I’ve recently received requests for history book recommendations. I know I’m leaving out a lot, but I think I’ve compiled a good starter list.
So, without further ado:
General Histories (covering large sections of history):
The Evolution of Civilizations, by Carroll Quigley. An excellent look back – all the way to the Ice Age and even further.
The Third Wave, by Alvin Toffler. Examines human civilization from its origins to what’s coming next. Chapters 1-10 are a brilliant must read, but the rest of the book is dated and unnecessary.
The State, by Franz Oppenheimer. A serious look at the institution of the State.
The Collapse of Complex Societies, by Joseph Tainter. How centralization has destroyed culture after culture.
Art: A New History, by Paul Johnson. A superb history of art and all that pertains to it, from the beginning of human history.
Specific Periods & Subjects:
The End of the Bronze Age, by Robert Drews. The collapse of 1200 BC is one of the most important events in all of recorded history, yet very few people know anything about it.
Caesar and Christ (The Story of Civilization III), by Will Durant. A masterful history of Rome.
The Life of Greece (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 2), by Will Durant. The history of Greece.
The History of Civilization In Europe, by Francois Guizot. An excellent overview of what happened.
The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change (Princeton Studies in International History and Politics), by Hendrik Spruyt. An in-depth look at feudalism and the formation of states in medieval Europe.
War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges. Journalism mixed with some history, but a very important look at the ugly truth about war.
Gunfighters, Highwaymen And Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier, by Roger D. McGrath. A serious analysis of the old American West. See the “wild west” as it really was, not as portrayed on television.
The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization, by Michael Balter. An excellent start on the great archaeological find at Catalhoyuk. (See FMP #37.)