The most recommended history books

Who picked these books? Meet our 4,295 experts.

4,295 authors created a book list connected to history, and here are their favorite history books.
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Book cover of Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness

Kirsten Fullmer Author Of Love on the Line

From my list on girls who don’t need to be saved.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated with stories about women who step outside the norm and accomplish their goals. Books that tell of girls who are shy or insecure, but find inner strength in the face of adversity, inspire me. My mother wasn’t afraid to guide me toward these stories when I was young, and I gave books with this theme to my daughters as well. It doesn’t matter where you start from, it only matters where you think you can go, and I love books that share this idea; especially stories of women who do amazing and unexpected things.  

Kirsten's book list on girls who don’t need to be saved

Kirsten Fullmer Why did Kirsten love this book?

This book is about Anne Hobbs, a nineteen-year-old girl, who in 1927 travels to Alaska to run a ramshackle, one-room schoolhouse. Along the way, she is exposed to more than just the elements. Against the local’s advice, she allows Native American children into her class and falls in love with a half-Inuit man. In this fascinating and charming story, Anne learns the meaning of prejudice and perseverance, irrational hatred, and unconditional love. 

This story taught me that we, as girls, can do important things and change the world around us. Anne was sweet and shy, but through showing compassion and concern, she made a change in her community. It wasn’t easy and she faced hardship, but she was successful and content within herself. Why do I love this book? First of all, the book is an adventure about survival in the wilderness. Anne had people watching out for her and…

By Robert Specht,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The beloved real-life story of a woman in the Alaskan wilderness, the children she taught, and the man she loved.
“From the time I’d been a girl, I’d been thrilled with the idea of living on a frontier. So when I was offered the job of teaching school in a gold-mining settlement called Chicken, I accepted right away.”
Anne Hobbs was only nineteen in 1927 when she came to harsh and beautiful Alaska. Running a ramshackle schoolhouse would expose her to more than just the elements. After she allowed Native American children into her class and fell in love with…

Book cover of Amateurs, to Arms!: A Military History of the War of 1812

David Fitz-Enz Author Of The Spy on Putney Bridge: A Mystery Novel of Espionage, Murder, and Betrayal in London

From my list on war and warriors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired Army Colonel, paratrooper, and aviator who served four tours in Vietnam as a platoon leader of combat photographers in the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade and later as a communication officer in the 1/10 Cavalry Squadron, 4th Infantry Division. Subsequently, I commanded six ties and operated the Moscow Hotline for three Presidents. On retirement, I lectured at the National Archives, Library of Congress, U.S. Naval Museum, and National Army Museum London England. I was also the guest lecturer at the Napoleonic fair, London. I conducted four one-hour television programs on my six books for C-Span Television and appeared on Fox News Network. I was awarded the Distinguished Book Prize from the US Army Historical Foundation and was granted the Military Order of Saint Louis by the Knights Templar, the priory of Saint Patrick, Manhattan, NY for contributions to Military Literature.

David's book list on war and warriors

David Fitz-Enz Why did David love this book?

I was given the opportunity to make a television program about the Battle of Plattsburgh /Lake Champlain. Amateurs to Arms proved out to the best source for research concerning the War of 1812. It was no wonder since Professor John Elting had also written the 1812 West Point Atlas. His book on the northern battlefields is groundbreaking. An infantry officer in Germany during WWII, his experience brought an understanding of men caught in hand-to-hand combat. As a result of my extensive research, John suggested that I write a companion book to the film. The Final Invasion, Plattsburgh, the war of 1812’s most decisive battle, won the Army Historical Foundation book prize and the endorsement of the US Army War College.

