podcast called NoodleCast.

    2. Wit and Wisdom : Alexander Marriott is a graduate student and occasional op-ed columnist. He studies the Objectivist philosophy that Ayn Rand believed in. With entries dating back to 2003, make time for this blog.

    3. Armchair Intellectual : He is also a student of Objectivism from California. In addition to Ayn Rand, he often comments on the current state of politics. One of the most recent entries was on Israel.

    4. Inductive Quest : From Texas, Roderick Fitts often writes on the philosophers who have influenced his life. The blog is about what induction is, what others in the past have said about it, and what he thinks it is. One of the latest posts was on a speech given about Ayn Rand and his thoughts.

    5. Making Progress : He is not a professional, academic historian, but a long-term student of history. Also a retired editor, writer, and publications manager, Burgess devotes his blog to perplexing questions and debatable answers at the intersection of history and philosophy — in an Objectivist context. Top posts include a purpose to life and the third greatest sacrifice.

    6. Rational Jenn : As a homeschooling mother, she encounters students on a regular basis. She is also an Objectivist and often looks at the works of Ayn Rand. She recently received her state’s homeschooling packet and writes all about it.

    7. Allen Kamrava’s Blog : He opens his blog with a quote by Ayn Rand on living for yourself. Must reads on the blog include medical caps and fast food nation. With a few months since the last entry, there are still eight years’ worth of blog entries to choose from.

Best Well Known Blogs for Ayn Rand Readers

You may or may not have heard of some of these bloggers who keep Ayn Rand and her principles in mind.

    1. The Objective Standard : This journal of culture and politics is centered on Ayn Rand’s philosophies. In fact, they even have a special section for blog entries pertaining to her. Others include education, history, individual rights, and much more.

    2. Stossel Blogs : John Stossel joined Fox Business and news in October 2009 and has his very own show. With a principal of limited government, he often touts Ayn Rand like philosophies. Some of the latest include a powerless president and crony capitalism.

    3. Stu Blog : Recognized as “the most poorly named blog on the internet,” it is authored by Glenn Beck. With his own television and radio show, he also argues the principles of limited government and individual rights. There are also many other topics and sections to explore on the site.

    4. Ayn Rand – India : If you live in India, you may have heard of this group. They often meet in India to discuss Ayn Rand, her works, and more. Entries are often on what they discussed and they welcome entries from readers.

    5. Commonweal : This publication is devoted to religion, politics, culture, and books. The blog highlights the best of the magazine and is free. A must read includes “Ayn Rand and Aristotle.”

    6. Capitalism Magazine : Simply type in “Ayn Rand” in the search engine to get over 600 articles related to her. Others can choose from topics such as economics, environment, laws, science, and more. Current hot entries on the blog include “Francisco’s Money Speech” and “Don’t Let Pressure Sabotage Your Thinking.”

    7. The Atlasphere : If the above Ayn Rand blogs aren’t enough, stop by here. Within seconds you can join the over 20,000 other members and fans of Ayn Rand. They even have over 10,000 profiles for those looking to date.

Best Blog Tools for Ayn Rand Readers

If you need some help learning more, check out these learning tools.

    1. Ayn Rand Institute : Devoted to the novelist and her ideas, this institute has been in operation since 1985. Students, educators, visitors, and the curious can learn much more with just a visit. There are also lectures available with a click.

    2. The Randex : The blog collects English-language online media references to Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism. Its database of references begins in February 2005. You can read the newest blog entries, or read ones by topic, content, or date.

    3. Reference Center : Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, which emphasizes the objective existence of reality, rational thinking, individual self-interest, and individual rights. The Objectivism Reference Center provides resources about Ayn Rand and her ideas. They include online texts, critic’s views, and more.

    4. Facets of Ayn Rand : Charles and Mary Ann Sures were longtime friends of Ayn Rand. In this book, they give true life memoirs of actual accounts with her. You can read the book, learn more about Ayn Rand, and see pictures of her.

    5. Ayn Rand Lexicon : This mini-encyclopedia of Objectivism is compiled from Ayn Rand’s statements on some 400 topics in philosophy, economics, psychology, and history. In addition to the lexicon, there are also other topics to read online.

    6. The Atlas Society : Visit for a group that promotes the philosophy of Objectivism and its core values. You can learn more about both it and Ayn Rand, along with get news events around the world. Visit the commentary section to read or leave your own comments.

    7. Atlas Shrugged : Spark Notes is a site with loads of study help on any book. Stop here to get a quick view of the context, plot, characters, and more of the book. They also have a summary and analysis of all three parts.

    8. Ayn Rand Novels : Visitors are greeted with the quote “achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life” from Ayn Rand herself. You can also learn more about her ideas and novels. There is even information on essay contests for students to enter.

    9. Explore Atlas Shrugged : Diane Hsieh returns with an in-depth exploration of the novel. The podcasts are broken into 20 sessions, which each cover 65 pages of the novel. You can even join one of the reading groups that follow her.

    10. Working Minds : Get a short profile and even a listing of her favorite things on this site. The site is also full of quotes from Ayn Rand, John Galt, and much more. You can also get similar pages for other philosophers.

    11. The Ayn Rand Society : Founded in 1987, this is an affiliated group with the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. It aims to foster the scholarly study by philosophers of the philosophical thought and writings of Ayn Rand. Topics include current programs and an overview of Ayn Rand.

Best Videos for Ayn Rand Readers

See how Ayn Rand is viewed by today’s prominent personalities, or even view a few interviews with the woman herself below.

    1. ARCTV : In another entry from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, videos are on her message. Experts line up to discuss topics such as selfishness and healthcare. There are currently over 200 videos on government and policy alone.

    2. John Stossel : He is a libertarian who broke news on ABC’s news magazine “20/20″ and is now part of the Fox Business Channel. In this six-part series, he wonders what would happen if “Atlas shrugged today?” Airing in January of 2010, you can see the entire thing on YouTube.

    3. Phil Donahue : Before daytime talk shows took a turn for the Springer, Phil Donahue had his own show. In 1979, Ayn Rand herself appeared on the show to discuss the many pressing issues of today. Five parts are featured on YouTube.

    4. Mike Wallace : Even before the above, a younger Ayn Rand gave an interview to Mike Wallace, who would then go on to be part of “60 Minutes.” Taking place in 1959, Mike discusses “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” with the author.

    5. We Are The Living : This movie contains the philosophy and was actually restored under the personal supervision of Ayn Rand. The black and white movie tells the story of beautiful, strong-willed Kira Argounova, who is not unlike Ayn herself. The site allows you to get a glimpse of the movie, order it, and even go behind the scenes with a photo gallery.

    6. Reason TV : With a tagline of “free minds, free markets,” Ayn Rand readers will enjoy the site. Also occasionally visited by Drew Carey, topics can range from the food police to public employees.
    A current editor’s pick is on how to create one million jobs.

    7. Road to Socialism :
    Yaron Brook is one of the experts of the Ayn Rand Center. In an episode of the Glenn Beck Show, he discusses how she is relevant today. In particular, “Atlas Shrugged” is discussed.

    8. Anthem : This short science fiction story was written by Ayn Rand herself. In it, a dystopic future the world “I” has been eliminated along with other freedoms. You can listen to the story at two hours, twelve minutes as a podcast.

Whether written by a household name or random student, the above 50 best blogs for Ayn Rand readers have kept her spirit alive. Read more, join in the discussion, or start your own blog to continue the tradition.

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