100 Best British History Books of All Time

We've researched and ranked the best british history books in the world, based on recommendations from world experts, sales data, and millions of reader ratings. Learn more

Featuring recommendations from Charles T. Munger, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, and 75 other experts.
1
The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic history, Dan Jones vividly resurrects this fierce and seductive royal dynasty and its mythic world.

We meet the captivating Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; her son, Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and King John, a tyrant who was forced to sign Magna Carta, which formed the basis of our own Bill of Rights.

This is the era of...
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2

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Weir has tirelessly made her way through the entire labyrinth of Tudor history to tell the collective story of the six wives of Henry VIII--a vivid, full-blooded portrait of six very different women--in a work of sound and brilliant scholarship. Illustrations. less

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3
Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the 14th century. This text sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking the reader to the Middle Ages, and showing everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture. less

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4

Wolf Hall

Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself.

His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
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Neera Tanden@BarackObama Wolf Hall is a great book. (Source)

Vanora BennettThe Tudor monarchy has a big moment with England leaving the Church of Rome for love – that’s the moment every film and television writer is interested in. She turns it upside down. (Source)

Thomas PennHilary Mantel possesses an extraordinary historical imagination and her recreation of the world of the 1530s through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell is, I think, utterly convincing. (Source)

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5
The author of the New York Times bestseller The Plantagenets chronicles the next chapter in British history—the historical backdrop for Game of Thrones

From the author of Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty

The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family...
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6

The Children of Henry VIII

At his death in 1547, King Henry VIII left four heirs to the English throne: his only son, the nine-year-old Prince Edward; the Lady Mary, the adult daughter of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon; the Lady Elizabeth, the daughter of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and his young great-niece, the Lady Jane Grey. These are the players in a royal drama that ultimate led to Elizabeth's ascension to the throne--one of the most spectacularly successful reigns in English history. less

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7
Peter Ackroyd, whose work has always been underpinned by a profound interest in and understanding of England’s history, now tells the epic story of England itself.

In Foundation, the chronicler of London and of its river, the Thames, takes us from the primeval forests of England’s prehistory to the death, in 1509, of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He shows us glimpses of the country’s most distant past—and Neolithic stirrup found in a...
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8
In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of a truly exceptional woman and provides new insights into her intimate world.

Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons.

Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long...
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Recommended by Nancy Goldstone, and 1 others.

Nancy GoldstoneThis is one of Alison Weir’s best books. I think she has managed to teach history to more people than Oxford University, because her books are so well written and easy to follow. She is especially good at taking time to explain the world that she writes about, so the reader gets a real feel for what it was like to live in the middle ages. Her books emphasise the colour and pageantry of that era –... (Source)

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9
From Steven Johnson, the dynamic thinker routinely compared to James Gleick, Dava Sobel, and Malcolm Gladwell, The Ghost Map is a riveting page-turner about a real-life historical hero, Dr. John Snow. It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure—garbage removal, clean water, sewers—necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate... more

Seth MnookinThe Ghost Map is a book that I oftentimes give to people to show them how cool and exciting and accessible and gripping stories about scientific discoveries can be. (Source)

Alison AlvarezI read the Ghost Map, a book about 1854 London Cholera outbreak. The outbreak was stopped because of a map created by Dr. John Snow. You can see hints of this map in some of our customer discovery tools because it was such an effective way of pinpointing a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. (Source)

Stephen EvansJohnson looks at London during a specific moment in time, August 1854, and focuses on a particular incident, an outbreak of cholera in Soho, in Central London. (Source)

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10
Brother turns on brother. The throne of England is at stake. The deadly Wars of the Roses have begun. . . ."They ruled England before the Tudors, and now internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings the Plantagenets to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women."Elizabeth Woodville, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition, secretly marries the newly crowned boy king. While she rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become the central figures in a famous unsolved... more

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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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11

The Life of Elizabeth I

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.

Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I...
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12

The Wars of the Roses

Lancaster and York. For much of the fifteenth century, these two families were locked in battle for control of the English throne. Kings were murdered and deposed. Armies marched on London. Old noble names were ruined while rising dynasties seized power and lands. The war between the royal houses of Lancaster and York, the most complex in English history, profoundly altered the course of the monarchy. Alison Weir, one of the foremost authorities on British history, brings brilliantly to life both the war itself and the larger-tha-life figures who fought it on the great stage of England.... more

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13
This is an alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780743227445

Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: The love of a king

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realises just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is...
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14

The Princes in the Tower

Despite five centuries of investigation by historians, the sinister deaths of the boy king Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, remain two of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history. Did Richard III really kill “the Princes in the Tower,” as is commonly believed, or was the murderer someone else entirely?

Carefully examining every shred of contemporary evidence as well as dozens of modern accounts, Alison Weir reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder. We are witnesses to the rivalry, ambition, intrigue, and struggle...
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15
When Edward VI - Henry VIII’s longed-for son - died in 1553, extraordinarily, there was no one left to claim the title King of England. For the first time, all the contenders for the crown were female.

