Great History Book #1

Pax Brittanica, Heaven’s Command, Farewell the Trumpets by James Morris
An epic and glorious three volume account of the British Empire, where the sun never set, superb in detail and    richly textured; witty, poignant and stylish.

Nemesis by Max Hastings
The fascinating and richly detailed story of Allied command decisions, rivalries and follies during World     War Two on the heavy road to defeating Japan.

–    Dreadnought by Robert K Massie Magnificent account of the complex     factors that brought about World War One. Meticulously researched,     rich in detail and larger than life personalities.

–     Henry VIII by Alison Weir Henry 111’s life and times in all its     magnificence, splendor, geopolitics, intrigue and brutality.

–    A Time for War by Robert D Sculzinger – Descriptive and     evocative narrative of the lead up to the Vietnam War from     France’s involvement to America’s participation.

The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman
A monumental saga of Europe and America in the last decades of the 19th Century. Replete with     larger than life characters on the fringe of the calamitous 20th     Century.

–    Taking Charge – The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-64 by Michael  R Beschloss Fascinating insight into the first two years of the     Johnson Administration highlighting LBJ’s political skills and     interpersonal foibles.

–     A History of Modern France by Alfred Cobban One of the great     standard texts on the history of Modern France, detailing events  that     impact on what France is today.

–    1918 by Gregor Dallas Brilliant account of the aftermath of World  War One in Paris, Berlin and beyond.

–    London – The Biography by Peter Ackroyd From Londonium at the  time of the Romans to today’s pre-eminent international city, this book sparkles with scholarship and fascinating detail.

–    England – A Portrait by John Bowie. A learned and evocative     history of England, intimate and rich in detail and insight.

–     Dixie Betrayed by David J Eicher The South’s efforts during the     Civil War from great hope to disaster and loss.

–    Japan – The blighted blossom by Roy Thomas A history of Japan     highlighting the savagery and majesty of that unique country.

–     Agincourt by Juliet Barker Henry V’s famous campaign in France is     recounted in magnificent detail.

–    How War Came by Donald Cameron Watt The reasons behind the     outbreak of World War Two highlighting the national figues and     geopolitical issues involved.

–    The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. Epic and fascinating sweeping human drama of the building of the greatest engineering feat ever of its time. The book deals with its problems ranging from a failed attempt by the French, an ensuing financial scandal, to the final triumph under US stewardship.

–    The Tyranny of Distance by Geoffrey Blainey Award winning history     of Australia and the role that distance played in the development     of the land Down Under.

–     The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne The campaign that saw the fall     of France in 1940 which brought defeat but the avoidance of the     repeat of World War One mass carnage.

–    The Jungle is Neutral by F Spencer Chapman Thrilling true story of     guerilla warfare in the jungles of Malaya after the fall of     Singapore in 1942.

–     The Hangman’s Diary by Rocky Stockman. A history of hanging     through the ages with all its barbarism .

–    A Leap Year 366 of Great Stories from History by W B Marsh and     Bruce Carrick. Fascinating tales from history of what happened on     each day of the year. Rich in colour and diversity.

–    Queen Victoria’s Private Life – E E P Tisdall A unique and intimate    insight into the life of the longest reigning British sovereign by     one of her courtiers.

–    Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sanders – Wonderfully evocative and     beautifully written life of Lincoln in three volumes.

–    The Faber Book of Reportage edited by John Carey Eyewitness accounts     of historical events both great and prosaic.

–    Wine and War by Don & Petie Kladstrup Entertaining and informative     story of how France’s vintners protected and rescued the great     national asset during the Second World War.

–    Gentlemen’s Blood – A History of Dueling by Barbara Holland Fantastic     history of dueling across the ages when honor and the need for     satisfaction were at a premium.

–    The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne All encompassing account of the     siege of Paris in the Franco Prussian War of 1870 including the fate     of poor Castor and Pollux.

–    Dictionary of Modern History 1789-1945 by Duncan Townson A concise     but thorough account/compendium of key events in modern history.

–    Edward VII – a Portrait by Christopher Hibbert Intimate portrait of     the pleasure seeking and unoccupied Prince who became a well loved     and respected King.

–    Day of Infamy by Walter Lord Moment by moment description of the     devastating and undeclared attack by the Japanese on the US IN 1941.

–    The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara Tuchman Reads like a fast moving     thriller of efforts by Germany to stop America entering World War One.

–    August 1914 by Barbara Tuchman The definitive account of the all     crucial month which determined if World War One would be over     quickly or drag on for years.

