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Over the weekend I finished reading Rubicon about the fall of the… - B. Henderson Asher's Moments of Mirth [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Listen in, listen Ian!

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[Sep. 1st, 2008|04:17 pm]
Listen in, listen Ian!
Over the weekend I finished reading Rubicon about the fall of the Roman republic. It was dead good, and now I'm on a bit of a history book kick, so I'm after recommendations. What's a good entertaining history book to read. It can be about any period in any place, but it mustn't be dull like I found history at school to be. Although pre-1700 might be preferred, for no especially good reason. Or particularly, I'd be interested to get a recommendation for a particularly good history of the USA pre 20th century.

[User Picture]From: bengraham
2008-09-01 03:37 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's good to hear, I've had 'Rubicon' sitting on my shelf for months and not got around to reading it yet. Will get cracking on it as soon as I've finished my current read.

Will have a think tonight about other historical recommendations.
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[User Picture]From: noradre
2008-09-01 03:47 pm (UTC)
Suetonius - "The Twelve Ceasars" is one the gossipiest (in a good way) history books, and pretty much follows on from the fall of the republic. Sort of "what happened next" with a bit of dishing the dirt thrown in.
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From: funnynamehere
2008-09-01 04:34 pm (UTC)
Tom Holland's other book about the Persian Empire is excellent as well. Otherwise try King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild (about the Belgian colonisation of the Congo) or The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman (about the world between, roughly, 1895 and 1914). Peacemakers by Margaret Macmillan is about the Versailles Peace Conference and excellent and Christopher Clark's Iron Kingdom is about the rise and fall of Prussia and also very good.

I'll have a think about recommendations for pre-20th century American history. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson is basically the standard history of the Civil War, that's a good start.
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[User Picture]From: ruudboy
2008-09-01 09:03 pm (UTC)
I've just ordered the other Holland - it looks like the same kind of thing, which is good.

I'm more interested in a general, wide ranging US book than a civil war book, but I'll have a look.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-09-01 06:47 pm (UTC)
Tom Holt's Goatsong is good. Or any Mary Renault in The Persian Boy trilogy
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[User Picture]From: argyraspid
2008-09-02 09:53 am (UTC)
I wouldn't recommend this to start with on the USA, but I've heard A People's History Of The United States by Howard Zinn is worth a look. It's an alternative view from a hard left author so considered controversial or despised by some. It contains history from the point of view of the defeated and dispossessed, and I understand it's considered highly and I've had it recommended to me. It deals with the 20th century as well, mind.

Alternatively, I enjoyed the about Byzantium by John Julius Norwich (there's a full trilogy and condensed short history), but then I have a particular interest in that period.

If you want stuff from historians of the time, where history mixes with unreliable anecdote, poor sourcing and gossip, you could read "A History of the Franks" by Gregory of Tours (France from about 400-600AD), Suetonius for the Roman Empire and Herodotus for the Persian invasion of Greece (ca. 500BC). They can be quite entertaining, albeit far from modern historical precision.
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