Recommended Historical Fiction

This is the list for your recommendations of good fiction set in a time before the author was born --NOT any old book set in a time that's now past, nor books about modern people who happen to be researching the past! :-) Okay? (Also, let's NOT include alternate world scenarios --just actual settings.)
1

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4.38 avg rating — 1,982,669 ratings
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2

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4.30 avg rating — 1,113,502 ratings
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3

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4.32 avg rating — 679,658 ratings
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4

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4.46 avg rating — 2,296,743 ratings
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5

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3.85 avg rating — 842,171 ratings
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6

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4.23 avg rating — 882,744 ratings
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7

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4.13 avg rating — 317,997 ratings
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8

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4.04 avg rating — 624,652 ratings
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9

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4.13 avg rating — 1,785,677 ratings
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10

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4.06 avg rating — 469,704 ratings
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11

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3.42 avg rating — 738,672 ratings
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12

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3.90 avg rating — 654,226 ratings
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13

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4.42 avg rating — 152,147 ratings
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14

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4.17 avg rating — 650,916 ratings
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15

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4.39 avg rating — 153,807 ratings
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16

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3.70 avg rating — 93,783 ratings
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17

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4.07 avg rating — 285,728 ratings
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18

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4.48 avg rating — 159,978 ratings
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19

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4.13 avg rating — 279,500 ratings
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20

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4.26 avg rating — 215,798 ratings
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21

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4.18 avg rating — 539,317 ratings
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22

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4.06 avg rating — 238,809 ratings
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23

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4.09 avg rating — 4,562 ratings
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24

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4.21 avg rating — 60,924 ratings
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25

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4.31 avg rating — 78,019 ratings
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26

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4.05 avg rating — 128,806 ratings
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27

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4.13 avg rating — 219,766 ratings
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28

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4.05 avg rating — 52,480 ratings
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29

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4.17 avg rating — 30,971 ratings
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30

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4.09 avg rating — 799,720 ratings
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31

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3.94 avg rating — 160,774 ratings
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32

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4.27 avg rating — 22,471 ratings
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33

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4.24 avg rating — 80,727 ratings
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34

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3.75 avg rating — 90,751 ratings
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35

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4.05 avg rating — 162,547 ratings
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36

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4.37 avg rating — 20,695 ratings
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37

by
3.87 avg rating — 183,442 ratings
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38

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4.20 avg rating — 73,637 ratings
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39

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4.24 avg rating — 39,958 ratings
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40

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3.98 avg rating — 142,733 ratings
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41

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4.04 avg rating — 106,748 ratings
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42

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3.65 avg rating — 44,048 ratings
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43

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4.02 avg rating — 364,149 ratings
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44

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4.32 avg rating — 1,143,961 ratings
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45

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4.32 avg rating — 304,075 ratings
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46

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3.68 avg rating — 346 ratings
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47

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3.86 avg rating — 109,629 ratings
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48

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4.07 avg rating — 8,966 ratings
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49

by
4.11 avg rating — 198,447 ratings
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50

by
3.28 avg rating — 97,271 ratings
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51

by
4.22 avg rating — 8,556 ratings
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52

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4.09 avg rating — 21,088 ratings
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53

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3.87 avg rating — 227,979 ratings
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54

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4.06 avg rating — 84,629 ratings
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55

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4.27 avg rating — 288,912 ratings
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56

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4.28 avg rating — 40,463 ratings
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57

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4.21 avg rating — 23,874 ratings
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58

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4.03 avg rating — 49,519 ratings
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59

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3.89 avg rating — 348,383 ratings
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60

by
4.23 avg rating — 326,158 ratings
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61

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4.05 avg rating — 74,202 ratings
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62

by
4.12 avg rating — 25,691 ratings
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63

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4.28 avg rating — 44,963 ratings
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64

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3.79 avg rating — 58,968 ratings
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65

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3.88 avg rating — 39,416 ratings
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66

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3.91 avg rating — 64,389 ratings
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67

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4.33 avg rating — 39,103 ratings
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68

by
3.99 avg rating — 14,119 ratings
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69

by
3.87 avg rating — 77,155 ratings
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70

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 179,777 ratings
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71

by
4.12 avg rating — 8,812 ratings
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72

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3.99 avg rating — 81,896 ratings
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73

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4.38 avg rating — 31,889 ratings
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74

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3.66 avg rating — 78,795 ratings
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75

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4.19 avg rating — 23,019 ratings
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76

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3.91 avg rating — 76 ratings
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77

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4.16 avg rating — 14,329 ratings
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78

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3.97 avg rating — 37,640 ratings
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79

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3.87 avg rating — 48,203 ratings
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80

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4.07 avg rating — 351,019 ratings
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81

by
4.03 avg rating — 120,382 ratings
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82

by
4.57 avg rating — 808,552 ratings
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83

by
4.29 avg rating — 9,609 ratings
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84

