Writing History

137_3785_2 Susan Sarah here….

I’m in a research phase, which means lots of trips to libraries, sitting for long hours at the computer looking through various book sites (and oh what wonderful book sites there are, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble to Alibris, to Google Print Books…sheer heaven….). A research phase also means poring through my own bookshelves to see what I have on hand that would be useful for writing the next book. And with groups of bookcases in several rooms, that’s a task in itself, a delightful one that gives me a great excuse to reacquaint myself with the books I’ve acquired and read (okay and some I haven’t, which is why I sometimes find the perfect gem for my current research projects on my own shelves!).

I learned to enjoy history through reading nonfiction history as well as novels, but not all nonfiction accounts, by a long shot, are readable…. Great nonfiction writing is as much an art as fiction.

When I was in grad school, one esteemed but haughty professor once told a flailing, and failing, student in a seminar: If you can’t write, get out of art history. Harsh words, and we all ran for cover, but in essence, we all knew he was right. Good writing makes the difference every time. Clarity, organization, accessible delivery and style are all important in writing nonfiction. Otherwise, the reader may end up slogging through scholarly quicksand and the morass of unskilled prose just trying to absorb some necessary information.

Over the years some nonfiction books have stirred me to an interest in history-–and inspired me to become a better, stronger writer, regardless of the context. Pure writing skill, as much as history, catches my attention, and when the subject is only marginally interesting, it’s the writing that keeps me reading, and the scholar’s voice on those pages that can keep me focused and awake.

Stack_of_books Writing nonfiction history has its own particular challenges, including expertise, organization, detail, proof (footnotes, and the endless checking of facts), and of course keeping the goals of the piece in mind throughout. Writing historical accounts has another unique challenge. In the hands of a brilliant scholar but a lesser writer, the greatest subject can become deadly boring. Luckily for us, many scholarly writers are also gifted storytellers, no matter the subject, and they’re often gifted wordsmiths with a gentle wit and an ear for language. These additional gifts help bring history to life, make it real and immediate, memorable and accessible, and equally as compelling as a great novel. These writers make history easy to comprehend and to love.

Here are a few of my favorites, some of the best of the historical reading, and writing, that I’ve encountered over the years. Of course it’s an incomplete list!!! There are many, MANY more. And since it’s my list, it’s weighted toward medieval and Scottish… but that doesn’t matter. Good history writing is good history writing. If you go for that, any of these books would appeal to you. What they have in common is not only brilliant scholarship, but sparkling prose, compelling style, and the gift of making any subject matter unforgettable and fascinating….

Scott_tales_of_a_grandfather Sir Walter Scott, Tales Of A Grandfather – Scott wrote these volumes for his young grandson, Hugh…who unfortunately died only a couple of years later, which makes his grandfather’s effort all the more poignant. A bit stiff in Scott’s inimitable Romantic style, but he gives a face and a heart to every one of his historical subjects.

Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (now called in its newest edition The Autumn of the Middle Ages). One of the landmark books in medieval history writing, it will stick with me forever. “One sound rose ceaselessly above the noises of busy life and lifted all things unto a sphere of order and serenity: the sound of bells.”

Costain Thomas B. Costain, The Conquerors, several volumes (which came out in paperback in 1949 as The Conquering Family, The Magnificent Century, The Last Plantagenets, etc.) – A novelist writes history. Very gossipy and not the best scholarly source, it gave immediacy to the English medieval period, making these obscure folks seem as familiar as your next-door neighbors.

Arnolfini_van_eyck Erwin Panofsky, Early Netherlandish Painting. His study of medieval and Northern Renaissance art is indulgently readable–-the prose sparkles, and every subject he looks at takes on vivid life. A landmark, incredible study that can be read for its brilliant thinking, or the pure joy in the writing.

Amy Kelly, Eleanor Of Aquitaine And The Four Kings – Written in 1950, and even though our facts today are more exact, this remains a major source for understanding this remarkable, powerful, fascinating queen – and much of that is due to the author’s gift for understanding the character and motivations of Eleanor, and her time.

Anne Ross and Don Robins – Life and Death Of A Druid Prince – a slim little book about a bog find that (and pardon the pun!) fleshes out obscure archaeological skeletons. This prince comes to life as a sympathetic victim of his society and his time.

