100 books like A Child of Christian Blood

By Edmund Levin,

Here are 100 books that A Child of Christian Blood fans have personally recommended if you like A Child of Christian Blood. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia

Stefan B. Kirmse Author Of The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia

From my list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

You can experience Russia by exploring the churches and palaces of St Petersburg and Moscow. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my approach. For me, it has always made more sense to look at the largest country on earth from its edges, the distant mountains, steppes, forests, and waters that surround it. For three decades, I have travelled across this space, studied its languages, written books and articles about it. And I have tried to look through the lens of the diverse peoples and cultures that have been part of Russian history, for better or worse. The rise and fall of the Russian Empire are unthinkable without them.    

Stefan's book list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire

Stefan B. Kirmse Why did Stefan love this book?

This book was a milestone in the study of tsarist Russia as a multiethnic and multireligious empire, especially its large Muslim population.

By the 2000s, we had become used to thinking that the Russian Empire had suppressed or ignored its religious minorities who, in turn, had avoided state institutions as much as possible. Crews’ book shattered that idea.

Exploring court cases and other disputes across time and space, he boldly argued that Muslims turned to the state as protector of their faith and that Islam became a pillar of Russian imperial policy. Many scholars have attacked his argument since then, partly for good reasons.

And yet, his contribution has proven to be more important and long-lived than those of most of his critics. On top, it’s a wonderful read. 

By Robert D. Crews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For Prophet and Tsar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Russia occupies a unique position in the Muslim world. Unlike any other non-Islamic state, it has ruled Muslim populations for over 500 years. Though Russia today is plagued by its unrelenting war in Chechnya, Russia's approach toward Islam once yielded stability. In stark contrast to the popular 'clash of civilisations' theory that sees Islam inevitably in conflict with the West, Robert D. Crews reveals the remarkable ways in which Russia constructed an empire with broad Muslim support. In the 18th Century, Catherine the Great inaugurated a policy of religious toleration that made Islam an essential pillar of Orthodox Russia. For…


Book cover of The Volga: A History of Russia's Greatest River

Stefan B. Kirmse Author Of The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia

From my list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

You can experience Russia by exploring the churches and palaces of St Petersburg and Moscow. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my approach. For me, it has always made more sense to look at the largest country on earth from its edges, the distant mountains, steppes, forests, and waters that surround it. For three decades, I have travelled across this space, studied its languages, written books and articles about it. And I have tried to look through the lens of the diverse peoples and cultures that have been part of Russian history, for better or worse. The rise and fall of the Russian Empire are unthinkable without them.    

Stefan's book list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire

Stefan B. Kirmse Why did Stefan love this book?

The Volga is key to understanding Russian history.

The river helped the empire to spread and rule, it carried dangers and diseases, protected and divided people. As a frequent site of battle, it also helped to shape collective memory. Janet Hartley’s history of the Volga captures these dimensions beautifully.

Containing a wealth of detail and written in elegant and accessible language, her book delivers new insights on a broad range of topics, from religious policy and piracy to the Volga in poetry and painting.

It is a great introduction to Russian empire-building, while, at the same time, offers even historians of Russia new insights in almost every chapter.

Take a long river cruise – down the Danube or Mississippi – and enjoy.

By Janet M. Hartley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Volga as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rich and fascinating exploration of the Volga River and its vital place in Russian history-named a Best Book of 2021 by the Financial Times

"A memorable journey into the heart of Russian social, political, and cultural history."-Jennifer Eremeeva, Moscow Times

"'Without the Volga, there would be no Russia.' The final words of Janet Hartley's book sound sweeping. But its 400 pages make the case powerfully."-The Economist

The longest river in Europe, the Volga stretches more than three and a half thousand km from the heart of Russia to the Caspian Sea, separating west from east. The river has played…


Book cover of The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552-1671

Stefan B. Kirmse Author Of The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia

From my list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

You can experience Russia by exploring the churches and palaces of St Petersburg and Moscow. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my approach. For me, it has always made more sense to look at the largest country on earth from its edges, the distant mountains, steppes, forests, and waters that surround it. For three decades, I have travelled across this space, studied its languages, written books and articles about it. And I have tried to look through the lens of the diverse peoples and cultures that have been part of Russian history, for better or worse. The rise and fall of the Russian Empire are unthinkable without them.    