In 1553, England was about to experience the ‘monstrous regiment’ - the unnatural rule - of a woman. But female rule in England also had a past. Four hundred years before Edward’s death, Matilda, daughter of Henry I and granddaughter of William the Conquerer, came tantalisingly close to securing her hold on the power of the crown. And between the 12th and the 15th centuries three...
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16
Edward I is familiar to millions as "Longshanks," conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace (in "Braveheart"). Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king's action-packed life. Earlier, Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort in battle; travelled to the Holy Land; conquered Wales, extinguishing forever its native rulers and constructing a magnificent chain of castles. He raised the greatest armies of the Middle Ages and summoned the largest parliaments; notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom.The longest-lived of England's medieval... more

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17
s/t: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory 1874-1932
When Winston Spencer Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace, Imperial Britain stood at the splendid pinnacle of her power. Yet within a few years, the Empire would hover on the brink of a catastrophic new era. This first volume of the best-selling biography of the adventurer, aristocrat, soldier, and statesman covers the first 58 years of the remarkable man whose courageous vision guided the destiny of those darkly troubled times and who looms today as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.

Black and white...
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18
Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London—the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their...
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Isabelle Khurshudyan[email protected] is awesome and you should check this book out! https://t.co/RL8L1xF8xZ (Source)

Sarah ChurchwellMassive congratulations to @HallieRubenhold for being longlisted for the @BGPrize for her brilliant book The Five!! So well deserved and a complete thrill for #twitterstorians! 🎉🎊📚💃 (Source)

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19
Rich in detail and atmosphere and told in vivid prose, Tudors recounts the transformation of England from a settled Catholic country to a Protestant superpower. It is the story of Henry VIII's cataclysmic break with Rome, and his relentless pursuit of both the perfect wife and the perfect heir; of how the brief reign of the teenage king, Edward VI, gave way to the violent reimposition of Catholicism and the stench of bonfires under 'Bloody Mary'. It tells, too, of the long reign of Elizabeth I, which, though marked by civil strife, plots against the queen and even an invasion force,... more

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20

The English and their History

In The English and their History, the first full-length account to appear in one volume for many decades, Robert Tombs gives us the history of the English people, and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them, from the prehistoric 'dreamtime' through to the present day.

If a nation is a group of people with a sense of kinship, a political identity and representative institutions, then the English have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. They first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they...
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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.
21
Recommended by Ryan Holiday, and 1 others.

Ryan HolidayI knew nothing about Queen Victoria but Julia Baird does an amazing job of making her accessible and interesting–and captures just what life was like for a woman in the 19th century, even if she was a queen! (Source)

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22
An upstart French duke who sets out to conquer the most powerful and unified kingdom in Christendom. An invasion force on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought.

This new history explains why the Norman Conquest was the most significant cultural and military episode in English history. Assessing the original evidence at every turn, Marc Morris goes beyond the familiar outline to explain why England was at once so powerful and yet so vulnerable to William the Conqueror s attack; why the Normans, in some respects less...
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23

Georgiana

Duchess of Devonshire

The winner of Britain's prestigious Whitbread Prize and a bestseller there for months, this wonderfully readable biography offers a rich, rollicking picture of late-eighteenth-century British aristocracy and the intimate story of a woman who for a time was its undisputed leader.

Lady Georgiana Spencer was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was nearly as famous in her day. In 1774, at the age of seventeen, Georgiana achieved immediate celebrity by marrying one of England's richest and most influential aristocrats, the Duke of Devonshire. Launched...

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24
The author of The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England takes you through the world of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I

From the author of The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, this popular history explores daily life in Queen Elizabeth’s England, taking us inside the homes and minds of ordinary citizens as well as luminaries of the period, including Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Francis Drake.

Organized as a travel guide for the time-hopping tourist, Mortimer relates in delightful (and occasionally...
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25

The Wives of Henry VIII

In a sweeping narrative, Fraser traces the cultural, familial and political roots of each of Henry's queens, pushes aside the stereotypes that have long defined them, and illuminates the complex character of each. The result is a superb work of history through which these six women become as memorable for their own achievements--and mistakes--as they have always been for their fateful link to Henry VIII. Illustrations. less

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26
The imprisonment and execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, in May 1536 was unprecedented in English history. It was sensational in its day, and has exerted endless fascination over the minds of historians, novelists, dramatists, poets, artists and film-makers ever since.

Anne was imprisoned in the Tower of London on 2 May 1536, and tried and found guilty of high treason on 15 May. Her supposed crimes included adultery with five men, one her own brother, and plotting the King's death.

Mystery surrounds the circumstances leading up to her arrest. Was it...
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27
This account of artisan & working-class society in its formative years, 1780-1832, adds an important dimension to our understanding of the 19th century. E.P. Thompson shows how the working class took part in its own making & recreates the whole life experience of people who suffered loss of status & freedom, who underwent degradation & who yet created a culture & political consciousness of great vitality.
"Thompson's book has been called controversial, but perhaps only because so many have forgotten how explosive England was during the Regency & the early reign...
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28
Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent–and dangerous–courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of the King. Packed with colorful description, meticulous in historical detail, rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir brilliantly... more

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29
The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a... more
Recommended by Peter Gilliver, and 1 others.

