100 books like The Watchers

By Stephen Alford,

Here are 100 books that The Watchers fans have personally recommended if you like The Watchers. 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 Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife

Tracy Borman Author Of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story Of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

From my list on life in Tudor times.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tracy Borman is a historian and novelist specialising in the Tudor period and has written a number of best-selling books, including The Private Lives of the Tudors, Thomas Cromwell, and Elizabeth’s Women. She is also a popular broadcaster and has presented numerous history documentaries, including Channel 5’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn and Inside the Tower of London. Alongside this, she is the joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust.

Tracy's book list on life in Tudor times

Tracy Borman Why did Tracy love this book?

The last in this stunning Six Wives series, this novel brings Henry VIII’s last wife to life as never before. Impeccably researched and with stunning period detail, this book paints a vivid picture of how women had to battle for survival in the Tudor world.

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A detailed and convincing portrait of an extraordinary life... this series is a serious achievement' THE TIMES

'This brilliant series has brought Henry VIII's six wives to life as never before. This novel will enthral and inspire, just as much as it will break your heart' TRACY BORMAN

Alison Weir, historian and author of the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling SIX TUDOR QUEENS series, recounts the story of Henry VIII's last wife - Katharine Parr, the queen who survived him.

---

A WOMAN TORN BETWEEN LOVE AND DUTY.

Two husbands dead, a boy and a sick man. And now Katharine is free…


Book cover of Tombland

Sarah J. Hodder Author Of The York Princesses: The Daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville

From my list on that sent me straight to Google to find out more.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer on the lives of women during the Plantagenet and Tudor periods. I have been fascinated by history since childhood, when the death of my mother when I was six years old encouraged a need in me as I grew up to look backward, for memories and glimpses of the past. When I came across queen Elizabeth Woodville she piqued my interest, and her life story has remained with me ever since. This passion for her life and the era led to my first book on her sisters (The Queen’s Sisters) and was followed up by a second book on her daughters entitled The York Princesses.

Sarah's book list on that sent me straight to Google to find out more

Sarah J. Hodder Why did Sarah love this book?

At the time of writing, this is believed to be the last in the Shardlake novels and I, for one, am already missing them. I have loved every one of the books in the series, following the adventures of the lawyer/crime solver Matthew Shardlake and his assistants Jack Barak and Nicholas Overton. The author has a real way of bringing the Tudor age to life and as a reader you are instantly transported into the 1500s with Sansom’s descriptive and quite brilliant writing. As a general recommendation I could have picked any of the Shardlake novels but under the heading of books that made me want to know more, the reason I have selected Tombland specifically as one of my top 5 books is the author’s focus on the peasants’ revolt in Norfolk in 1549.

The rebellion was led by a man named Robert Kett and although I had vaguely…

By C.J. Sansom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tudor England is brought vividly to life in Tombland, the seventh novel in C. J. Sansom's number one bestselling Shardlake series, for fans of Hilary Mantel and Philippa Gregory.

'When it comes to intriguing Tudor-based narratives, Hilary Mantel has a serious rival' - Sunday Times
'Sansom has the trick of writing an enthralling narrative. Like Hilary Mantel, he produces densely textured historical novels that absorb their readers in another time' - Andrew Taylor, Spectator

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

England, 1549: Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos . . .

The nominal…


Book cover of Bring Up the Bodies

Ken Parejko Author Of Kasia's Story

From my list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was during the epistemological craziness around the year 2000 that I christened myself a truth warrior. I was already a scientist. Yet I knew there were other important truths, not of the mind but of the heart, truths we discover and marvel over in the realm of art. So as a biology professor I was granted a sabbatical to write the second of three of my novels, about Pliny the Elder. It is through literature, some of my own making, that I find new ways of seeing and experiencing the world: and of discovering and validating what is true, and what is not.

Ken's book list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion

Ken Parejko Why did Ken love this book?

Though I did enjoy the earlier Wolf Hall I found Bring Up the Bodies more readable and compelling.

Hilary Mantel paints intimate word pictures of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and especially Thomas Cromwell, struggling to make his way through the minefield of political intrigue at Henry’s court. Though it is against almost every principle he holds dear, Cromwell charts a course which one step at a time ultimately brings Anne Boleyn down.