Martin_guerre Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return Of Martin Guerre. Not the movie with Gerard Depardieu, which was wonderful, but the book itself – one of the best examples of strong scholarship and scholarly writing that I’ve ever seen. It’s like reading a compelling mystery.

Fraser_mqs Antonia Fraser, Mary, Queen of Scots. This was one I could not put down, sobbing my way through the ending as if it were a kleenex-box novel, and I still have not forgotten it – and in my line of work, I’ve frequently gone back to it. Fraser has an indisputable gift of making history come alive (besides, her family might be very, very distantly related to my own, so I wave that Fraser banner whenever I can!). Fraser is one of the best nonfiction historical writers, and one of the founders of writing great accounts of women’s history.

Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII – another landmark in writing women’s history, and a very readable account of a very complex time. Weir is one of the best nonfiction historical writers around, and now she’s writing fiction – her newest, Innocent Traitor, is fascinating.

Carolly Erickson, Great Harry – just one example of a fine list of books by another author who has made history readable, accessible, and enjoyable.

Bella Bathurst, The Lighthouse Stevensons. I didn’t think a history of lighthouses or engineering could be very interesting, even with the family of Robert Louis Stevenson at its center–but this is another one that sucked me in and didn’t let go. An astonishing, fun, informative read.

Anderson_crucible Fred Anderson, The Crucible of War – a big, intense, fascinating book that examines the French and Indian War and the beginnings of the Revolution. If you want history that reads like a novel you can’t put down, this is it. He writes like a thriller novelist, and propels you deep into the book.

Vaneyckng222 Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red – recommended to me by one of the other Wenches, this is a rich, lush read that combines perfect scholarship with gorgeous prose. Who’d a-thunk reading about a color could be so much fun?!

I could go on and on – but I have to get back to my research! 
And now it’s your turn. I’d love to know which nonfiction history books have grabbed you with all the force of a master novelist crafting a great story!

~Susan Sarah

96 thoughts on “Writing History”

  1. Ooh, great topic! And great excuse to pore over my LibraryThing account and list some favorites:
    THE BATTLE: A NEW HISTORY OF WATERLOO, by Alessandro Barbero. Had me turning pages, unable to put it down, no matter how many times I told myself I was being silly because it’s not like the battle was going to end differently this time!
    GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL and COLLAPSE, by Jared Diamond. Both books are on the border between science, anthropology, and history, but are brilliantly written and taught me a lot about the past.
    PERSIAN FIRE: THE FIRST WORLD EMPIRE AND THE BATTLE FOR THE WEST, by Tom Holland. Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis put in context. Much like Barbero’s Waterloo book, had me turning pages breathlessly despite knowing how it all turned out.
    THE GHOST MAP, by Steven Johnson. More science and history coming together, this time public health and epidemiology as a doctor and a minister trace the source of a cholera epidemic.
    WELLINGTON: THE YEARS OF THE SWORD, by Elizabeth Longford. (I’m cheating a little here, since it’s my current book and I’m only 1/4 of the way through it.) I opened this one with some trepidation, despite the fact Bernard Cornwell himself recommended it to me, because it’s a relatively old biography and the author is a British aristocrat related (or at least connected) to the Wellington family. So I was half-expecting to gag on rah-rah hagiography. But instead it’s a delightfully readable, personal, and somewhat snarky biography. Good stuff.
    ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, THE SLAVES, AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, by Simon Schama. Different angle on familiar events, and made Granville Sharp my new favorite 18th century figure.
    BORN FIGHTING: HOW THE SCOTS-IRISH SHAPED AMERICA, by James Webb. Another different angle on familiar events. It *is* a bit too rah-rah in its glorification of its subject matter, but I’m only human and can put up with that kind of thing when it’s my roots that are being celebrated. 🙂
    I could list more, but I’m already afraid my comment will be longer than the original post! I love reading history…

