100 books like The Histories (Translated by Tom Holland)

By Herodotus, Tom Holland (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Histories (Translated by Tom Holland) fans have personally recommended if you like The Histories (Translated by Tom Holland). 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 The Last of the Wine

Jim Carr Author Of Yesterdays

From my list on wars over the ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love history and languages from the first time my school classes opened my eyes to them and it has stayed with me ever since. Learning Latin helped me to understand how these people talked and how they thought and expressed themselves. It didn’t matter what, whether the daily lives of Romans and how they built their empire. It has coloured my thinking, and helped me in writing all my books that take place during the past, whether in Roman life or medieval warfare.

Jim's book list on wars over the ages

Jim Carr Why did Jim love this book?

If you think our wars are long and drawn out, the 25-year war between Athens and Sparta at the time of Athenian power in ancient Greece. The story is told by Alexis, born at a time of plague and the outset of the war. Alexias is born to a rich family and takes part in all the big events that shaped the outcome of the war. The book traces his adventures from his school days and how he witnessed the great naval battle in the Great Harbour, how he was captured and buried his father on his return. There are also references to Alicabides, a prominent figure in Athens at the time.

The Last of the Wine is more than about battles. It also offers great insights into how lived beyond the constant battles that pepper the book and coming to know some of the key Athenian statesmen who come…

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Last of the Wine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Athens and Sparta, the mighty city states of ancient Greece, locked together in a quarter century of conflict: the Peloponnesian War. Alexias the Athenian was born, passed through childhood and grew to manhood in those troubled years, that desperate and dangerous epoch when the golden age of Pericles was declining into uncertainty and fear for the future. Of good family, he and his friends are brought up and educated in the things of the intellect and in athletic and martial pursuits. They learn to hunt and to love, to wrestle and to question. And all the time his star of…


Book cover of The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece

Paul Cartledge Author Of Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece

From my list on ancient Greece and their world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied Classics and Ancient Greek history since my teens, I read ‘Greats’ (Ancient History and Philosophy) at Oxford, completed an archaeological doctorate on early Sparta also at Oxford (1975), while spending my teaching career (1972-2014) in Northern and Southern Ireland, and in England at Warwick and Cambridge Universities. I retired as the inaugural, endowed A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture before taking up my current position as A.G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. I have been the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of some 30 books on ancient Greek history, most recently Thebes: the Forgotten City of Ancient Greece.

Paul's book list on ancient Greece and their world

Paul Cartledge Why did Paul love this book?

Not – repeat not – because I am its editor and wrote more than half of it but mainly because this is I believe the one-volume, one-stop-shop book to have on your shelves or digitally on your computer if you want to gain something like a complete understanding and appreciation of the world or rather worlds of Ancient Greece. I can do no better than quote from the ‘blurb’ provided online by the C.U.P. itself.

It is sumptuously illustrated throughout, almost entirely in colour. It offers fresh interpretations of the whole range of ‘Classical’ Greek culture, different aspects of which are expertly handled by members of an international cast of top-notch scholars both male and female. These aspects include: the influences of the environment and economy; the effects of interstate tensions; the implications of (bi-, homo-, hetero-normative) sexuality; the experiences of workers, soldiers, slaves, peasants and women; and the roles…

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sumptuously illustrated in colour and packed with fascinating information, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece is now available for the first time in a revised paperback edition. Offering fresh interpretations of classical Greek culture, the book devotes as much attention to social, economic, sexual and intellectual aspects as to politics and war. Paul Cartledge and his team ask what it was like for an ordinary person to partake in 'the glory that was Greece'. They examine the influences of the environment and economy; the effect of interstate tensions; the implications of sexuality; the experience of workers, soldiers, slaves, peasants…


Book cover of The Iliad

Nick Stevenson Author Of Nethergeist

From my list on compelling world building in fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been intrigued by fantastical world-building that is complex, detailed, forensically credible, and immeasurably encyclopedic in scope. It should propel you to a world that feels almost as real as the world you leave behind but with intricate magic systems and razor-shape lore. Ironically, some of my choices took a while to love, but once they “sunk in,” everything changed. Whenever life gets too much, it has been cathartic, essential even, to transport to another universe and find solace in prose dedicated to survival, soul, and renewal.

Nick's book list on compelling world building in fantasy

Nick Stevenson Why did Nick love this book?

