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History books

(27 Posts)
pyjamasinbananas Thu 06-Oct-11 13:19:33

Just picked up The History of England by Peter Ackroyd in tesco but would like book recommendations for history books please! So far I've only read a David Starkey one and a few Alison Weirs. Just started my history degree and am a bit of a geek!

Any particular periods?

This is excellent but very depressing, as you'd expect.

Am going to bed now but will try and remember to come back tomorrow with a list!

pyjamasinbananas Sat 08-Oct-11 07:26:14

Any periods really. Thank you for the link

Terpsichore Sun 09-Oct-11 15:41:38

One of the most fascinating non-fiction books I've ever read is 'The Victorian House' by Judith Flanders, OP. Utterly gripping, with reams of sidelights on every aspect of 19thc life. Sounds unlikely I know but I could hardly bear it to end. Am also a history graduate with a particular love of all things Victorian, however, so it did, er float my boat!

Now reading Judith Flanders's most recent book, 'The Invention of Murder', which is also brilliant.

For more recent history I'd also highly recommend Juliet Gardiner's 'The 30's' and 'The Blitz'. Actually, pretty much anything by her.

Popbiscuit Sun 09-Oct-11 15:46:06

Terpsichore-Thanks for the recc. re: The Victorian House. Was pleasantly surprised to learn that my library not only has the book but it's available (and now reserved for me). Really looking forward to reading that smile

Yes to The Victorian House. Bill Bryson did one called Home which is quite interesting to, though a much lighter read. Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue about the history of the English language is excellent.

I read a v good one about the Great Fire Of London - I think it might have been called something like Day Of Judgement.

There's a fab one called The Edwardians which has sections on days out etc.

Paxman's The Victorians is good but order in the hardback as the paperback doesn't have all of the pictures.

This Thing Of Darkness is a novel but meticulously researched based on Darwin's voyage to Tiera Del Fuego - a brilliant read.

Giles Milton is worth a look - he's done one called Nathaniel's Nutmeg and another called Big Chief Elizabeth but there are others too.

There's one about the plague that's fairly recent - a massive tome - but I've completely forgotten what it was called sorry.

Scude typos - was trying to type one handed whilst slurping Earl grey with the other.

too not to

Scude????? blush

pyjamasinbananas Sun 09-Oct-11 17:52:19

Oh my Christmas list has just grown quite a lot! Thank you for the brilliant suggestions!


The plague one is called something like The Avenge Of The Angel iirc.

Oh and This Fatal Shore is a brilliant one about convicts sent to Australia and the founding of the colonies there.

Popbiscuit Sun 09-Oct-11 20:10:33

Oh; I just remembered a good one I read last year called "Elizabeth's London" by Liza Picard. I think she has some others too, but haven't read those yet.
I liked the Bill Bryson one too, Remus.

Auntiestablishment Sun 09-Oct-11 20:19:33

Rising '44 - about the Warsaw uprising towards the end of WWII.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 12-Oct-11 10:06:00

Paris: Biography of a City is an interesting read.

Any David Starkey and Alison Weir. They are all very good and Weir's fiction books aren't bad either.

I'd also agree on the Bill Bryson books mentioned above.

Elizabeth's London is a good book about London and day to day life in Elizabethan (surprise surprise) times.

Sonotkylie Tue 15-Nov-11 18:01:28

Rubicon by Tom Holland is fantastic - Romans, you know. Not normally my thing at all but un put downable. Novel style but real history.
Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth is a good novel about the slave trade.
And I completely agree about The Victorian House - I thought I was odd enjoying it so much. I will apply brain to think of some more.
Good luck with your degree. The ONLY one to do ...

EvieB Tue 15-Nov-11 19:29:22

Very modern history - Stasiland by Anna Funder is excellent - a study of post WW2 East Germany. I heard extracts when it was Book of the Week on R4 a couple of years ago and bought it on the strength of that, and found it fascinating.

