70 books like The Return of Martin Guerre

By Natalie Zemon Davis,

Here are 70 books that The Return of Martin Guerre fans have personally recommended if you like The Return of Martin Guerre. 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 The Winter King

Murray Dahm Author Of Finis Britanniae: A Military History of Late Roman Britain and the Saxon Conquest

From my list on thinking about King Arthur.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved stories about King Arthur–what’s not to love–Arthurian stories are about the underdog triumphing, destiny, knights and quests, swords (and stones, or lakes), great heroes and villains, and magic. My university studies made me into a military historian (among other things–including an opera singer and a historian of film), and I loved revisiting my love of Arthur in various guises. I have sung him on stage, played him in roleplaying games and miniature wargames, and I have written articles and books about him in film and history. I hope my list of recommendations provokes you to think about King Arthur in new ways!

Murray's book list on thinking about King Arthur

Murray Dahm Why did Murray love this book?

There have been too many novels featuring the story of King Arthur to count; this is my favorite. I found it (and the following two books in the series) really captured the idea of who Arthur was, why he was needed, and why he did what he did at the time for me.

It was the first Cornwell novel I read, and he has become my favourite novellist. I think he writes battle scenes better than anyone–he puts you in the middle of the action and makes you feel the visceral nature of combat (especially in his Arthurian and medieval books). If anyone is looking for a place to start with Arthurian fiction but doesn’t know where to begin, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and series. 

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Winter King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Uther, the High King of Britain, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos - threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade. As he struggles to unite Britain and hold back the Saxon enemy, Arthur is embroiled in a doomed romance with beautiful Guinevere.


Book cover of The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Vol. 1

Stuart Carroll Author Of Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe

From my list on getting started with early modern history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of early modern Europe. I have a particular interest in the history of violence and social relations and how and why ordinary people came into conflict with each other and how they made peace, that’s the subject of my most recent book Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe, which compares the entanglement of everyday animosities and how these were resolved in Italy, Germany, France and England. I’m also passionate about understanding Europe’s contribution to world history. As editor of The Cambridge World History of Violence, I explored the dark side of this. But my next book, The Invention of Civil Society, will demonstrate Europe’s more positive achievements.

Stuart's book list on getting started with early modern history

Stuart Carroll Why did Stuart love this book?

I love this book because it changed the way I look at the world. It was a game changer when it was first written in French in 1949 and remains essential reading for anyone interested in European History.

Braudel offers a panoramic view of Europe’s diverse civilizations and how they were shaped by the continent’s environment and geography. Centred on the Mediterranean Braudel ranges across time and space and explores the interaction, exchange and conflict between people who lived on the sea, in the mountains and on the plain.

It remains a classic because Braudel was a rare thing among historians – he was a great writer.

By Fernand Braudel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The focus of Fernand Braudel's great work is the Mediterranean world in the second half of the sixteenth century, but Braudel ranges back in history to the world of Odysseus and forward to our time, moving out from the Mediterranean area to the New World and other destinations of Mediterranean traders. Braudel's scope embraces the natural world and material life, economics, demography, politics, and diplomacy.


Book cover of The Making of the English Working Class

Stuart Carroll Author Of Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe

From my list on getting started with early modern history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of early modern Europe. I have a particular interest in the history of violence and social relations and how and why ordinary people came into conflict with each other and how they made peace, that’s the subject of my most recent book Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe, which compares the entanglement of everyday animosities and how these were resolved in Italy, Germany, France and England. I’m also passionate about understanding Europe’s contribution to world history. As editor of The Cambridge World History of Violence, I explored the dark side of this. But my next book, The Invention of Civil Society, will demonstrate Europe’s more positive achievements.

Stuart's book list on getting started with early modern history

Stuart Carroll Why did Stuart love this book?

I love this book because, as someone from a working-class background, this book really spoke to me as young person – I was born two years after it was published in 1965. It is profoundly wrong and romanticizes its subject, but it remains a classic, because Thompson was a brilliant writer and because henceforth no one could ignore those previously excluded from the historical narrative.

