What is the best history book you have read?

Sep 2012
I have read - and still own - literally hundreds of history books, but my main focus of interest has been the modern era, with a particularly pronounced interest in the Second World War. My choices will inevitably reflect this.

I would include five biographies amongst them:-

A two volume biography of Adolf Hitler by Ian Kershaw
A biography of Joseph Stalin by Robert Service
Winston Churchill by Roy Jenkins
Mao by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday
Margaret Thatcher by John Campbell

Others include a history of World War 2 by Martin Gilbert, and another of World War 1 by the same author.

A history of the world by J M Roberts, and a history of Europe by the same author.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer

The Rise and Fall of the British Empire by Lawrence James

Battle Cry of Freedom by James M McPherson

The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan

Israel by Martin Gilbert

And I will stop at these last three by Max Hastings - All Hell Let Loose, Armageddon, and Nemesis

It is very difficult to pick a very best out of those, but if I had to I would name the two volume biography of Adolf Hitler by Ian Kershaw, easily the best biography of the life and times of this massive historical figure that I have thus far ever read. I doubt that it will ever be surpassed, unless some whole heap of new information were ever to be brought forward.
I rate Robert Service's book on Stalin high though the style is a bit mechanical. Comparatively William Shirer's book ' The rise and fall of the third Reich ' is better with a racy style. I recommend his 'Berlin Diary ' too.Barbara Tuchman's 'Guns of August ' is very good. Churchill 's book on WW II ' The Gathering Storm ' is also very good. It is impossible to denote only one book. And there are a number of great books in the fiction category.
Mar 2011
Sumeria, I wish
The Histories, by Heredotus
The Western way of war, Victor Davis Hanson
The quest for the historical Israel, Finkelstein, Mazar
How Jesus became god, Bart Ehrman
The Sumerians, Samuel Noah Kramer

Similar History Discussions