Peter GilliverW.C. Minor was a member of the public, but he just happened to be a murderer who was banged up in Broadmoor. (Source)

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30
Simon Schama's magesterial new book encompasses over 1,500 years of Britain's history, from the first Roman invasions to the early seventeenth century, and the extraordinary reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Schama, the author of the highly acclaimed Citizens and The Embarrassment of Riches, is one of the most popular and celebrated historians of our day, and in this magnificent work he brings history to dramatic life with a wealth of stories and vivid, colorful detail, reanimating familiar figures and events and drawing them skillfully into a powerful and compelling narrative. Schama's perspective... more

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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.
31
Once vast swathes of the globe were coloured imperial red and Britannia ruled not just the waves, but the prairies of America, the plains of Asia, the jungles of Africa and the deserts of Arabia. Just how did a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic achieve all this? And why did the empire on which the sun literally never set finally decline and fall? Niall Ferguson's acclaimed Empire brilliantly unfolds the imperial story in all its splendours and its miseries, showing how a gang of buccaneers and gold-diggers planted the seed of the biggest empire in all history - and set the world on... more

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32
In this powerful biography, the middle volume of William Manchester’s critically acclaimed trilogy, Winston Churchill wages his defining campaign: not against Hitler’s war machine but against his own reluctant countrymen. Manchester contends that even more than his leadership in combat, Churchill’s finest hour was the uphill battle against appeasement. As Parliament received with jeers and scorn his warnings against the growing Nazi threat, Churchill stood alone—only to be vindicated by history as a beacon of hope amid the gathering storm.
 
Praise for The Last Lion:...
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33

Mary Queen of Scots

Author of Marie Antoinette

She was the quintessential queen: statuesque, regal, dazzlingly beautiful. Her royal birth gave her claim to the thrones of two nations; her marriage to the young French dauphin promised to place a third glorious crown on her noble head.

Instead, Mary Stuart became the victim of her own impulsive heart, scandalizing her world with a foolish passion that would lead to abduction, rape and even murder. Betrayed by those she most trusted, she would be lured into a deadly game of power, only to lose to her envious and unforgiving cousin,...
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34

Bring Up the Bodies

Alternate Cover Edition ISBN 0805090037 (ISBN13: 9780805090031)

The sequel to Hilary Mantel's international bestseller and Man Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the downfall of Anne Boleyn.
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Though he battled for years to marry her, Henry VIII has become disenchanted with the audacious Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son, and her sharp intelligence and strong will have alienated his old...
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35
The political and religious conflicts between Queen Elizabeth I and the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots, have for centuries captured our imagination and inspired memorable dramas played out on stage, screen, and in opera. But few books have brought to life more vividly the exquisite texture of two women's rivalry, spurred on by the ambitions and machinations of the forceful men who surrounded them. The drama has terrific resonance even now as women continue to struggle in their bid for executive power.

Against the backdrop of sixteenth-century England, Scotland, and France, Dunn paints...
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36
For the first time in decades, here, in a single volume, is a fresh look at the fabled Tudor dynasty, comprising some of the most enigmatic figures ever to rule a country. Acclaimed historian G. J. Meyer reveals the flesh-and-bone reality in all its wild excess.

In 1485, young Henry Tudor, whose claim to the throne was so weak as to be almost laughable, crossed the English Channel from France at the head of a ragtag little army and took the crown from the family that had ruled England for almost four hundred years. Half a century later his son, Henry VIII, desperate to rid himself...
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37

1066

The Year of the Conquest

Alternate cover for ISBN 10: 0140058508 / ISBN 13: 9780140058505

Everyone knows 1066 as the date of the Norman invasion and conquest of England. But how many of us can place that event in the context of the entire dramatic year in which it took place? From the death of Edward the Confessor in early January to the Christmas coronation of Duke William of Normandy, there is an almost uncanny symmetry, as well as a relentlessly exciting surge, of events leading to and from Hastings.
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38
14 hours, 40 minutes

From award-winning New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe, a stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devastating repercussions

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was...
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Carrie JohnsonThe best book I read last year. 📚 https://t.co/CULq9zZHEU (Source)

Margot WallströmI recommend the book ”Say nothing” about Northern Ireland and IRA. It makes fascinating reading about memories, murder, mourning and making peace. (Source)

Mikko TakkunenJust finished reading this remarkable book by @praddenkeefe. I was baffled getting this from @VeronicaSanchis as I don’t remember ever showing particular interest in the Troubles, but she obviously knows me better than I do. https://t.co/KlBCF41y47 https://t.co/PnJlLCZyQD (Source)

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39

The Wealth of Nations

In his book, Smith fervently extolled the simple yet enlightened notion that individuals are fully capable of setting and regulating prices for their own goods and services. He argued passionately in favor of free trade, yet stood up for the little guy. The Wealth of Nations provided the first--and still the most eloquent--integrated description of the workings of a market economy. less

Elon MuskAdam Smith FTW obv. (Source)

Barack ObamaObama, unsurprisingly, appears to be more drawn to stories sympathetic to the working classes than is McCain. Obama cites John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle,” about a labor dispute; Robert Caro’s “Power Broker,” about Robert Moses; and Studs Terkel’s “Working.” But he also includes Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” and “Theory of Moral Sentiments” on his list. (Source)

Neil deGrasse TysonWhich books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet? [...] The Wealth of Nations (Smith) [to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself]. If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world. (Source)

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40
The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins' War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses.

