Your Favourite Historians?


Ad Honorem
May 2016
João Gouveia Monteiro (Medieval Military Historian);

José Mattoso (Medieval Historian);

Luís Adão da Fonseca (Medieval Historian).


Ad Honoris
Feb 2011
Perambulating in St James' Park
AJP Taylor cos he was argumentative and a troublemaker. Ian Kershaw is good for German history. I also like Baron Kenneth Clark of Civilisation fame, tho it's a bit dated now. J Rufus Fears is my favourite speaker, he's so enthusiastic. I used to like Beevor until I read his Second World War and the made some schoolboy mistakes about the Battle of Britain. Stalingrad is great though. I used to like Bettany Hughes until she started trying to sex things up for the camera, she's also not a trained Classicist so Mary Beard would be better when talking about Greece. Paul Cartledge is also great for anything Sparta.

David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
Atlanta, Georgia USA
Livy—yes, I know, but he is very entertaining
Steven Runciman
Marc Bloch
Fernand Braudel
S.E Morison
James McPherson
Mar 2013
Breakdancing on the Moon.
Such a loss. He was incredible.
Yes a very kind man, a fixture of two departments. I don't know a single person, even from my younger generation, who wasn't in awe. Sad times.

This thread is making me realise how few book length treatments I re-read from modern historians...
Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
A. J. P. Taylor - an interesting character worth reading - his anti-Nazi credentials were unquestioned when in 1961 he rocked the history field with his The Origins of the Second World War the argued Hitler stumbled into WW II - obviously a factoid war soon exploded that has not really ended

Alexander Gray - History of Socialism starting with Moses – Scottish academic and poet his writing is clear and he had a dry, insightful wit

Antony Sutton - Radical interpretation of the 20th century international business - has a strong whiff of conspiracy theory but he avoids psychological ranting

Arthur Ekirch - his The Decline of American Liberalism is a good study for those who wonder how we went from the Declaration of Independence to today’s resemblance to a haughty empire not unlike that against which we rebelled

Bernard Bailyn – the ideals that fueled the American Revolution

Butterfield Herbert - history of science and he coined the Whig Theory of history

C. V. Wedgwood - she was very good on the English Civil War period

Carroll Quigley - Evolution of Civilizations is excellent. He used a seven stages classification of civilizations’ evolution – nothing deterministic however - asserting that, unlike other civilizations, only Western Civilization had experienced three separate cycles of Expansion, Conflict, and Empire without entering in the Decay stage – although the long history of China and its rapid reorganization from its chaotic condition in the late 19th century may well invalidate his claim there. Even his Tragedy and Hope that so fires up conspiracy folks is a 1300 page work with a few scattered paragraphs relating to that hot button topic.

Christopher Clark - World War I – Sleepwalkers – the literature on WWI is huge, and with good reason since it marked the end of Western expansion cycle

D. F. Flemming - his The Cold War and Its Origins 1917-1960 is an important work. I think he was too optimistic regarding Stalin and also the League of Nations, but like all good historians he is up-front about his premises and his documentation is excellent

Edward Gibbon - Rome obviously – still very useful

Etienne Gilson - historian of largely Medieval philosophy that seems obscure today - but to me his Unity of Philosophical Experience that documents cycles of philosophic confidence repeatedly falling into skepticism a valuable contribution - he ends with August Comte and what he called the breakdown of modern philosophy. His prose is remarkably graceful and clear given his background

Gabriel Kolko - Railroads and Regulation, 1877–1916 and The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916 are milestones in the study of late 19th century America and the economic implications of Progressivism. He was also serious student of war. Although his prose is less than sparkling, Marxist-based historians like Kolko, unlike Marxist-based economists, are often excellent. Because Marx himself recognized the relationship between history and economics they typically avoid the common problem today where historians know little about economics (which they often view as a hard science only superficially related to history) while economists (also seeking to make economics a hard science) know little of history – the unsatisfactory condition of the history of money and banking and it effects on society brings home this point

Gordon Wood - a good contributor to the debate of whether the American Revolution was radical or conservative in nature

Harry Elmer Barnes - he did some excellent revisionist work before falling into the Holocaust Denial nonsense

Isaiah Berlin - wrote some thoughtful stuff on critics of the Enlightenment – especially Giambattista Vico and his spirals, not cycles, of history

Jacob Burckhardt - one of the giants

James J Martin - his American Liberalism and World Politics 1931-1941 is an excellent study - he was associated with Harry Elmer Barnes and, to a lesser extent than Barnes, he eventually slipped into the Holocaust Denial rabbit hole

