I asked around the MPR newsroom for history book recommendations. Here are what some of our biggest readers think you should pick up.

Assistant Producer Marcheta Fornoff: “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s autobiography provides a social context to the apartheid in South Africa in a way that could only be surpassed by experiencing the movement firsthand. Mandela’s writing is frank, effortless and makes the reader feel like a fly on a very important wall.

A military fly-past takes place above a statue of former South African president Nelson Mandela shortly after its unveiling at the Union Buildings on December 16, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa.(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Editor Hart Van Denberg: Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein

A vivid portrait of the man, the modern political landscape he willed into existence, and the way his candidacies and presidency became the training ground for a small army of operatives whose names we see almost daily now on cable news shows, op-ed columns and the halls of Republican power.

nixonland bloodlands

Associate Producer Kryssy Pease: “Bloodlands” by Timothy Snyder

As the daughter of a WW2 historian, I can’t recommend “Bloodlands” highly enough. Snyder’s conceptualization of how to regard the era of mass murder by Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR as an ongoing, interrelated phenomenon beginning in 1933 and extending through end of war can change one’s whole idea of the meaning of the history of Europe in early 20th century.

And my recommendation: “The Proud Tower” by Barbara Tuchman

Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” is the most famous of her books about World War One, but my favorite is this history of the decades that lead to the conflict. Some countries, cities, and people were hurtling toward modernity, while others were still mired in an agrarian past. Tuchman brings them to life in a series of essays rather than a linear history.

Last week, novelist Richard Russo posted an open letter on the website of the Author’s Guild about the ongoing dispute between Amazon and the publishing company Hachette.

What we (authors) care about is a healthy ecosystem where all writers, both traditionally and independently published, can thrive. We believe that ecosystem should be as diverse as possible, containing traditional big publishers, smaller publishers, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as both e-books and print books. We believe that such an ecosystem cannot exist while entities within it are committed to the eradication of other entities.

So what would a healthy ecosystem look like? In the New York Times, Pamela Druckerman wrote that maybe it looks like France.

France…has just unanimously passed a so-called anti-Amazon law, which says online sellers can’t offer free shipping on discounted books. (“It will be either cheese or dessert, not both at once,” a French commentator explained.) The new measure is part of France’s effort to promote “biblio-diversity” and help independent bookstores compete. Here, there’s no big bookseller with the power to suddenly turn off the spigot. People in the industry estimate that Amazon has a 10 or 12 percent share of new book sales in France. Amazon reportedly handles 70 percent of the country’s online book sales, but just 18 percent of books are sold online.

The French secret is deeply un-American: fixed book prices. Its 1981 “Lang law,” named after former Culture Minister Jack Lang, says that no seller can offer more than 5 percent off the cover price of new books.

Read all of Druckerman’s column here.