    Reply
  2. Ooh, great topic! And great excuse to pore over my LibraryThing account and list some favorites:
    THE BATTLE: A NEW HISTORY OF WATERLOO, by Alessandro Barbero. Had me turning pages, unable to put it down, no matter how many times I told myself I was being silly because it’s not like the battle was going to end differently this time!
    GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL and COLLAPSE, by Jared Diamond. Both books are on the border between science, anthropology, and history, but are brilliantly written and taught me a lot about the past.
    PERSIAN FIRE: THE FIRST WORLD EMPIRE AND THE BATTLE FOR THE WEST, by Tom Holland. Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis put in context. Much like Barbero’s Waterloo book, had me turning pages breathlessly despite knowing how it all turned out.
    THE GHOST MAP, by Steven Johnson. More science and history coming together, this time public health and epidemiology as a doctor and a minister trace the source of a cholera epidemic.
    WELLINGTON: THE YEARS OF THE SWORD, by Elizabeth Longford. (I’m cheating a little here, since it’s my current book and I’m only 1/4 of the way through it.) I opened this one with some trepidation, despite the fact Bernard Cornwell himself recommended it to me, because it’s a relatively old biography and the author is a British aristocrat related (or at least connected) to the Wellington family. So I was half-expecting to gag on rah-rah hagiography. But instead it’s a delightfully readable, personal, and somewhat snarky biography. Good stuff.
    ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, THE SLAVES, AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, by Simon Schama. Different angle on familiar events, and made Granville Sharp my new favorite 18th century figure.
    BORN FIGHTING: HOW THE SCOTS-IRISH SHAPED AMERICA, by James Webb. Another different angle on familiar events. It *is* a bit too rah-rah in its glorification of its subject matter, but I’m only human and can put up with that kind of thing when it’s my roots that are being celebrated. 🙂
    I could list more, but I’m already afraid my comment will be longer than the original post! I love reading history…

    Reply
  3. Ooh, great topic! And great excuse to pore over my LibraryThing account and list some favorites:
    THE BATTLE: A NEW HISTORY OF WATERLOO, by Alessandro Barbero. Had me turning pages, unable to put it down, no matter how many times I told myself I was being silly because it’s not like the battle was going to end differently this time!
    GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL and COLLAPSE, by Jared Diamond. Both books are on the border between science, anthropology, and history, but are brilliantly written and taught me a lot about the past.
    PERSIAN FIRE: THE FIRST WORLD EMPIRE AND THE BATTLE FOR THE WEST, by Tom Holland. Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis put in context. Much like Barbero’s Waterloo book, had me turning pages breathlessly despite knowing how it all turned out.
    THE GHOST MAP, by Steven Johnson. More science and history coming together, this time public health and epidemiology as a doctor and a minister trace the source of a cholera epidemic.
    WELLINGTON: THE YEARS OF THE SWORD, by Elizabeth Longford. (I’m cheating a little here, since it’s my current book and I’m only 1/4 of the way through it.) I opened this one with some trepidation, despite the fact Bernard Cornwell himself recommended it to me, because it’s a relatively old biography and the author is a British aristocrat related (or at least connected) to the Wellington family. So I was half-expecting to gag on rah-rah hagiography. But instead it’s a delightfully readable, personal, and somewhat snarky biography. Good stuff.
    ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, THE SLAVES, AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, by Simon Schama. Different angle on familiar events, and made Granville Sharp my new favorite 18th century figure.
    BORN FIGHTING: HOW THE SCOTS-IRISH SHAPED AMERICA, by James Webb. Another different angle on familiar events. It *is* a bit too rah-rah in its glorification of its subject matter, but I’m only human and can put up with that kind of thing when it’s my roots that are being celebrated. 🙂
    I could list more, but I’m already afraid my comment will be longer than the original post! I love reading history…