Jesus Huerta de Soto - a Spanish economist and historian - his Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles covers ancient Greece to the modern era - it is from an Austrian economic perspective - if, for whatever reasons, you reject Austrian Economics out of hand you will not like it but economics is badly muddled today and open minds are good things I think

Joseph Stromberg - writes essays, not books. I like his essay on the Spanish-American War which is an important subject seldom discussed because American Empire was formally launched at that point

Joseph Tainter - studies the cause of societal collapse (complexity is his focus) – much of his work is on pre-historical societies and is thus more speculative than I like but he has important things to say – his writing is somewhat stogy

Justus Doenecke - Non-interventionism in 20th century America – the road not taken

Kark Marx - serious economic errors and was a social revolutionary (he loved to quote Faust: "Everything in existence is worth being destroyed.") but he was well-informed historically and was no dummy

Lord Acton - another giant - his History of Freedom has been called the greatest book never written, although there are enough of his essays to see where he would probably have headed.

Margaret MacMillan - recent view of WW I and Versailles

Michael Heilperin - wrote on Economic Nationalism - another topic too long ignored - it was a big problem in the US and Europe long before we wound up with our current President

Michael Rostovtzeff - his 1926 The Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire is a tough journey but there is a tremendous amount to learn from it

Michael Grant - Classical World

Murray Rothbard - Conceived In Liberty (4 vols.) - history of colonial America - stops at 1784, just after the Revolutionary War. I think his America's Great Depression is the best work on the subject and includes a scathing treatment of Herbert Hoover's policies which might help some modern liberals get through it without committing to the flames because of his free market perspective

Plutarch - one of the originals

Polybius - Roman historian - important for his analysis the separation of powers in government and the somewhat cyclical rise and fall of political systems – what he called Anacyclosis – an idea that continues to prove fruitful

R. G. Collingwood - The Idea of History is a good read - he touches on some problems scientism without going overboard – suffered a series of strokes and died young

Ralph Raico - I like his Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School. Austrian economics itself is controversial of course, but these days there is no economics that is not controversial. I am pretty sure the subject is in what Thomas Kuhn called a “crisis in science” leading eventually to a paradigm shift - societal bankruptcy will trigger these kinds of things

Richard Timberlake - wrote a good history on American monetary policy - a dry subject that is nonetheless a critical one

Robert Higgs - Crisis and Leviathan is a libertarian, and thus controversial, analysis of the growth of government – his Ratchet Effect of repeated self-induced crisis justifying more political power has much to offer

Robert Nisbet - a sociologist whose 1953 Quest for Community has some very good social history as a by-product - he was deeply influenced by Alexis de Tocqueville

Rohan Butler - his Roots of National Socialism is a unique look at Germany written in the period when everyone was asking: How did this happen?

Sallust - Roman historian

Sidney B. Fay - probably the best of the early WWI revisionists that refuted the Court History offered by WWI victors

T. Hunt Tooley – looks at World War I in a broad-minded way

Tacitus – excellent Roman historian

Thomas Kuhn - his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a classic work still echoing today – he never meant to nail down the coffin lid on Logical Positivism but he did so nonetheless – his work refutes the Whig View of History as it applies to science

William Appleman Williams - the dean of the New Left historians - I found his Tragedy of American Diplomacy fascinating

Winston Churchill - a far better writer than historian but he offers value if you keep his Imperialistic biases and self-promotion in mind
Last edited:
Sep 2015
For accessible, readable & lucid: William H Prescott.

Ibn Khaldun
Maya Jasanoff - surprised no one has mentioned her yet - Liberty's Exiles !
Linda Colley - for Captives (not for Acts of Union & Disunion).
Thomas Packenham (for The Scramble for Africa, and not for his Boer War which he says is a synthesis, but i think is rather obviously biased).
David Gilmour - for India.
Lisa Jardine - is probably generally just tremendous.
Nicholas Vincent - Magna Carta.
Mary Beard i think is very good TV history, but haven't read her books...!?


Ad Honoris
Feb 2011
Perambulating in St James' Park
At university I was taught that many old school historians are biased in their accounts due to being Marxist/Post modernist/etc and that I would be wasting my time reading any of the Pelican series of intro history books (60s/70s published). Do you guys find that to be the case? There's some old school historians in some of these lists, Acton was a Victorian and although I've heard he's fab I haven't read his works yet.