By John R. Elting,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Begun in ignorance of the military reality, the War of 1812 was fought catch-as-catch-can with raw troops, incompetent officers, and appallingly inadequate logistics. The odds against the American fighting forces,woefully unrealistic preparations and expectations, British military might, a feckless Congress and administration, the treason of many citizens who fed and praised the enemy,were overwhelming. American soil was invaded along three frontiers, the national capital was occupied and burned, and the secession of the New England states loomed as a definite possibility. Amateurs, to Arms! examines in succession the campaigns of "Mr. Madison's War": the U.S. invasion of Canada the key…

Book cover of Rude Pursuits and Rugged Peaks: Schoolcraft's Ozark Journal, 1818-1819

Brooks Blevins Author Of A History of the Ozarks, Vol. 1: The Old Ozarks

From my list on the Ozarks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t say that I was even conscious of having grown up in the Ozarks until stumbling upon a regional geography book in college. Once I learned that the rural community of my childhood was part of a hill country stretching from the outskirts of St. Louis into the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, I dedicated my life’s work to explaining (and demystifying) the Ozarkers – a people not quite southern, not quite midwestern, and not quite western.

Brooks' book list on the Ozarks

Brooks Blevins Why did Brooks love this book?

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft may have been a condescending, greenhorn Easterner when he ventured through the sparsely settled Ozarks more than two centuries ago, but his descriptions of the terrain he traversed and the frontier settlements he saw are an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history and geography of the region. Cultural geographer Milt Rafferty’s maps and annotations put us in the woods and on the streams with Schoolcraft every step of the way. 

By H. Schoolcraft,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rude Pursuits and Rugged Peaks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the winter of 1818, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft set out from Potosi, Missouri, to document lead mines in the interior of the Ozarks. Intending only to make his fortune by publishing an account of the area's mineral resources, he became the first skilled observer to witness and record frontier life in the Ozarks.

The journal kept by Schoolcraft as he traveled ninety days in the rugged terrain of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas was originally published in 1821 and has become an essential record of Ozark territorial society and natural history documenting some of the earliest American settlers in the…

Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

Book cover of Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

Kathleen DuVal Author Of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional historian and life-long lover of early American history. My fascination with the American Revolution began during the bicentennial in 1976, when my family traveled across the country for celebrations in Williamsburg and Philadelphia. That history, though, seemed disconnected to the place I grew up—Arkansas—so when I went to graduate school in history, I researched in French and Spanish archives to learn about their eighteenth-century interactions with Arkansas’s Native nations, the Osages and Quapaws. Now I teach early American history and Native American history at UNC-Chapel Hill and have written several books on how Native American, European, and African people interacted across North America.

Kathleen's book list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers

What is my book about?

A magisterial history of Indigenous North America that places the power of Native nations at its center, telling their story from the rise of ancient cities more than a thousand years ago to fights for sovereignty that continue today

Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

What is this book about?

Long before the colonization of North America, Indigenous Americans built diverse civilizations and adapted to a changing world in ways that reverberated globally. And, as award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal vividly recounts, when Europeans did arrive, no civilization came to a halt because of a few wandering explorers, even when the strangers came well armed.

A millennium ago, North American cities rivaled urban centers around the world in size. Then, following a period of climate change and instability, numerous smaller nations emerged, moving away from rather than toward urbanization. From this urban past, egalitarian government structures, diplomacy, and complex economies spread…

Book cover of No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II

David Emblidge Author Of My Day: The Best Of Eleanor Roosevelt's Acclaimed Newspaper Columns, 1936-1962

From my list on Eleanor Roosevelt, her times, and her column “My Day”.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a cultural historian (degrees in English and American Studies). I taught at the university level for 25 years (Emerson College, principally) and worked 20+ years as an acquisitions editor, in book publishing, at Harvard, at Cambridge University Press, and for a small company I founded, Berkshire House. I was politically sympathetic to Mrs. Roosevelt’s POV before the “My Day” book project came to me, but, coincidentally, her long run as a syndicated columnist interested me also because my first job, fresh out of college, was as a cub reporter for Associated Press. I learned, in a hurry, how to deliver a story on deadline, with all the facts double checked.

