For a lot of people, history is merely perceived as the boring subject they were forced to study back in school. After all, how can learning about events and people from hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, help to understand and navigate the present?
The good news is, on the flip side of the coin, there are plenty of people who understand history to not only be the autobiography of the human race, but also a tool which can be used to study and understand human behaviour… and understanding which can be easily extended to the modern day.
In the landscape of literature, history has more than a few applications, serving as not only something to be chronicled as fact, but also as fuel for fiction. After all, few things can make a book feel more relatable than setting the events in the real and recognizable world, and introducing people we’re already acquainted with to some degree.
This is an umbrella category for the more remarkable books I’ve read centred on the topic of history in one way or another, comprising works of both fiction and non-fiction alike.
Basil Liddell Hart was not only a tremendously impactful figure in the realm of military strategy, but he also made a name for himself as a first-rate historian whose literary contributions are nothing if not priceless.
Perhaps his most celebrated achievement, The German Generals Talk, is a collection of interviews conducted by Hart at the Nuremberg trials where he gets said generals to share their side of the story with him.
Erik Larson has developed an aptitude for conveying important history in a comprehensible and entertaining fashion, which he did once again when he published The Splendid and the Vile.
Told from the perspective of Winston Churchill and his inner circle, the book is majorly focused on his thoughts, actions and reactions during the infamous WWII Blitz where Britain endured massive bombings by the Germans.
James A. Michener had a rather peculiar specialty as an author, focusing on rather lengthy historical novels profoundly focusing on a specific geographical location.
The Source, originally published back in 1965, takes us on a journey thousands of years long through the Holy Land, recounting the origins of Judaism, the rise of the early Hebrews, and all which happened since then until the modern conflict with Palestine.
Marie Benedict is one of the many authors today who have decided to delve into the lesser-known pages of our history, and her most recent efforts have resulted in the publication of Lady Clementine.
A biographical novel, it follows the story of Lady Clementine Churchill, the strong and ambitious wife to one of the nation’s most famous leaders. From saving her husband multiple times to forging on against the world’s expectations, her life was nothing if not extraordinary.
Joseph Horace Greasley is one of countless veterans from the Second World War who haven’t let their experience and memories go to waste, writing his autobiography shortly before his passing titled Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?.
In this book, the brunt of the focus is placed on his time spent as a prisoner of war in a German camp, and his hundreds of successful attempts to sneak out and meet with his love interest, and then back in with anything to help his comrades.
Garrett M. Graff has been exercising his journalistic talents for a long time now, and he certainly put his years of experience to good use in his latest non-fiction book, The Only Plane in the Sky.
In it, Graff aims to give the most detailed and comprehensive account possible of the tragedy which occurred on 9/11, examining the perspectives of virtually everyone related to the event, from the regular people on the streets to the generals in the bunker beneath the White House.
Bryan Mark Rigg has dedicated his craft, so far at least, to the study of a very particular and interesting topic few are familiar with: the “Mischlinge” (“partial-Jews”), referring to the Jewish people who served in the Nazi army.
In Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers he delves deep into the topic, documenting the stories and fates of some 150,000 such men and how their lives unfolded while caught between two worlds.
Patrick Radden Keefe has never shied away from exploring the tragedies in the world lesser-known to the Western realms, and in Say Nothing he takes us on an excursion into Northern Ireland.
More precisely, he explores the lethal and suffocating conflict which has raged in the country for decades, centred on the I.R.A. terrorist organization, beginning with the infamous kidnapping and murder of Jean McConville, mother of ten.
Like anyone with a true love for literature, Margaret Leslie Davis knows and understands the unique value and history rare books can bring to the table.
In her non-fiction book titled The Lost Gutenberg, she makes the most of an opportunity very few authors will ever see: the ability to trace five centuries worth saga travelled by one of the surviving forty-nine copies of the Gutenberg Bible.
Anders Rydell has done quite a bit of research into the literary ravages caused by the Nazis during the Second World War, and in The Book Thieves he goes above and beyond the call of duty when he finds himself entrusted with a book once pillaged from its rightful owners.
Tasked with returning it where he belongs, Rydell takes one of many steps in restitution activism while taking the time to examine this strange microcosm of history.