This may be considered an odd choice on the surface, given the true events of the Trojan War. This was also another I initially struggled with. Nevertheless, despite the factual elements, it’s viewed as one of the earliest epic fantasies in Western literature, along with The Odyssey, which came after.

Centered on just a few days of the ten-year siege of Troy, the lives of humans and their gods are intricately linked. It is one of the earliest examples of pathos with much sympathy actually lying with the enemies, the Trojans, a people based in Asia Minor, and their allies from all over the region. Outside the gods, it also references monsters such as Bellerophon, the Gorgon, and centaurs, with the gods often used as a plot device to refract the emotions and flaws of the characters.

The world-building is vivid and rich in dactylic hexameter, a rhythmic style.…

By Homer, Robert Fagles (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the greatest epics in Western literature, THE ILIAD recounts the story of the Trojan wars. This timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves to its tragic conclusion. In his introduction, Bernard Knox observes that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it co-exists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace.


Book cover of Thucydides: The War of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians

Paul Cartledge Author Of Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece

From my list on ancient Greece and their world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied Classics and Ancient Greek history since my teens, I read ‘Greats’ (Ancient History and Philosophy) at Oxford, completed an archaeological doctorate on early Sparta also at Oxford (1975), while spending my teaching career (1972-2014) in Northern and Southern Ireland, and in England at Warwick and Cambridge Universities. I retired as the inaugural, endowed A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture before taking up my current position as A.G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. I have been the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of some 30 books on ancient Greek history, most recently Thebes: the Forgotten City of Ancient Greece.

Paul's book list on ancient Greece and their world

Paul Cartledge Why did Paul love this book?

Thucydides of Athens (c. 455-400 BC) was an Athenian aristocrat of supreme intelligence and a failed politician who turned his 20 years of political exile to excellent account by turning himself into the most acute analyst and historian of the great Atheno-Peloponnesian War of 431 to 404. Thucydides was born within the world’s first democratic political state but was out of sympathy with the rule of the majority, the masses – except when they themselves were kept in check and did what they were advised by a superior statesman of the unique calibre of Pericles (c. 493-429).

Thucydides outlived the end of that War, which was a major defeat ultimately for his own home city by the Spartans aided financially by the old enemy, the Persians. But he did not live long enough to complete his History, which breaks off in mid-sentence in what we call the summer of 411…

By Thucydides, Jeremy Mynott (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thucydides' classic work is a foundational text in the history of Western political thought. His narrative of the great war between Athens and Sparta in the fifth century BC is now seen as a highly sophisticated study of the nature of political power itself: its exercise and effects, its agents and victims, and the arguments through which it is defended and deployed. It is therefore increasingly read as a text in politics, international relations and political theory, whose students will find in Thucydides many striking contemporary resonances. This edition seeks to present the author and the text in their proper…


Book cover of The World Turned Upside Down: Medieval Japanese Society

David Abulafia Author Of The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans

From my list on global history before the modern era.

Why am I passionate about this?

We live in an increasingly connected world. But human beings have always made connections with one another across space, and the space I find especially exciting is water - whether the narrow space of seas such as the Mediterranean and the Baltic, or the broader and wilder spaces of the great oceans. These are spaces that link distant countries and continents, across which people have brought objects, ideas and religions as well as themselves - a history of migrants, merchants, mercenaries, missionaries, and many others that can be recovered from shipwrecks, travellers' tales, cargo manifests, and many other sources, a history, ultimately, of the origins of our globalized world.

David's book list on global history before the modern era

David Abulafia Why did David love this book?

A marvelously coherent and stimulating introduction to the turbulent politics and social and economic life of Japan between revolutionary changes in 1185 and the early sixteenth century, with much to say about cultural life as well. Souyri is as interested in the lives of peasants and traders as in that of shoguns and samurai.

By Pierre François Souyri,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the late twelfth century, Japanese people called the transitional period in which they were living the "age of warriors." Feudal clans fought civil wars, and warriors from the Kanto Plain rose up to restore the military regime of their shogun, Yoritomo. The whole of this intermediary period came to represent a gap between two stable societies: the ancient period, dominated by the imperial court in Heian (today's Kyoto), and the modern period, dominated by the Tokugawa bakufu based in Edo (today's Tokyo). In this remarkable portrait of a complex period in the evolution of Japan, Pierre F. Souyri uses…


Book cover of The Sicilian Vespers: A History of the Mediterranean World in the Later Thirteenth Century

Sarah Davis-Secord Author Of Where Three Worlds Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean

From my list on medieval Sicily.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many travelers and writers, I was drawn to the Mediterranean Sea because of its vibrant cultures, sun-drenched landscapes, and delicious foods. As a medieval historian, I am attracted to stories of people and cultures in communication with each other across religious and cultural divides. I found the perfect combination in the history of Sicily, which in the Middle Ages had populations of Greek Christians, Latin Christians, Muslims, and Jews living together in both peace and conflict. I study the histories of travel, trade, and exchange in and around Sicily, which allows me to think about big questions of how medieval people related to each other even when they came from different religions or cultures.