David's book list on Eleanor Roosevelt, her times, and her column “My Day”

David Emblidge Why did David love this book?

Goodwin is one of our preeminent historians. A great narrator and a researcher par excellence. The details really matter. No other president served the country for four terms; no other president served during both a near-total economic collapse and a devastating global war; and no other president had such an activist, engaged wife. Although the Roosevelts’ marriage was deeply troubled (FDR’s attraction to other women…), they decided to stay together no matter what because they were, in the end, not just a married couple but a political team. Zooming in on the war years (which were FDR’s final years), we see here the creative tension between a president and a first lady, two towers of power, sometimes at odds, but always putting the best interests of the nation first in their thinking. 

By Doris Kearns Goodwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Ordinary Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A chronicle of the US and its leaders during the period when modern America was created. It narrates the interrelationships between the inner workings of the Roosevelt White House and the destiny of the US, painting a portrait that fills in a historical gap in the story of America under Roosevelt.

Book cover of Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death

Jessica Scott Author Of A Soldier's Promise: A Coming Home Anthology

From my list on the Iraq War that go beyond bullets.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a soldier, an author, and an army wife – the last fifteen years of my life have revolved around dealing with the fallout of the Iraq war, not only for my family but also as a soldier and a veteran. I write books because I wanted to read about people who stayed in the military after the war started. The best writing advice I ever got came from Robyn Carr who said, write the book that only you can tell. Wrestling with the legacy of a war that we as soldiers did not choose as we return home was something I deeply wanted to understand, both as an army officer and a novelist.

Jessica's book list on the Iraq War that go beyond bullets

Jessica Scott Why did Jessica love this book?

This is a book about failure – leadership failure from every echelon.

I hesitated to ever read this book about horrific war crimes committed by American soldiers because I absolutely did not want to see “them” as “us”. What I found instead was a systematic failure of the Army from every echelon that enabled these men to slip free of the bonds of civilization and become the embodiment of humanity’s worst impulses.

The soldier who reported them was nearly murdered as a traitor. This book speaks to the burden that those who come forward carry – and how men become monsters.

I don’t know if the men who committed that horrible atrocity were ever good men who the war made evil nor do I care – but what Frederick has shown in this book is the systematic unraveling of a platoon’s ties back to what made them human and the…

By Jim Frederick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the story of a small group of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s fabled 502nd Infantry Regiment—a unit known as “the Black Heart Brigade.” Deployed in late 2005 to Iraq’s so-called Triangle of Death, a veritable meat grinder just south of Baghdad, the Black Hearts found themselves in arguably the country’s most dangerous location at its most dangerous time.

Hit by near-daily mortars, gunfire, and roadside bomb attacks, suffering from a particularly heavy death toll, and enduring a chronic breakdown in leadership, members of one Black Heart platoon—1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion—descended, over their year-long tour of…

Book cover of Fabulous Science : Fact and Fiction in the History of Scientific Discovery

Kersten T. Hall Author Of The Man in the Monkeynut Coat: William Astbury and How Wool Wove a Forgotten Road to the Double-Helix

From my list on to think differently about the history of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

The discovery of the structure of DNA, the genetic material was one of the biggest milestones in science–but few people realise that a crucial unsung hero in this story was the humble wool fibre. But the Covid pandemic has changed all that and as a result we’ve all become acutely away of both the impact of science on our lives and our need to be more informed about it. Having long ago hung up my white coat and swapped the lab for the library to be a historian of science, I think we need a more honest, authentic understanding of scientific progress rather than the over-simplified accounts so often found in textbooks. 

Kersten's book list on to think differently about the history of science

Kersten T. Hall Why did Kersten love this book?