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4.22 avg rating — 12,925 ratings
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85

by
3.94 avg rating — 22,883 ratings
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86

by
4.15 avg rating — 28,263 ratings
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87

by
3.99 avg rating — 148,925 ratings
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88

by
4.02 avg rating — 26,669 ratings
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89

by
3.94 avg rating — 7,902 ratings
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90

by
4.12 avg rating — 242 ratings
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91

by
4.29 avg rating — 33,527 ratings
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92

by
4.46 avg rating — 108 ratings
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93

by
3.88 avg rating — 85,057 ratings
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94

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4.37 avg rating — 271,946 ratings
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95

by
3.99 avg rating — 17,089 ratings
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96

by
4.01 avg rating — 274,801 ratings
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97

by
4.15 avg rating — 584,316 ratings
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98

by
4.24 avg rating — 27,083 ratings
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99

by
3.69 avg rating — 178,522 ratings
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100

by
3.87 avg rating — 10,664 ratings
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3,127 books · 3,687 voters · list created January 18th, 2009 by Werner (votes) .
348 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Werner 2117 books
171 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3253 books
860 friends
Bettie 15621 books
123 friends
Cheryl Niepomnik 800 books
81 friends
Lars 1316 books
66 friends
Anam 620 books
3 friends
Laura 12140 books
304 friends
Hanna 7318 books
80 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 73 (73 new)


message 1: by Seth (new)

Seth Several of these don't seem to fit the requirement of "set before the author was born." Should some librarian go through and prune, or just live with it?


message 2: by Werner (new)

Werner Seth, I'm the list's creator/moderator (and also a Goodreads librarian); but because of limited time, I don't monitor it as closely as I probably should, and I also haven't read a number of the listed books, so can't make that kind of call in most of those cases. I'll give it a going-over now, and delete anything I see that shouldn't be there; but maybe any other librarians who read this will want to help, too? Thanks for letting us know about the problem!


message 3: by Seth (new)

Seth I'm happy to note any books that don't seem right (1984 by Orwell springs to mind... certainly not *historical* to him!). I'm a librarian as well but I don't want to go removing people's votes from a list without either consensus or the list creator approving.


message 4: by Werner (last edited Jun 21, 2010 05:01PM) (new)

Werner Yes, 1984 was one of the five books I just deleted. I jotted down four more titles with 20th- century settings that are "iffy," but I'll need to check the author's birthdates; and I'll be leaving on vacation tomorrow for a week, so can't do that until I return. In the meantime, Seth, you have my permission to remove anything that you know was set in the author's own time; I created this list for genuine historical fiction, in the genre sense!


message 5: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jun 22, 2010 10:41AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Ones that are not historical fiction, in my view:

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (set in 1860s and 70s, LMA was born in 1832)
Fatherland, by Robert Harris (I am very dubious. Hitler wasn't still Fuhrer in our 1961.)
What is the What? by Dave Eggers (set in very recent Sudan)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Set, I believe, in the 1850s, when Mr. Twain was a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi.)


message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, thanks for your helpful feedback! (And sorry I took so long to respond; you posted on the day I left on vacation, and I haven't been back long.) Someone else must have deleted the Eggers book, and I evidently got Little Women when I went through the list last week; but I can't believe I missed Huckleberry Finn! I've just deleted that one, and the Harris book as well.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Little Women is still there, I see, so I'll just remove it.


message 8: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Susanna! I've now missed it twice; mea culpa. :-)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Is Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story history, or historical fiction? It looks like history to me from the description, but I haven't read it.


message 10: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, I have the same question, but I haven't read it either. I'll do some more checking on that!


message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, the Library of Congress' assigned subject headings for the Shurtleff book identify it as fiction, and so does the catalog record for it in World Catalog. So I'd say that it does belong here.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads OK - I honestly couldn't tell from the description! Thanks.


message 13: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 09:02AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I didn't think The Jungle was historical fiction; didn't Sinclair set that novel in his own time?

ETA: Northanger Abbey is historical fiction??


message 14: by Werner (new)

Werner No, Susanna, neither of those are historical fiction! I haven't checked over this list lately; I see I need to do that ASAP. Since I posted clear guidelines at the top, when I created the list, for what goes on it and what doesn't, I never expected a problem; but I guess not everybody actually reads that part. (Sigh!)


message 15: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 09:23AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on.


message 16: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Susanna wrote: "I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on."