By E.P. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Making of the English Working Class as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fifty years since first publication, E. P. Thompson's revolutionary account of working-class culture and ideals is published in Penguin Modern Classics, with a new introduction by historian Michael Kenny

This classic and imaginative account of working-class society in its formative years, 1780 to 1832, revolutionized our understanding of English social history. E. P. Thompson shows how the working class took part in its own making and re-creates the whole-life experience of people who suffered loss of status and freedom, who underwent degradation, and who yet created a cultured and political consciousness of great vitality.

Reviews:

'A dazzling vindication of the…


Book cover of An Instance of the Fingerpost

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

This is the only ‘whodunnit’ on my list, but it’s so much more. (As are all the best ‘whodunnits’.)

For a start, it’s told from four different points of view. My own books use the early history of the Royal Society, its science, and various of its actual ‘Fellows,’ and this book was undeniably an influence. Pears details the politics and religious turmoil of the time and the excitement of new scientific discoveries.

The mid-17th century’s rigid social structure and manners are shown starkly, as is the misogyny. I found it dark, layered, and although complex, it’s immediately engaging. A very satisfying book indeed!

By Iain Pears,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked An Instance of the Fingerpost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A fictional tour de force which combines erudition with mystery' PD James

Set in Oxford in the 1660s - a time and place of great intellectual, religious, scientific and political ferment - this remarkable novel centres around a young woman, Sarah Blundy, who stands accused of the murder of Robert Grove, a fellow of New College. Four witnesses describe the events surrounding his death: Marco da Cola, a Venetian Catholic intent on claiming credit for the invention of blood transfusion;Jack Prescott, the son of a supposed traitor to the Royalist cause, determined to vindicate his father; John Wallis, chief cryptographer…


Book cover of The Name of the Rose

Amelia Vergara Author Of Firefax

From my list on fiction full of intrigue, danger, and high adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a physician assistant and paramedic with ten brothers and sisters, an all-consuming love of the outdoors and adventure, and a fascination with history, particularly early US history. I love reading and writing the kind of books that I would like to read. My debut novel, Firefax, was written in large part as an escape from the horrors of serving in the hospital as a physician assistant during the delta wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope it provides my readers with an escape from their own struggles as well. 

Amelia's book list on fiction full of intrigue, danger, and high adventure

Amelia Vergara Why did Amelia love this book?

A dark, twisted story of intrigue within the walls of an abbey in the fourteenth century.

Every character has some dark past that they are hiding, and everyone is part of the ever-deepening mystery, riddles piling upon riddles, as bodies pile upon bodies. The further into the abbey’s maze of secrets you become entangled, the more you’ll love it. The characters are deep and complicated, the world in which they live is richly imagined, and the final denouement will leave you breathless.

A book whose mysteries and philosophical dialogues will stay with you long after you close the final page. 

By Umberto Eco,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Name of the Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the enthralling medieval murder mystery.

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective.

William collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey where extraordinary things are happening under the cover of night. A spectacular popular and critical success, The Name of the Rose is not only a narrative of a murder investigation but an astonishing chronicle of the Middle Ages.

'Whether…


Book cover of The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade

Barry Keith Grant Author Of Voyages of Discovery: The Cinema of Frederick Wiseman

From my list on appreciating the films of Fredrick Wiseman.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved cinema since I was 9 years old growing up in New York City and my grandmother took me to see The Ten Commandments at the Paradise Theater, Loew’s magnificent flagship theater in the Bronx. The theater’s famous canopy of twinkling stars on the ceiling was the perfect magical venue, and I was thunderstruck not only by the epic sweep of the movie but also by the opulence of the theater, which mirrored the monumental pyramids that Ramses constructs in the film. Ever since, my passion for movies has been as all-consuming as DeMille’s jello sea was for the infidel Egyptians who doubted the power of special effects and cinematic illusion.

Barry's book list on appreciating the films of Fredrick Wiseman

Barry Keith Grant Why did Barry love this book?

