100 books like The Last of the Wine

By Mary Renault,

Here are 100 books that The Last of the Wine fans have personally recommended if you like The Last of the Wine. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

Who knew that an account of a disappeared medieval world could be so gripping?

I’ve always regarded history as a literary and intellectual exercise, and Pulitzer-winning Barbara Tuchman has been my model ever since I picked up this absorbing history of a Europe riven by war, climate catastrophes, plague, and religious schisms.

Academic historians might denigrate Tuchman’s approach, but through pen-portraits and narrative momentum, Tuchman immersed me in a world that had subtle echoes of today.

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fourteenth century was a time of fabled crusades and chivalry, glittering cathedrals and grand castles. It was also a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

Here, Barbara Tuchman masterfully reveals the two contradictory images of the age, examining the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes and war dominated the lives of serf, noble and clergy alike.

Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries and guilty passions, Tuchman recreates the lives of proud cardinals,…


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

Andy Owen Author Of Land of the Blind

From my list on books that capture the tragedy and comedy of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

War is perhaps the most extreme human activity. I have seen firsthand some of these extremes in Iraq and Afghanistan. I now write about the philosophy and ethics of war and geopolitics, exploring some of the impacts and enduring truths that war and its conduct tell us about ourselves that might be hidden under the surface of our everyday lives. The books I have chosen here explore, with elegance, sensitivity, and sometimes brutal and unflinching honesty, what the battlefield exposes, showing us that there is both tragedy and comedy at the extremities of human nature, and without one, you cannot really truly appreciate the other.

Andy's book list on books that capture the tragedy and comedy of war

Andy Owen Why did Andy love this book?

I haven’t recommended The Iliad because it’s the oldest war story (perhaps the oldest work of literature still widely read), but because of the immediacy with which it still speaks of fear, rage, lust, and honour; all drivers of conflicts today as much as they were in our deep past.

The first time I read the verses of vivid, muscular language that Alexander Pope claimed "pour along like a fire that sweeps the whole Earth before it," they reached out across the ages and gripped me by the hilt. Millennia later, the dead can still speak to the living on our shared humanity. 

It’s known more for its brutal tragedy, but there are humorous sequences. Most involve the petty squabbles of the Gods. For me, these scenes, when farce invades the gritty epic, anticipate scenes in later war fiction where lofty generals, far from the trenches, make arbitrary decisions that…

By Homer, Robert Fagles (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 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.


Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

Book cover of Acquaintance

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historical fiction writer Gay male Reader History buff Curious human

Jeff's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

As a young doctor, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the death of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the War, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career.

Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love. More than a gay love story, Acquaintance is a deep dive into gay and lesbian history based on extensive period research of the 1920s.

Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

What is this book about?

As a young surgeon, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the loss of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the war, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career. Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love.
Acquaintance is a…


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 Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

Andrew Chugg Author Of Alexander's Lovers

From my list on sexual relationships in Greek and Roman antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I voyaged into the ancient world in the readings of my youth, it led me to realize that the gay-straight divide in modern perceptions of sexuality and relationships is an artifice. It was constructed by the conceit of the ascetic religions that the only legitimate purpose of sex is the production of children within a sanctified marital relationship. In Antiquity, the divide followed a more natural course between the groups who were the sexually active partners (mainly adult men) and those who were sexually passive (mainly women, youths, and eunuchs). My hope is to disperse some of the confusion that the obscuration of this historical reality has caused.

Andrew's book list on sexual relationships in Greek and Roman antiquity

Andrew Chugg Why did Andrew love this book?

Davidson demonstrates that sexual relationships with courtesans and youths in ancient Athens paralleled the markets in other luxuries such as fish and wine rather more than resembling the modern ideal of romantic love. In a society where marriages were mainly business arrangements made between families to ensure the production of legitimate heirs to their estates, such formal relationships were frequently loveless. This led the male partners and those as yet unmarried to resort to employing mistresses, courtesans, and youths as luxurious distractions from the mundane matter of marital maintenance of the bloodline.

By James Davidson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A brilliantly entertaining and innovative history of the ancient Athenians' consuming passions for food, wine and sex.

Sex, shopping and fish-madness, Athenian style.

This fascinating book reveals that the ancient Athenians were supreme hedonists. Their society was driven by an insatiable lust for culinary delights - especially fish - fine wine and pleasures of the flesh. Indeed, great fortunes were squandered and politicians' careers ruined through ritual drinking at the symposium, or the wooing of highly-coveted, costly prostitutes.