–    Titan The Life of John D Rockefeller by Ron Chernow Fascinating     story of the Baptist accountant who became three times richer     than     Gates or Buffett.

–    On the Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman Dixon  An     analysis of what makes military decision and the problems that     exist when humans are put in charge.

–    Chariot – The Astounding Rise and fall of the world’s first war     machines by Arthur Cotterell Ancient technology comes alive with     this fascinating history of the fast but often dangerous chariot.

–    American Shogun – MacArthur, Hirohito and the American Duel with     Japan by Robert Harvey Colorful and enthralling account of the     lives of America’s ‘Caesar’ and Japan’s all powerful Emperor in the     lead up to     World War Two.

–    Warrior Race – A History of the British at War by Lawrence James A     history of Britain at war and the strong martial thread through     its long history.

–    Alfred the Great – the man who made England by Justin Pollard The     story of the only English King to be named ‘Great’ and the man who     forged the country as one.

–    Castles of Steel by Robert K Massie At the outbreak of World War     One Britain’s Navy was the greatest on Earth threatened only by     the might of an ambitious Germany. Fascinating.

–    The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman Magnificent volume detailing     how throughout history governments have pursued policies contrary     to their own interests.

–    Dixie Betrayed – How the South Really Lost the Civil War by David     J Eicher  The Civil War from the Confederates’ perspective and the     reason why the South so valiantly lost.

–    Hong Kong – Epilogue to an Empire by Jan Morris Rich in detail and     romantic perspective on Britain’s exotic colony in the East.

–    Empire – How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson     Engrossing and detailed rich account of Britain and its     magnificent Empire.

–    War of the Roses – Peace and Conflict in the 15th Century by John     Gillingham incisively written and highly readable account of a     fascinating period of history.

–    A Genius for War – A Life of George S Patton by Carlo D’Este The life     of larger than life four star General and tank commander Patton who     was one of the wealthiest officers in the US Army.

–    Edison & The Electric Chair – A Story of Light and Death by Mark     Essig Fascinating insight into the rivalry between General Electric     and Westinghouse and the development of the electric chair.

–    Cousin Randolph – The Life of Randolph Churchill by Anita Leslie     Highly readable and personal account of Randolph Churchill,     Winston’s talented but multi-faceted only son.

–    Knights of the Air by Ezra Bowen The Chivalry, bravery and     magnificence of aerial warfare in the First World War when cavalry     leapt to the skies’.

–    The Civil War by Shelby Foote – Epic, Three volume, definitive,      account of the war between the States where over 600,000 Americans     died.

–    Douglas Haig – The Educated Soldier by John Terraine The life of     Commander in chief of the British Army on the Western Front, Field     Marshall Douglas Haig, held accountable for the massacre of     hundreds of thousand.

–    The Last Kaiser – William the Impetuous  The Life of Prussia’s last King and German’s last Kaiser. A portrait of a war-monger and naval aficionado who ‘always wanted it to be Sunday’.

–    The Washing of the Spears by Donald R Morris Europe’s fight for Africa     in all its rich pageantry, valor and bloodshed.

–    A Distant Mirror – The Calamitous 14thth Century by Barbara Tuchman     Twice Pulitzer Prize winning historian Tuchman writes in her rich and     evocative style on this crucial epoch in human history.

–    The Germans by Gordon A Craig A remarkable analysis of the Germans     by Professor Craig, where he dissects their history,     culture, and     national outlook.

–     Churchill by Alison Weir Weir provides a wide ranging and detailed     look at the man who many say was the greatest Englishmen of all.

–    Sand Against the Wind by Barbara Tuchman The story of General ‘Vinegar     Joe’ Stillwell and America’s role in China during World War Two.

–    Intellectuals by Paul Johnson Esteemed historian Paul Johnson     profiles leading intellectuals and presents their credential as he     sees them.

–    A History of the Modern World from 1917 to the 1980s by Paul     Johnson An eminently readable look at a range of countries in Europe     and the US as World War One comes to a close and future tumultuous     decades wait.

–     An Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin Renowned historian     Zeldin takes a humanist look at history in a fascinating dissertation.

–    Frederick the Great by David Fraser    The character and personality     of the great Frederick is laid bare here in all its complexity, talents     and regal magnificence.

–    Escoffier by Kenneth James The Life and Times of the Greatest     French Chef of recent times who gave the world such memorable     dishes.

