The events of times past have contributed greatly to the present, and luckily for us, these events have been made available to us through the pages of different historical books. There’s a booklist with the top 10 world history textbooks in our blog and one about American history textbooks; now let’s dive deeper into different historical periods and list great books to learn more about each one of them. If you’re a student or pure enthusiast of literature and history, we’ve got some great lineups for you.
Read on as we travel back in time through the best classics from each historical period. In this list, we look at different history books, one era at a time.
Ancient History (Up To 500)
We start from the beginning up to the 6th century. Books from this period consist of mythologies and poems.
A book for the ages. Written by Homer and translated by Stanley Lombardo, Odyssey features a blend of distinctive boldness, a whirlwind pace in its narrative energy, and wit. Here, we see Lombardo’s love of ribald in full flow.
The scholar Suetonius, in his chronicles of the Twelve Caesars, gives us one of the best biographies of history. This book tells the story of the private lives and public careers of the ancient rulers of Rome right from the Empire’s foundation to its deprivation and eventual recovery.
A second entry from Homer’s library makes our list. The Iliad is an account of the great heroism of men and gods battling the destruction and devastation of the Trojan wars.
This is simply a handbook of Egyptian mythology, offering a guide through ancient Egypt from the period of 3200BC to 400AD.
Medieval History (500-1400)
This 9-century period gifted us with more world-changing events and prominent figures who greatly impacted the course of the world.
Barbara W. Tuchman narrates deeply the major events that shook the 14th century at all levels of European society.
Susan Wise Bauer, in her book, gives an account of how the use of divine justification replaced the use of might in the backing of military actions across the 4th to 12th centuries.
This 13th-century Icelandic manuscript narrates the lives and actions of the gods of pre-Christian Scandinavians. You also learn about their visions of the beginning and end of the world.
Genghis Khan, the man, the myth, the legend. Find out in Jack Weatherford’s works how one man went from being an ordinary individual to one of the most influential pioneers of the new world.
Early Modern History (1400-1789)
Here we have more literature-based books including famous works of Shakespeare.
In this book, you get to relive the battles of priests, monarchs, scholars, and politicians. Travel back in time and relive the effects of the protestant reformation in an era where humans were willing to kill and die for their faith.
What happens when you have a compilation of all the works of a Poet and Playwright who’s considered the greatest literature writer of the English language? Take a good read to find out.
This book grants you a portal to the major occurrences between the Renaissance and French Revolution. Dive in to find out the major themes and events of early modern history.
In a bid to amuse his friend Thomas More, Desiderius Erasmus gave us a unique personification of folly. Folly is portrayed by a jester who celebrates the “follies” of Christian piety and ridicules the pretenses of religious individuals.
Modern History (1789-1945)
Moving on to more recent times, modern history books tell stories of what the 18th to early 20th century period was like.
In this book, Simon Schama gives a unique perspective on the French revolution. It highlights the social, cultural, and narrative aspects of France under the reign of Louis XVI.
We’ve all probably seen the cinema adaptation but have you read the book? Find out from John Boyne’s novel what happens in the story of two boys separated by their backgrounds and a huge fence as they forge a friendship that begets unimaginable consequences.
Find out from great Howard Zinn about the battles of the native Americans in their quest for a better livelihood.
Through Hugh Thomas’s account of the Spanish Civil War, we learn of the events leading to the dispute that baffles the world to this day.
Contemporary History (1945-Present)
John Lewis Gaddis takes us back to when America and the Soviet Union were deadlocked in a stalemate after the 1945 war. Find out how various leaders of these nations engaged in a power tussle that nearly led the world to destruction.
This thrilling book gives an account of the events that gave birth to the fall of the twin towers in a devastating terrorist attack. Author, Lawrence Wright, gives a detailed account of the spark that lit one of the most tragic events in human history.
Find out from Tony Judt’s thrilling and compelling piece how the course of Europe changed for good both politically and culturally after the events of the 1945 war.
We end our list with a book by Yuval Noah. In his book, Noah addresses the most pressing matters of the current world and highlights the questions we need to ask ourselves if we’re going to survive the changes that come with the advancement of technology.