31 books like Cities

By Monica L. Smith,

Here are 31 books that Cities fans have personally recommended if you like Cities. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide

Judith Harris Author Of Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery

From my list on the joys of life in classical antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a freelance journalist in Italy, I covered, for Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and others, tough topics: terrorism, the Mafia, the heroin traffic which passed via Sicilian laboratories to the U.S. At a certain point I found this overly negative. After taking a course in Rome on archaeology, by chance I was asked to direct a BBC half-hour documentary on Pompeii. In so doing, I realized that it was  time to focus upon the many positive elements of Italian life and history. From that life-changing documentary came this book on Pompeii, on which I worked for five rewarding years. My next book was on historical Venice.

Judith's book list on the joys of life in classical antiquity

Judith Harris Why did Judith love this book?

The late Amanda Claridge, a professor at the University of London, introduces us to the ancient city in the book she co-authored: Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, now on offer as Rome, An archaeological guide. Over time, archaeology itself changes, and today's critics say that her presentation of up-to-date archaeology in Rome equally entrances both tourists and her fellow scholars. She taught at both Oxford and the University of London, as well as at Princeton University in the U.S. 

By Amanda Claridge,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The city of Rome is the largest archaeological site in the world, capital and showcase of the Roman Empire and the centre of Christian Europe.

This guide provides:

* Coverage of all the important sites in the city from 800 BC to AD 600 and the start of the early middle ages, drawing on the latest discoveries and the best of recent scholarship

* Over 220 high-quality maps, site plans, diagrams and photographs

* Sites divided into fourteen main areas, with star ratings to help you plan and prioritize your visit:
Roman Forum; Upper Via Sacra; Palatine; Imperial Forums; Campus…


Book cover of The Ancient City

Greg Woolf Author Of The Life and Death of Ancient Cities: A Natural History

From my list on ancient cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned to dig as a teenager in the school holidays and studied the ancient world at Oxford and Cambridge before beginning my career as a university teacher. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world for my work, and have spent time living in some amazing cities including Paris, London, Madrid, and Rome. I love exploring new urban landscapes from Moscow to Lusaka, Såo Paulo to Toronto and I am looking forward this summer to moving to another great metropolis, Los Angeles.

Greg's book list on ancient cities

Greg Woolf Why did Greg love this book?

Historians of Greece and Rome have been arguing about how to describe ancient cities on and off since the eighteenth century and some of their debates have got stuck deep in the mud. This little book offers the best way out of these impasses. It is super clear, really up to date and incorporates the very latest research. Especially good on economy and society.

By Arjan Zuiderhoek,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Greece and Rome were quintessentially urban societies. Ancient culture, politics and society arose and developed in the context of the polis and the civitas. In modern scholarship, the ancient city has been the subject of intense debates due to the strong association in Western thought between urbanism, capitalism and modernity. In this book, Arjan Zuiderhoek provides a survey of the main issues at stake in these debates, as well as a sketch of the chief characteristics of Greek and Roman cities. He argues that the ancient Greco-Roman city was indeed a highly specific form of urbanism, but that this does…


Book cover of Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present

Greg Woolf Author Of The Life and Death of Ancient Cities: A Natural History

From my list on ancient cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned to dig as a teenager in the school holidays and studied the ancient world at Oxford and Cambridge before beginning my career as a university teacher. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world for my work, and have spent time living in some amazing cities including Paris, London, Madrid, and Rome. I love exploring new urban landscapes from Moscow to Lusaka, Såo Paulo to Toronto and I am looking forward this summer to moving to another great metropolis, Los Angeles.

Greg's book list on ancient cities

Greg Woolf Why did Greg love this book?

Most historians work on a few decades of the past, and even ancient historians rarely move beyond two or three centuries, but this amazing collection asks us to think about how themes like language and trade and kinship and residence look if we consider them over the last 40,000 years. Each chapter is written by a team of researchers from different disciplines. Often they have to start by creating a common language. But the results are truly eye-opening. So many familiar themes will never look quite the same again.

By Daniel Lord Smail, Andrew Shryock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Humans have always been interested in their origins, but historians have been reluctant to write about the long stretches of time before the invention of writing. In fact, the deep past was left out of most historical writing almost as soon as it was discovered. This breakthrough book, as important for readers interested in the present as in the past, brings science into history to offer a dazzling new vision of humanity across time. Team-written by leading experts in a variety of fields, it maps events, cultures, and eras across millions of years to present a new scale for understanding…


Book cover of Invisible Cities

Michael Batty Author Of The Computable City: Histories, Technologies, Stories, Predictions

From my list on cities that are not what they seem.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are as many ways of thinking about cities as there are people who live in them, and by the end of this century, it is clear we will all be living in cities of one size or another. Cities are in effect the crucibles where all technological and cultural change takes place. They are the drivers of prosperity while also the harbingers of chaos, decline, and war. What makes them fascinating is that as soon as we begin to peel back the layers that compose the city, our understanding of them begins to change: they metamorphose into different conceptions where there is no agreement as to what they are or what they might become.

Michael's book list on cities that are not what they seem

Michael Batty Why did Michael love this book?

