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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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 138,906 ratings
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2
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 85,567 ratings
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3
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 23,129 ratings
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4
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4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 68,512 ratings
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5
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 41,831 ratings
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6
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 16,138 ratings
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7
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 35,150 ratings
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8
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 15,143 ratings
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9
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 1,445,048 ratings
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10
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 151,748 ratings
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11
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 23,106 ratings
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12
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 85,329 ratings
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13
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 7,262 ratings
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14
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 27,252 ratings
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15
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4.45 of 5 stars 4.45 avg rating — 309,745 ratings
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16
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 33,070 ratings
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17
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 265,798 ratings
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18
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 147,686 ratings
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19
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 18,734 ratings
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20
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 6,398 ratings
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21
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 5,922 ratings
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22
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 29,628 ratings
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23
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 36,139 ratings
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24
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 4,461 ratings
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25
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4.56 of 5 stars 4.56 avg rating — 4,621 ratings
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26
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 14,155 ratings
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27
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 19,683 ratings
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28
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 19,825 ratings
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29
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 12,345 ratings
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30
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 9,724 ratings
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31
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 18,445 ratings
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32
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,732 ratings
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33
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 15,018 ratings
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34
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 18,362 ratings
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35
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 23,659 ratings
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36
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 20,702 ratings
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37
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4.41 of 5 stars 4.41 avg rating — 48,593 ratings
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38
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 14,555 ratings
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39
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 36,156 ratings
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40
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 22,034 ratings
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41
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 3,040 ratings
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42
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4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 2,138 ratings
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43
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 28,458 ratings
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44
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 15,943 ratings
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45
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 17,331 ratings
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46
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 53,676 ratings
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47
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 12,996 ratings
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48
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 2,389 ratings
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49
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 492,411 ratings
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50
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 40,020 ratings
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51
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 13,798 ratings
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52
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 7,172 ratings
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52
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 7,718 ratings
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54
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 35,165 ratings
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55
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 1,717 ratings
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56
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 59,730 ratings
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57
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 2,217 ratings
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58
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 19,108 ratings
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59
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 31,407 ratings
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60
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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 4,205 ratings
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61
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 9,983 ratings
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62
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 6,971 ratings
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63
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 9,986 ratings
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64
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4.34 of 5 stars 4.34 avg rating — 14,484 ratings
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65
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 3,440 ratings
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66
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 43,146 ratings
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67
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 3,975 ratings
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68
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 12,768 ratings
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69
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 7,015 ratings
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70
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 33,586 ratings
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71
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 4,348 ratings
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72
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 21,949 ratings
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73
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,587 ratings
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74
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 3,202 ratings
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75
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 2,889 ratings
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76
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 15,124 ratings
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77
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 3,565 ratings
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78
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 2,748 ratings
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79
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 11,126 ratings
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80
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4.63 of 5 stars 4.63 avg rating — 43 ratings
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81
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 5,485 ratings
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82
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 14,899 ratings
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83
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 4,896 ratings
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84
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4.51 of 5 stars 4.51 avg rating — 3,750 ratings
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85
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,871 ratings
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86
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 1,175 ratings
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86
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 21,258 ratings
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88
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 27,464 ratings
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89
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 61,976 ratings
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90
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 9,841 ratings
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91
by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 24,140 ratings
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92
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 11,331 ratings
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93
by
4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 1,586 ratings
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94
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 43,684 ratings
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95
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 4,032 ratings
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96
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 8,949 ratings
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97
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 6,154 ratings
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98
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 12,854 ratings
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99
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4.45 of 5 stars 4.45 avg rating — 4,757 ratings
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100
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 2,080 ratings
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1,558 books · 1,459 voters · list created January 16th, 2009 by Abi (votes) .
417 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Abi 371 books
5 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 2567 books
511 friends
☯Bettie☯ 11914 books
169 friends
Bonnie 4307 books
57 friends
Susanne 200 books
16 friends
Kris 302 books
6 friends
Fat 725 books
0 friends
Susie 954 books
33 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-32)




dateUp arrow    newest »

message 32: 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 31: 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 30: 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 29: 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 27: 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 26: 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 25: 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 24: by Antoine (new)

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


message 23: 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 22: 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 19: 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 18: 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 15: 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 14: 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 12: 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 11: 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 10: 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 8: by Steven (new)

Steven Royal Durant


message 7: 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 6: 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 3: 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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