It will eventually :p


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner Well, I'm a Twilight series fan myself; but if anyone tries to claim it's historical fiction and puts it on here, either of us that catches it can delete it on sight! :-) Okay, I've deleted the two books you spotted, as well as What Is the What and Elie Wiesel's Night. (I didn't check the last two pages this time, but hopefully they're free of any anomalies.) I'll try to do a more thorough check later.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads It's like weeding a garden.


message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner Very true! :-)


message 20: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 10:27AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I think I also saw North and South by Mrs. Gaskell on here; I am dubious about that one as well. Written in 1855; set, I think, a little earlier than that (like a lot of Dickens), but within the author's lifetime (b. 1810). (The same reason I didn't vote for Vanity Fair, a superb novel.)


message 21: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Susanna! I'll be on the lookout for those two.


message 22: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, I've checked over the rest of the list, and Vanity Fair was apparently deleted already. North and South is on here; but it turns out to be the one by John Jakes (set during the Civil War), not the one with the same title by Mrs. Gaskell. So, we're in good shape for the moment!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Alrighty then!


message 24: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker FYI, Gaskell's North and South is back in, along with Jakes's.


message 25: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for the heads-up, Bill. I've just tracked it down and deleted it --again. (Sigh!) It's a never-ending job.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

I just spotted The Hunger Games number 343 which needs to be deleted.


message 27: by Werner (new)

Werner Done! Thanks for catching that, Alice.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Werner wrote: "Done! Thanks for catching that, Alice."

I was going down the list last night to see what I missed.


message 29: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jan 24, 2013 01:26PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I see Pride and Prejudice has crept on (currently #51). Miss Austen was writing about her own time. You want me to delete it, Werner?

ETA: Also, Seabiscuit (#69) is non-fiction. As is John Paul Jones: Finding the Forgotten Patriot (#177).

Little Women is back, at #96.


message 30: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, Susanna, you can delete all four of those! Thanks for your help; it's much appreciated. (Tending to these lists is like keeping a garden weeded; it's a never-ending task!)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads No problem.

I just noticed that All Quiet on the Western Front is at #139.


message 32: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for catching that, Susanna! I just deleted that one, too.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads What about To Kill a Mockingbird, which is in the 360s?


message 34: by Werner (last edited Feb 07, 2013 11:18AM) (new)

Werner That's not historical fiction either; Harper Lee was born in 1926, and sets the novel in the mid-1930s, when she was about Scout's age. I'll delete that one too, Susanna, thanks for catching it!


message 35: by Peter (new)

Peter Lahaderne How on Earth is the entire Saxon Stories series by Bernard Cornwell on this list, but none of the Sharpe series?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You could add them; it's easy to add books to lists. At the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


message 37: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, Peter, by all means add the Sharpe series, if you've read the books and can recommend them! My guess is that whoever added the Saxon series hadn't read the Sharpe books --I haven't either, though I've seen and really liked a couple of the adaptations on DVD. (I do have the first three books of yet another Cornwell series, his Starbuck Chronicles, on my to-read shelf; they were a gift from my son-in-law.)


message 38: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Agrawal I am a great fan of historical fiction. Its my favorite genre along with family saga's. Glad I found this list. It would be my pleasure to contribute to this list and learn from it as well.

Werner and Susanna, you two seem to be doing a great. I would like to help as well.


message 39: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Agrawal I was quite surprised not to see Kane and Abel on the list. So I added that. Its one of my favorites of all time.


message 40: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for the encouragement, Ankit! Yes, by all means add any good historical fiction you've read that you'd like to recommend to others; that's how this list (and other lists on here) get built up. (You don't need anybody's permission to add books to a Goodreads list. :-) )


message 41: by Mary (new)

Mary Beth Misfit wrote: "Susanna wrote: "I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on."

It will eventually :p"


That is hilarious, but sadly true!


message 42: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Someone who's read THE RED TENT, what did you think?


message 43: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Jeannie HudsonJeannie Hudson

This my own historical suspense. One of the best! No
kidding. I have the reviews to prove it.


message 44: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Someone who's read THE RED TENT, what did you think?


message 45: by Werner (new)

Werner Jeannie, if you think your book(s) should be on this list, go ahead and add it. Any member of Goodreads can add books to lists, as well as vote for ones that are already here.

I've never read The Red Tent, though it's been recommended to me. But hopefully some of the other people who've commented on this list have!


message 46: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Thanks, Werner. I appreciate your comments.


message 48: by blueemerald (new)

blueemerald Hello~
Wanted to mention a revised reading list that folks might enjoy. It is a Historical Fiction Series list. It is lengthy and well organized into various sections (military, nautical, ancient world, family saga, set in Europe....).

I'm putting this link out there with enthusiastic hopes that someone(s) will discover a new series to dive into!

http://1mpages.com/HistoricalFiction....


message 49: by Mitch (new)

Mitch McCrimmon I scrolled through the first 500 on this list, surprised not to find anything by Susanna Gregory (two great historical series - one set in the mid 1300's in Cambridge, England and another series during restoration England) or Paul Doherty (loved his series set around 1300 featuring crime fighter working for the king, Hugh Corbett)


message 50: by Werner (new)

Werner Mitch, anytime you find a Goodreads list that's lacking some books you think should be there, you can add them! Any Goodreads member can do that; you don't have to be the list creator, or a Goodreads librarian. I haven't read any of Gregory's or Doherty's books myself (and I only add books to lists if I've read them), but I'm sure they'll be worthy additions for this list.


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