10 books like Ghost on the Throne

By James Romm,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Ghost on the Throne. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Cleopatra

By Stacy Schiff,

Book cover of Cleopatra: A Life

It’s possible that Cleopatra is the single most misunderstood figure in all of history. She has been used as an example, an allegory, a warning. Her name conjures images of mysticism, sensuality, and seduction. These caricatures do her injustice. This excellent book scrapes away all the mythologizing and paints the fullest, clearest picture of this remarkable leader, the world she lived in, and the motivations behind the choices she made. She wasn’t Roman (she wasn’t really Egyptian, either), but she had a huge impact on Roman history and is an integral part of the Roman story. 

Cleopatra

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as…


Never Greater Slaughter

By Michael Livingston,

Book cover of Never Greater Slaughter: Brunanburh and the Birth of England

Livingston is the undisputed master of conflict geography/cartography, using battlegrounds as the interpretative mechanism for truly ground-breaking scholarship. He has already disrupted centuries of scholarship on major medieval battles such as Hastings, Crecy and Agincourt, completely changing how we view them (and proving where they were actually fought). He’s also an accomplished novelist, and he brings his flair for dramatic narrative to this towering scholarly work, making it as exciting to read as a pulse-pounding action novel. Never Greater Slaughter absolutely raises the bar on what great scholarship can do, and how gripping it can be while doing it.

Never Greater Slaughter

By Michael Livingston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Greater Slaughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'No one has done more than Michael Livingston to revive memories of the battle, and you could not hope for a better guide.' BERNARD CORNWELL Bestselling author of The Last Kingdom series Late in AD 937, four armies met in a place called Brunanburh. On one side stood the shield-wall of the expanding kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons. On the other side stood a remarkable alliance of rival kings - at least two from across the sea - who'd come together to destroy them once and for all. The stakes were no less than the survival of the dream that would…


The Plague of War

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

Book cover of The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece

Roberts’ groundbreaking, game-changing story of the Peloponnesian War (really, wars) is richly detailed and comprehensive, a modernizing “leveling up” from Donald Kagan’s 2004 standard text. By centering her narrative in the impact of the war, rather than strategy and politics, Roberts brings home the terrible human cost of the conflict, and the book serves as a critical examination of what wholesale violence means to a society, from the high to the low. Roberts writes with incredible empathy, and her voice makes the book more than enlightening, it’s a deeply moving mediation on the depths of self-inflicted suffering as only human beings can engender. 

The Plague of War

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 431 BC, the long simmering rivalry between the city-states of Athens and Sparta erupted into open warfare, and for more than a generation the two were locked in a life-and-death struggle. The war embroiled the entire Greek world, provoking years of butchery previously unparalleled in ancient Greece. Whole cities were exterminated, their men killed, their women and children enslaved. While the war is commonly believed to have ended with the capture of the Athenian
navy in 405 and the subsequent starvation of Athens, fighting in Greece would continue for several decades. Sparta's authority was challenged in the so-called Corinthian…


The Thirty Years War

By C.V. Wedgwood,

Book cover of The Thirty Years War

The late, great C.V. Wegwood was one of the masters of narrative history who—like her contemporary Barbara Tuchman—became a legend for weaving a bounty of facts into a brilliant page-turner. In this classic, she takes on what is perhaps Europe’s most infamously complicated war and succeeds with characteristic genius. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was many things: the culmination of Europe’s religious wars, a struggle for the heart of a continent, a clash of empires, a collapse of civilization, and, perhaps most poignantly, a sprawling nightmare that still haunts the German people. Wedgwood covers it all in a crisp, witty narrative in which characters high and low virtually walk off the page. In English, this is probably still the reigning treatment of this bear of a subject, and it is a joy to read.

The Thirty Years War

By C.V. Wedgwood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Thirty Years War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Europe in 1618 was riven between Protestants and Catholics, Bourbon and Hapsburg--as well as empires, kingdoms, and countless principalities. After angry Protestants tossed three representatives of the Holy Roman Empire out the window of the royal castle in Prague, world war spread from Bohemia with relentless abandon, drawing powers from Spain to Sweden into a nightmarish world of famine, disease, and seemingly unstoppable destruction.


Persian Fire

By Tom Holland,

Book cover of Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West

Tom Holland is one of the most famous popular historians alive, and also one of the most famous polymaths, writing on topics ranging from Islam to medieval and classical history. He’s also dabbled in fiction and playwriting, and those chops come shining through in Persian Fire, an entirely fresh look at one of the most studied conflicts in ancient history – The Greco-Persian War. Holland effortlessly eviscerates the tired “east versus west” narrative and treats the Persians with an honestly and empathy that is made even more rich by his gifts as a storyteller.

Persian Fire

By Tom Holland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 480 BC, Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece. Its success should have been a formality. For seventy years, victory - rapid, spectacular victory - had seemed the birthright of the Persian Empire. In the space of a single generation, they had swept across the Near East, shattering ancient kingdoms, storming famous cities, putting together an empire which stretched from India to the shores of the Aegean. As a result of those conquests, Xerxes ruled as the most powerful man on the planet. Yet somehow, astonishingly, against the largest expeditionary force ever assembled, the Greeks…


The Woman Who Would Be King

By Kara Cooney,

Book cover of The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

Professor Cooney’s work sheds light on what it meant to rule as a woman—it covers the rise and rule of another enigmatic and famous female ruler, Hatshepsut of Egypt. I found it to be an illuminating treatment of the challenges and complexities of female royals, and it influenced some of my thinking on the book on Cleopatra. It is a great book that depicts what ancient Egypt was like—from the ways of life, to the politics, to the exhausting rituals!