Sarah's book list on medieval Sicily

Sarah Davis-Secord Why did Sarah love this book?

I love being a historian of the early and central Middle Ages. This was a period in which the religious and political conflicts of the later Middle Ages were not yet foregone conclusions, although the faultlines of future conflicts were being laid.

The late thirteenth century, by contrast, was a time of multiple contests on many fronts: the European crusading project continued, the fallout of the conflict between Frederick II and the papacy was still roiling, and the newly powerful kings of European states were competing for influence.

Steven Runciman’s book captures the ferment of this time by focusing on an uprising against Sicily’s French rulers. Although the book was published many years ago, it has never really been matched for its propulsive storytelling and ability to highlight the continuing importance of Sicily as a focal point of broader developments in the Mediterranean.

By Steven Runciman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 30 March 1282, as the bells of Palermo were ringing for Vespers, the Sicilian townsfolk, crying 'Death to the French', slaughtered the garrison and administration of their Angevin King. Seen in historical perspective it was not an especially big massacre: the revolt of the long-subjugated Sicilians might seem just another resistance movement. But the events of 1282 came at a crucial moment. Steven Runciman takes the Vespers as the climax of a great narrative sweep covering the whole of the Mediterranean in the thirteenth century. His sustained narrative power is displayed here with concentrated brilliance in the rise and…


Book cover of Prince Henry 'The Navigator': A Life

David Abulafia Author Of The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans

From my list on global history before the modern era.

Why am I passionate about this?

We live in an increasingly connected world. But human beings have always made connections with one another across space, and the space I find especially exciting is water - whether the narrow space of seas such as the Mediterranean and the Baltic, or the broader and wilder spaces of the great oceans. These are spaces that link distant countries and continents, across which people have brought objects, ideas and religions as well as themselves - a history of migrants, merchants, mercenaries, missionaries, and many others that can be recovered from shipwrecks, travellers' tales, cargo manifests, and many other sources, a history, ultimately, of the origins of our globalized world.

David's book list on global history before the modern era

David Abulafia Why did David love this book?

This is a rich and revisionist account of a figure long celebrated in Portugal as a national hero and the founder of what became the worldwide Portuguese Empire; but Russell reveals a flawed figure consumed by ambitions that resulted in the establishment of a trade in black slaves from West Africa, alongside successful colonisation of uninhabited islands such as Madeira and the Azores.

By Peter Russell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Henry the Navigator, fifteenth-century Portuguese prince and explorer, is a legendary, almost mythical figure in late medieval history. Considered along with Columbus to be one of the progenitors of modernity, Prince Henry challenged the scientific assumptions of his age and was responsible for liberating Europeans from geographical restraints that had bound them since the Roman Empire's collapse. In this enthralling account of Henry's life-the first biography of "The Navigator" in more than a century-Peter Russell reaps the harvest of a lifelong study of Prince Henry. Making full use of documentary evidence only recently available, Russell reevaluates Henry and his role…


Book cover of History in the Making

David Abulafia Author Of The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans

From my list on global history before the modern era.

Why am I passionate about this?

We live in an increasingly connected world. But human beings have always made connections with one another across space, and the space I find especially exciting is water - whether the narrow space of seas such as the Mediterranean and the Baltic, or the broader and wilder spaces of the great oceans. These are spaces that link distant countries and continents, across which people have brought objects, ideas and religions as well as themselves - a history of migrants, merchants, mercenaries, missionaries, and many others that can be recovered from shipwrecks, travellers' tales, cargo manifests, and many other sources, a history, ultimately, of the origins of our globalized world.

David's book list on global history before the modern era

David Abulafia Why did David love this book?