–    The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy Provides a     fascinating overview of the great powers from Charles V to     today’s American relative decline, and is its comparisons among     powers that has undeniably been a major contribution to our     understanding of world history.

–    Despite the French Revolution, The Persistence of the Old Regime:     Europe to the Great War by Arno J. Mayer  A fresh     interpretation of how, contrary to established thinking, the elite     class was able to defend its feudal and aristocratic privileges until     WWI.

–    Age of Extremes. The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991 by Eric J.     Hobsbawm A unique insight into world history, encompassing wars,     revolutions, economic crisis and all the major transformations of     the twentieth century, providing a major contribution to our efforts     to comprehend and explain the emergence of ‘extremes’.

–    William The Conqueror by David C Douglas Meticulous and rigorously     detailed academic account of the man who brought about the most     decisive event in English history.

–    Guns, germs and steel by Jared Diamond
A ‘Big History’ book at its best.  An ambitious and audacious work     that asks one of modern history’s most contentious and     compelling questions; why do some civilisations succeed and others     fail?
–    Ideas by Peter Watson
An amazingly well constructed and presented for such a complex     discussion. This anthology challenges the reader to look at history     as a continual rise and decline competing ideas and concepts, from     fire to Freud.
–    The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
A personal aide to Emperor Hadrian, Suetonius’s accounts the lives     of previous Emperors giving the reader a fantastic contemporary’s     insight into imperial Rome, with all the gossip, innuendo and score     settling that we would expect to see in a modern political memoir.
–    Japan at War (An Oral History) by Haruko Taya Cook & Theodore F. Cook
An equally disturbing, poignant and insightful book presents the     reader a collection of fascinating and confronting interviews given     by Japanese soldiers and civilians after the Pacific War.
–    The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor
A superb read. Beevor’s book delivers the reader a grand and     strategic outlook at the events leading to the fall of Berlin and the     siege itself. But it also tells of a smaller more intimate battle     that millions of Germans and Russians endured caught between two     of history’s most brutal regimes.
–    The Mask of Command by John Keegan
A well written and structured military history. Keegan’s book     explores the characteristics needed by a brilliant commander to     inspire battle effectiveness and loyalty in his troops.

–    City of Heavenly Tranquility – Beijing in the History of China by     Jasper Becker

A fascinating history of Beijing against the backdrop of changes by     recent Governments to destroy its magnificent architectural     heritage.

–    The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of     Words by Simon Winchester

An enthralling international bestseller,     this book tells the story     of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

–    The Tyrannicide Brief by Geoffrey Robertson

A passionate and bloody account about the trial and execution of     Charles I, and of the extraordinary prosecutor, John Cooke, who took     on the case at the instruction of Cromwell, and for his trouble was     executed when the monarchy was restored.

–    The Duchess by Amanda Foreman

There is plenty of political intrigue in this international     bestselling biography of the captivating18th-century English     aristocrat, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, prominent     socialite and active political campaigner in the 1780s.

–    Shakespeare, the world as stage by Bill Bryson

A relatively brief, but very entertaining book that stands out among     the thousands written on the topic.

–    Masters and Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall and     Alanbrooke won the war in the west 1941-45 by Andrew Roberts