    Reply
  4. Ooh, great topic! And great excuse to pore over my LibraryThing account and list some favorites:
    THE BATTLE: A NEW HISTORY OF WATERLOO, by Alessandro Barbero. Had me turning pages, unable to put it down, no matter how many times I told myself I was being silly because it’s not like the battle was going to end differently this time!
    GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL and COLLAPSE, by Jared Diamond. Both books are on the border between science, anthropology, and history, but are brilliantly written and taught me a lot about the past.
    PERSIAN FIRE: THE FIRST WORLD EMPIRE AND THE BATTLE FOR THE WEST, by Tom Holland. Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis put in context. Much like Barbero’s Waterloo book, had me turning pages breathlessly despite knowing how it all turned out.
    THE GHOST MAP, by Steven Johnson. More science and history coming together, this time public health and epidemiology as a doctor and a minister trace the source of a cholera epidemic.
    WELLINGTON: THE YEARS OF THE SWORD, by Elizabeth Longford. (I’m cheating a little here, since it’s my current book and I’m only 1/4 of the way through it.) I opened this one with some trepidation, despite the fact Bernard Cornwell himself recommended it to me, because it’s a relatively old biography and the author is a British aristocrat related (or at least connected) to the Wellington family. So I was half-expecting to gag on rah-rah hagiography. But instead it’s a delightfully readable, personal, and somewhat snarky biography. Good stuff.
    ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, THE SLAVES, AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, by Simon Schama. Different angle on familiar events, and made Granville Sharp my new favorite 18th century figure.
    BORN FIGHTING: HOW THE SCOTS-IRISH SHAPED AMERICA, by James Webb. Another different angle on familiar events. It *is* a bit too rah-rah in its glorification of its subject matter, but I’m only human and can put up with that kind of thing when it’s my roots that are being celebrated. 🙂
    I could list more, but I’m already afraid my comment will be longer than the original post! I love reading history…

    Reply
  5. Just going on memory, there’s a series of very accessible books on the middle ages by a couple whose last name is Gies. What I love most are contemporary accounts, however. It’s been a long time, but I retain a sense of how entertaining somebody-or-other’s Life of Charlemagne (Einhard?) was. I should be at home, where I could check my bookshelves. I remember one by a monk from St. Edmundsbury (today called Bury St. Edmund), and one by a crusader. The wonderful thing about such books is that they answer questions I didn’t know enough ask, such as “How many monks share each ‘mess’ of fish?” Somehow those contemporary accounts take me there in a way no history book has ever done.

    Reply
  6. Just going on memory, there’s a series of very accessible books on the middle ages by a couple whose last name is Gies. What I love most are contemporary accounts, however. It’s been a long time, but I retain a sense of how entertaining somebody-or-other’s Life of Charlemagne (Einhard?) was. I should be at home, where I could check my bookshelves. I remember one by a monk from St. Edmundsbury (today called Bury St. Edmund), and one by a crusader. The wonderful thing about such books is that they answer questions I didn’t know enough ask, such as “How many monks share each ‘mess’ of fish?” Somehow those contemporary accounts take me there in a way no history book has ever done.

    Reply
  7. Just going on memory, there’s a series of very accessible books on the middle ages by a couple whose last name is Gies. What I love most are contemporary accounts, however. It’s been a long time, but I retain a sense of how entertaining somebody-or-other’s Life of Charlemagne (Einhard?) was. I should be at home, where I could check my bookshelves. I remember one by a monk from St. Edmundsbury (today called Bury St. Edmund), and one by a crusader. The wonderful thing about such books is that they answer questions I didn’t know enough ask, such as “How many monks share each ‘mess’ of fish?” Somehow those contemporary accounts take me there in a way no history book has ever done.

    Reply
  8. Just going on memory, there’s a series of very accessible books on the middle ages by a couple whose last name is Gies. What I love most are contemporary accounts, however. It’s been a long time, but I retain a sense of how entertaining somebody-or-other’s Life of Charlemagne (Einhard?) was. I should be at home, where I could check my bookshelves. I remember one by a monk from St. Edmundsbury (today called Bury St. Edmund), and one by a crusader. The wonderful thing about such books is that they answer questions I didn’t know enough ask, such as “How many monks share each ‘mess’ of fish?” Somehow those contemporary accounts take me there in a way no history book has ever done.

