56 books like The Thirty Years War

By C.V. Wedgwood,

Here are 56 books that The Thirty Years War fans have personally recommended if you like The Thirty Years War. 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 Never Greater Slaughter: Brunanburh and the Birth of England

Myke Cole Author Of The Bronze Lie: Shattering the Myth of Spartan Warrior Supremacy

From my list on narrative military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong warfighter, law enforcement officer, intelligence officer, and emergency services worker, intimately familiar with the crisis response and what makes conflict so fascinating to students of history. I’m also a popular novelist with an in-depth understanding of story arcs and what makes great prose. I’ve previously published narrative military history myself – Legion Versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World. My short nonfiction, much of it based on military history and crisis work, has appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Ancient Warfare Magazine.

Myke's book list on narrative military history

Myke Cole Why did Myke love this book?

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.

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…


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

Myke Cole Author Of The Bronze Lie: Shattering the Myth of Spartan Warrior Supremacy

From my list on narrative military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong warfighter, law enforcement officer, intelligence officer, and emergency services worker, intimately familiar with the crisis response and what makes conflict so fascinating to students of history. I’m also a popular novelist with an in-depth understanding of story arcs and what makes great prose. I’ve previously published narrative military history myself – Legion Versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World. My short nonfiction, much of it based on military history and crisis work, has appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Ancient Warfare Magazine.

Myke's book list on narrative military history

Myke Cole Why did Myke love this book?

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

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


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

Jay Penner Author Of Regent Cleopatra

From my list on Cleopatra and ancient Egypt.

Why am I passionate about this?

The genre I specialize in is Ancient Historical Fiction. I have always been fascinated by history, and my vacations often involve visiting ancient ruins. I’m an avid reader on various periods of our past, especially Egypt, Rome, Mesopotamia, and India, and I enjoy writing about them. On the topic of Egypt and Cleopatra — Egypt is one of my favorite civilizations, and Cleopatra is one of the more interesting figures. I wanted to give her a treatment I felt she deserved—as a capable administrator, brilliant, ruthless, and fighting the circumstances of her times.

Jay's book list on Cleopatra and ancient Egypt

Jay Penner Why did Jay love this book?

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.

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…


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

Myke Cole Author Of The Bronze Lie: Shattering the Myth of Spartan Warrior Supremacy

From my list on narrative military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong warfighter, law enforcement officer, intelligence officer, and emergency services worker, intimately familiar with the crisis response and what makes conflict so fascinating to students of history. I’m also a popular novelist with an in-depth understanding of story arcs and what makes great prose. I’ve previously published narrative military history myself – Legion Versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World. My short nonfiction, much of it based on military history and crisis work, has appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Ancient Warfare Magazine.

Myke's book list on narrative military history

Myke Cole Why did Myke love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe

Laurence W. Marvin Author Of The Occitan War: A Military and Political History of the Albigensian Crusade, 1209–1218

From my list on premodern western warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my earliest memories I’ve always been interested in military history, and as a young man I served in the U.S. Navy on a nuclear submarine. As an ardent bibliophile, my home and office overflows with books. As a professor, for the past 25 years I’ve been fortunate enough to teach a broad survey on western military history, which gives me the opportunity to experiment with many books for my own and the students’ enjoyment. The books on this list are perennial favorites of the traditional-age undergraduates (18-22) I teach, but will appeal to any reader interested in premodern military history. 

Laurence's book list on premodern western warfare

Laurence W. Marvin Why did Laurence love this book?

Lynn was one of my graduate advisors decades ago, but he wrote this long after I finished.

A highly respected military historian, Lynn did a remarkably sympathetic and nuanced job of explaining the vital role women played in early modern warfare. No, he doesn’t concentrate on the few who took on male garb and actually fought, but rather the tens of thousands of mostly nameless “camp followers” who provided essential services: food and fodder, as sutlers, and yes, as prostitutes. Quite simply, an early modern army couldn’t function without its extensive “tail.” 

One of the salient characteristics separating premodern and modern armies is how governments eventually, over a long period of time, froze out women from participating in any aspects of warfare by bringing under their aegis all the services (save prostitution) that women had heretofore provided.