James Davidson brings an incisive eye and an urbane wit to this refreshingly accessible and different history of the people who invented…


Book cover of The Histories (Translated by Tom Holland)

Steve P. Kershaw Author Of The Search for Atlantis: A History of Plato's Ideal State

From my list on Ancient Greece by Ancient Greeks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was introduced to the fascinating world of the Ancient Greeks by an inspirational teacher at my Primary School when I was about 10 years old—he read us tales of gods and monsters and heroes and heroism, and I was entranced. My grandpa bought me a copy of The Iliad. I read it with my torch under the bedclothes and embarked on a magical journey that has seen me spend the greater part of my life travelling in the world of the Ancient Greeks, both physically and intellectually. Those characters, both real and mythical, have become my friends, enemies, warnings, and role-models ever since.

Steve's book list on Ancient Greece by Ancient Greeks

Steve P. Kershaw Why did Steve love this book?

Herodotus is a joy to read. In his Enquiries into the heroic struggle of Greece against the mighty Persian Empire, he wanted to preserve the memory of wondrous deeds. And he does it brilliantly. Along the way we discover how to catch a crocodile in Egypt, visit the walls of Babylon, and travel with the fearsome, gender-fluid, Scythian warriors. As the massed Persian armies with their arrogant and manipulative commanders bear down on the divided state of Greece, we are taken to battlefield of Marathon, witness the tenacious heroism of the 300 Spartans, and fight on the sea at the great Greek victory at Salamis. This epic conflict between the forces and ideals of East and West is rendered beautifully in Tom Holland’s fluent translation, which nimbly walks the line between accuracy and accessibility.

By Herodotus, Tom Holland (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Histories (Translated by Tom Holland) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Western history's greatest books springs to life in Tom Holland's vibrant new translation

Herodotus of Halicarnassus-who was hailed by Cicero as "the father of history"-wrote his histories around 440 BC. It is the earliest surviving work of nonfiction and a thrilling narrative account of (among other things) the war between the Persian Empire and the Greek city-states in the fifth century BC.

With a wealth of information about ancient geography, ethnography, zoology, comparative anthropology, and much else, The Histories is also filled with bizarre and fanciful stories, which award-winning historian Tom Holland vividly captures in this major new…


Book cover of Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Andrew Lubin Author Of Charlie Battery: A Marine Artillery Unit in Iraq

From my list on famous battles that make you want to be there.

Why am I passionate about this?

When reading about famous battles such as Thermopylae, Tarawa, the Chosin Reservoir, or Taffy-3’s gallantry off Samar: have you ever wondered “what makes young men fight against such overwhelming odds?” Or a more important question: “would I do the same?” I know I wondered. Both my mom and dad were WW2 Marines, and I was raised with the stories of the Marines at Tarawa wading a half-mile ashore against horrific Japanese fire, along with their epic Korean War 79-mile fighting retreat in -50’F bitter cold and snow while grossly outnumbered by the Chinese army; these were often our dinnertime discussions and impromptu leadership lessons.

Andrew's book list on famous battles that make you want to be there

Andrew Lubin Why did Andrew love this book?

We all know the story of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans fight heroically for three days against an overwhelming Persian force, with the Spartans all killed during the three-day fight as Greece used their lives to buy time to successfully defend itself. But historical fiction Gates of Fire adds a new twist: as the Persians are pulling the bodies off the battlefield, they find a sole wounded Spartan, and after nursing him back to health, have him recount the battle from the Spartan viewpoint.

Author Steven Pressfield, a former Marine, is a superb storyteller as he describes the battle – and Spartan training - in a gripping blend of courage, humor, ethics, and brilliant historical research. Xeones, the survivor, was a squire to the Spartans, and had trained with them. “War is work,” he explains, “with conditions contrived to make the exercise as close as possible to the actual campaign.” “Shared misery…

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Gates of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Sunday Times bestseller Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the breathtaking story of the legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.

'Breathtakingly brilliant . . . this is a work of rare genius. Savour it!' DAVID GEMMELL

'A tale worthy of Homer, a timeless epic of man and war, exquisitely researched and boldy written. Pressfield has created a new classic' STEPHEN COONTS

'A really impressive book - imaginatively framed, historically detailed and a really gripping narrative' ***** Reader review

'Beautifully written and a great joy…


Book cover of Shōgun

Robert Whiting Author Of Tokyo Junkie: 60 Years of Bright Lights and Back Alleys . . . and Baseball

From my list on learning about life.

Why am I passionate about this?

They are in some sense books of self-discovery and/or discovery of new worlds. They made me want to travel and explore other cultures. And they also inspired me to write. They helped shape me as a person. I'm now a journalist and author of several books on Japan. I've lived in many different places around the world and find Tokyo Japan to be the best capital to live in. My work describes life in Tokyo and the Japanese culture in general, focusing on sports, crime, and politics. I've written best-sellers in both the US and Japan and been nominated for several prizes. Most recently I was selected winner of a 2023 Henry Chadwick Award.

Robert's book list on learning about life

Robert Whiting Why did Robert love this book?

