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Apr 29, 2024

10 History Books Every History Student Should Read

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Whether you are an avid history fan or you are studying it at university level, we have collected a series of 10 history books that you simply must read. In our selection of the 10 best history books we have tried to cover a wide range of historical periods from the dawn of mankind to the bizarre lives of the British monarchy. So, whatever your affiliation with history is, these books can refine your knowledge and help you discover the secrets of the past.

10 Best History Books


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Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Summary: Sapiens by renowned historian and author Yuval Noah Harari, walks you through the Human race as it has evolved and grown over the thousands of years of its existence. Sapiens begins around 70,000 years ago with the first appearance of modern cognition and explores the journey that humanity went through to get to where it is today. Using both science and history Yuval Noah Harari challenges the accepted narratives of human history and encourages us to look to the future and what it holds for the homo sapien.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

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Author: Mary Beard

Summary: Labelled as an instant classic, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome is a detailed yet easily digestible account of the Roman Empire from its days as a downtrodden Iron Age village to one of the most powerful empires the world has ever seen. Written by Mary Beard, SPQR challenges how we think about the Roman Empire and breaks down our beliefs in what it was actually like over the 1000 years of its existence.

A Student’s Guide to History

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Author: Jules R. Benjamin

Summary: A Student’s Guide to History by Jules R. Benjamin has helped millions of aspiring history students since its first edition was released. This short but insightful guide includes tips on how to take notes for research papers, how to write a history paper, and how to use various research tools both digital and physical. This is a must-read for anyone looking to study history at degree level or higher.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

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Author: Heather Morris

Summary: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris tells the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who was forced from his home in 1942 and taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was made to tattoo every new entry to the camp with a number. While carrying out his gruesome role he met a young woman and vowed to survive the camp so could one day marry her. The Tattooist of Auschwitz has become one of the most vivid and recognised portrayals of the Holocaust.

Women & Power: A Manifesto

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Author: Mary Beard

Summary: In Women & Power: A Manifesto, Mary Beard strikes a match to illuminate the years of misogyny that have plagued the human race. From Medusa to Hilary Clinton, Mary Beard uncovers how powerful women have been mistreated and brushed aside for thousands of years. Women & Power: A Manifesto doesn’t just give examples of how misogyny has crept into civilisation but it digs into why it happens and where it came from all those thousands of years ago.

The Histories

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Author: Herodotus

Summary: Histories by Herodotus has been masterfully translated by David Grene, one of the best translators of Greek Classics alive. Herodotus’ The Histories artfully recites the war between Greece and Persia going on at the time, why it happened, and the general condition of the world and its empires of his day. This book provides an exquisite insight into the ancient world and the people that lived in it.

The Pursuit of History

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Author: John Tosh

Summary: The Pursuit of History by John Tosh is an insightful and ever-growing tool that every history student should read at least once. The Pursuit of History defines the study of history with the goal of validating the study so students can better understand it. John Tosh has also created detailed guides on subjects that can sometimes be labelled as controversial.

A Short History of Nearly Everything

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Author: Bill Bryson

Summary: Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything delves into the history of mankind and the universe from the Big Bang to the reason for human existence. This eye-opening book by Bill Bryson takes you on a journey through our understanding of the creation of the universe through the dawn of life, all the way up to modern homo sapiens all the while asking why? and how?


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Author: David Mitchell

Summary: Unruly by David Mitchell is a ground-breaking and brutally honest depiction of the lives and livelihoods of England’s early monarchy. Starting back with the reign of the fictional King Arthur, David Mitchell guides you through the characters that just so happened to find themselves at the top of the food chain, whether through sheer luck or excessively violent conquest in post-Roman England.

What is History?

Untitled design - 2024-04-18T162732.798.png Author: E. H. Carr

Summary: Written by distinguished historian Edward Hallett Carr, What is History? Is a diverse account of the nature of history. This book shows that the history we know is simply a collection of the facts that the historians chose to scrutinise making it, to some degree, totally subjective. What is History? is a lively and cleverly written piece that is a delight to read.

So that concludes our list of the best non-fiction history books out there. We have tried to include a range of genres and subjects on our list but if you disagree with our top picks or you would mention any other titles, please let us know on our Facebook page.

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