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 John Adams
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 127,328 ratings
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2 1776
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 80,877 ratings
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3 The Guns of August
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 21,228 ratings
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4 Team of Rivals: The Politic...
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4.34 of 5 stars 4.34 avg rating — 63,081 ratings
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5 The Rise and Fall of the Th...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 38,285 ratings
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6 A Distant Mirror:  The Cala...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 15,170 ratings
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7 Battle Cry of Freedom: The ...
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 14,456 ratings
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8 Bury My Heart at Wounded Kn...
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 32,609 ratings
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9 The Diary of a Young Girl
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,375,287 ratings
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10 The Histories
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 21,917 ratings
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11 Guns, Germs, and Steel: The...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 142,848 ratings
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12 Undaunted Courage: The Pion...
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 25,597 ratings
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13 The Decline and Fall of the...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 7,094 ratings
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14 A People's History of the U...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 80,031 ratings
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15 Unbroken: A World War II St...
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4.44 of 5 stars 4.44 avg rating — 260,934 ratings
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16 Truman
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 31,584 ratings
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17 The Devil in the White City...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 250,481 ratings
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18 A Short History of Nearly E...
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 138,674 ratings
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19 The History of the Peloponn...
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 17,770 ratings
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20 Peter the Great: His Life a...
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 5,911 ratings
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21 The Proud Tower: A Portrait...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 4,186 ratings
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22 1491: New Revelations of th...
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 27,649 ratings
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23 Paris 1919: Six Months That...
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 5,573 ratings
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24 Lies My Teacher Told Me
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 35,345 ratings
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25 The Civil War: A Narrative
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4.57 of 5 stars 4.57 avg rating — 4,419 ratings
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26 Stalingrad: The Fateful Sie...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 13,202 ratings
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27 The Rape of Nanking
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 11,559 ratings
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28 The Twelve Caesars
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 9,147 ratings
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29 The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 18,751 ratings
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30 Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase f...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 17,389 ratings
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31 Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Ac...
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 17,236 ratings
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32 Genghis Khan and the Making...
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 13,359 ratings
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33 Mayflower: A Story of Coura...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 18,761 ratings
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34 Rubicon: The Last Years of ...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,258 ratings
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35 The Worst Hard Time: The Un...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 22,322 ratings
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36 Band of Brothers: E Company...
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4.4 of 5 stars 4.40 avg rating — 45,377 ratings
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37 Theodore Rex
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 19,388 ratings
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38 The March of Folly: From Tr...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 2,907 ratings
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39 Hitler, Vol 1: 1889-1936 Hu...
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4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 1,993 ratings
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40 Empire of the Summer Moon: ...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 13,377 ratings
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41 How the Irish Saved Civiliz...
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 20,933 ratings
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42 Endurance: Shackleton's Inc...
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 33,284 ratings
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43 Europe
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 2,223 ratings
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44 Nicholas and Alexandra
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 14,654 ratings
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45 Salt: A World History
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 26,666 ratings
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46 King Leopold's Ghost: A Sto...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 16,135 ratings
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47 The Professor and the Madma...
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 50,136 ratings
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48 Citizen Soldiers: The U S A...
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 12,265 ratings
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49 Washington's Crossing
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 7,147 ratings
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50 The Path Between the Seas: ...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 6,498 ratings
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51 His Excellency: George Wash...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 17,675 ratings
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52 With the Old Breed: At Pele...
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 12,681 ratings
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53 A People's Tragedy: The Rus...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 1,596 ratings
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54 1066: The Year of the Conquest
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 2,069 ratings
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55 Collapse: How Societies Cho...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 38,922 ratings
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56 The Making of the Atomic Bomb
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 9,488 ratings
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57 The Coming of the Third Rei...
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 3,222 ratings
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58 The Prize: The Epic Quest f...
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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 3,860 ratings
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59 Mornings on Horseback
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 11,853 ratings
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60 The Fall of Berlin 1945
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 6,584 ratings
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61 No Ordinary Time: Franklin ...
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4.34 of 5 stars 4.34 avg rating — 13,680 ratings
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62 Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 469,131 ratings
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63 Catherine the Great: Portra...
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 39,578 ratings
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64 Einstein: His Life and Univ...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 58,531 ratings
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65 In the Heart of the Sea: Th...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 31,764 ratings
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66 The Gulag Archipelago 1918-...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 9,614 ratings
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67 From Beirut to Jerusalem
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 6,775 ratings
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68 Bloodlands: Europe Between ...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 3,612 ratings
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69 The Island at the Center of...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 4,046 ratings
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70 Marie Antoinette: The Journey
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 21,182 ratings
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71 Longitude: The True Story o...
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 29,284 ratings
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72 April 1865: The Month That ...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,298 ratings
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73 Columbine
by
4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 31,763 ratings
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74 Hitler, Vol 2: 1936-1945 Ne...
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 2,588 ratings
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75 Blackamoores: Africans in T...
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4.67 of 5 stars 4.67 avg rating — 40 ratings
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76 Citizens: A Chronicle of th...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 2,708 ratings
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77 We Were Soldiers Once... an...
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 14,040 ratings
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78 D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Ba...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 14,390 ratings
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79 Persian Fire: The First Wor...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 2,936 ratings
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80 A Midwife's Tale: The Life ...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 3,398 ratings
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81 The Zimmermann Telegram
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,758 ratings
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82 The Last Stand: Custer, Sit...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 5,143 ratings
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83 Hiroshima
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 25,655 ratings
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84 The Last Lion 2: Winston Sp...
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4.52 of 5 stars 4.52 avg rating — 3,336 ratings
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85 Cleopatra: A Life
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 57,207 ratings
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86 American Sphinx: The Charac...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 12,186 ratings
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87 The Monuments Men: Allied H...
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 21,944 ratings
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88 The Last Lion 1: Visions of...
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4.46 of 5 stars 4.46 avg rating — 4,300 ratings
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89 Young Stalin
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 1,954 ratings
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89 Longest Day
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 10,416 ratings
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91 The Annals of Imperial Rome
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 4,628 ratings
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92 Stilwell and the American E...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 1,483 ratings
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93 At Home: A Short History of...
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 41,038 ratings
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94 The History of the Ancient ...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 1,056 ratings
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95 A Night to Remember
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 9,305 ratings
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96 Georgiana: Duchess of Devon...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 10,890 ratings
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97 The Federalist Papers
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 20,203 ratings
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98 The Great Bridge: The Epic ...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 5,718 ratings
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99 The Mediterranean and the M...
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 469 ratings
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100 A World Lit Only by Fire
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 6,585 ratings
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flag this list (?)
1,518 books · 1,365 voters · list created January 16th, 2009 by Abigail (votes) .
330 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Abigail
Abigail
371 books
5 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
2508 books
488 friends
☯Bettie☯
☯Bettie☯
11347 books
159 friends
Bonnie
Bonnie
4201 books
57 friends
Susanne
Susanne
200 books
16 friends
Kris
Kris
302 books
6 friends
Fat
Fat
725 books
0 friends
Susie
Susie
941 books
33 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-32)




dateUp_arrow    newest »

message 32: by Abigail (last edited Apr 24, 2010 02:41AM) (new)

Abigail 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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