Imagining different cities from different viewpoints in history is the focus of Calvino’s wonderful set of vignettes between Marco Polo from his 13th-century travelogue and Kublai Kahn as they explore different ways they see cities that lie along the Silk Road. Weaving fact into fiction, they point up the essential logic of how cities are formed and how they evolve. What we remember, how we perceive these memories, and the size and shape of cities are all ideas which is the canvas on which Calvino describes the many cities of our imagination.

This is a wonderful set of stories–you can dip into them and read them if you are on the subway or waiting in the dentist's surgery or anywhere where you get a free moment. The stories are memorable.

By Italo Calvino,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Invisible Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A subtle and beautiful meditation' Sunday Times

In Invisible Cities Marco Polo conjures up cities of magical times for his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, but gradually it becomes clear that he is actually describing one city: Venice. As Gore Vidal wrote 'Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvellous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant.'


Book cover of The Treasures of the Pyramids

Melinda Hartwig Author Of The Tomb Chapel of Menna (Tt 69): The Art, Culture, and Science of Painting in an Egyptian Tomb

From my list on ancient Egyptian tombs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was ten. I started my first project in Luxor, Egypt, when I was 21, and for the last 35+ years, these projects have uncovered the stories of Theban tomb owners and the times in which they lived. For this reason, I’ve chosen some of the most accessible books on ancient Egyptian tombs and their decoration. I hope that these books will excite you about the humanity of those who lived thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt.

Melinda's book list on ancient Egyptian tombs

Melinda Hartwig Why did Melinda love this book?

This overlooked coffee table book is a tour-de-force survey of the decorated mastabas, pyramids, and tombs of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Written by international experts and edited by the world-famous Zahi Hawass, Treasures of the Pyramids offers something for everyone. I assign many chapters in my undergraduate classes because they are concise, well-written in English by French and German experts, and profusely illustrated in color. 

By Zahi Hawass,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Treasures of the Pyramids Hawass, Zahi A.


Book cover of Servant of the Underworld

Gerry Ironspear Author Of Lakhoni

From my list on fantasy set in a familiar but strange old America.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was younger, I turned to fantastical stories of determined, flawed heroes to bring me a world I could understand and control – unlike the scary reality I lived in. Most of the fantasy stories I read as I grew up were, of course, set in a medieval England-type world. But as I got older, I found myself fascinated by the history and mythology of the New World and got the feeling there was a lot of untapped potential there. So, I started studying Mesoamerican and Native American peoples, as well as picking up alternate history fantasies set in America. So of course, I had to write my own. 

Gerry's book list on fantasy set in a familiar but strange old America

Gerry Ironspear Why did Gerry love this book?

I love a noir detective story. Set that story in a fantastical, blood-drenched Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, and I’m totally sold.

The story follows Acatl, who is a high priest of the dead, as he, I kid you not, tries to solve what appears to be a murder case. Except he’s not walking the streets of some modern city – his journey takes him through the fascinating world of a familiar yet unique Aztec empire where human sacrifice is the only thing keeping the world spinning in its proper order.

Having familiar conflicts, including family issues, makes this one a unique standout. Acatl sounds like people I know. Following his determined efforts to bring a specific evil to heel – all while in a society that seemingly glories in bloodshed – is awesome.

By Aliette de Bodard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Servant of the Underworld as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy:

Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. Human sacrifice and the magic of the living blood are the only things keeping the sun in the sky and the earth fertile.

A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. It should be a usual investigation for Acatl, High Priest of the Dead--except that his estranged brother is involved, and the the more he digs, the deeper he is drawn into the political and magical intrigues of noblemen, soldiers, and priests-and of the gods themselves...

REVIEWS:

‘ gripping…


Book cover of When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History

David Carballo Author Of Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain

From my list on the Aztec-Spanish War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an archaeologist at Boston University with a transatlantic family that spans Spain and Latin America.  My research has primarily focused on Mesoamerica, and prehispanic central Mexico more specifically, but the deep roots of these transatlantic entanglements have always fascinated me personally and as a historically minded scholar.

David's book list on the Aztec-Spanish War

David Carballo Why did David love this book?

For a couple of decades, Restall has been at the vanguard of a group of historians developing what is known as the New Conquest History, an effort to balance the Eurocentrism of earlier histories of the Aztec-Spanish War and its aftermath. I’ve used an earlier book of his, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, in my teaching, as it is succinctly argued and provokes students to think critically about the early history of Latin America. This book builds on that and narrows the focus to how the historic encounter between Moctezuma, the Great Speaker of Tenochtitlan and the most powerful individual in Mesoamerica, and Cortés (on November 8, 1519) has been reinterpreted in the years since.  It ranges across five centuries of history, art, and aesthetics, and pop culture to poke holes in narratives that center Cortés’ presumed military brilliance and problematize notions that Moctezuma considered the Spaniards gods…

By Matthew Restall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Montezuma Met Cortés as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and Hernando Cortes that completely overturns what we know about the Spanish conquest of the Americas

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction-the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas-has long been the symbol of Cortes's bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave…


Book cover of Aztec

Andrew Hudgins Author Of After the Lost War: A Narrative

From my list on historical novels that I love to recommend.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with historical novels as a kid somewhere between reading Johnny Tremain and Ben and Me (from the point of view of a mouse living in Ben Franklin’s hat) in elementary school and Mika Waltari’s The Roman and The Egyptian and Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur in junior high. And that love led me to write After the Lost War, a historical novel in verse based on the life of the poet Sidney Lanier, who served in the confederate army in the civil war, survived to start a family and died from tuberculous he contracted as a prisoner of war.