The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that...
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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.
41
The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation's communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for...
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Casey Neistatjust finished this yesterday. absolutely fantastic book. super recommend if you're into spycraft and espionage. bravo @BenMacintyre1 https://t.co/4OG4C1cBQ1 (Source)

Isabel Hardman@holland_tom @BenMacintyre1 Oh it’s a brilliant book isn’t it. Another one I was sad to finish. (Source)

Amrullah SalehI had a great conversation with Ambassador Micheal Lund Jeppesen of @DKinAfghanistan . On the sidelines of our rich conversation we spoke of the Spy & the Traitor a great book in which Denmark's intelligence features highly. Proud of our alliance & cooperation. https://t.co/47GMb7ETWr (Source)

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42

Splendid and sumptuous historical novel from the internationally bestselling author, Philippa Gregory, telling of the early life of Katherine of Aragon.

We think of Katherine of Aragon as the barren wife of a notorious king; but behind this legacy lies a fascinating story.

Katherine of Aragon is born Catalina, the Spanish Infanta, to parents who are both rulers and warriors. Aged four, she is betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and is raised to be Queen of England. She is never in doubt that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land.

Her faith is tested...

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43
Great Britain's geopolitical role has undergone many changes over the last four centuries. Once a maritime superpower and ruler of half the world, Britain now occupies an isolated position as an economically fragile island often at odds with her European neighbors. Lawrence James has written a comprehensive, perceptive and insighful history of the British Empire. Spanning the years from 1600 to the present day, this critically acclaimed book combines detailed scholarship with readable popular history. less

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44
In her remarkable new book, Alison Weir recounts one of the greatest love stories of medieval England. It is the extraordinary tale of an exceptional woman, Katherine Swynford, who became first the mistress and later the wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

Katherine Swynford’s charismatic lover was one of the most powerful princes of the 14th century, the effective ruler of England behind the throne of his father Edward III in his declining years, and during the minority of his nephew, Richard II. Katherine herself was enigmatic and intriguing, renowned for her beauty, and...
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45
From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt, a thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill's extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War

At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election campaign for Parliament. He believed that to achieve his goal he must do something spectacular on the battlefield. Despite deliberately putting himself in extreme danger as a...
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46
This lavishly illustrated book ties in with a major international exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich on 1 May 2003. Timed to commemorate the 400th anniversary since the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, and sponsored by Morgan Stanley, the exhibition brings together a wealth of paintings, manuscripts, fine art objects and personal effects which illuminate Elizabeth's fascinating history. Elizabeth was born at Greenwich and spent her first months at Greenwich Palace, on the site of what is now a World Heritage Site, Maritime Greenwich. The book, containing... more
Recommended by Helen Hackett, and 1 others.

Helen HackettI chose this one because it is a catalogue of an excellent exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in 2003. That was one of a whole lot of events and publications for the 400-year anniversary of Elizabeth’s death in 1603. This volume is particularly interesting because it is a really rich, full, broad catalogue where they tried to present some unusual things that people haven’t seen before,... (Source)

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47
Three Women Who Share One Fate: The Boleyn Inheritance

Anne of Cleves
She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a throne whose last three occupants are dead. King Henry VIII, her new husband, instantly dislikes her. Without friends, family, or even an understanding of the language being spoken around her, she must literally save her neck in a court ruled by a deadly game of politics and the terror of an unpredictable and vengeful king. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witnesses.

Katherine...
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48
Mary Boleyn (c.1500-1543) was no less fascinating than her ill-fated queen consort sister Anne. In fact, her own claims to fame are numerous: She was not only an influential member of King Henry VIII's court circle; she was one of his mistresses and perhaps the mother of two of his children. In addition, the apparently prolific Mary was rumored to have been also a mistress of the King's rival, Francis I of France. Alison Weir's Mary Boleyn substantially redeems her subject's reputation by disputing her scandalous portrayal in Philippa Gregory's novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Our most detailed... more

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49
Peter Ackroyd has been praised as one of the greatest living chroniclers of Britain and its people. In Rebellion, he continues his dazzling account of the history of England, beginning with the progress south of the Scottish king, James VI, who on the death of Elizabeth I became the first Stuart king of England, and ending with the deposition and flight into exile of his grandson, James II.

The Stuart monarchy brought together the two nations of England and Scotland into one realm, albeit a realm still marked by political divisions that echo to this day. More importantly,...
more

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50
In the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy Rick Atkinson recounts the first twenty-one months of America’s violent war for independence. From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world’s most formidable fighting force. It is a saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, who proves to be the... more
Recommended by Mount Vernon, and 1 others.

Mount Vernon@DEdHoggatt Great response, and congratulations! You've been selected to win Rick Atkinson's new book, 'The British Are Coming!' Please DM us to claim your prize, and thank you for participating in our contest! (Source)

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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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51
Who formed the first literate society? Who invented our modern ideas of democracy and free market capitalism? The Scots. As historian and author Arthur Herman reveals, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Scotland made crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics—contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since. This book is not just about Scotland: it is an exciting account of the origins of the modern world. No one who takes this incredible historical trek will ever view the Scots—or the modern West—in the... more
Recommended by Charles T. Munger, Raluca Radu, and 3 others.