The Woman Who Would Be King

By Kara Cooney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Woman Who Would Be King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt's throne without status as a king's son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father's family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as…


River God

By Wilbur Smith,

Book cover of River God

We follow the slave, Taita, an expert in art, poetry, medicine, and engineering after he is commanded to look after a young princess married off to the Pharoah. Smith’s portrayal of ancient Egypt during the era of the pharaohs will enthrall you, all while weaving a heart-racing tale of bravery, heroism, revenge, and love. I particularly had a fondness for the faithful and affectionate friendship he had with the Queen all throughout her life.

River God

By Wilbur Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked River God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BOOK 1 IN THE BESTSELLING ANCIENT EGYPTIAN SERIES, FROM THE MASTER OF ADVENTURE, WILBUR SMITH

'Best historical novelist' - Stephen King

'A master storyteller' - Sunday Times

'Wilbur Smith is one of those benchmarks against whom others are compared' - The Times

'No one does adventure quite like Smith' - Daily Mirror

IN THE LAND OF GOLD
WHERE THE WEAK PHARAOH RULES
A NEW CIVILISATION WILL BE BORN

Taita is a humble slave; an expert in art, poetry, medicine and engineering, as well as the keeper of important secrets. He is the most treasured possession of Lord Intef. Yet when…


The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen

By A.C. Mace, Howard Carter,

Book cover of The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen

Who has not heard of King Tut? Written by the discoverer of the tomb, the book is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an accomplished archeologist and a window to the fabulous riches of Egypt. Reading firsthand about what they saw and how things were placed gives us an insight into how things may have been in the last few hours of sealing the tomb. I often use such content to fuel my imagination of what might have happened.

The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen

By A.C. Mace, Howard Carter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

November 4, 1922. For six seasons the legendary Valley of the Kings has yielded no secrets to Howard Carter and his archeological team: "We had almost made up our minds that we were beaten," he writes, "and were preparing to leave The Valley and try our luck elsewhere; and then — hardly had we set hoe to ground in our last despairing effort than we made a discovery that far exceeded our wildest dreams."
Join Howard Carter in his fascinating odyssey toward the most dramatic archeological find of the century — the tomb of Tutankhamen. Written by Carter in 1923,…


Fire from Heaven

By Mary Renault,

Book cover of Fire from Heaven

Any recommendation list of novels about Alexander must include Mary Renault, queen of Greek historical fiction. Fire from Heaven covers his childhood/youth and remains many readers’ initial introduction to him. Her knowledge of Greece, both the land and its history, is rich, and she was first to depict, in a positive way, Alexander’s relationship with Hephaistion as more than friendship. Ironically, the book’s publication coincided with the NYC Stonewall Riots in June of 1969. Yet however progressive her view of homoerotic attachments, she paints a troublingly misogynistic portrait of Alexander’s mother Olympias. The book contains a few errors as several critical archaeological discoveries were 10+ years in the future, but historical novelists can’t be faulted for forthcoming finds. Her second novel about Alexander, The Persian Boy, was published in 1972.

Fire from Heaven

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Alexander Trilogy contains some of Renault's finest writing. Lyrical, wise, compelling: the novels are a wonderful imaginative feat - Sarah Waters

Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three, leaving behind an empire that stretched from Greece to India. Fire From Heaven tells the story of the years that shaped him. His mother, Olympias, and his father, King Philip of Macedon, fought each other for their son's loyalty, teaching Alexander politics and vengeance. His love for the youth Hephaistion taught him trust, while Aristotle's tutoring provoked his mind and fuelled his aspirations. Killing his first man in battle…


The Virtues of War

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great

As a teenager Alexander, to become The Great, is given to one of his father’s warriors – Telamon – to go on a life-threatening winter wolf hunt. A risk of building character and spirit his father is willing to take.  Later in life, during Alexander’s conquest, Telemon never wishes to rise above a colonel’s rank. He wants to remain in the midst of the fighting.  

When Alexander finally departs India to end his conquests Telamon leaves him to go off with a group of monks. When Alexander asks why that choice Telamon responds, “I schooled you as a boy Alexander, to be superior to fear and anger. You vanquished hardship and hunger and cold and fatigue. But you have not learned to master your victories. These hold you. You are their slave.” What more can a man learn from a book?

As for my liking this book, Pressfield is one of my favorite authors and this…

The Virtues of War

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Virtues of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life. So begins Alexander’s extraordinary confession on the eve of his greatest crisis of leadership. By turns heroic and calculating, compassionate and utterly merciless, Alexander recounts with a warrior’s unflinching eye for detail the blood, the terror, and the tactics of his greatest battlefield victories. Whether surviving his father’s brutal assassination, presiding over a massacre, or weeping at the death of a beloved comrade-in-arms, Alexander never denies the hard realities of the code by which he lives: the virtues of war. But as much as he was feared by…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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