The most recommended books on the Bronze Age

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to the Bronze Age, and here are their favorite Bronze Age books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of Bronze Age book?


Atlas of Classical History

By Richard Talbert (editor), Lindsay Holman (editor), Benet Salway (editor)

Book cover of Atlas of Classical History

Ray Laurence Author Of Mediterranean Timescapes: Chronological Age and Cultural Practice in the Roman Empire

From Ray's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Professor Dyslexic Roman Historian Creator of Animated Films Migrant

Ray's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Ray love this book?

When I was very young at school and struggling as a dyslexic student, I owned and cherished the first edition of this book which was in black and white.

I adored the mixture of maps and history – indeed I spent hours staring at the maps and would be lured by curiosity into reading the text. I was thrilled to discover that a new edition had been published and, for full disclosure, Richard Talbert had offered to send me a copy. When I opened the book on arrival, I felt the same sense of excitement from years ago – looking at maps of cities, of battles, and of sea routes.

This is a book of discovery, readers can open it up and find knowledge of battles they may not have heard of or visualizations of cities and geography. It is a book that you guide yourself through, that contrasts so…

By Richard Talbert (editor), Lindsay Holman (editor), Benet Salway (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Featuring over 130 colour maps of ancient physical and human landscapes spanning Britain to India and deep into the Sahara, this atlas is a compact kaleidoscope of peoples, migrations, empires, strife, cultures, cities and travels from Greece's Bronze Age to Rome's fall in the West.

This revised edition of the Atlas of Classical History equips readers with a clear visual grasp of the spatial dimension, a vital aspect for understanding history. Users gain insight into the formative roles of physical landscape - seas, rivers, mountains, deserts - in Mediterranean peoples' development. The maps in all their variety of scope, scale…

Helen of Troy

By Bettany Hughes,

Book cover of Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore

Jane Draycott Author Of Cleopatra's Daughter: From Roman Prisoner to African Queen

From the list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women.

Who am I?

As an ancient historian and archaeologist, I’ve been fascinated by antiquity for many years yet I have little interest in politics and military matters and no patience at all with the ‘great man’ approach to history that privileges kings and generals. I’ve always wanted to know what the other half of ancient society was doing, and if we can’t find them in ancient literature, we need to use other types of evidence to find them and reconstruct their lives, and once we do that, we can gain an entirely new perspective on the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Jane's book list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women

Why did Jane love this book?

Bettany Hughes follows the infamous beauty Helen of Troy through 3,000 years of world myth, history, archaeology, and culture.

I first read this book as an undergraduate and I’ve returned to it many times over the years as a first class example of how to make use of every possible scrap of evidence when attempting to bring the past to life in three dimensions and vivid technicolor.

By Bettany Hughes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As soon as men began to write, they made Helen of Troy their subject; for nearly three thousand years she has been both the embodiment of absolute female beauty and a reminder of the terrible power that beauty can wield. Because of her double marriage to the Greek King Menelaus and the Trojan Prince Paris, Helen was held responsible for both the Trojan War and enduring enmity between East and West. For millennia she has been viewed as an exquisite agent of extermination. But who was she?

Helen exists in many guises: a matriarch from the Age of Heroes who…

Warrior Scarlet

By Rosemary Sutcliff,

Book cover of Warrior Scarlet

Wendy J. Dunn Author Of The Light in the Labyrinth

From the list on Rosemary Sutcliff for history loving teenagers.

Who am I?

I’m an Australian author passionate about history. Alas, not Australian history. That would make my life so much easier. As a child, I loved tales of ancient Greece. That love took me in two directions—Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome—Ancient Rome introduced me to Roman Britain, and the Roman Britain novels of Rosemary Sutcliff. My love of history probably explains why a childhood friend gave me a child’s book of English history for my tenth birthday. One of the book’s chapters told the story of Elizabeth I. As she wont to do in her own times, Elizabeth hooked me, keeping me captured ever since, and enslaved to writing and learning more about Tudors.