    Reply
  9. Great choices, Susan W, and I’ll have to add those to my TBR list!
    Elaine, thanks for the reminder, I have all the Gies books. They’re really wonderful at making medieval society a breeze to comprehend.
    And I have to add one to my own list, how could I forget:
    THE STEEL BONNETS by George MacDonald Fraser — the best book on the tricky, quirky, dangerous situation along the Scottish-English Border in the 16th century… and one of the most enjoyable books, history or otherwise, I’ve ever read. In places, Fraser’s wit is a hoot, though his subject makes it easy.
    One reason I love Scotland and the Scots is their natural, abiding sense of humor, evident throughout their history.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  10. Great choices, Susan W, and I’ll have to add those to my TBR list!
    Elaine, thanks for the reminder, I have all the Gies books. They’re really wonderful at making medieval society a breeze to comprehend.
    And I have to add one to my own list, how could I forget:
    THE STEEL BONNETS by George MacDonald Fraser — the best book on the tricky, quirky, dangerous situation along the Scottish-English Border in the 16th century… and one of the most enjoyable books, history or otherwise, I’ve ever read. In places, Fraser’s wit is a hoot, though his subject makes it easy.
    One reason I love Scotland and the Scots is their natural, abiding sense of humor, evident throughout their history.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  11. Great choices, Susan W, and I’ll have to add those to my TBR list!
    Elaine, thanks for the reminder, I have all the Gies books. They’re really wonderful at making medieval society a breeze to comprehend.
    And I have to add one to my own list, how could I forget:
    THE STEEL BONNETS by George MacDonald Fraser — the best book on the tricky, quirky, dangerous situation along the Scottish-English Border in the 16th century… and one of the most enjoyable books, history or otherwise, I’ve ever read. In places, Fraser’s wit is a hoot, though his subject makes it easy.
    One reason I love Scotland and the Scots is their natural, abiding sense of humor, evident throughout their history.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  12. Great choices, Susan W, and I’ll have to add those to my TBR list!
    Elaine, thanks for the reminder, I have all the Gies books. They’re really wonderful at making medieval society a breeze to comprehend.
    And I have to add one to my own list, how could I forget:
    THE STEEL BONNETS by George MacDonald Fraser — the best book on the tricky, quirky, dangerous situation along the Scottish-English Border in the 16th century… and one of the most enjoyable books, history or otherwise, I’ve ever read. In places, Fraser’s wit is a hoot, though his subject makes it easy.
    One reason I love Scotland and the Scots is their natural, abiding sense of humor, evident throughout their history.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  13. A topic like this for historical writers is like cocaine for actors! I’ll ditto Thomas Costain’s four book Plantagenet series–great reads, and they’re the source of most of what I know about those centuries of history. (Yes, I know they’re not impeccably accurate, but he told a great tale.) Ditto the recommendation of Elizabeth Longford’s THE YEARS OF THE SWORD.
    I have a weakness for John Keegan’s military history. He writes like a dream, and really makes military history come alive. His THE FACE OF BATTLE compares what it was like to fight at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme, showing how the experience of battle changed. (His Waterloo section was a prime source of my Waterloo book, SHATTERED RAINBOWS.)
    Also in the military history camp, Byron Farwell wrote some cool books about the Victorian army: QUEEN VICTORIA’S LITTLE WARS, ARMIES OF THE RAJ, and MR. KIPLING’S ARMY. Great research for several of my books (and how did I end up with two copies of Mr. Kipling’s Army???)
    More recently, Adam Hochschild’s brilliant BURY THE CHAINS, about the 18th Century British abolition movement, is what got me interested in writing my next book, A DISTANT MAGIC. He’s a fabulous writer (the book was a National Book Award finalist), and he makes a very complex subject comprehensible.
    So many books, so little time…
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  14. A topic like this for historical writers is like cocaine for actors! I’ll ditto Thomas Costain’s four book Plantagenet series–great reads, and they’re the source of most of what I know about those centuries of history. (Yes, I know they’re not impeccably accurate, but he told a great tale.) Ditto the recommendation of Elizabeth Longford’s THE YEARS OF THE SWORD.
    I have a weakness for John Keegan’s military history. He writes like a dream, and really makes military history come alive. His THE FACE OF BATTLE compares what it was like to fight at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme, showing how the experience of battle changed. (His Waterloo section was a prime source of my Waterloo book, SHATTERED RAINBOWS.)
    Also in the military history camp, Byron Farwell wrote some cool books about the Victorian army: QUEEN VICTORIA’S LITTLE WARS, ARMIES OF THE RAJ, and MR. KIPLING’S ARMY. Great research for several of my books (and how did I end up with two copies of Mr. