Best History Books Of All Time
Written: editor | February 20, 2023
History books are the best books ever written, period. Not only do they teach us history, but they also expand our world view and make us better people. History books make us more empathetic and aware of the world around us. They make the world a smaller place and help us gain perspective of the world in which we live in now.
They allow us to see things from different points of view, understand different perspectives, and appreciate the sacrifices made to bring us to the present day. History books are books that every book lover must have on their bookshelf. If you’re looking for history books that will expand your world view and make you a more empathetic person, this blog is for you. Here are the best history books of all time that must be on your bookshelf right now: Parallel Lives by Plutarch, The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor, The Crusades by Thomas Asbridge, Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America, What Is History? by Edward Hallett Carr, 1491 by Charles C. Mann, Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (a must-read book on the opioid crisis), Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, and finally two history books on the American Revolution – Empire of Debt: The Origins of EOS and 1776 by Naomi Oreskes and Henry Muehsam.
Parallel Lives by Plutarch
– Written by the Greek philosopher and historian Plutarch in the first half of the 2th century AD, Parallel Lives is composed of 23 biographies that compare the lives of Greek and Roman figures. The book traces the history of both civilisations from ancient Greece to Rome, and provides a unique insight into the lives of these historic figures and their connections to one another.
– The book includes biographies of notable figures such as Theseus, the mythological King of Athens, and Romulus, the mythological King of Rome. It also compares Alexander the Great to Julius Caesar, two world-changing leaders who had a profound impact on history.
– In Parallel Lives, Plutarch gives a glimpse into the lives of the world’s most influential figures through vivid stories. This book is essential reading for students of history and can be used to gain a comprehensive understanding of ancient civilisations.
The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor
– Antony Beevor is best known for writing books about World War II, with The Battle for Spain being considered one of the most comprehensive books on the Spanish Civil War.
– The book provides an in-depth exploration of the many factions involved in the war and detailed maps of engagements.
– It details the war from start to finish as it unfolded across the entire country, from the civil war’s early days through to the eventual victory of the Nationalists.
– The conflict was used as a proxy war by future enemies of WWII like Germany and Russia.
– It is considered one of Beevor’s greatest works and is an invaluable resource for understanding the events of the Spanish Civil War.
– The book is full of historical detail, making it a valuable resource for anyone interested in this important period of history.
The Crusades by Thomas Asbridge
The Crusades by Thomas Asbridge is widely regarded as the definitive history of these long-running conflicts. Asbridge’s book not only provides an in-depth examination of the events that occurred in the Middle East and Mediterranean during the Middle Ages, it also examines their lasting effects on the world that followed.
In The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land, Asbridge offers a thorough and nuanced recounting of the momentous event. His account isn’t only fair and balanced when it comes to the Christian and Muslim perspectives of the crusades, it also sheds light on all of its aspects, from its religious dimensions to the war’s economic impact.
Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America
Covered with Night is a book written by historian Nicole Eustace about the implication of the murder of an Indigenous man in the early history of the United States. The book explores the history of crime and punishment in colonial America and the impact of the Sawantaeny murder on justice from that time forward. In the book, Eustace explores how this event has shaped the definition of justice from early American history to modern day.
The book sheds light on how the incident contributed to a growing distrust between the English colonists and the Indigenous inhabitants of mid-Atlantic. As a result, it was essential for both sides to come together to bury Sawantaeny and honor his memory in a respectful way. By doing so, both groups could prevent violence and ensure peace in an often complicated relationship.
In modern times, Covered with Night serves as a reminder of the importance of cooperation and respect between different groups in society.
What Is History? by Edward Hallett Carr
– Edward Hallett Carr’s book on historiography, What Is History?, has been the subject of controversy for decades now. It was initially criticized for its “dangerous relativism” and the claim that history is no more than a narrative of collective events.
– The book explores the concept of historical knowledge, as well as notions such as fact, science, morality, individualism and society. The book provides readers with a solid understanding of the history discipline, from its foundations to the modern era.
– In the book, Carr describes history as a way of telling the story of the world and of human existence. He states that history is an inexhaustible resource but only if we are willing to search it conscientiously and critically.
– What Is History? is now considered a foundational text for historians, and is referenced in countless college applications. The book teaches readers how to read and understand history, and explains how perspective and bias can affect the interpretation of historical events.
– Anyone new to the field of history must start with Carr’s book. It offers a comprehensive overview of the field’s key concepts and vitalizes readers’ interest in history.
– It serves as a reliable reference guide that can be consulted time and again for a better understanding of history.
1491 by Charles C. Mann
In his book, 1491, Charles C. Mann challenges the modern world’s understanding of Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in 1492. Similar to the way history is often written from the perspective of the victors, the book illustrates the pre-Columbian world through a jaundiced eye. The book opens with Columbus’s voyage and closes with the arrival of European diseases and exploitation of native people.
The book shows that many civilizations had lived in the Americas for millennia before the arrival of Europeans. For example, it highlights how ancient people built cities and developed agriculture thousands of years ago. It also sheds light on how many different cultures were united by language and religion and shared similar customs and traditions.