Gregor Mendel was a lone genius who, pottering with pea plants, unlocked the secrets of modern genetics; Charles Darwin boldly took on the power of the Church with his theory of evolution; chance favoured the prepared mind of Louis Pasteur…right? Well, no, not according to historian John Waller who takes a sledgehammer to the heavily mythologised historical accounts of scientific discovery that are so often found in textbooks before kindly picking up the pieces to rearrange them into a much more honest and authentic account of how science works. Physicist-turned-philosopher Thomas Kuhn once warned that trying to learn the history of science from the pages of a science textbook was no better than assuming an intimate knowledge of a foreign country and its customs after having briefly thumbed through a glossy travel brochure. If the past is indeed a foreign country, then Waller is a reliable local guide who speaks…

By John Waller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The great biologist Louis Pasteur suppressed 'awkward' data because it didn't support the case he was making. John Snow, the 'first epidemiologist' was doing nothing others had not done before. Gregor Mendel, the supposed 'founder of genetics' never grasped the fundamental principles of 'Mendelian' genetics. Joseph Lister's famously clean hospital wards were actually notorious dirty. And Einstein's general relativity was only 'confirmed' in 1919 because an eminent
British scientist cooked his figures. These are just some of the revelations explored in this book.

Drawing on current history of science scholarship, Fabulous Science shows that many of our greatest heroes of…

Book cover of Thank You for Your Service

John A. Nagl Author Of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

From my list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired Army officer who served in a tank unit in Operation Desert Storm. After that war, I became convinced that the future of warfare looked more like America’s experience in Vietnam than like the war in which I had just fought. I taught at West Point and then served in another tank unit early in the war in Iraq before being sent to the Pentagon where I helped Generals David Petraeus and Jim Mattis write the Army and Marine Corps doctrine for counterinsurgency campaigns. I am now studying and teaching about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a professor at the U.S. Army War College.  

John's book list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq

John A. Nagl Why did John love this book?

A sequel to The Good Soldiers, which told the story of an infantry battalion through some of the bloodiest fighting of the war during the “Surge” in Baghdad, David Finkel’s Thank You for Your Service follows the soldiers on their return to the United States. All are marked forever by the experience of combat; many have devastating physical wounds while others struggle mentally and emotionally with what they have seen and done at their country’s call. Life after war can be harder than life in war, and Finkel unpacks how and why with an unsparing but compassionate eye. This book should be read by every politician with responsibility for sending troops to combat—before they start America’s next war.

By David Finkel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thank You for Your Service as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No journalist is better situated to reckon with the psychology of war than New York Times bestselling author David Finkel. In Thank You for Your Service he weaves a masterly, compelling narrative out of the troubling stories of a US infantry battalion as they return home from Iraq and attempt to survive peace.

Finkel writes frankly and compassionately about the soldiers, and about their partners and children: the heartbroken wife who wonders privately whether her returned husband is going to get better, or kill her; and the heroic victims, with the fresh taste of gunmetal in their mouths, who will…

Book cover of Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism

Martin M. Winkler Author Of Arminius the Liberator: Myth and Ideology

From my list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Classics at George Mason University. I learned about ancient Romans and Greeks in my native Germany, when I attended a humanist high school, possibly the oldest in the country. (It was founded during the reign of Charlemagne, as the eastern half of the Roman Empire was still flourishing.) My mother once informed me that I betrayed my passion for stories long before I could read because I enthusiastically used to tear pages out of books. In my teens I became fascinated with stories told in moving images. I have been a bibliophile and, em, cinemaniac ever since and have pursued both my obsessions in my publications.

Martin's book list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome

Martin M. Winkler Why did Martin love this book?

An American journalist, expelled from Italy in 1925, traces roots, rise, and rule of Il Duce in this 1935 book, which is as vivid as its title.

Mussolini appears as a cheap showman, who, “acting the Hero,” revived ancient Roman pomp and spectacles. He was also aware of the power of mass media, especially the cinema, “posing before men and moviemen.”