Another book with an episodic structure, The Confidence-Man concerns an assorted group of Mississippi steamboat passengers whose individual hypocrisies are confronted by the mysterious character of the title.

Melville’s ship of fools features a variety of types, some of whom are caricatures of American literary figures including Emerson, Hawthorne, and Poe. The book was published in 1857 on April Fool’s Day, an irony equal to the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on Valentine’s Day, and a gesture that Wiseman, himself a great ironist, surely would appreciate.

Certainly, it is no surprise that Wiseman has referred to The Confidence-Man as his favorite novel. One might even find Melville’s elaborate prose style analogous to Wiseman’s careful editing and his ability to confront spectators with their own biases and preconceptions, as the eponymous confidence-man does in the book.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On April Fool's Day in 1856, a shape-shifting grifter boards a Mississippi riverboat to expose the pretenses, hypocrisies, and self-delusions of his fellow passengers. The con artist assumes numerous identities — a disabled beggar, a charity fundraiser, a successful businessman, an urbane gentleman — to win over his not-entirely-innocent dupes. The central character's shifting identities, as fluid as the river itself, reflect broader aspects of human identity even as his impudent hoaxes form a meditation on illusion and trust.
This comic allegory addresses themes of sincerity, character, and morality in its challenge to the optimism and materialism of mid-19th-century America.…


Book cover of Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier

Linda Collison Author Of Star-Crossed

From my list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The custom of Masquerade, of dressing as Other, has long fascinated me. In writing Star-Crossed, I set out to investigate how and why one girl might pass as a boy in an era when gender roles were sharply differentiated. I once crossed an ocean working aboard a wooden, three-masted ship – a 20th-century replica of the Bark Endeavour, circumnavigating in 1999. Sleeping in hammocks and working aloft in the rigging, I discovered this life required teamwork, stamina – and a sturdy, practical costume. Trousers, not petticoats! I have worked as a registered nurse and I earned a degree in History; these experiences combine in Star-Crossed. 

Linda's book list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers

Linda Collison Why did Linda love this book?

It took Americans a very long time to honor the ordinary foot soldiers and seamen of the Revolution. It took even longer to recover the women of the Revolution, historian Alfred F. Young tells us. The author parses through various historical records to present a realistic picture of the female soldier Deborah Sampson. Deborah was not the only woman to volunteer as a soldier – dressed as a man. Her record was exemplary. Sampson became known only after the war was over, and then only to a few people. This biography is among the most thorough of crossdressing fighting women, and it gives a good picture of colonial life at the time of the American Revolution. 

By Alfred F. Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Masquerade, Alfred F. Young scrapes through layers of fiction and myth to uncover the story of Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts woman who passed as a man and fought as a soldier for seventeen months toward the end of the American Revolution.

Deborah Sampson was not the only woman to pose as a male and fight in the war, but she was certainly one of the most successful and celebrated. She managed to fight in combat and earn the respect of her officers and peers, and in later years she toured the country lecturing about her experiences and was partially…


Book cover of Joe Gould's Teeth

Timothy J. Shannon Author Of Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson in America and Britain

From my list on con artists and imposters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where I teach Early American, Native American, and British history. My books include Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 and Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier. As a historian, I've long been fascinated by stories of imposters, charlatans, and con artists. I like fictional and factual picaresque tales about people set adrift in strange lands and I have a soft spot for unreliable narrators. Historians are a skeptical breed, so slippery characters like those featured in the books listed here represent a welcome challenge: can you trust them as far as you can throw them? 

Timothy's book list on con artists and imposters

Timothy J. Shannon Why did Timothy love this book?

Joe Gould first came to the world’s attention when Joseph Mitchell published two articles about him in the New Yorker in the mid-twentieth century. A self-described bohemian, he was an eccentric denizen of Greenwich Village who claimed to be writing “The Oral History of Our Time,” a massive, revolutionary book that Gould said would be read by generations yet to come. Or, was he really just a heavy drinking raconteur who ingratiated himself among some of the leading artists, poets, and writers of his day? Jill Lepore pushes Gould’s story beyond Mitchell’s original version, finding darker truths behind it.