Shōgun is a historical novel set in 17th-century feudal Japan that is based on the life of an English sailor named Will  Adams who is shipwrecked there.

He became a samurai and a confidant of a warlord based on Ieyasu Tokugawa. It is a meticulously researched and richly detailed novel that combines historical events with fictional characters and storylines, dealing with themes of honor and loyalty in a world of samurai and daimyos.

It also explores relationships between Japanese and European traders, highlighting the clash of Western and Eastern values. At over 560,000 words long, it is a spellbinding narrative that offers an encyclopedic exploration of Japanese history, culture, customs, and traditions of Japan. It started a Japan craze in the United States when it was first published.

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Clavell never puts a foot wrong . . . Get it, read it, you'll enjoy it mightily' Daily Mirror

This is James Clavell's tour-de-force; an epic saga of one Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, and his integration into the struggles and strife of feudal Japan. Both entertaining and incisive, SHOGUN is a stunningly dramatic re-creation of a very different world.

Starting with his shipwreck on this most alien of shores, the novel charts Blackthorne's rise from the status of reviled foreigner up to the hights of trusted advisor and eventually, Samurai. All as civil war looms over the fragile country.

'I can't…


Book cover of The Satyricon

Andrew Chugg Author Of Alexander's Lovers

From my list on sexual relationships in Greek and Roman antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I voyaged into the ancient world in the readings of my youth, it led me to realize that the gay-straight divide in modern perceptions of sexuality and relationships is an artifice. It was constructed by the conceit of the ascetic religions that the only legitimate purpose of sex is the production of children within a sanctified marital relationship. In Antiquity, the divide followed a more natural course between the groups who were the sexually active partners (mainly adult men) and those who were sexually passive (mainly women, youths, and eunuchs). My hope is to disperse some of the confusion that the obscuration of this historical reality has caused.

Andrew's book list on sexual relationships in Greek and Roman antiquity

Andrew Chugg Why did Andrew love this book?

Who knew that the emperor Nero appointed an Advisor on Tastefulness, who also penned a bawdy and gritty novel about the adventures of several friends in the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD? Fairly few, and the even more surprising fact is that hundreds of pages of his text survive today. You can still read either in Latin or in English translation about two young men proposing to fight for the affections of the youth Giton and you can join them all in a visit to an archetypal Roman brothel. There is nothing else remaining that provides a more direct and authentic insight into daily experiences and relationships in ancient Rome.

By Petronius, P.G. Walsh (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

`The language is refined, the smile not grave,
My honest tongue recounts how men behave.'

The Satyricon is the most celebrated work of fiction to have survived from the ancient world. It can be described as the first realistic novel, the father of the picaresque genre, and recounts the sleazy progress of a pair of literature scholars as they wander through the cities of the southern Mediterranean. En route they encounter type-figures the author wickedly satirizes - a teacher in higher education, a libidinous priest, a vulgar freedman turned millionaire, a manic
poet, a superstitious sea-captain and a femme fatale.…


Book cover of Democracy: A Life

Robert Garland Author Of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

From my list on making Ancient Greece come alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became enthralled by the ancient world when as a child I first saw those sand and sandals movies back in the sixties, Ben Hur and Spartacus especially. I began learning Latin aged nine and Greek aged twelve. I started a Ph.D., abandoned it, went to drama school, became a schoolteacher, worked as a professional gardener, became a schoolteacher again, eventually finished my Ph.D., and was lucky to get a job at Colgate University. Over time I realised that what really fascinated me about history was trying to insert myself imaginatively into the ancient world, so I began to ask questions about what it was like to be disabled, to be a refugee, to be a child, and so on.

Robert's book list on making Ancient Greece come alive

Robert Garland Why did Robert love this book?

It’s impossible to enter the mindset of the ancient Greeks without understanding that democracy runs deeply in their cultural bloodstream. There are numerous books on the subject – I did a course called Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages for The Great Courses – but Cartledge’s book, as the title suggests, offers a biography from its beginnings down to the present day. It also provides a nuanced exploration of the connection between Greek politics and society. Democracy: A Life depicts democracy not as a theoretical model but at work, and, in the challenges it faces today, a work in progress. Get A Life!

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Democracy is either aspired to as a goal or cherished as a birthright by billions of people throughout the world today - and has been been for over a century. But what does it mean? And how has its meaning changed since it was first coined in ancient Greece?

Democracy: A Life is a biography of the concept, looking at its many different manifestations and showing how it has changed over its long life, from ancient times right through to the present. For instance, how did the 'people power' of the Athenians emerge in the first place? Once it had…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Peloponnesian War, Greece, and Ancient Greece?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Peloponnesian War, Greece, and Ancient Greece.

The Peloponnesian War Explore 11 books about the Peloponnesian War
Greece Explore 158 books about Greece
Ancient Greece Explore 131 books about Ancient Greece