One of the virtues of Seldes’ book are the extensive quotations, which unmask Mussolini and others in their own words. Fascist documents, quoted at length, include “The Fascist Decalogue” (note its VIII. Commandment!) and the “Fascist Catechism,” which must be read to be (dis)believed.

Seldes’ book has become valuable again in the current age of assorted domestic and foreign media- and image-obsessed demagogues, autocrats, and dictators.

Book cover of Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You to Know About Shock Treatment

Rob Wipond Author Of Your Consent Is Not Required: The Rise in Psychiatric Detentions, Forced Treatment, and Abusive Guardianships

From my list on involuntary commitment and psychiatric treatment.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father, a college professor, sought mental health help during a difficult period—and got forcibly electroshocked. I later started doing journalism, investigating community issues such as poverty, government and business, racial conflicts, policing, and protests—wherever I looked, I’d find sources who’d been subjected to psychiatric detentions. I started to see that a far greater diversity of people were being affected than we normally realize or talk about. Over the ensuing years, I interviewed hundreds of people about their experiences of forced psychiatric interventions, and became determined to shine a brighter public light on mental health law powers. My articles have been nominated for seventeen magazine and journalism awards. 

Rob's book list on involuntary commitment and psychiatric treatment

Rob Wipond Why did Rob love this book?

Forced electroshock or “electroconvulsive therapy” (ECT) is still commonplace, and it caused Linda Andre massive memory loss—but she recovered enough to write one of my favorite of many important books by people who’ve personally experienced forced treatment.

Her commentaries on the science are good, but Andre, once a leading activist, was frequently interviewed by news media and attacked by pro-ECT psychiatrists, and she exposes the behind-the-scenes politics and public relations of psychiatric science, forced treatment, and ECT in fascinating ways.

Her observations on how journalists tend to work, and of the many ways even “responsible” news outlets can misrepresent, manipulate, and get manipulated, are unnerving.

With revealing irony, Doctors of Deception criticized pro-ECT psychiatrists for rarely disclosing their conflicts of interest—and the book was viciously attacked in a prominent review by two pro-ECT psychiatrists who didn’t disclose to readers that they themselves were criticized in the book. 

By Linda Andre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Doctors of Deception is a revealing history of ECT (or shock therapy) in the United States, told here for the first time. Through the examination of court records, medical data, FDA reports, industry claims, her own experience as a patient of shock therapy, and the stories of others, Andre exposes tactics used by the industry to promote ECT as a responsible treatment when all the scientific evidence suggested otherwise.

Book cover of There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness: And Other Thoughts on Physics, Philosophy and the World

Mark W. Tiedemann Author Of Granger's Crossing

From my list on love and mystery across time and space.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write science fiction mostly. I’ve recently turned my attention to history. The shared interest is in the changing ground of human interaction. In a way, we are all aliens to each other (which is one of the chief fascinations with fiction to begin with, the psychologies involved). After 30-plus years as a writer, I am more and more drawn to work that reveals the differences and the similarities. Unique contexts throws all this into stark relief.

Mark's book list on love and mystery across time and space

Mark W. Tiedemann Why did Mark love this book?

A quantum physicist encounters the world outside science.

A touching collection of essays by one of the best science writers today, Rovelli examines the interface of critical thinking, science, and life as lived daily by ordinary humans.

Rovelli has become one of my favorite science writers, but it is his humanity on display in these pieces. 

By Carlo Rovelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of our most beloved scientists, a fearless free spirit, Carlo Rovelli is also a masterful storyteller. In this collection of writings, the logbook of an intelligence always on the move, he follows his curiosity and invites us on a voyage through science, literature, philosophy and politics.

Written with his usual clarity and wit, these pieces, most of which were first published in Italian newspapers, range widely across time and space: from Newton's alchemy to Einstein's mistakes, from Nabokov's butterflies to Dante's cosmology, from travels in Africa to the consciousness of an octopus, from mind-altering psychedelic substances to the meaning…