And you can't beat a bit of Antonia Fraser - Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots and The Gunpowder Plot are all good.

Claire Tomalin - Samuel Pepys, The Unequalled Self

And finally Vera Brittain -Chronicles of Youth - based on her diaries during WW1 was fascinating and very moving

expatbaby Tue 15-Nov-11 20:49:10

I enjoyed Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom by Tom Holland.

Does a sweep over the history of Europe during this period, can be slightly confusing due to the scale of it but gives some really interesting insights/ parallels with modern history.

Matsikula Tue 15-Nov-11 21:21:29

If you don't have the chronological nuts and bolts in place JM Roberts Penguin history of the world is a good place to start.

For something more philosophical, you could try 'an Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin for a very different way of thinking about history.

'the Face of Battle' by John Keegan is an analysis of warfare through the ages, including the soldier's experience of it and was truly ground-breaking.

Somehow because both of these books are broad-ranging, but don't have a particularly driving theory behind them (like e.g. Ferguson's Empire) it's easier to see the 'method' and intellectual approach behind them.

If you had particular periods in mind, could recommend more. You're going to have so much fun!

TygerTyger Tue 15-Nov-11 21:53:44

Claire Tomalin - The life and death of Mary Woolstonecraft was an odd book to finish whilst on the maternity ward (death from childbirth complications hardly the best subject) but I did enjoy this book immensely.

David Starkey - Elizabeth is a very good read.

Amanda Vckery - Behind closed doors at home in Georgian England, is interesting

And one to keep by the loo as it is just soooo good

Ian Mortimer - The time-traveller's guide to Medieval England

Melfish Tue 15-Nov-11 22:02:59

Another vote for Ian Mortimer's Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England
Also enjoyed Eric Ives' biography of Anne Boleyn and Alison Weir's The Lady in the Tower (also about AB)
Lucy Worsley's If Walls Could Talk (the history of the home) was also a good book to dip in and out of.

GraceK Thu 17-Nov-11 15:02:58

Europe A History by Norman Davies - big but fantastically well written narrative history with extra 'capsules' for stuff he thought was interesting but couldn't fit into the narrative. His (equally large) book on The Isles (rather than an English-centric history of GB) is also good & looks at it from an unusual angle. I have all my fingers crossed that someone's going to get me his new one 'Vanished Kingdoms' for Christmas.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer.

Diarmaid MacCulloch's History of the European Reformation is very interesting & not at all dry, which that subject can be. If you find the English Reformation interesting then Eamon Duffy's Voices of Morebath studies how one village in Devon attempted to cope with the major religious changes imposed on them during the 16th century.

And if Master & Commander (one of my favourite history films) has left you interested in the navy during the time of Napoleon & Nelson, then The Wooden World by NAM Rodger is fab.

Will stop now or I''l get carried way.

KatieScarlett2833 Thu 17-Nov-11 15:09:31

I am green with envy.

I would love love love to study history, you lucky thing.

envy see, that's me grin

TygerTyger Thu 17-Nov-11 17:50:49

Shame I didn't really take advantage when I was actually supposed to be studying history - just as well I made a career out of it! blush

Matsikula Thu 17-Nov-11 20:35:58

Revisiting for book recommendations...

I like Diarmuid Mc Culloch and Eamon Duffy too.

Philip Ziegler's Black Death, though it's quite old, is also a classic, if you are interested in the medieval period. My eminent medievalist supervisor once put 'In the Name of the Rose' by Umberto Eco on a reading list.

Tyger Tyger, very jealous that you made a career out of history. I turned down an offer to do a PhD with a really quite famous historian, and I wonder now if that was a huge mistake.

Abcinthia Sun 01-Jan-12 14:21:23

I really enjoy Antonia Fraser - Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinnette and Love & Louis VIV were all good. I got The Weaker Vessel for my birthday but I haven't gotten round to reading it yet.

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