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Old 07-26-2015, 09:33 PM   #1
Heartcloud
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Good history books

I'm looking for good reads on world history. Not an encyclopedia, more like a novel going through history in a time period on a surface level, outlining major events, key figures, politics, economy, warfare, etc, with some personal opinions from the author but keeping it as factual as possible. The time period doesn't matter, neither does the region (can be anywhere, Europe, Asia, Americas, or even world), but I prefer that it covers as long of a period as possible, and as early as possible (not too interested in 20th century stuff). Humour is welcome as it makes the reading experience enjoyable. Definitely not looking for a textbook-style deep read, or books that were written a long time ago themselves. I have my textbooks for that.

I googled a lot but it seems most books only cover a specific event like a war, a very short time period like 10 years or so, or are semi-fictional.
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Old 07-26-2015, 09:39 PM   #2
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Highly recommend the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. They are historical fiction but vey accurate covering major events during the Victorian era. And very funny
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Old 07-27-2015, 04:02 AM   #3
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Have a look at this very excellent site:

http://www.historicalnovels.info/
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Old 07-27-2015, 04:16 AM   #4
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Not a novel, but interesting and not too difficult to read - Millennium: A History of the Last 1000 Years by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

I read it some years ago in paper format. It may not be available as an ebook, as it's not showing on Amazon or Kobo.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:04 AM   #5
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E.H. Gombrich's _A Little History of the World_ is quite good, though not novel-like.

Previous discussion of this sort of thing here: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=130810

Wells' _Outline of History_ is available from archive.org

I was trying to put together a similar thing as a list of biographies in chronological order --- did get a good bit of mileage out of reading biographies of the U.S. Presidents to my kids when they were younger.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:24 AM   #6
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I Claudius - Robert Graves
Wolf Hall/Bring Up the Bodies/Mirror and the Light (unpublished) - Hilary Mantel
A Place of Greater Safety - Hilary Mantel
Year of Wonders/Caleb's Crossing/March - Geraldine Brooks
Owen Glendower - John Cowper Powys

BR
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Old 07-27-2015, 11:00 PM   #7
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The Penguin History of the World goes from pre-human to recent times in around 1,300 pages and is a very easy read, whether right through or just those parts which interest.

Current edition is the sixth, I think, and is available in paperback and eBook (Kindle and ePub2, Amazon's Kindle appears to be much cheaper than Kobo ePub2). Some earlier editions (the 5th, at least) were called The New Penguin History of the World.
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Old 07-29-2015, 09:38 AM   #8
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The Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary is meant for kids, but I had a lot of fun with it. It is hilarious and focuses on the gruesome aspects of history (although it is not that gruesome; after all, it's meant for kids).

The Horrible Histories are available as ebooks, although a little bit pricey, considering their length. There are lots of them; if you prefer paper, search for the Blood-curdling Box to find a good collection.

Last edited by Andanzas; 07-29-2015 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 07-30-2015, 11:41 AM   #9
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For an enjoyable overview of science I recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything
by Bill Bryson.

Quote:
From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out.
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Old 07-30-2015, 12:13 PM   #10
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I can recommend the following:

Europe by Brendan Simms - a history of Europe from 1453 to the present
Postwar by Tony Judt - Europe again, but from the end of WWII
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Old 07-30-2015, 11:08 PM   #11
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I am not a big fan of dry history and enjoyed The Killer Angels which covers the battle at Gettysburg, a short but significant part of the US Civil War history.

Linda Schele's chronicle of ancient Mayan history A Forest of Kings has readable prose and less textbook buried in facts. Its 20 years old so its accuracy is off as more texts have been translated (or re-translated) over the years.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:38 AM   #12
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Edward Rutherford likes to write sweeping, multi-generational books about different cities.

http://www.edwardrutherfurd.com/edwa...urd-books.html
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Old 07-31-2015, 04:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owly View Post
Edward Rutherford likes to write sweeping, multi-generational books about different cities.

http://www.edwardrutherfurd.com/edwa...urd-books.html
He's called RutherfUrd, of course :-). If that sort of stuff is your cup of tea, James Michener is another author very much worth looking at.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:51 AM   #14
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Testament of Man series, by Vardis Fisher.

A series of novels, published from 1943 to 1960, and the blurb on the back of one of the volumes has the following list of titles:

Darkness and The Deep: Prehistoric man's discovery of himself
The Golden Rooms: First sense of the supernatural
Intimations of Eve: The power of primitive womahn
Adam and the Serpent: The male learns to dominate
The Divine Passion: Sun worship and the power of Sex
The Valley of Vision: King Solomon and his Times
The Islands of the Innocent: The wars of the Maccabees
Jesus Came Again: A new Messiah in Israel
A Goat for Azazel: A search for Truth in the ancient world
Peace Like a River: Holy men and sinners in the desert
My Holy Satan: Death and love in the middle ages
For passion, for Heaven: Passions of modern Man
The Great Confession: Our own time--and the unending search for fulfilment.

I doubt they are available in e-book format, or for that matter in print. Pyramid Books reprinted them in paperback in the 60s, and the ones I had were second-hand paperbacks. Quite gripping, and rather rough going at times. Not Jean M Auel by any means.
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Old Yesterday, 12:28 PM   #15
John K
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The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo by Edward Shepherd Creasy doesn't fit your specifications exactly but I think it's worth considering. It was first published in the late 19th century but I found it very readable. His focus is the Western World. Also, it is free.
http://www.amazon.com/Fifteen-Decisi...on+to+Waterloo
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