Finding himself in an almost impossible situation, he agonizes over every decision, looking at it from many sides: legal, political, ethical, spiritual, and religious. Meanwhile not far in the background we see the Church’s Pope Clement trying desperately, like Oz’s man behind the curtain, to control events.

Mantel’s genius was her ability to transform dry history into compelling, character-driven stories.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Bring Up the Bodies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize

The second book in Hilary Mantel's award-winning Wolf Hall trilogy, with a stunning new cover design to celebrate the publication of the much anticipated The Mirror and the Light

An astounding literary accomplishment, Bring Up the Bodies is the story of this most terrifying moment of history, by one of our greatest living novelists.

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

Bring Up the Bodies unlocks the darkly glittering court of Henry VIII, where Thomas Cromwell is now chief minister. With Henry captivated by plain Jane Seymour and rumours of Anne Boleyn's faithlessness whispered by…


Book cover of Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe

Tracy Borman Author Of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story Of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

From my list on life in Tudor times.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tracy Borman is a historian and novelist specialising in the Tudor period and has written a number of best-selling books, including The Private Lives of the Tudors, Thomas Cromwell, and Elizabeth’s Women. She is also a popular broadcaster and has presented numerous history documentaries, including Channel 5’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn and Inside the Tower of London. Alongside this, she is the joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust.

Tracy's book list on life in Tudor times

Tracy Borman Why did Tracy love this book?

There is no doubt that the sixteenth century was a man’s world. Women were treated as second-class citizens and viewed as inferior in every single respect: mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet it was also the era of powerful female sovereigns, consorts and regents. Sarah Gristwood’s beautifully written and well-researched study follows the varying fortunes of some of the period’s most formidable matriarchs, from Isabella of Castile to the six wives of Henry VIII.

By Sarah Gristwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A BBC History magazine Book of the Year and an amazon.com Best Book of the Month

As religion divided sixteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary group of women rose to power. They governed nations while kings fought in foreign lands. They ruled on behalf of nephews, brothers and sons. They negotiated peace between their warring nations. For decades, they ran Europe. Small wonder that it was in this century that the queen became the most powerful piece on the chessboard.

From mother to daughter and mentor to protegee, Sarah Gristwood follows the passage of power from Isabella of Castile and Anne de…


Book cover of Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage

Jacopo della Quercia Author Of License to Quill: A Novel of Shakespeare & Marlowe

From my list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I prefer to write historical fiction because so many fascinating stories have already happened in the past, and these tales are filled with real-life characters with rich backstories and personalities. I try to find the best historical figures and scenarios I can through exhaustive research and then stitch them together into thrillers that mesh seamlessly with the history I researched. My books are written to educate and entertain, and nothing makes me prouder than when readers follow the breadcrumb trails I leave behind for further research. I hope you enjoy the hunt!

Jacopo's book list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world

Jacopo della Quercia Why did Jacopo love this book?

If you’ve ever been a fan of the James Bond books or movies, spy-thrillers, or anything involving MI6, this book is about where it all began: the golden age of English espionage. Filled with captivating plots and characters straight out of history, this book was the bedrock that I built my story upon. Please check it out. You will never look at English history the same way again.

By Stephen Budiansky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Her Majesty's Spymaster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sir Francis Walsingham's official title was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I, but in fact this pious, tight-lipped Puritan was England's first spymaster. A ruthless, fiercely loyal civil servant, Walsingham worked brilliantly behind the scenes to foil Elizabeth's rival Mary Queen of Scots and outwit Catholic Spain and France, which had arrayed their forces behind her. Though he cut an incongruous figure in Elizabeth's worldly court, Walsingham managed to win the trust of key players like William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester before launching his own secret campaign against the queen's enemies. Covert operations were Walsingham's genius; he pioneered…


Book cover of Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy

Jacopo della Quercia Author Of License to Quill: A Novel of Shakespeare & Marlowe

From my list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I prefer to write historical fiction because so many fascinating stories have already happened in the past, and these tales are filled with real-life characters with rich backstories and personalities. I try to find the best historical figures and scenarios I can through exhaustive research and then stitch them together into thrillers that mesh seamlessly with the history I researched. My books are written to educate and entertain, and nothing makes me prouder than when readers follow the breadcrumb trails I leave behind for further research. I hope you enjoy the hunt!

