Best History Books
Proper history books, not historical fiction, about any period, event, area or topic you like. Just well-written, well-researched, informative and interesting books for historians, history students and history enthusiasts. I didn't mean this to be a list of pop history, but I think it's too late now, so you might as well go ahead.
1
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 148,324 ratings
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2
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 89,775 ratings
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3
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 24,649 ratings
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4
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 72,621 ratings
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5
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 44,617 ratings
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6
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 16,971 ratings
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7
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 1,505,998 ratings
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8
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 36,540 ratings
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9
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 15,751 ratings
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10
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 154,157 ratings
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11
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 90,018 ratings
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12
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 24,023 ratings
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13
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 28,105 ratings
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14
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4.45 of 5 stars 4.45 avg rating — 335,778 ratings
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15
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 7,385 ratings
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16
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 272,822 ratings
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17
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 34,144 ratings
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18
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 155,583 ratings
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19
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 19,537 ratings
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20
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 6,751 ratings
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21
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 31,090 ratings
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22
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 6,173 ratings
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23
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 14,923 ratings
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24
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 36,739 ratings
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25
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 4,619 ratings
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26
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4.56 of 5 stars 4.56 avg rating — 4,793 ratings
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27
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 20,425 ratings
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28
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 20,590 ratings
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29
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 12,974 ratings
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30
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 10,122 ratings
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31
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 19,102 ratings
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32
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 7,060 ratings
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33
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 19,117 ratings
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34
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 16,306 ratings
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35
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 38,107 ratings
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36
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 24,953 ratings
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37
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4.41 of 5 stars 4.41 avg rating — 50,929 ratings
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38
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 15,384 ratings
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39
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 22,927 ratings
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40
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 21,867 ratings
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41
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4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 2,278 ratings
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42
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 29,584 ratings
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43
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 56,590 ratings
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44
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 16,883 ratings
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45
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 516,562 ratings
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46
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 3,160 ratings
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47
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 13,586 ratings
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48
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 2,510 ratings
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49
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 18,231 ratings
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50
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 40,736 ratings
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51
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 37,634 ratings
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52
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 1,801 ratings
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53
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 8,228 ratings
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54
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 14,542 ratings
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55
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 10,368 ratings
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56
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 4,233 ratings
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57
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 60,709 ratings
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58
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 7,661 ratings
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59
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 2,352 ratings
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60
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 7,284 ratings
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61
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 3,602 ratings
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62
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 32,971 ratings
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63
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 46,105 ratings
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64
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 35,090 ratings
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65
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 20,157 ratings
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66
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4.34 of 5 stars 4.34 avg rating — 15,119 ratings
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67
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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 4,391 ratings
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68
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 10,244 ratings
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69
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 13,513 ratings
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70
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 3,403 ratings
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71
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 7,182 ratings
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72
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 4,598 ratings
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73
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 3,014 ratings
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74
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 22,634 ratings
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75
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 3,665 ratings
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76
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,866 ratings
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77
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 2,879 ratings
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78
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 15,672 ratings
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79
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 5,716 ratings
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80
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 1,278 ratings
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81
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 15,477 ratings
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82
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 11,700 ratings
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83
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4.62 of 5 stars 4.62 avg rating — 45 ratings
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84
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 29,202 ratings
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85
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 10,306 ratings
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86
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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 65,926 ratings
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87
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 5,096 ratings
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88
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4.5 of 5 stars 4.50 avg rating — 4,071 ratings
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89
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 11,672 ratings
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90
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 45,583 ratings
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91
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 22,010 ratings
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92
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 6,509 ratings
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93
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 13,492 ratings
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94
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 25,467 ratings
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95
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,967 ratings
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95
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 1,662 ratings
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97
by
4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 4,199 ratings
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98
by
4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 9,402 ratings
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99
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4.45 of 5 stars 4.45 avg rating — 5,119 ratings
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100
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 2,196 ratings
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1,613 books · 1,523 voters · list created January 16th, 2009 by Abi (votes) .
497 likes · Like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Abi 378 books
5 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 2619 books
535 friends
Bettie☯ 12335 books
179 friends
Bonnie 4429 books
62 friends
Susanne 200 books
16 friends
Kris 302 books
6 friends
Fat 725 books
0 friends
Susie 966 books
32 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-32 of 32) (32 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Abi (last edited Apr 24, 2010 02:41AM) (new)

Abi I really wish I could disqualify anything that has the words 'epic story' in the title. Great history books make an argument based on an interpretation of the past; a history book that just tells you a story has a seriously limited value.


message 2: by Trak (new)

Trak I cant seem to add books to the list but could I suggest A Short History of Byzantium by John Julius Norwich.


message 3: by Antoine (new)

Antoine I went ahead and did disqualify a couple of works of fiction. But really, I don't think the "epic story" label should eliminate a work from consideration. You could start with Herodotus and Thucydides whose work is undeniably epic, but also epochal, in that we would have no history without them. Serious history has scholarly obligations, but it has artistic ones as well. If the matter isn't interesting, then ultimately no one is going to care about the footnotes or the argument.


message 4: by John (new)

John Everett Water for Elephants is most emphatically not a work of history.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed for being fiction:

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

I am of two minds about The Devils of Loudun, so I left it.


message 6: by Antoine (new)

Antoine The Devils of Loudun is really not a novel, despite Huxley's reputation as a novelist. It is as "literary" as Barbara Tuchman. If you are thinking of the dreadful Ken Russell film based on the book, all I can say is, please don't.


message 7: by Ted (new)

Ted Adding "Benedict Arnold's Navy" by James Nelson.

