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Discussion/Questionhistory book suggestions (self.history)
submitted 2 days ago by dchillius
Hypothetically, your friend is looking to get into history and is looking for a book to read to start learning more about any historical topic. If you could only recommend one history book to that friend to help make them interested in history; what book would you recommend?
Post a comment!
[–]TAMH13 4 points5 points6 points 2 days ago (0 children)
Thats an incredibly wide question with a multitude of possible answers, the closest I could come to in response is a book entitled 'The Teutonic Knights' by William Urban, it encompasses politics, religion and many other aspects of history to start with. Of course thats assuming this person wants to start with medieval European history and not, for example, ancient Egyptian history.
[–]R_O 2 points3 points4 points 1 day ago (0 children)
Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts.
Conquest by Hugh Thomas (Hernan Cortes and the Aztec Empire)
American Revolutions by Alan Taylor
The Civil War by Bruce Catton
Dividing the Spoils by Robin Waterfield (The Diadochi and the wars of Alexander's successors)
Genghis Khan by by Frank McFlynn
[–]beepybeetle大明 2 points3 points4 points 2 days ago (0 children)
I would recommend Return to Dragon Mountain, a biographical narrative of a man from China's scholar elite at the end of the Ming dynasty. I think it contains some pretty important insights and it's a good book for beginners since it's accessible, relatively short, and interesting IMO.
[–]Dragonlov3er 2 points3 points4 points 2 days ago (0 children)
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Specifically Christian scope, but incredible story beautifully written and both informative and interesting in how it speaks about ww2.
[–]ieatconfusedfish 1 point2 points3 points 1 day ago (1 child)
If the goal is to get them interested in history I might suggest a podcast instead, people tend to find those easier
If it has to be a book....maybe Rubicon by Tom Holland - about ancient Rome and Julius Caesar. He tends to write in a more narrative style that's not too demanding
[–]dhalsim282 0 points1 point2 points 2 days ago (2 children)
I really like Yuval Noah Harari's "Sapiens" and have recommended it to a few friends who normally don't get into history. Every one of them enjoyed it. That would be the one right now. Two of the first books that got me into reading more non-fiction in general were Bill Bryson's 'A Short history of Nearly Everything' and Carl Sagan's 'The Varieties of Scientific Experience'. Those two are more science oriented, but include a lot about understanding human history as a whole, not specific events per se. All these authors have very accessible writing styles. They are very good storytellers.
[–]poggenpfuhl 3 points4 points5 points 1 day ago (1 child)
But it should be noted that Harari is quite often criticised for his shorthands and misconceptions (and here on Reddit his book were topic of some threads in r/badhistory)
[–]McFranko98 0 points1 point2 points 2 days ago (0 children)
The fall of the Roman Empire seems like an interesting period of history I recommend that
[–]sassy_saracen 0 points1 point2 points 1 day ago (0 children)
Ernst Gombrich's Litte history of the World is pretty good for beginners. I would refrain from recommending anything specific like the Teutonic Knights.
[–]jane_divided 0 points1 point2 points 1 day ago (0 children)
I recommend Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, a study of German Ordnungspolizei by Christopher Browning. It explains how a group of ordinary, average men can commit atrocities as a result of "group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions".
[–]danishjuggler21 0 points1 point2 points 1 day ago (0 children)
Cartoon history of the Universe. It covers all the major topics from pretty much all of history. It even covers things that are often neglected in history classes in the US, like pre-colonial African history. The information it conveys seemed pretty accurate to me, and it gives disclaimers when it dips into mythology for a given period (like taking the section about the Trojan War from the Iliad, or basing the section about the fall of the Han Dynasty on Romance of the Three Kingdoms).
It’s getting a bit old at this point (the first volume was from the 80’s) but overall its art style, humor, and narrative format is an excellent way to get introduced to the wonders of world history. Hell, it’s what got me interested.
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