Charles T. MungerA lot of really important stuff like: the first modern nation, the first literate society, the ideas for (modern) democracy and free markets, all originated with the Scots. (Source)

Raluca RaduIn terms of business, some of the must-read books I would mention are Hooked by Nir Eyal, Web Analytics: An Hour A Day by Avinash Kaushik, Call To Action and Always Be Testing by Bryan Eisenberg, Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, How To Build Websites That Sell by Peep Laja, Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina. (Source)

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52
Master storyteller Ben Macintyre’s most ambitious work to date brings to life the twentieth century’s greatest spy story.


Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War—while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s best friend and fellow officer in MI6. The two men had gone to the same schools, belonged to the same exclusive clubs, grown close through the crucible of wartime...
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53
No one in history had a more eventful career in matrimony than Henry VIII. His marriages were daring and tumultuous, and made instant legends of six very different women. In this remarkable study, David Starkey argues that the king was not a depraved philanderer but someone seeking happiness -- and a son. Knowingly or not, he elevated a group of women to extraordinary heights and changed the way a nation was governed.

Six Wives is a masterful work of history that intimately examines the rituals of diplomacy, marriage, pregnancy, and religion that were part of daily life for women...
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54
One man saved the British Royal Family in the first decades of the 20th century - he wasn't a prime minister or an archbishop of Canterbury. He was an almost unknown, and self-taught, speech therapist named Lionel Logue, whom one newspaper in the 1930s famously dubbed 'The Quack who saved a King'.

Logue wasn't a British aristocrat or even an Englishman - he was a commoner and an Australian to boot. Nevertheless it was the outgoing, amiable Logue who single-handedly turned the nervous, tongue-tied Duke of York into one of Britain's greatest kings after his brother, Edward VIII,...
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55
In this vibrant biography, acclaimed author Alison Weir reexamines the life of Isabella of England, one of history’s most notorious and charismatic queens. Isabella arrived in London in 1308, the spirited twelve-year-old daughter of King Philip IV of France. Her marriage to the heir to England’s throne was designed to heal old political wounds between the two countries, and in the years that followed she became an important figure, a determined and clever woman whose influence would come to last centuries. Many myths and legends have been woven around Isabella’s story, but in this first full... more

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56
Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself. less

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57
It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and countercoups. Through luck, guile and ruthlessness, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings, had clambered to the top of the heap--a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England's throne. For many he remained a usurper, a false king.

But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Queen Elizabeth was a member of the House of York. Henry himself was from the House of Lancaster, so between them they united the warring parties that had...
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58
Spanning the years of 1940-1965, The Last Lion picks up shortly after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister—when his tiny island nation stood alone against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. The Churchill conjured up by William Manchester and Paul Reid is a man of indomitable courage, lightning fast intellect, and an irresistible will to action.

The Last Lion brilliantly recounts how Churchill organized his nation's military response and defense; compelled FDR into supporting America's beleaguered cousins, and personified the "never surrender" ethos that helped the...

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59

Churchill

Walking with Destiny

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Unarguably the best single-volume biography of Churchill . . . A brilliant feat of storytelling, monumental in scope, yet put together with tenderness for a man who had always believed that he would be Britain’s savior.” —Wall Street Journal

In this landmark biography of Winston Churchill based on extensive new material, the true genius of the man, statesman and leader can finally be fully seen and understood by the bestselling, award-winning author of Napoleon and The Storm of War.


When we seek...
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Recommended by Robert Benzie, and 1 others.

Robert BenzieBest book I have read this year. https://t.co/Vv3GlB426d (Source)

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60
This definitive full biography of Anne Boleyn, based on the latest scholarly research, focusses on Anne’s life and legacy and establishes Anne as a figure of considerable importance and influence in her own right. less

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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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61
Americans call the Second World War “The Good War.” But before it even began, America’s wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens—and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war’s end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.
Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single...
more

Eric Weinstein[Eric Weinstein recommended this book on Twitter.] (Source)

Antony BeevorThis book is about…the Stalinist repression of the areas known as the borderlands, which Snyder has termed the bloodlands. Snyder is looking at the deliberate mass murder of civilians in a particular zone of Europe between about 1930, at the start of the second Ukraine famine, and 1945. (Source)

Edward LucasBloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin offers the best account of the most important and terrible years of the last century, when Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler jointly consigned the territories and people between their two empires to the meat-grinder. (Source)

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62
Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.
 
Her birth was greeted...
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64
From best-selling historian, Sarah Gristwood comes the true story behind Philippa Gregory’s recent novels – the women who gave birth to the Tudor dynasty. It is a fiery history of Queens, the perils of power and of how the Wars of the Roses were ended – not by knights in battle, but the sinewy political skills of women.

