A list of the best history books of all time is, quite frankly, impossible. History is ongoing – ever-changing, complex, and deeply contextual. What do the best books have in common, however? New perspectives, worldviews, and objectivity. Here are a few of them.
The History of the Ancient World
Author: Susan Wise Bauer
Bauer’s book traces the trajectory of events in the world – from the first-known accounts all the way to the fall of Rome. The novel’s landscape is immense. The author describes and connects events from Europe and Sumer to China and back again. Given the book’s scope, the history isn’t in-depth but offers an excellent understanding of things that happened across different civilizations. Remember to pick up the second and third books in the series too.
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
Author: Peter Frankopan
The Silk Roads were once trade routes and lifelines of global economies. The route connected Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and China. Not only did it allow easy trade, but helped the exchange of ideas. Teachings from Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity traveled far and wide – all thanks to the Silk Road. Frankopan’s book differs from the rest in its perspective. Its historical lens isn’t Euro-centric but offers insight into the East.
The Liberation Trilogy
Author: Rick Atkinson
Books around World War II may be a dime a dozen, but this is one of the best trilogies of the period. Readers get to discover numerous aspects of the war. The book has astonishing detail on battlefronts in Italy, Western Europe, and North Africa.
Author: David McCullough
With “1776,” David McCullough demystifies the American War of Independence. The perspective on the war shifts from political jargon to more humanized accounts. Leaders of the war are depicted as humans and not mythical beings. The book also describes formidable leaders on the other side of the war.
The Crusades: Thomas Asbridge
Thomas Asbridge’s book uncovers one of the most decisive and controversial events in world history – the Crusades. The book covers events from the 11th to 13th centuries and all the crusades for the Holy City during this period.
Caesar and Christ
Author: Will Durant
Will Durant traces the Roman empire through its highs and lows. By focusing on the empire’s leaders, the book sheds light on one of the world’s first modern civilizations. It also describes the impact of religion on the civilization’s ultimate decline.
Author: Michal Brian
While there are several biographies of Genghis Khan, only a few provide objective accounts, without leaning towards hype or biases. Michal Brian pens an academic but highly accessible account of the most formidable emperor in the world.