Stefan's book list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire

Stefan B. Kirmse Why did Stefan love this book?

Why read a book on the early modern frontier?

You may think that all you need to know about Russia in the 1500s is Ivan the Terrible, but this gripping book will teach you otherwise.

It’ll ring familiar bells for those fascinated by the American West: it’s about an expanding state struggling to secure an unruly frontier. It features plenty of competition, even conflict, between local governors and distant lawmakers, between secular and church figures.

It also shows the suppression, but also systematic cooptation (nearly absent in the American case!), of an indigenous population.

As the title suggests, though, the Russian colonial system remained “elusive” – more rhetorical than real – as accommodation became the key form of interaction across many frontier regions.

This is bold, but argued pretty convincingly.          

By Matthew P. Romaniello,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Elusive Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1552, Muscovite Russia conquered the city of Kazan on the Volga River. It was the first Orthodox Christian victory against Islam since the fall of Constantinople, a turning point that, over the next four years, would complete Moscow's control over the river. This conquest provided a direct trade route with the Middle East and would transform Muscovy into a global power. As Matthew Romaniello shows, however, learning to manage the conquered lands and peoples would take decades.

Russia did not succeed in empire-building because of its strength, leadership, or even the weakness of its neighbors, Romaniello contends; it succeeded…


Book cover of Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy, Volume One: From Peter the Great to the Death of Nicholas I

Stefan B. Kirmse Author Of The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia

From my list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

You can experience Russia by exploring the churches and palaces of St Petersburg and Moscow. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my approach. For me, it has always made more sense to look at the largest country on earth from its edges, the distant mountains, steppes, forests, and waters that surround it. For three decades, I have travelled across this space, studied its languages, written books and articles about it. And I have tried to look through the lens of the diverse peoples and cultures that have been part of Russian history, for better or worse. The rise and fall of the Russian Empire are unthinkable without them.    

Stefan's book list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire

Stefan B. Kirmse Why did Stefan love this book?

Recommending a two-volume tome may seem odd at first sight.

But this is a truly majestic work (no pun intended). Ingeniously, Richard Wortman attributes a distinctive “scenario of power” to every Russian emperor from the 1700s to the downfall of the Romanovs in 1917, with some rulers promoting a national myth and others framing their reign as a bond of love with their subjects.

The account is deeply captivating and honest, showing every emperor and empress with all their quirks and human weaknesses, but also helping us understand their enigmatic appeal.

While the other books I recommend explore the Russian Empire “from below”, through the eyes of the people, this one is top down, focusing on how the empire and its rulers saw themselves.

The read is worth every page.        

By Richard S. Wortman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scenarios of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian imperial court, with its extravagant ceremonies and celebrations, was perhaps the most impressive theater in the world. The show, however, was no mere diversion, as Richard Wortman demonstrates in this first scholarly study of the principal myths, symbols, and rituals of Russian monarchy. Focusing on the period from the reign of Peter the Great to the death of Nicholas I, Wortman shows how the presentations and representations of the Russian ruler played a central role in the exercise of monarchical power. These presentations--from ceremonies and staged events to architectural and literary monuments--sustained an image of a supreme and…


Book cover of Last Rituals

Elizabeth Bear Author Of All the Windwracked Stars

From my list on understanding the Viking mindset and relationship with the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the granddaughter of a Finno-Swedish immigrant and I grew up on his stories and insights. Because he came from the melting-pot generations of immigrants, he kept very little of the traditions of his origins, but his culture and sense of his ancestral home informed my interests. For as long as I can recall, I've been trying to fill in the gaps in that cultural experience, which led me to researching and writing about Viking and Nordic history and culture, and visiting the Nordic countries whenever I've been able to manage it.

Elizabeth's book list on understanding the Viking mindset and relationship with the world

Elizabeth Bear Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This is a modern Icelandic Noir crime novel about a divorced personal attorney in Reykjavik who gets sucked into a horrific mystery at a university. It delves into Icelandic myth and Medieval black magic (the infamous Necropants make an appearance). I think it's very revealing about the frontier mentality that in some ways still persists in Iceland, and which saturates the Sagas. It's got a great sense of place and offers a nice cross-section of life in a modern Nordic country.