The events of the Wars of the Roses are usually described in terms of the men involved; Richard, Duke of York, Henry VI, Edward IV and Henry VII. The reality though, argues Sarah Gristwood, was quite different. These years were also packed with women's drama and –...
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65
World Without End takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroads of new ideas—about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with... more

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66

Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Starting with the invasion of Julius Caesar in the fifth century, Bede recorded the history of the English up to his own day in 731 A.D. A scholarly monk working in the north-east of England, Bede wrote the five books of his history in Latin. The Ecclesiastical History is his most famous work, and this edition provides the authoritative Colgrave translation, as well as a new translation of the Greater Chronicle, never before published in English. His Letter to Egbert gives his final reflections on the English Church just before his death. This is the only edition to... more
Recommended by Diarmaid MacCulloch, and 1 others.

Diarmaid MacCullochBede is writing about 130 years after the English had first experienced Christianity. (Source)

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67

Tudor

The Family Story

# For 'Best Books about the Tudors: facts behind the Wolf Hall trilogy' the Times of London recommends Tudor: The Family Story

Sunday Times top ten Bestseller; BBC History Book of the Year; a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year; a History Today Book of the Year

The Tudors are England’s most notorious royal family. But, as Leanda de Lisle’s gripping new history reveals, they are a family still more extraordinary than the one we thought we knew.

The Tudor canon typically starts with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, before speeding on to Henry VIII and the...
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68
The story of how the East India Company took over large swaths of Asia, and the devastating results of the corporation running a country.

In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.

The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power. Over the course...
more

Andrew AdonisAnyone who thinks there’s much good to say about the British Empire should read @DalrympleWill’s brilliant book on the East India Company. A long tale of plunder, extortion, war & murder Maybe the ‘dominions’ are different, but not for indigenous peoples of Australia & N Zealand (Source)

Carl Malamud@jamie_love I have. Wonderful book. (Source)

Ken JusterGreat to welcome renowned author @DalrympleWill to #RooseveltHouse. Excellent discussion with this warm and thoughtful writer about his new book “The Anarchy,” which broadens our understanding of India’s complex history. #CulturalDiplomacy https://t.co/va2FL5Uefy (Source)

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69
He ordered his uncle to be beheaded; he usurped his father's throne; he taxed his people more than any other previous king, and he started a war which lasted for more than a hundred years. Yet for centuries Edward III (1327-77) was celebrated as the most brilliant of all English monarchs. In this first full study of his character and life, Ian Mortimer shows how under Edward the feudal kingdom of England became a highly organised nation, capable of raising large revenues and deploying a new type of projectile-based warfare, culminating in the crushing victory over the French at Crecy. Yet... more

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70
It was the most influential marriage of the nineteenth century–and one of history’s most enduring love stories. Traditional biographies tell us that Queen Victoria inherited the throne as a naïve teenager, when the British Empire was at the height of its power, and seemed doomed to find failure as a monarch and misery as a woman until she married her German cousin Albert and accepted him as her lord and master. Now renowned chronicler Gillian Gill turns this familiar story on its head, revealing a strong, feisty queen and a brilliant, fragile prince working together to build a family based on... more

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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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71
"This history will endure; not only because Sir Winston has written it, but also because of its own inherent virtues - its narrative power, its fine judgment of war and politics, of soldiers and statesmen, and even more because it reflects a tradition of what Englishmen in the hey-day of their empire thought and felt about their country's past." The Daily Telegraph

Spanning four volumes and many centuries of history, from Caesar's invasion of Britain to the start of World War I, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples stands as one of Winston S. Churchill's most...
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72
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake and The Devil in the White City delivers a startlingly fresh portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz

On Winston Churchill's first day as prime minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons (30,000 of them Londoners) and destroying two million homes. It was up to Churchill to hold the...
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73

The Sunne in Splendour

A glorious novel of the controversial Richard III - a monarch betrayed in life by his allies and betrayed in death by history.

In this beautifully rendered modern classic, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III - vilified as the bitter, twisted, scheming hunchback who murdered his nephews, the princes in the Tower - from his maligned place in history with a dazzling combination of research and storytelling. 

Born into the treacherous courts of fifteenth-century England, in the midst of what history has called The War of the Roses, Richard was raised in the shadow of his...
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74
Kensington Palace is now most famous as the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, but the palace's glory days came between 1714 and 1760, during the reigns of George I and II . In the eighteenth century, this palace was a world of skulduggery, intrigue, politicking, etiquette, wigs, and beauty spots, where fans whistled open like switchblades and unusual people were kept as curiosities. Lucy Worsley's The Courtiers charts the trajectory of the fantastically quarrelsome Hanovers and the last great gasp of British court life. Structured around the paintings of courtiers and servants... more

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75
On the night of 10 February 1567 an explosion devastated the Edinburgh residence of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. The noise was heard as far away as Holyrood Palace, where Queen Mary was attending a wedding masque. Those arriving at the scene of devastation found, in the garden, the naked corpses of Darnley and his valet. Neither had died in the explosion, but both bodies bore marks of strangulation.

It was clear that they had been murdered and the house destroyed in an attempt to obliterate the evidence. Darnley was not a popular...
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76
In this New York Times bestseller that inspired the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen, Philippa Gregory tells the tale of Anne Neville, a beautiful young woman who must navigate the treachery of the English court as her father, known as the Kingmaker, uses her and her sister as pawns in his political game.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter—Philippa Gregory’s first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl—is the gripping tale of the daughters of the man known as the Kingmaker, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in...
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77

Victoria's Daughters

The story of five women who shared one of the most extraordinary and privileged sisterhoods of all time.