However, 1491 does not try to be a history book that provides all-encompassing answers about ancient civilizations or document every detail of history. Instead, it serves as a reminder of how stories about history are often told from one perspective only. As such, it helps readers gain an understanding of history as a narrative that is constantly evolving with new perspectives and perspectives coming into play all the time
The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
The history book titled ‘The History of the Peloponnesian War’ by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides is an extremely dense book that requires patience to read. Many scholars have described it as the Mount Everest of history books, and it certainly deserves the title. The book traces the war between Sparta and Athens in the ancient world, a war that lasted from 431-404 BC.
During the war, Thucydides travelled to Sparta and wrote about the different ways their society worked and its historical origins. Herodotus, another ancient historian, also visited the region and wrote extensively about it in his book ‘The Histories’. Both works provide an invaluable insight into the war between Sparta and Athens and Spartan society at large.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
The Peloponnesian War was a great war fought 2,500 years ago between the ancient states of Sparta and Athens. Thucydides, the Athenian historian and general, wrote an incredibly detailed book about the war. Herodotus was the first author to provide a comprehensive description of the Spartans and their practices. He travelled to Sparta in 450 BC, making him a primary source for this period of history. The history of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides is an impressive addition to any bookshelf; it covers the war in great detail and provides a unique insight into the world of ancient Greece.
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
– Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies by Jared Diamond is an insightful book that offers a fascinating perspective on the history of civilizations. The book examines the factors that have played a part in the rise and fall of various civilizations, including agriculture, disease, and weapons.
– In particular, the book highlights the role of guns in history. It argues that the ability to create and use guns has been the primary determinant of historical success among civilizations.
– It states that it is vital for anyone to be proficient with a gun to survive and thrive in today’s world.
– Guns, germs, and steel also touches upon the development of agriculture, suggesting that it has been one of the most significant factors shaping our history
– Throughout the book, Jared Diamond puts forward a theory that race has no bearing on historical success or failure. He suggests that history has been shaped by the development of better weapons and the ability to grow more food than neighbouring cultures. However, his argument isn’t without controversy.
– Besides being a popular read amongst politics and history majors , it also sparks considerable debate on its thesis- Guns, germs, and steel is an insightful book that offers a fascinating perspective on history
1776 by David McCullough
– David McCullough’s book 1776 is a history book about the formation of the United States of America in the Revolutionary War.
– The book is written in an authoritative yet readable style and provides insight into George Washington’s life. It covers the events leading up to the war, including the debate on the ideals of the Revolution, and the various interpretations of liberty during the period.
– Both books discuss the ideals of the Revolution and the conflict between the two sides fighting for freedom. They also discuss such events as the Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and Lexington Green.
-The Battle Cry of Freedom is another book by James McPherson that discusses the lead up to war and various interpretations of liberty during this time. It is a history book covering such events as the Stamp Act Crisis, the American Revolution, and emancipation.
Both books discuss events related to world history in a captivating way that makes readers want to know more about it. Thus they are best history books of all time.
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
-Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson is a history book of the Civil War era focusing on the war and its lead-up. The book discusses the war and its lead-up from different angles, including interpretations of liberty as both sides believed they were fighting for the freedoms won in the Revolution.
-The book looks at the politics of the war years, the events that preceded the outbreak of hostilities in 1861, and the ramifications of America’s deadliest conflict. It is considered one of the best single-volume histories ever written about the Civil War.
-It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989, and it is widely regarded as one of the best history books of all time.
-It is an excellent read for those looking to get a better understanding of the war and its events.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best book to read on history?
For anyone interested in history, the best book to read is What Is History? by Edward Hallett Carr. It is considered a foundational text for historians and is referenced in many college applications due to the author’s extensive research and historical analysis of the modern period.
This book is essential reading to understand how perspective and bias can affect the way we interpret historical events. In the book, Carr highlights the importance of primary sources, making it an invaluable guide for anyone interested in history and understanding how it has shaped the world today.
Other books that are noteworthy in terms of history include Marc David Baer’s The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs, which was selected as one of the 2022 Wolfson Prize Shortlist. Carole Hillenbrand’s The Best History Books: the 2022 Wolfson Prize Shortlist is also useful for a comprehensive overview of important philosophers and their impact on the world.
What to read if you want to learn about history?
If you’re looking to learn more about history, there are many books and online sources out there that could help. Here are some of the best books recommended for history enthusiasts:
1. A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich: This book provides a comprehensive yet quick overview of history’s most important philosophers and how their ideas have shaped the world today.
2. The Causes of Wars and Other Essays by Michael Howard: This book helps to understand the causes behind major events throughout history, providing readers with the opportunity to view the world from a different perspective.
3. Innovators at Work by Steven Johnson: If you want to learn more about innovation, this book makes understanding the complex process a fun-filled experience.
4. The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart: To understand the origins of human favourite drinks, this book is a must-read. It will show you how different beverages have become dominating forces in various cultures all around the world.
5. A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor: To gain a deeper understanding of world history, MacGregor’s book covers a wide range of topics from ancient history to modern times, allowing readers
The best history books of all time are the ones that have stood the test of time and continue to captivate new generations. The books mentioned above deserve a spot on your bookshelf for their historical significance, literary value, and sheer entertainment value. They’ll open your eyes to the world of history and make you want to learn more. So go ahead and pick the book that appeals the most to you!