Also, it's really entertaining, and a little bit grotesque.

By Yrsa Sigurdardóttir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Rituals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first Thora Gudmundsdottir novel from Yrsa Sigurdardottir - 'Queen of Icelandic crime'.

'Yrsa is one of the most exciting new voices in the crime thriller world.' - Peter James

A young man is found brutally murdered, his eyes gouged out. A student of Icelandic history in Reykjavik, he came from a wealthy German family who do not share the police's belief that his drug dealer murdered him. Attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir is commissioned by his mother to find out the truth, with the help - and hindrance - of boorish ex-policeman Matthew Reich. Their investigations into his research take them…


Book cover of How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism

Choi Chatterjee Author Of Russia in World History: A Transnational Approach

From my list on understanding Russia's role in world history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started a serious study of world history in the early 2000s when the United States-led wave of globalization reshaped the world order. The topic of Russia in world history became especially important under the Vladimir Putin Presidency. Since the 2010s, Russia has made a concerted attempt to revitalize Soviet-era links with countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, many of which are former colonies of Europe. Putin's administration is promoting the geopolitics of a "New World Order," a paradigm they believe will challenge global Western dominance. If we are to craft a coherent Western response and a strong foreign policy, we must understand Russian outreach and relationships in the world.

Choi's book list on understanding Russia's role in world history

Choi Chatterjee Why did Choi love this book?

I learned, to my great surprise, that instead of being isolated from the world Russian ideas, thinkers, artists, revolutionaries, and political movements changed the world in many ways.

I found interesting stories about Russian anarchists in Japan, Russian ballet dancers in France, Bolsheviks in Mexico, and antisemitic thinkers in Europe in this book. And I was completely engrossed by the movements of Russians and Russian ideas across the globe.

The result is a book that you cannot put down because it challenges everything that you thought you knew about Russia and Russian history. After reading the book, I felt more informed and better educated.  

By Steven G. Marks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Russia Shaped the Modern World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping history, Steven Marks tells the fascinating story of how Russian figures, ideas, and movements changed our world in dramatic but often unattributed ways. On Europe's periphery, Russia was an early modernizing nation whose troubles stimulated intellectuals to develop radical and utopian alternatives to Western models of modernity. These provocative ideas gave rise to cultural and political innovations that were exported and adopted worldwide. Wherever there was discontent with modern existence or traditional societies were undergoing transformation, anti-Western sentiments arose. Many people perceived the Russian soul as the antithesis of the capitalist, imperialist West and turned to Russian…


Book cover of Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From my list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Richard E. Rubenstein Why did Richard love this book?

In Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, James Carroll, a former Catholic priest turned journalist and novelist, delivers a powerful indictment of the politicized religion that from the time of Constantine the Great persecuted heretics, non-Romans, and, most of all, Jews. Carroll’s historical account is colorful and accurate, but what this book mostly does is exorcise a demon that plagued the author personally for years: his shared responsibility as a Catholic believer and official for an anti-Semitic tradition that helped generate the Holocaust. This is a stirring job of writing that looks forward to Carroll’s later work as a novelist, including his lovely take on the story of  Abelard and Heloise, The Cloister (Anchor, 2019).     

By James Christopher Carroll,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Constantine's Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold and moving book tracing the two-thousand-year course of the Church's battle against Judaism by National Book Award–winning author James Carroll.

More than a chronicle of religion, this dark history is the central tragedy of Western civilization. The Church’s failure to protest the Holocaust—the infamous “silence” of Pius XII—is only part of the story: the death camps, Carroll shows, are the culmination of a long, entrenched tradition of anti-Judaism. From Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus on the cross, to Constantine’s transformation of the cross into a sword, to the rise of blood libels, scapegoating, and modern anti-Semitism,…


Book cover of The Beginning of Spring

Mark Beauregard Author Of The Whale: A Love Story

From my list on witty historical novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved satire. In college, I wrote and performed comedy sketches as part of a two-man team, and most of my work features at least some comic elements. For example, my novel The Whale: A Love Story is a serious historical novel about the relationship between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne that also offers moments of comedy to honor Melville's comic spirit (Moby-Dick, while ultimately tragic, is a very funny book). The most serious subjects usually contain elements of the absurd, and the books I love find humor in even the gravest situations. 