By Jill Lepore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Joe Gould's Teeth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New Yorker staff writer and Harvard historian Jill Lepore, the dark, spellbinding tale of her restless search for the missing longest book ever written, a century-old manuscript called “The Oral History of Our Time.”

Joe Gould’s Teeth is a Poe-like tale of detection, madness, and invention. Digging through archives all over the country, Lepore unearthed evidence that “The Oral History of Our Time” did in fact once exist. Relying on letters, scraps, and Gould’s own diaries and notebooks—including volumes of his lost manuscript—Lepore argues that Joe Gould’s real secret had to do with sex and the color line, with…


Book cover of The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin

Timothy J. Shannon Author Of Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson in America and Britain

From my list on con artists and imposters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where I teach Early American, Native American, and British history. My books include Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 and Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier. As a historian, I've long been fascinated by stories of imposters, charlatans, and con artists. I like fictional and factual picaresque tales about people set adrift in strange lands and I have a soft spot for unreliable narrators. Historians are a skeptical breed, so slippery characters like those featured in the books listed here represent a welcome challenge: can you trust them as far as you can throw them? 

Timothy's book list on con artists and imposters

Timothy J. Shannon Why did Timothy love this book?

It may seem unfair to group Benjamin Franklin among con artists and impersonators, but he certainly had a talent for self-invention. Most biographies of Franklin take it as a given that he was the “first American,” who set the mold for what we call the American dream. In this highly readable and comparatively brief biography of the great man, Wood breaks from that tradition and tells the story of a provincial striver whose many public personas were motivated by a desire to fit in among aristocratic Europeans. If you think you know what made Franklin tick, this biography will make you think again.

By Gordon S. Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I cannot remember ever reading a work of history and biography that is quite so fluent, so perfectly composed and balanced . . ." -The New York Sun

"Exceptionally rich perspective on one of the most accomplished, complex, and unpredictable Americans of his own time or any other." -The Washington Post Book World

From the most respected chronicler of the early days of the Republic-and winner of both the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes-comes a landmark work that rescues Benjamin Franklin from a mythology that has blinded generations of Americans to the man he really was and makes sense of aspects…


Book cover of The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller

Jack Hight Author Of Eagle (Saladin Trilogy)

From my list on to get inside the heads of medieval men and women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with historical fiction as a kid when I spent a week sick in bed reading the entire Horatio Hornblower series. I got hooked on history while studying the French Revolution in college. I remember thinking: these people are absolutely bonkers! I loved it. As a historian, I study the history of identity: the tools people had to craft a self-definition, and how those tools were themselves created. As a novelist, I draw on my research so that I can – like the authors in this list – recreate not just the settings and events of the past, but also the weird and wonderful world inside people’s heads.

Jack's book list on to get inside the heads of medieval men and women

Jack Hight Why did Jack love this book?

I love books that dig into how strange people were in the Middle Ages. They weren’t more or less like people today only with different clothes and feudalism, any more so than people in the US are just like Indonesians but with a different language and toilet paper. No book I have read brings this home better than Ginzburg’s history. Layer by layer, he peels back the mental world of Menocchio, a sixteenth-century Italian miller who believed that the world began as a cheese-like mass in which angels appeared, like maggots emerging from rotting meat. This book literally changed my life: both the subject of my historical research and the way I write historical fiction.

By Carlo Ginzburg, Carlo Ginzburg, John Tedeschi (contributor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Cheese and the Worms is an incisive study of popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, the miller known as Menocchio, who was accused of heresy during the Inquisition and sentenced to death. Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records to illustrate the religious and social conflicts of the society Menocchio lived in. For a common miller, Menocchio was surprisingly literate. In his trial testimony he made references to more than a dozen books, including the Bible, Boccaccio's Decameron, Mandeville's Travels, and a "mysterious" book that may have been the Koran. And what…


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