Vicky, Alice, Helena, and Beatrice were historically unique sisters, born to a sovereign who ruled over a quarter of the earth's people and who gave her name to an era: Queen Victoria. Two of these princesses would themselves produce children of immense consequence. All five would curiously come to share many of the social restrictions and familial machinations borne by nineteenth-century women of less-exulted class.

Victoria and Albert's precocious firstborn child,...
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78
Nineteenth-century Britain was then the world's most prosperous nation, yet Victorians would bury meat in earth and wring sheets out in boiling water with their bare hands. Such drudgery was routine for the parents of people still living, but the knowledge of it has passed as if it had never been.

Following the daily life of a middle-class Victorian house from room to room; from childbirth in the master bedroom through the kitchen, scullery, dining room, and parlor, all the way to the sickroom; Judith Flanders draws on diaries, advice books, and other sources to resurrect an age...
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79
From one of our finest historians comes an outstanding exploration of the British monarchy from the retreat of the Romans up until the modern day. This compendium volume of two earlier books is fully revised and updated.

The monarchy is one of Britain’s most revered institutions – but also one of its most tumultuous. In Crown and Country, David Starkey charts its rollercoaster history from earliest times to the present; from the courtly love of the Middle Ages, through the turbulent reign of the Tudors, to the chaos of the Civil War.

Starkey brings this tempestuous story...
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80
The sun is setting on the Western world. Slowly but surely, the direction in which the world spins has reversed: where for the last five centuries the globe turned westwards on its axis, it now turns to the east...For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west - in the New World of the Americas. Today, it is the east which calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia deep into China and India, is taking centre stage in international politics, commerce and culture - and is shaping the modern... more
Recommended by Professor Frank Mcdonough, Raoul Pal, and 2 others.

Professor Frank McdonoughChristmas is coming and if you want to give a thought-provoking book to that history fan in your life then the recent books by the brilliant @peterfrankopan will satisfy. Some write books, this guy changes perceptions. https://t.co/gWZWZnv5TN (Source)

Raoul Pal@The92ers @zerohedge It’s fascinating. The Peter Frankopan book on the Silk Roads told history well from the perspective of Iran in particular (Source)

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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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81
A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love.

It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her...
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82
From the Roman conquest of 43 CE to the Norman conquest of 1066, and from the Elizabethan age to the Iraq and Afghan wars of the 21st century, DK's History of Britain and Ireland traces the key events that have shaped Great Britain and Ireland from earliest times to the present day. less

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83
The magnificent conclusion to Rick Atkinson’s acclaimed Liberation Trilogy about the Allied triumph in Europe during World War II

It is the twentieth century’s unrivaled epic: at a staggering price, the United States and its allies liberated Europe and vanquished Hitler. In the first two volumes of his bestselling Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson recounted how the American-led coalition fought through North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now he tells the most dramatic story of all—the titanic battle for Western Europe.

D-Day marked the commencement...
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84

The Road to Wigan Pier

A searing account of George Orwell’s experiences of working-class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire, The Road to Wigan Pier is a brilliant and bitter polemic that has lost none of its political impact over time. His graphically unforgettable descriptions of social injustice, slum housing, mining conditions, squalor, hunger and growing unemployment are written with unblinking honesty, fury and great humanity. less
Recommended by David Heinemeier Hansson, D J Taylor, and 2 others.

David Heinemeier HanssonIt’s amazing how much of the abusive ideology revealed in his account of the miners is still present in today’s gig economy. (Source)

D J TaylorThe Road to Wigan Pier is a very transitional book. It shows all the attention to detail and the thought of street-level reportage that distinguishes Down and Out in Paris and London, but it’s moving forward to a political position—the political position—that will underlie what Orwell starts writing in the 1940s, for which we now celebrate him. (Source)

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85

Innocent Traitor

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Alison Weir's Mary Boleyn.

I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live.

Historical expertise marries page-turning fiction in Alison Weir’s enthralling debut novel, breathing new life into one of the most significant and tumultuous periods of the English monarchy. It is the story of Lady Jane Grey–“the Nine Days’ Queen” –a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the...
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86
Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.

Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time the twelfth century; the place feudal England; and the subject the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude,...
more
Recommended by Oprah Winfrey, Theresa Evanoff, and 2 others.

Oprah WinfreyNobody who reads it—nobody who reads it—looks at a church or a cathedral the same. I made me think about my own life differently, reading that book, the experience of reading that book. What a treasure. (Source)

Theresa EvanoffOne of my favourite non-business book is “Pillars of the Earth”, by Ken Follett. I have read this many times over the years, and still enjoy eit ach time. I love how the characters are all very complex, strategic, and how the story weaves together on so many levels. (Source)

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87
London Under is a wonderful, atmospheric, historical, imaginative, oozing little study of everything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers and gang hide-outs. The depth below is hot, much warmer than the surface and this book tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures that dwell in darkness, real and fictional -- rats and eels, monsters and ghosts.

