Two books I’ve been reading recently that Via Meadia readers might like. One is Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch, an extraordinary tour de force that offers a readable and fair minded story of the story of Christianity. It is unusually perceptive about and sympathetic to Orthodox Christianity for a book from the West; it covers a great deal of ground efficiently; it addresses complex theological and historical developments in a consistently clear and engaging prose.Another great read that will make you a significantly sharper and better informed student of the contemporary world is Amanda Foreman’s compulsively readable World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War. American historians are consistently bad at integrating American political and historical events with events, movements and ideas in other countries. In 1861 Britain was the world’s greatest power and it was incomparably America’s most important export market and our most important source of investment capital. The South believed that the British ruling elite’s hatred of democracy would combine with its manufacturers’ need for cotton to bring Britain in on the South’s side. There were times when this almost happened; Foreman’s book illuminates key events and fascinating personalities on both sides of the Atlantic. Well worth the time.