If anyone is looking for a good book on animation history, I can't recommend Jerry Beck's Animation Art highly enough. It's pretty much the Illusion of Life for animation history. What I really appreciate is how he doesn't focus on one aspect of animation history, like only films from North America, or Disney. It covers pretty much everything.
I've read a lot of it before, but I'm going to start over and read the whole thing through this summer. I'm also going to be sitting next to a computer while I read so I can look up the films on YouTube as I read about them.