Mark's book list on witty historical novels

Mark Beauregard Why did Mark love this book?

Set in Moscow on the eve of the Russian Revolution, this novel’s plot does not scream “funny,” but it’s one of the most deeply funny books I’ve ever read.

An English printer living in Russia wakes up one day to find that his wife has left him and taken their children away, and revolutionaries have broken into his shop to print manifestoes.

From this unlikely setup, Fitzgerald spins a hilarious tale of loss, love, and redemption.

By Penelope Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Beginning of Spring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Booker Prize-winning author of ‘Offshore’, ‘The Blue Flower’ and ‘Innocence’ comes this Booker Prize-shortlisted tale of a troubled Moscow printworks .


Frank Reid had been born and brought up in Moscow. His father had emigrated there in the 1870s and started a print-works which, by 1913, had shrunk from what it was when Frank inherited it. In that same year, to add to his troubles, Frank’s wife Nellie caught the train back home to England, without explanation.


How is a reasonable man like Frank to cope? How should he keep his house running? Should he consult the Anglican…


Book cover of Ukraine's Unnamed War: Before the Russian Invasion of 2022

Geoffrey Roberts Author Of Stalin's Library: A Dictator and his Books

From my list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning historian, biographer, and political commentator. As a specialist in Soviet history, my books have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Finnish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Geoffrey's book list on the history of the Russo-Ukrainian war

Geoffrey Roberts Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Political scientists Arel and Driscoll deal with the period between the Maidan revolt of 2014 and the 2022 invasion.

They point out that the Maidan events provoked a three-way split in Ukraine between pro-Western Ukrainians, pro-Russia Ukrainians, and those in the middle who wanted neither to join the Russian Federation nor to distance themselves from it. Most of these neutrals remained loyal to the Ukrainian nationalist government in Kyiv and continued to do so after the Russian invasion in February 2022.

By Dominique Arel, Jesse Driscoll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ukraine's Unnamed War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has its roots in the events of 2013-2014. Russia cynically termed the seditionist conflict in Crimea and Eastern Donbas a 'civil war' in order to claim non-involvement. This flies in the face of evidence, but the authors argue that the social science literature on civil wars can be used help understand why no political solution was found between 2015 and 2022. The book explains how Russia, after seizing Crimea, was reacting to events it could not control and sent troops only to areas of Ukraine where it knew it would face little resistance…


Book cover of Invasion: Russia's Bloody War and Ukraine's Fight for Survival

Shane O'Rourke Author Of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, Princess Isabel and the Ending of Servile Labour in Russia and Brazil

From my list on explaining Russia’s War against Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am teacher of Russian History in the University of York and have been in both countries many times. Russia’s war against Ukraine is something that has touched me personally and professionally in the most profound way: witnessing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has been heartbreaking. Understanding why that war happened and what its consequences will be is of vital importance for anyone interested in the modern world, in justice, and the future of Europe. These books offer clear, passionate, and compelling accounts of the war, explaining the historical background, the immediate causes, the principle actors, and the Russian way of waging of the war.

Shane's book list on explaining Russia’s War against Ukraine

Shane O'Rourke Why did Shane love this book?

Luke Harding is a journalist who has spent many years as The Guardian correspondent in Ukraine including the present war.

The book is a mixture of historical analysis and on-the-spot reporting which makes it read like a thriller. It is vivid and at times harrowing, particularly the reports from Bucha after the massacres there. Harding pulls no punches, arguing the brutality of the war comes from Putin himself: ‘His apparent goal: the annihilation of a country, a culture and its citizens.’

Complicit in this genocidal operation are the Russian media elite who frequently openly call for the extermination of the Ukrainian nation. An excellent account from an impeccable source. 

By Luke Harding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invasion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A FINALIST FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING

The first book of reportage from the front line of the Ukraine war. This is a powerful, moving first draft of history written by the award-winning Guardian journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Collusion and Shadow State.

'An excellent, moving account of an ongoing tragedy.' ANNE APPLEBAUM

'Compelling, important and heartbreaking.' SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE

'Essential reading.' ELIOT HIGGINS, founder of Bellingcat

'Brilliant.' ANDREY KURKOV

For months, the omens had pointed in one scarcely believable direction: Russia was about to invade Ukraine. And yet, the world was stunned by…


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