By John A. Lynn II,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe examines the important roles of women who campaigned with armies from 1500 to 1815. This included those notable female individuals who assumed male identities to serve in the ranks, but far more numerous and essential were the formidable women who, as women, marched in the train of armies. While some worked as full-time or part-time prostitutes, they more generally performed a variety of necessary gendered tasks, including laundering, sewing, cooking, and nursing. Early modern armies were always accompanied by women and regarded them as essential to the well-being of the troops. Lynn…


Book cover of The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West 1500-1800

Cormac O'Brien Author Of Outnumbered: Incredible Stories of History's Most Surprising Battlefield Upsets

From my list on early modern European warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my career as an author, I have written on everything from U.S. Presidents to natural disasters. My true passion, however, is military history, a subject I have followed closely since childhood. Why? I have no idea. Nevertheless, I have read widely on the subject and, with the publication of Outnumbered, fulfilled a longstanding dream. The early modern period of European history, during which the continent’s culture left behind the Middle Ages and laid the foundations of the world we live in today, was an era rife with military change and innovation, as well as endemic conflict and the emergence of powerful, centralized nation-states, all of which I find enthralling. These books bring this time and place to life.

Cormac's book list on early modern European warfare

Cormac O'Brien Why did Cormac love this book?

In the year 1500 European civilization was fractured, deficient in natural resources, and unremarkable in its military technology. By 1800 it had gained control over one-third of the globe. How? This seminal work by Geoffrey Parker tackles that question with a sweeping assessment of global developments during the period, revealing the suite of innovations that allowed the West to expand so dramatically. Sparking a debate that continues to this day, it is a must-read on the subject of early modern technology, imperialism, and warfare.

By Geoffrey Parker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a new edition of Geoffrey Parker's much-admired illustrated account of how the West, so small and so deficient in natural resources in 1500, had by 1800 come to control over one-third of the world. Parker argues that the rapid development of military practice in the West constituted a 'military revolution' which gave Westerners an insurmountable advantage over the peoples of other continents. This edition incorporates new material, including a substantial 'Afterword' which summarises the debate which developed after the book's first publication.


Book cover of Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the 16th Century

Cormac O'Brien Author Of Outnumbered: Incredible Stories of History's Most Surprising Battlefield Upsets

From my list on early modern European warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my career as an author, I have written on everything from U.S. Presidents to natural disasters. My true passion, however, is military history, a subject I have followed closely since childhood. Why? I have no idea. Nevertheless, I have read widely on the subject and, with the publication of Outnumbered, fulfilled a longstanding dream. The early modern period of European history, during which the continent’s culture left behind the Middle Ages and laid the foundations of the world we live in today, was an era rife with military change and innovation, as well as endemic conflict and the emergence of powerful, centralized nation-states, all of which I find enthralling. These books bring this time and place to life.

Cormac's book list on early modern European warfare

Cormac O'Brien Why did Cormac love this book?

The great John Keegan called this “among the two or three very best works of military history I have ever read,” and it’s easy to see why. An authoritative, deeply researched examination of the Mediterranean system of warfare at sea in the age immediately following the introduction of effective gunpowder weapons, Guilmartin’s riveting book takes us deep into the interminable rivalries between Christians and Muslims across the inland sea, revealing the peculiar realities—technological, geopolitical, climatic, cultural—that shaped the era’s tactics and strategy. This is a book full of fascinating revelations about a largely misunderstood chapter of history.

By John Francis Guilmartin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Interspersing topical chapters with chronological ones, Guilmartin (history and early modern European history, Ohio State U.) explores how the Mediterranean system of armed conflict at sea operated over the course of the 16th century. Among his findings is that the war galley held it own against the broadside sailing vessel into the 1580s; and the because of the characteristics of black powder and early modern naval ordinance, there was no direct relationship between a cannon's barrel length and its maximum effective range. The 1974 first edition was published by Cambridge University Press. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)


Book cover of Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics

Cormac O'Brien Author Of Outnumbered: Incredible Stories of History's Most Surprising Battlefield Upsets

From my list on early modern European warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my career as an author, I have written on everything from U.S. Presidents to natural disasters. My true passion, however, is military history, a subject I have followed closely since childhood. Why? I have no idea. Nevertheless, I have read widely on the subject and, with the publication of Outnumbered, fulfilled a longstanding dream. The early modern period of European history, during which the continent’s culture left behind the Middle Ages and laid the foundations of the world we live in today, was an era rife with military change and innovation, as well as endemic conflict and the emergence of powerful, centralized nation-states, all of which I find enthralling. These books bring this time and place to life.

