Top 10 History Books – Part 1

Top 5 History Books 2

The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power, Sean McMeekin – There is more to learn about World War I and how it shaped the globe and contributed to much of the turmoil in the Middle East over the last century than most of us would realize. I’ve studied this period through lots of books but this one is unique in giving the German and Ottoman angle, rich with historical figures and crafted in a wonderful narrative format. I had the pleasure of reading this book while traveling through Turkey and traversing many of the places at the center of the story of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. If you’re a student of the Middle East, World War I, or interested in understanding how many of the modern clashes between Islam and the West developed, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book. [Reference A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East for a rather famous and award-winning look at similar issues told from the British side and set primarily in London and Cairo rather than Berlin and Baghdad.]

The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant – I’ve been intrigued by the Civil War about as long as I’ve loved the subject of history. I remember as a kid watching the TV mini-series The Blue and the Gray with fascination as many of the places were familiar (I grew up for much of my life on the East Coast.) In my mind, there is no more fascinating figure in the Civil War than General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was a straight-forward and unlikely leader who regularly struggled with alcoholism. His matter of fact approach to life translates magically into his memoirs and has long been regarded as a classic in the genre. Many speculate the literary beauty may have been enhanced by Mark Twain who had a hand both in encouraging Grant to write and editing his writing. Twain was to say of the work, “I had been comparing the memoirs with Caesar’s Commentaries… I was able to say in all sincerity, that the same high merits distinguished both books—clarity of statement, directness, simplicity, unpretentiousness, manifest truthfulness, fairness and justice toward friend and foe alike, soldierly candor and frankness, and soldierly avoidance of flowery speech. I placed the two books side by side upon the same high level, and I still think that they belonged there.”

This is one of the most intriguing autobiographies I’ve read.

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Adam Hochschild – In this award winning book, historian Adam Hochschild (Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918) accomplishes a rare feat by providing an in-depth telling of the rise of colonialism in Africa while also giving an extensive history to the formation of the Congo Free State under King Leopold of Belgium. He also seamlessly weaves in larger than life names and places like Livingston and Stanley, The Nile River, Joseph Conrad and The Heart of Darkness, and the subject slavery—both as abolished in the English world and still taking place via Arab slave traders coming inland from the East Coast of Africa. It’s difficult to describe just how remarkable this book is—how equally fascinating and appalling it is as it moves from talking about how the rubber tire created demand for rubber from the Congo, to high society philantropy in Europe, and to the absolutely cold, calculating, maniacal exploitation and destruction of human life in the heart of Africa by King Leopold. I don’t know of another book that tells so many stories while telling one unified story as this brilliant work does.

Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired, Benson Bobrick — This is the story of how the Bible in English came to be written. It set with larger than life figures such as John and others set in London and across Europe. The book includes some of the biggest names of the era—John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Henry VIII, Mary Tudor to name a few—and brings you into some of the biggest debates of the era—the nature of scripture, the power of monarchy, the reformation, and the role of the church. The story of how the Bible was translated into the English language, and its affect on the history of the world (the English Bible was the Bible taken around the world by many settlers and explorers) is an interesting and crucial part of church history. Given the setting and cast of characters it is an easy and intriguing story to read.

A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mary Ann Glendon — This very unique piece of historical writing takes a look at the framing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While much of the book focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt and the committee of delegates from multiple countries who spent two years debating and crafting the document, it also brings in the larger context of World War II, the drive to have a sustainable international entity that could survive (unlike the earlier League of Nations), and begins to usher us into the beginnings of Cold War politics. For students of justice or the invention of human rights, this will be an absolute delight.



Social Media

Most Popular

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.
On Key

Related Posts

God of justice

The God of Justice

The God of Justice “The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field.” Isaiah 32:16 The God of Disruptive

Guest Post by Tamara Wytsma

Guest Post by Tamara Wytsma

Has the thought of doing a daily devotional ever felt similar to the feeling you get when you think about doing your taxes: You know

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Get The Latest Updates