10 books like The Plague of War

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

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

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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 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.


Ghost on the Throne

By James Romm,

Book cover of Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire

It is this book, about the successors of Alexander the Great, that inspired me to write my first novel, the Atlantis Papyrus. It is a great read—the pages feel less like an academic paper and more like an action novel and keeps one’s interest until the very end. I learned about so many fascinating figures in Alexander’s world I had never really known about and the tumultuous years following his death. In my work, I drew inspiration from some of the characters and events depicted in this book.

Ghost on the Throne

By James Romm,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-two, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea in the west all the way to modern-day India in the east. In an unusual compromise, his two heirs—a mentally damaged half brother, Philip III, and an infant son, Alexander IV, born after his death—were jointly granted the kingship. But six of Alexander’s Macedonian generals, spurred by their own thirst for power and the legend that Alexander bequeathed his rule “to the strongest,” fought to gain supremacy. Perhaps their most fascinating and conniving adversary was Alexander’s former Greek secretary, Eumenes, now a general…


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…


Thucydides

By Thucydides, Jeremy Mynott (translator),

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

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…

Thucydides

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…


The Peloponnesian War

By Thucydides, P.J. Rhodes, Martin Hammond (translator)

Book cover of The Peloponnesian War

Written around twenty-five centuries ago, this remains the seminal work of history, political science, man as he is, war, and diplomacy. The author expressly intended that it be “a work for all time,” and so it remains. Moreover, it serves still as an example of a civilization ruining itself, as Europe did in the Great War. Thus, it continues to warn.

The Peloponnesian War

By Thucydides, P.J. Rhodes, Martin Hammond (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The greatest historian that ever lived'

Such was Macaulay's verdict on Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) and his history of the Peloponnesian War, the momentous struggle between Athens and Sparta as rival powers and political systems that lasted for twenty-seven years from 431 to 404 BC, involved virtually the whole of the Greek world, and ended in the fall of Athens. Thucydides himself was a participant in the war; to his history he brings an awesome intellect, brilliant narrative, and penetrating analysis of the nature
of power, as it affects both states and individuals.

Of his own work Thucydides wrote: 'I…


How to Think about War

By Johanna Hanink, Thucydides,

Book cover of How to Think about War: An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy

Not a book about Thucydides, but a selection of the speeches – one of the most striking aspects of his approach to history is the way he includes set-piece debates, not so much as accurate transcripts of what was actually said as a means of exploring issues of war, peace, democratic deliberation and so forth. If you already own a copy of Thucydides, this may not be of much interest (unless you’re obsessive enough to compare Hanink’s translations with others), but if you’re new to the topic this may be a good place to start: the speeches are more accessible than the lengthy battle narratives, they’re the main basis for Thucydides’ reputation as a thinker about political issues, as well as the source of some memorable lines, and Hanink’s introduction does a good job of explaining all of this.

How to Think about War

By Johanna Hanink, Thucydides,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Think about War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An accessible modern translation of essential speeches from Thucydides's History that takes readers to the heart of his profound insights on diplomacy, foreign policy, and war

Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right? For nearly 2,500 years, students, politicians, political thinkers, and military leaders have read the eloquent and shrewd speeches in Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War for profound insights into military conflict, diplomacy, and the behavior of people and countries in times of crisis. How to Think about War presents the most…


The Landmark Thucydides

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Book cover of The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War

Thucydides, along with Herodotus a generation earlier, created history as we know it. Herodotus added to narrative the analysis of cause: ‘why’ as well as ‘what’. Thucydides added different levels of causation: the immediate reasons for the war and the long-term causes. He studied how the dynamics of fear and power drive states into warfare. He took the gods out of history (it is hard to remember how radical that was). He studied the corruption of moral language and behaviour under the pressure of conflict. In Pericles’ Funeral Speech he set out the theory of Athenian democracy (Pericles would have denied that our own society was democratic—a challenging thought). Thucydides’ eye is not exactly cold, but it is unblinking: no historian seems so free of illusion.

The Landmark Thucydides

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thucydides called his account of two decades of war between Athens and Sparta "a possession for all time," and indeed it is the first and still the most famous work in the Western historical tradition.

Considered essential reading for generals, statesmen, and liberally educated citizens for more than 2,000 years, The Peloponnesian War is a mine of military, moral, political, and philosophical wisdom.

However, this classic book has long presented obstacles to the uninitiated reader. Written centuries before the rise of modern historiography, Thucydides' narrative is not continuous or linear. His authoritative chronicle of what he considered the greatest war…


Athens

By Bruce Clark,

Book cover of Athens: City of Wisdom

Athens is where I lived as a student in the 1970s, and I’ve loved the place ever since! People who visit Greece often miss out on the capital or find the modern city ugly and noisy. But this book explains the magic effect that Athens has exercised on natives and visitors for at least two thousand years – all the way from the legendary wisdom of Solon the lawgiver to the gritty problems of a decade of enforced austerity (only recently overcome), and of a new multi-culturalism that comes with mass migration across Europe’s front line into Greece.

Athens

By Bruce Clark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A sweeping narrative history of Athens, telling the three-thousand-year story of the birthplace of Western civilization.

Even on the most smog-bound of days, the rocky outcrop on which the Acropolis stands is visible above the sprawling roof-scape of the Greek capital. Athens presents one of the most recognizable and symbolically potent panoramas of any of the world's cities: the pillars and pediments of the Parthenon – the temple dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, that crowns the Acropolis – dominate a city whose name is synonymous for many with civilization itself.

It is hard not to feel the hand of…


Guide to Greece

By Pausanius, Peter Levi (translator),

Book cover of Guide to Greece: Volume 1

A brilliant 2nd century AD guidebook to Ancient Greece! The intrepid Pausanias travelled throughout Greece, recording the sights and the artworks that he viewed on the way, and relating the strange myths, rituals, and legends behind them. It’s a splendidly vivid and remarkably accurate book, full of fascinating information about the Greek landscape, natural wonders, and descriptions of the art and architecture of many famous sacred locations—Athens, Olympia, Delphi, etc.—and even today you can still visit many of the major archaeological sites in Greece and use it to guide you around. In Peter Levi’s clear translation, it really takes you into the heart and soul of Ancient Greece.

Guide to Greece

By Pausanius, Peter Levi (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written in the second century AD by a Greek traveller for a predominantly Roman audience, Pausanias' Guide to Greece is an extraordinarily literate and well-informed guidebook. A study of buildings, traditions and myth, it describes with precision and eloquence the glory of classical Greece shortly before its ultimate decline in the third century. This volume, the first of two, concerns the five provinces of central Greece, with an account of cities including Athens, Corinth and Thebes and a compelling depiction of the Oracle at Delphi. Along the way, Pausanias recounts Greek legends that are unknown from any other source and…


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Interested in Athens, the Peloponnesian War, and Greece?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Athens, the Peloponnesian War, and Greece.

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