Jacopo's book list on understanding the dark side of Shakespeare's world

Jacopo della Quercia Why did Jacopo love this book?

It might surprise you to see a Christopher Marlowe biography over any book on William Shakespeare in this list, but Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy is seriously that good. It made me fall in love with the scoundrel now credited as co-author to Shakespeare’s three Henry VI plays and who likely had a hand in several more. However, this book is also a captivating glimpse into the real-life exploits and suspicious murder of one of the greatest writers in English history. This book should have been made into several films by now. There’s just so much to like about Marlowe, his vices, and his many secrets. Please get yourself a copy and enjoy the rascal.

By Park Honan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy is the most thorough and detailed life of Marlowe since John Bakeless's in 1942. It has new material on Marlowe in relation to Canterbury, also on his home life, schooling, and six and a half years at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and includes fresh data on his reading, teachers, and early achievements, including a new letter with a new date for the famous 'putative portrait' of Marlowe at Cambridge.

The biography uses for the first time the Latin writings of his friend Thomas Watson to illuminate Marlowe's life in London and his career as a…


Book cover of The Other Eighties

William Knoblauch Author Of Nuclear Freeze in a Cold War: The Reagan Administration, Cultural Activism, and the End of the Arms Race

From my list on the Cold War in the 1980s.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the decade and in the Cold War came during graduate school. This was where I discovered Carl Sagan’s theory of a nuclear winter: that after a nuclear war, the debris and smoke from nuclear bombs would cover the earth and make it inhabitable for life on earth. Tracing debates between this celebrity scientist and U.S. policymakers revealed a hesitancy on either side to even consider each other’s point of view. This research made me reconsider the pop culture of my youth—films like The Day After and Wargames, music like “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and books from Don DeLillo’s White Noise to Dr. Seuss’ Butter Battle Book—and ultimately see them as part of a political contest in which lives—our lives—were in the balance.  

William's book list on the Cold War in the 1980s

William Knoblauch Why did William love this book?

If Andrew Hunt’s book covers swaths of American popular culture to reveal levels of public dissent, Martin’s book takes a similar approach, but with a particular focus on grassroots activism. Across the U.S., activism took many forms. The Nuclear Freeze campaign, with its simple call to halt the arms race, inspired (in June 1982) the largest public protest in American history. Others rebelled against Reagan’s painfully slow response to even recognize the AIDS epidemic, while on college campuses students rallied against Reagan’s policies towards apartheid-era South Africa. Martin’s examination of how various strands of feminism reacted to the conservative backlash of the Reagan Era is an especially welcome addition to the decade’s historiography.

By Bradford Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ronald Reagan looms large in most accounts of the period, encouraging Americans to renounce the activist and liberal politics of the 1960s and '70s and embrace the resurgent conservative wave. But a closer look reveals that a sizable swath of Americans strongly disapproved of Reagan's policies throughout his presidency. With a weakened Democratic Party scurrying for the political center, many expressed their dissatisfaction outside electoral politics. Unlike the civil rights and Vietnam-era protesters, activists of the 1980s often found themselves on the defensive, struggling to preserve the hard-won victories of the previous era. Their successes, then, were not in ushering…


Book cover of The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

Kenneth M. Pollack Author Of Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness

From my list on Middle East military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After college I joined the CIA. They assigned me to the Iran-Iraq military account so I had a front-row seat for the Persian Gulf War. I went on to do two tours at the NSC and a quick stop at DoD in between, all working on Middle East political and security issues. I was unexpectedly thrown out by Bush II in 2001 and so had to flee to the think tank world. I’ve since written ten books on the political-military affairs of the Middle East and am now working on my eleventh, a history of the U.S. and Iraq since 1979 titled The Iraq Wars.

Kenneth's book list on Middle East military history

Kenneth M. Pollack Why did Kenneth love this book?

David Crist is the historian of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff—and the son of former CENTCOM Commander, General George B. Crist.  He knows this subject backwards and forwards and brings to light any number of topics that I had only ever seen discussed in the classified world. But he does so with the perspicacity of a military historian and the insight of a superb military analyst. Most people simply do not know about the many close calls and bloody clashes there were between the U.S. and Iran during this era, and Crist’s book fills that important gap. Moreover, this is a fascinating example of a protracted, low-intensity or “hybrid” conflict with a canny and determined foe and so it has no end of lessons to teach. 