Andrew's book list on historical novels that I love to recommend

Andrew Hudgins Why did Andrew love this book?

Mixtli, an elderly Aztec lord captured by the Spanish, is reluctantly questioned by a Catholic bishop charged with reporting to the king of Spain about the customs and mores of his new unwilling subjects. The bishop is repulsed and appalled by the violent history and, to his mind, sexual looseness of the Aztecs while blind to the violent depredations of the conquistadors who protect him. But the story that outrages the bishop is for the reader a spectacular tragic saga of the end of the Aztec empire from the point of view of the conquered and a telling of what was lost.

By Gary Jennings,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gary Jennings's Aztec is the extraordinary story of the last and greatest native civilization of North America.

Told in the words of one of the most robust and memorable characters in modern fiction, Mixtli-Dark Cloud, Aztec reveals the very depths of Aztec civilization from the peak and feather-banner splendor of the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan to the arrival of Hernán Cortás and his conquistadores, and their destruction of the Aztec empire. The story of Mixtli is the story of the Aztecs themselves---a compelling, epic tale of heroic dignity and a colossal civilization's rise and fall.


Book cover of Mari and Karana: Two Old Babylonian Cities

Amanda H. Podany Author Of Weavers, Scribes, and Kings: A New History of the Ancient Near East

From my list on the lives of real people in ancient Mesopotamia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and professor of ancient Mesopotamia. I was born in the UK but have lived in the US for decades, and from childhood I loved ancient history and archaeology (even through a five-year stint as a bass player before and during college). No matter how long the human race exists in future, we have only one shared ancient global past, the remains of which represent a completely non-renewable resource and source of inspiration. There is plenty left to discover, with much evidence already excavated and awaiting interpretation. It’s a joy to analyze and share the words and life-stories of Mesopotamians in my books—in a conversation that stretches across millennia.

Amanda's book list on the lives of real people in ancient Mesopotamia

Amanda H. Podany Why did Amanda love this book?

When this book first came out, I was just beginning work on my Ph.D. dissertation and it had a big influence on me. Stephanie Dalley writes in a wonderfully accessible style for general readers about the people of the 18th century BCE cities of Mari and Tell al Rimah, and throughout the book she quotes from the personal letters found there. She overcomes a common perception that the ancient world can seem removed and remote, by letting the ancient people speak directly to the reader. All the while, she also makes fascinating observations about what the documents reveal, and also includes discussions of archaeological evidence (such as culinary molds that were used to make fish-shaped bread, in the section on food preparation!).

By Stephanie Dalley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A study on the social aspects of Mari and Karana, this book provides an account of life in the nineteenth century BCE. Illustrations with photographs and drawings of objects uncovered during excavations provide a lively counterpart to the texts themselves, many of which are quoted in translation.


Book cover of Women at the Dawn of History

Amanda H. Podany Author Of Weavers, Scribes, and Kings: A New History of the Ancient Near East

From my list on the lives of real people in ancient Mesopotamia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and professor of ancient Mesopotamia. I was born in the UK but have lived in the US for decades, and from childhood I loved ancient history and archaeology (even through a five-year stint as a bass player before and during college). No matter how long the human race exists in future, we have only one shared ancient global past, the remains of which represent a completely non-renewable resource and source of inspiration. There is plenty left to discover, with much evidence already excavated and awaiting interpretation. It’s a joy to analyze and share the words and life-stories of Mesopotamians in my books—in a conversation that stretches across millennia.

Amanda's book list on the lives of real people in ancient Mesopotamia

Amanda H. Podany Why did Amanda love this book?

Women were integral to everything in Mesopotamia—politics, religion, economy, society, you name it—for the entire multi-millennium lifetime of the culture. I find this book, which is the catalogue of an exhibit for the Yale Babylonian Collection, to be a particularly interesting study, and it has gorgeous illustrations. The six chapters include two that focus on prominent women, the priestess Enheduanna and Queen Sammu-ramat (Semiramis), as well as discussions of many women who were not well known. The objects that were displayed in the exhibit are illustrated in the second half of the book, each described with a paragraph or two. These really give you a sense of how archaeologists and historians draw their conclusions from ancient evidence, and how individual lives can be reconstructed from objects and texts.

By Agnete W. Lassen (editor), Klaus Wagensonner (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women at the Dawn of History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the patriarchal world of ancient Mesopotamia, women were often represented in their relation to men - as mothers, daughters, or wives - giving the impression that a woman's place was in the home. But, as this volume explores, they were also authors and scholars, astute business-women, sources of expressions of eroticism, priestesses with access to major gods and goddesses, and regents who exercised power on behalf of kingdoms, states, and empires. Illustrated in colour and black & white throughout.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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