Wendy's book list on Rosemary Sutcliff for history loving teenagers

Why did Wendy love this book?

From her earliest years, Sutcliff knew firsthand what it was to live with and surmount painful disability. She understood what it was to be ‘the other’—to be looking from the outside on those able to live ‘normal’ lives. It is not surprising then that many of her stories include main characters who powerfully prove you do not need to be able-bodied to triumph over life. Set in the British Bronze age, this novel is one of those stories. Dem wants to take his place as a warrior of his tribe but must kill a wolf single-handedly to claim his warrior’s scarlet cloak. How can kill his wolf when he was born with a withered arm? With great sensitivity, skill, and prose often close to poetry, Sutcliff brings the Bronze age and its people alive in this wonderfully told story.  

By Rosemary Sutcliff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drem longs for the day he will win his Warrior Scarlet. But with a withered spear arm, how will he take part in the ritual Wolf Slaying which will prove his worth as a man of the tribe?

With over forty books to her credit, Rosemary Sutcliff is now universally considered one of the finest writers of historical novels for children. Winer of the Carnegie Medal and many other honours, Rosemary was awarded a CBE in 1992 for services to children's literature.


By Wilbur Smith,

Book cover of Warlock

William Havelock Author Of The Last Dying Light

From the list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle.

Who am I?

I am fascinated by how societies conduct war. Who is expected to fight, and how are they organized? How is technology developed, implemented, and improvised in the heat of battle? And, most importantly, how do its participants make sense of the carnage around them? History is replete with tales of savagery and courage, of honor and depravity. Perilously few of these have been formed into novels, leaving an incomplete and disjointed understanding of thousands of years of struggle. Many authors, including those listed here, paved the path for holistic depictions of historical battle fiction – my hope is to contribute tales from oft-neglected societies, beginning with Belisarius and the 6th-Century Roman Empire.

William's book list on historical fiction depicting premodern battle

Why did William love this book?

Wilbur Smith, who sadly passed in November 2021, trailblazed adventure writing. While The River God is perhaps his most memorable entry in his Ancient Egypt series, Warlock is stuffed with descriptions of military training and combat. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Red Road’ sequence – while not battle-focused, Mr. Smith took pains to unpack the various modes of fighting available to contemporary Bronze Age Egyptians.

Smith’s detailing of chariot-centered battle would satisfy everyone from engineers to historians - particularly in Warlock’s climax. Javelins and bows hurtling from hundreds of chariots makes for a unique style of combat that is difficult to acquire elsewhere – as is the struggles of engaging in mass military operations when surrounded by desert.

By Wilbur Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Best historical novelist' - Stephen King

'A master storyteller' - Sunday Times

'Wilbur Smith is one of those benchmarks against whom others are compared' - The Times

'No one does adventure quite like Smith' - Daily Mirror


In his long life, Taita has gone from slave to warlock, and now his wisdom and abilities are known throughout the kingdom. But even his immense skills cannot…

Book cover of The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses

Darrel Perkins Author Of The End Is At Hand

From the list on to read as the world crumbles around us.

Who am I?

Like most people, I started to think about the end of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of learning how to bake sourdough bread, I read stories and made art about the apocalypse. The true and catastrophic experiences of people throughout history interested me so much that the project turned into a book. My background in printmaking and illustration has formed my approach to visualizing narrative scenes using crisp black and white linocut prints. My current position as a studio art professor has given me practice in providing information concisely. I try to entertain as much as inform. 

Darrel's book list on to read as the world crumbles around us

Why did Darrel love this book?

Dan Carlin is here to get the facts straight. The wildly intelligent and passionate historian released this book while I was working on mine, and it was a great resource for me. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to educate themselves on how civilizations fail. Hint: We keep making the same mistakes again. Read this and break the pattern!

By Dan Carlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A journey back in time that explores what happened-and what could have happened-from creator of the wildly-popular podcast Hardcore History and 2019 winner of the iHeartRadio Best History Podcast Award.