By David Crist,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war

For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told.

This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran's intelligence agency. Battles are fought at…


Book cover of Spy Chiefs: Volume 1: Intelligence Leaders in the United States and United Kingdom

David P. Oakley Author Of Subordinating Intelligence: The DoD/CIA Post-Cold War Relationship

From my list on history, personalities, activities of intelligence.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with intelligence studies is tied to my previous experience as a practitioner. While serving as a military officer and CIA officer, I became curious about how two organizations with a shared history could be so different. Exploring the “why” of the CIA/DoD differences led me to the broader interplay of organizational cultures, individuals, and missions in influencing the evolution of intelligence, its purpose, and its role. These five books will provide the reader a broader appreciation of how intelligence was used to help policymakers understand reality and how intelligence organizations have been used to try to change reality. You will not merely learn something about intelligence but will be entertained and engaged while doing so. 

David's book list on history, personalities, activities of intelligence

David P. Oakley Why did David love this book?

I think it is important to consider how leaders shape organizations and how the evolution of an organization might have been different under another person. To appreciate how/why intelligence organizations evolved we must appreciate the influence of intelligence leaders. For example, John Deutch and Stanfield Turner not only created tension within the CIA during their tenure, but their poor decisions affected the organization long after their departure. This edited volume looks at the personalities of U.S. and U.K. intelligence leaders and their influence on intelligence. Although the book touches on some of the more familiar names such as Wild Bill Donovan, its authors also explore lesser-known leaders whose influence on their organization and the broader community was significant. A must-read for anyone wanting to appreciate how individuals shape intelligence! I also encourage you to pick up volume 2 to learn about intelligence leaders throughout the world.

By Christopher Moran (editor), Mark Stout (editor), Ioanna Iordanou (editor) , Paul Maddrell (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In literature and film the spy chief is an all-knowing, all-powerful figure who masterfully moves spies into action like pieces on a chessboard. How close to reality is that depiction, and what does it really take to be an effective leader in the world of intelligence? This first volume of Spy Chiefs broadens and deepens our understanding of the role of intelligence leaders in foreign affairs and national security in the United States and United Kingdom from the early 1940s to the present. The figures profiled range from famous spy chiefs such as William Donovan, Richard Helms, and Stewart Menzies…


Book cover of The Spy Net: The Greatest Intelligence Operations of the First World War

Kate Breslin Author Of High as the Heavens

From my list on World War One and the hidden world of espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American novelist and Anglophile who enjoys writing about British history, I never planned to venture into world war fiction, but once a story led me there I was hooked. I love doing deep-dive research and learning about real men and women of the past who faced high stakes: life and death situations and having to make impossible decisions, both on the battlefield and in the hidden world of espionage. Their courage and resourcefulness inspire me, and I realize that even when we’re at our most vulnerable, we can still rise to become our best and bravest when it counts. 

Kate's book list on World War One and the hidden world of espionage

Kate Breslin Why did Kate love this book?

Henry Landau’s story is a favorite because it visualized for me the brilliance of WWI espionage. During the war, Landau worked for the British Secret Intelligence Service in neutral Holland and collaborated with the resistance group La Dame Blanche or “The White Lady” in occupied Belgium, who covertly provided him with intelligence to aid the Allies against Germany. They created innocuous “grocery lists” – a code for how many German troops, horses, and artillery were sighted at Belgium’s train stations, and “letterboxes” used to pass intel so as to safeguard each cell of agents from capture. I was thrilled to discover this “White Lady” network of mostly noncombatants—women and children—whose ingenuity in surveillance was well before its time.

By Henry Landau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Henry Landau was a young South African serving with the British Army when he was recruited into the British secret service, the organisation we now know as MI6, which needed a Dutch speaker to run its agent networks in Belgium. Talent-spotted by one of the secret service's secretaries on a dinner date, Landau was summoned to the service's headquarters in Whitehall Court to meet Mansfield Cumming, the legendary 'Chief' of the service and the original 'C'.Cumming, who had a wooden leg and tested the character of his young recruits by plunging a paper knife into it, sent Landau to Rotterdam,…


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