There is a bronze-age trackway under the Isle of Dogs, Wren found Anglo-Saxon graves under St Paul's, and the monastery of Whitefriars lies...
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88

Chernobyl

History of a Tragedy

On 26 April 1986 at 1.23am a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded. While the authorities scrambled to understand what was occurring, workers, engineers, firefighters and those living in the area were abandoned to their fate. The blast put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, contaminating over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.

In Chernobyl, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy draws on recently opened archives to recreate these events in all their drama, telling the stories of the scientists, workers, soldiers, and...
more
Recommended by Stephen Bush, Kate Brown, and 2 others.

Stephen BushIt’s just a really thrilling book, as well as being a really interesting history of that time. But the reason why I think it’s also a brilliant political book is fundamentally what Plokhii reveals in his writing, is that the failure of Chernobyl was fundamentally a failure of a political system, as well as a failure of a scientific system. (Source)

Kate BrownHe’s really good here at laying down the background of the disaster itself, the plant’s construction, the days leading up to it, the moments the accident occurred. He talks about the accident itself, the delay in informing the public, the censorship of news, the trial of the nuclear power plant operators who he thinks were treated as scapegoats, and the political outcomes of all this deception. (Source)

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89
A "delightful reader's companion"; (The New York Times) to the great nineteenth-century British novels of Austen, Dickens, Trollope, the Brontës, and more, this lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules and customs that governed life in Victorian England.

For anyone who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell "Tally Ho!" at a fox hunt, or how one landed in "debtor's prison"; this book serves as an indispensable historical and literary resource. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the "plums" in...
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90
The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady...
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Don't have time to read the top British History books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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91
Call the Midwife' is a most extraordinary book and should be required reading of all students of midwifery, nursing, sociology and modern history. It tells of the experiences of a young trainee midwife in the East End of London in the 1950's and is a graphic portrayal of the quite appalling conditions that the East Enders endured. less

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92

Jane Austen's England

A cultural snapshot of everyday life in the world of Jane Austen

Jane Austen, arguably the greatest novelist of the English language, wrote brilliantly about the gentry and aristocracy of two centuries ago in her accounts of young women looking for love. Jane Austen’s England explores the customs and culture of the real England of her everyday existence depicted in her classic novels as well as those by Byron, Keats, and Shelley. Drawing upon a rich array of contemporary sources, including many previously unpublished manuscripts, diaries, and personal letters, Roy and...
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93
King Edward the VII, affectionately called Bertie, was fifty-nine when he took the throne in 1901, upon the death of his mother Queen Victoria. To everyone's great surprise, this playboy prince sobered up and became an extremely effective leader and the founder of England's modern monarchy. For readers of Sally Bedell Smith's Elizabeth the Queen and Robert K. Massie's Catherine the Great.

"This is not only the best biography of King Edward VII; it's also one of the best books about royalty ever published." So began the London Independent's review of this wonderfully...
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94

Becoming Queen

'I will be good,' promised the thirteen-year-old Victoria, when she understood that she would be Queen of the most powerful country in the world. That, of course, is a matter of opinion. And there are other layers to the story.

With a combination of novelistic flair and historical accuracy, Kate Williams begins by relating the heartbreaking story of Princess Charlotte, the Queen who never was, and her impact on the young Victoria. Our perception of Victoria the Queen is coloured by portraits of her older, widowed self - her dour expression embodying the repressive morality...
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95
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

10 BEST BOOKS • THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW • 2011

 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The New Yorker • Chicago Tribune • The Economist • Nancy Pearl, NPR • Bloomberg.com • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly

Acclaimed historian Amanda Foreman follows the phenomenal success of her New York Times bestseller Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire with her long-awaited second work of nonfiction: the fascinating story of the American...
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96
Featuring some of the very best from Terry Deary's Horrible Histories series, and displayed in a great printed lift top storage box, this fantastic set is a must have for any child's book shelf. This Horrible Histories box set of fantastic children's books includes practically all of the series' favourites, including Rotten Romans, Vicious Vikings and Savage Stone Age and encourages children to really engage with historical subjects in a way that they will thoroughly enjoy. By picking out the fun parts of the subject, mainly the gory and revolting bits, this Horrible Histories set makes... more

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97

Elizabeth the Queen

The Life of a Modern Monarch

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Perfect for fans of The Crown, this magisterial biography of Queen Elizabeth II is a close-up view of the woman we’ve known only from a distance—and a captivating window into the last great monarchy.

From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell...
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98
White Cargo is the forgotten story of the thousands of Britons who lived and died in bondage in Britain s American colonies.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, more than 300,000 white people were shipped to America as slaves. Urchins were swept up from London s streets to labor in the tobacco fields, where life expectancy was no more than two years. Brothels were raided to provide breeders for Virginia. Hopeful migrants were duped into signing as indentured servants, unaware they would become personal property who could be bought, sold, and even gambled away. Transported...
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99
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" and her captain, William Thomas...
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Recommended by Bethanye McKinney Blount, and 1 others.

Bethanye McKinney BlountThere's so much in this one about leadership, failures and how winners write history. (Source)

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100

The Gunpowder Plot

Antonia Fraser, a popular historian, has delved into archives across Europe to unravel the true story of the plot by fanatical Roman Catholics to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I at the opening of Parliament in 1605. less

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