Cormac's book list on early modern European warfare

Cormac O'Brien Why did Cormac love this book?

While the title of this book implies a pretty broad subject, its true focus is on the development of gunpowder weapons and the awkward, often halting, development of their use during the Renaissance. The scope and depth of Hall’s research is frankly arresting, which makes it so much fun to read. There is essentially nothing about the early days of gunpowder and the weapons it gave rise to that you won’t find in this book. You'll learn why artillerists became a highly paid guild of specialists, why urine was so crucial to gunpowder production, why the challenge of storing powder lead inadvertently to its dramatic increase in explosive force, and so much more.

By Bert S. Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe explores the history of gunpowder in Europe from the thirteenth century, when it was first imported from China, to the sixteenth century, as firearms became central to the conduct of war. Bridging the fields of military history and the history of technology -- and challenging past assumptions about Europe's "gunpowder revolution" -- Hall discovers a complex and fascinating story. Military inventors faced a host of challenges, he finds, from Europe's lack of naturally occurring saltpeter -- one of gunpowder's major components -- to the limitations of smooth-bore firearms. Manufacturing cheap, reliable gunpowder proved a…


Book cover of Siege Warfare: The Fortress in the Early Modern World 1494-1660

Cormac O'Brien Author Of Outnumbered: Incredible Stories of History's Most Surprising Battlefield Upsets

From my list on early modern European warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my career as an author, I have written on everything from U.S. Presidents to natural disasters. My true passion, however, is military history, a subject I have followed closely since childhood. Why? I have no idea. Nevertheless, I have read widely on the subject and, with the publication of Outnumbered, fulfilled a longstanding dream. The early modern period of European history, during which the continent’s culture left behind the Middle Ages and laid the foundations of the world we live in today, was an era rife with military change and innovation, as well as endemic conflict and the emergence of powerful, centralized nation-states, all of which I find enthralling. These books bring this time and place to life.

Cormac's book list on early modern European warfare

Cormac O'Brien Why did Cormac love this book?

Christopher Duffy is a great go-to author for books on early modern warfare, and this is one of his finest—and most important--contributions to the subject. The transformation of the European landscape from a place littered with castles to one dominated by angular, masonry bastions, is an epic all its own, and here it is in all its complex glory. What emerges is a nuanced, nicely illustrated narrative of one of the greatest arms races in military history: increasingly destructive weapons vs. the fortified structures built to thwart them. There is plenty of action in this book, as well, as Duffy spares nothing in the telling of siege warfare and its grisly idiosyncrasies.

By Christopher Duffy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hardback went out of print in 1989


Book cover of Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army

Laurence W. Marvin Author Of The Occitan War: A Military and Political History of the Albigensian Crusade, 1209–1218

From my list on premodern western warfare.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my earliest memories I’ve always been interested in military history, and as a young man I served in the U.S. Navy on a nuclear submarine. As an ardent bibliophile, my home and office overflows with books. As a professor, for the past 25 years I’ve been fortunate enough to teach a broad survey on western military history, which gives me the opportunity to experiment with many books for my own and the students’ enjoyment. The books on this list are perennial favorites of the traditional-age undergraduates (18-22) I teach, but will appeal to any reader interested in premodern military history. 

Laurence's book list on premodern western warfare

Laurence W. Marvin Why did Laurence love this book?

There’s an old saying that states, “Amateurs discuss battles; Professionals discuss logistics.” 

Engel’s book proves the point, arguing that the Macedonian king’s real genius was not tricky moves on the battlefield, but by making sure his men had enough food and water to sustain themselves for twelve years.  One of the great things about this book is that Engels covers things that work for any premodern era: how much a human or animal can carry; how much food and water they consume on a daily basis, and what it requires to keep tens of thousands of humans on the march adequately supplied. 

You’ll never think the same way about premodern warfare again after reading it.

By Donald W. Engels,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most important work on Alexander the Great to appear in a long time. Neither scholarship nor semi-fictional biography will ever be the same again...Engels at last uses all the archaeological work done in Asia in the past generation and makes it accessible...Careful analyses of terrain, climate, and supply requirements are throughout combined in a masterly fashion to help account for Alexander's strategic decision in the light of the options open to him...The chief merit of this splendid book is perhaps the way in which it brings an ancient army to life, as it really was and moved: the hours…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Thirty Years' War, Prague, and Germany?

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