John Elliott is a world-class historian of Spain and its Empire, his reflections on how to write history without becoming immersed in jargon or obscure theories are beautifully woven into the story of how he himself learned the craft of writing clear, accessible, and original works of history, taking the reader from Cambridge to Franco’s Spain. This is a charming book with a valuable message.

By J.H. Elliott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An eminent historian offers rare insight into his craft and the way it has changed over his lifetime

From the vantage point of nearly sixty years devoted to research and the writing of history, J. H. Elliott steps back from his work to consider the progress of historical scholarship. From his own experiences as a historian of Spain, Europe, and the Americas, he provides a deft and sharp analysis of the work that historians do and how the field has changed since the 1950s.

The author begins by explaining the roots of his interest in Spain and its past, then…


Book cover of Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

Rosemary Mahoney Author Of Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

From my list on floating down the Nile.

Why am I passionate about this?

When author Rosemary Mahoney took a solo trip on the Egyptian Nile in a seven-foot rowboat, she discovered modern Egypt for herself. As a female, she confronted deeply-held beliefs about foreign women while cautiously remaining open to genuine friendships; as a traveler, she had experiences that ranged from the humorous to the hair-raising--including an encounter that began as one of the most frightening of her life and ended as a chastening lesson in cultural misunderstanding.  Whether she's meeting contemporary Egyptians or finding connections to Westerners who traveled the Nile long ago, Mahoney's informed curiosity about Egypt never ceases to captivate the reader.

Rosemary's book list on floating down the Nile

Rosemary Mahoney Why did Rosemary love this book?

In November 1849, Gustave Flaubert and his friend Maxime du Camp hired a boat and crew in Alexandria, Egypt and set off on a three-month trip up the Nile. At that time a trip on the Nile was still an extremely unusual and exotic adventure for Europeans. This book comprises Flaubert's letters to his mother and his friends back home in France. Flaubert was a man who deeply disliked his own country, had a longtime love of things oriental, was interested in the baser aspects of humanity, and was capable of writing to in a letter to a friend that women generally confused their cunts (his word) for their brains and thought the moon existed solely to light their boudoirs. 

You'll find here Flaubert's amusing descriptions of Egypt's bazaars, temples, and people, as well as his graphic and honest (possibly even exaggerated) descriptions of his sexual experiences in Egypt's numerous…

By Gustave Flaubert, Francis Steegmuller (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At once a classic of travel literature and a penetrating portrait of a "sensibility on tour," Flaubert in Egypt wonderfully captures the young writer's impressions during his 1849 voyages. Using diaries, letters, travel notes, and the evidence of Flaubert's traveling companion, Maxime Du Camp, Francis Steegmuller reconstructs his journey through the bazaars and brothels of Cairo and down the Nile to the Red Sea.


Book cover of Letters from Egypt: A Journey on the Nile, 1849-1850

Rosemary Mahoney Author Of Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

From my list on floating down the Nile.

Why am I passionate about this?

When author Rosemary Mahoney took a solo trip on the Egyptian Nile in a seven-foot rowboat, she discovered modern Egypt for herself. As a female, she confronted deeply-held beliefs about foreign women while cautiously remaining open to genuine friendships; as a traveler, she had experiences that ranged from the humorous to the hair-raising--including an encounter that began as one of the most frightening of her life and ended as a chastening lesson in cultural misunderstanding.  Whether she's meeting contemporary Egyptians or finding connections to Westerners who traveled the Nile long ago, Mahoney's informed curiosity about Egypt never ceases to captivate the reader.

Rosemary's book list on floating down the Nile

Rosemary Mahoney Why did Rosemary love this book?

If you, like me, have imagined Florence Nightingale as selfless, holy, good, unworldly, prim, and therefore probably very dull, this collection of her letters from Egypt will completely dash that perception. Nightingale was ferocious. Purely by coincidence, she set off on a three-month cruise down the Nile during the same week as Gustave Flaubert. Though the two apparently never met in their travels, they had many of the same experiences and visited the same places within two or three days of each other. Of the two, Nightingale was in fact the more daring and the more acute in her observations and judgments. 

She was brilliant, widely traveled, extremely well-educated, and had an absolutely wicked sense of humor that in these pages will surprise and delight you. Where Flaubert was emotional, sometimes melodramatic, superstitious, and occasionally fearful, Nightingale was tough-minded, unsentimental, and rational. In places where Flaubert chickened out, Nightingale just…

By Florence Nightingale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of letters written during a journey to Egypt describing the author's views on the country and its history and people


5 book lists we think you will like!

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