Had it not been for Horatio Gates, who stole Arnold's genius at Saratoga and threw him to the wolves causing Arnold to "turn coat", Benedict Arnold could quite possibly been a greater American Hero than George Washington.

This book is of Benedict Arnolds building of a small fleet in the harbor of Skenesborough (modern day Whitehall, NY) to sail north and interdict the British fleet arriving via the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Richelieu river.

The ensuing "Battle of Valcour Island" is considered to be the very first naval engagement by the American Navy.


message 8: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker All of the Edward Rutherfurd books on the list (Sarum, London, Russka, New York) are novels. If you include them, you have to open the field to Michener.


message 9: by Antoine (new)

Antoine I was only able to find Russka. I have deleted it. Cheers.


message 10: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Apr 17, 2011 12:46PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I found the others, on page 3. I'll delete them.

ETA: Also removed "The Great Indian Novel." Because it, too, is a novel.


message 11: by Alin (new)

Alin Too much american history.You're not the world y'know ?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You could, of course, add works about non-American history to the list.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed: The Killer Angels - a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.


message 14: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Nov 02, 2011 10:34AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed for being novels:

Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian
Chesapeake, by James A. Michener

Removed for being poetry:

The Ballad of the White Horse, by G.K. Chesterton


message 15: by Kate (new)

Kate Sherrod Where is the Venerable Bede?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You could add him. It's easy to add books to lists; at the top of the page, at the tab next to "all votes."


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads David & Russ - any clue as to what book "Unknown Book 9379560" is at No. 147 on this list? You were the ones who voted for it.


message 18: by Donna (new)

Donna The Guns of August is a great, great book...but it is HISTORICAL FICTION. It is strong, well-researched historical fiction, but it is fiction This list is supposed to be strictly nonfiction.


message 19: by Donna (new)

Donna The list is a little ethnocentric. Just a thought...if you know of a good book that is also the history of women, or Native Americans, or any other underrepresented group, you may want to add it. I added a few, but it could still use some rounding out.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads D. wrote: "The Guns of August is a great, great book...but it is HISTORICAL FICTION. It is strong, well-researched historical fiction, but it is fiction This list is supposed to be strictly nonfiction."

It is most certainly not historical fiction. What is your evidence that it is?

It won the Pulitzer for "general nonfiction."


message 21: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Oct 02, 2012 09:49PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed, for being novels:

Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield
The Pale Criminal, by Philip Carr
Queen Margot, by Alexandre Dumas
A Philosophical Investigation, by Philip Kerr


message 22: by Donna (new)

Donna Susanna wrote: "D. wrote: "The Guns of August is a great, great book...but it is HISTORICAL FICTION. It is strong, well-researched historical fiction, but it is fiction This list is supposed to be strictly nonfic..."
Whoops. Let me go back and look at my copy...I taught this book years ago, thought I would remember...going.


message 23: by Donna (new)

Donna Okay, mea culpa! I had been thinking it was fiction that appeared real, and if you just review the blurbs on the back of the paperback version, it says something along the lines of her making characters seem like real people. I turned to the Library of Congress page: nothing at all, no listing for fiction or nonfiction. But reading the preface, it was right there on the first page.

I am glad to know that at least I didn't misinform my students! (I also used All Quiet on the Western Front). I required them to read the preface, and mentioned which events they were to watch for, and then we discussed it. I would have been more on the ball back then. Thanks for catching my error...now I will go back and vote for it!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Oh, it's a great book. It really does "read like a novel."


message 25: by Steven (new)

Steven Royal Durant


message 26: by Donna (new)

Donna Revisited Feb 10 and asked the system to find duplicates, because I spotted one (Sherman's memoirs). The system found and removed 5 duplicates.

I sympathize with the person who pointed out there is too much American history here. I went back and found some good books I had read (primarily Russian Revolution and Cuba) and added those; I can't reasonably add anything I haven't read, but have added some "want to reads" from the wider world.


message 27: by John (new)

John Well said


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads And this is one of the times when I wish I had more than 100 votes!


message 30: by Ahmed (new)

Ahmed I admire your fantastic library of golden books. Thank you.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I only had a hundred books I could add!


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