Dan Carlin has created a new way to think about the past. His mega-hit podcast, Hardcore History, is revered for its unique blend of high drama, enthralling narration, and Twilight Zone-style twists. Carlin humanizes the past, wondering about things that didn't happen but might have, and compels his listeners to "walk a mile in that other guy's historical moccasins." A political commentator, Carlin approaches history like a magician, employing completely…

Book cover of 1177 BC The Year Civilization Collapsed

Gordon Doherty Author Of Son of Ishtar

From the list on the Hittite Empire.

Who am I?

I'm a Scottish writer, addicted to reading and writing historical fiction. My love of history was first kindled by visits to the misty Roman ruins of Britain and the sun-baked antiquities of Turkey and Greece. My expeditions since have taken me all over the world and back and forth through time (metaphorically, at least), allowing me to write tales of the later Roman Empire, Byzantium, Classical Greece and even the distant Bronze Age.

Gordon's book list on the Hittite Empire

Why did Gordon love this book?

The Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age. What caused this epochal shift? Eric Cline outlines just how cataclysmic the 12th and 13th centuries BC really were. Be prepared for fire, earthquakes, and a tide of war!

By Eric Cline,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1177 BC The Year Civilization Collapsed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold reassessment of what caused the Late Bronze Age collapse

In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the "Sea Peoples" invaded Egypt. The pharaoh's army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economy and cultures of the…

Aegean Linear Script(s)

By Ester Salgarella,

Book cover of Aegean Linear Script(s): Rethinking the Relationship Between Linear A and Linear B

James Clackson Author Of Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds

From the list on decipherment and lost languages.

Who am I?

I was lucky enough to have been taught Latin at school, and I remember my first teacher telling the class that a tandem bicycle was so called because Latin tandem means ‘at length’. That was the beginning with my fascination for words, etymologies, and languages. At University I was able to specialise in Greek, Latin, and Indo-European languages and then for my PhD I learnt Armenian (which has an alphabet to die for: 36 letters each of which has four different varieties, not counting ligatures!). I am now Professor of Comparative Philology at the University of Cambridge. 

James' book list on decipherment and lost languages

Why did James love this book?

Linear A, the script that preceded Linear B in Crete, has long attracted attempts at decipherment. Ester Salgarella, who is a colleague of mine at Cambridge, would not claim to have deciphered Linear A, but her work on the script and its relation to Linear B is brilliant at reframing the question about the relationship between the two. If you read this after Andrew Robinson’s account of Linear A (in his Lost Languages book mentioned above), you might be surprised by how much progress has been made.  

By Ester Salgarella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aegean Linear Script(s) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When does a continuum become a divide? This book investigates the genetic relationship between Linear A and Linear B, two Bronze Age scripts attested on Crete and Mainland Greece and understood to have developed one out of the other. By using an interdisciplinary methodology, this research integrates linguistic, epigraphic, palaeographic and archaeological evidence, and places the writing practice in its sociohistorical setting. By challenging traditional views, this work calls into question widespread assumptions and interpretative schemes on the relationship between these two scripts, and opens up new perspectives on the ideology associated with the retention, adaptation and transmission of a…

London Under

By Peter Ackroyd,

Book cover of London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets

Julie Anderson Author Of Plague

From the list on secret subterranean London.

Who am I?

I've lived and worked in London for most of my adult life and am perpetually astonished, amazed, and fascinated by the city around me. It's histories, small and large, are a constant delight and surprise for me, and its hidden places of enchantment fire my imagination. So, when I came to write my first novel, for Claret Press, there was no other place where it could possibly be set and I chose central London which I knew very well and had layer upon physical layer of history. Given that it was a crime thriller, it had to use those hidden places, which mirrored the surface world, as part of the plot. Walk with me along one of London's lost rivers on my website

Julie's book list on secret subterranean London

Why did Julie love this book?