Written with great skill and contemporary relevance, this book gets     under the skin of the American-British relationship in the 1940s and     the strategic rows that raged about how best to tackle Hitler and win     the war.
–    The War Business by George Thayer
An eye opening and staggering account of the private and government arms trade in the first half of 20th century.  Including unscrupulous weapon dealers, business barons and acts of sabotage and espionage, Thayer’s meretriciously researched book sometimes reads like a political thriller penned by the likes Frederick Forsyth or Ian Fleming.
–    The Annals of Imperial Rome by Tacitus
One of the ancient world’s greatest surviving historical annals; it can easily be mentioned in same breath as Sun Tzu’s Art of War or Machiavelli’s The Prince.  Tacitus writings have been studied for centuries as a fantastic source for the ‘beginning of the end’ of Imperial Rome.  A great foundation for those with an interest in original historical readings and want to form their own opinions.
–    The Story of American Freedom by Eric Foner
While modern historians seem to only specialise in specific issues and periods in time, Eric Foner is bold enough to tackle literally two of the biggest; America, and its relationship with the ideals of freedom.  A fascinating and practical account of a nation’s master social and     political narrative of the last 250 years.
–    The Teutonic Knights by William Urban
A complex, comprehensive and engrossing read.  Those who invest their     time and effort into Urban’s book however will be richly rewarded with     a thorough understanding of the little known ‘other’ Holy Crusades     in the Baltic regions from the 12th to 15th centuries.  The   Teutonic     Knights Order are shown to be just as charitable, fearsome and     powerful as the more well known Orders of the times like the     Hospitallers and Templars.
–    The Prince by Machiavelli
The Prussians found it in Napoleon’s possessions after his defeat at     Waterloo. Stalin and Mussolini always kept copies close by, and     American gangsters reportedly use the book as a ‘mafia manifesto’.      Not only is ‘The Prince’ an excellent source for those interested in     political realism, but also an unparalleled insight into the     political turnings of papal and city state warfare and politics in     renaissance Italy.
–    Cities in Civilization by Peter Hall
A great read for anyone with even a passing interest in urban history.      Hall, a world renowned urban planner scholar writes a comprehensive,     interesting and cohesive argument on why great cities in civilisation     derive their progress by the necessity to nurture their innovators     and creative classes.
–    Atlantic by Simon Winchester
With a strong historical narrative Winchester begins with the Atlantic Sea’s geological birth and then quickly moves on describe humanity’s first nautical endeavours from Viking longships to English Man-o-Wars and beyond.  A book of wondrous scope yet woven anecdotal personal and historical stories from the Atlantic. An excellent start for those with only a casual knowledge of the Atlantic and nautical history, yet wish to learn more.
–    A World at Arms by Gerhard L. Weinberg
A Herculean, meticulously researched book on history’s biggest     war, the Second World War. Contrary to the common emphasise on     ‘larger than life’ characters and decisive battles, Gerhard     reminds the reader that the war was won and lost on a grand     geo-strategic level.  **
–    The Rothschilds by Frederic Morton
A well researched and stylishly written account of the rise and rise     one of the modern world’s wealthiest families. Morton was given     unprecedented access to the family’s London thereby providing a keen     insight into the inner workings of a powerful and influential family.     Peppered with dry wit and stylish prose.
–    D-Day by Antony Beevor
Beevor’s formidable writing and research skills have produced a     polished and detailed account of arguably the most iconic and epic     campaign of the Second World War. Rich in detail and analysis, of not     only the Germans and Ally side of the conflict, but also the     Resistance, and unfortunate French civilians caught in-between.
–    Monash – The Outsider who won a War by Roland Perry – The story of     Sir John Monash, Australia’s greatest soldier, who, it was said,     should have been put in charge of Allied efforts in the First     World War.

–    La Belle France – A Short History by Alistair Horne – A sweeping, grand     narrative with all the style, intellectual vigor and vividness that     historian Sir Alistair Horne is renowned for. It describes the hugely     absorbing account of the long history of the country, that has     contributed so much to the world.

–    Ten Days that Shook the World by John Reed – the definitive eyewitness     account of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia by journalist John     Reed. A classic and glowing insight into the upheaval.

–    Citizens by Simon Schama – A beautifully written account of the French     Revolution. The work examines not only the political unrest prior and     during the collapse of ancien regime, but also provides an in-depth     social history, allowing new insights into this fascinating period.

–    The History of the Wars by Procopius of Caesarea – A primary source     that chronicles the great European and African campaigns of the last     Roman emperor Justinian and his gallant General Belisarius.

–    A Short History of the World by Geoffrey Blainey – a broad-brushed     and ambitious narrative of the achievements of man on planet Earth.     Fascinating, intellectual and readable time and again.

–    Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town by Mary Beard – through a painstaking     uncovering of ancient relics and even graffiti, Beard weaves a     compelling social narrative that brings nuance to the normal and     pathos to the pedestrian.

–    Gallipoli by Les Carlyon – an exhaustive and meticulously researched account of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. Quite possibly the definitive text on the subject that eschews myth and glory.

–    Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor – A lavishly written narrative of the     epic struggle of the Soviets repelling the Nazi invaders.  The focus     weaves in and out of the grander military history, delving into the     lives of soldiers as much as it does the generals’.

–    Charlemagne by Derek Wilson – A book chronicling one of the finest     kings and keenest political minds of medieval Europe who brought peace     and stability to all under his reign. A fascinating read.

–    The Civil War: An Illustrated History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns      – the print companion to the award winning The Civil War documentary     series. See the history come alive with primary sourced pictures in     a sobering and often confronting – yet no less riveting – book.

–    Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor by Anthony Everitt – A     colorful and lively telling of the story of Augustus, a triumph of     telling the story of his effort in transforming a crumbling republic     into a glorious empire.

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