I enjoy Ackroyd's novels as well as his biographies, the former almost always being set in London which he, as a noted flaneur, loves. London Under is not fiction, though it often references the literature and mythologies which have grown up around certain places and landmarks within London, from its earliest incarnation before it was even a city to the present day. Ackroyd chronicles how the London of one time reappears and impacts upon the London of another time, one stratum intruding upon another and shows how the world below mirrors and reflects the world above. This is not unlike how I wanted the clandestine and criminal world to mirror and reflect the above ground and above-board world in my novel Plague.

By Peter Ackroyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this vividly descriptive short study, Peter Ackroyd tunnels down through the geological layers of London, meeting the creatures that dwell in darkness and excavating the lore and mythology beneath the surface.
There is a Bronze Age trackway below the Isle of Dogs, Anglo-Saxon graves rest under St. Pauls, and the monastery of Whitefriars lies beneath Fleet Street. To go under London is to penetrate history, and Ackroyd's book is filled with the stories unique to this underworld: the hydraulic device used to lower bodies into the catacombs in Kensal Green cemetery; the door in the plinth of the statue…

The Corridors of Time

By Poul Anderson,

Book cover of The Corridors of Time

Susan Price Author Of The Sterkarm Handshake

From the list on that shake fantasy and history up together.

Who am I?

I was seven when our headmaster told us about Stone-Age people using stone tools and living in caves. This seemed so unlikely that I checked with my Dad before believing it, but after that, I loved history. I adored the idea of time machines: a day trip to Ancient Rome! A selfie with a saber-tooth! Writing allowed me to time-travel to whenever I liked and to use what I learned about how people lit and warmed their homes, cooked their food, and worshipped their gods. It was inevitable that I would write a time travel book, and it’s a real pleasure to revisit some books that inspired me.

Susan's book list on that shake fantasy and history up together

Why did Susan love this book?

I read this classic sci-fi way back when I was a teenager and I think, over the years, it has been a quiet, persistent influence on my own writing.

Two groups of time-travellers go back and forth along ‘the corridors of Time,’ fighting to influence history their way. The protagonist is taken from a prison cell to join one group and has to catch up with what’s going on as he’s taken to the future, the seventeenth century, and the Bronze Age.

What stayed with me most vividly was Anderson’s recreation of the Danish Bronze Age and the fact that the main character chooses to give up his own time in order to remain in the Bronze Age with the people he has come to love.

By Poul Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young man from the twentieth century is recruited to fight in a war that rages throughout time in this classic science fiction adventure from a multiple Hugo and Nebula Award–winning master.

College student, ex-marine, and martial artist Malcolm Lockridge is in prison awaiting his trial for murder when he receives an unexpected visit from an extraordinarily beautiful woman named Storm. Claiming to be a representative of the Wardens, a political faction from two thousand years in the future, Storm offers the astonished young man a proposition: freedom in return for his assistance in recovering an unspecified lost treasure. But…

Book cover of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Chad LeJeune Author Of "Pure O" OCD: Letting Go of Obsessive Thoughts with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

From the list on thoughts, and our relationship with them.

Who am I?

As a clinical psychologist, I listen to thoughts all the time. I’m also having my own, constantly. We rely on our thoughts to help us navigate the world. However, our thoughts can also be a source of suffering. At times, they're not such reliable guides or helpers. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a way of thinking about thinking. ACT captured my imagination early in my clinical career. I trained with ACT’s originator, Steven Hayes, in the early 1990’s. I’ve come to believe that being more aware of our own thoughts, and our relationship to them is key to creating positive change and living a life grounded in our values.

Chad's book list on thoughts, and our relationship with them

Why did Chad love this book?

Julian Jaynes was a researcher and teacher whose whole career focused on describing and understanding human consciousness. 

This strange, enchanting book looks at consciousness as an “operation” (like mathematics) rather than a thing. It examines how consciousness constructs an internal “space” in our heads that is an analog for the external world. In this space, we manipulate thoughts and ideas in much the same way we manipulate objects in the material world. 

This is a foundational text that calls into question our most basic assumptions about how we experience the realm of thought.

By Julian Jaynes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion -- and indeed our future.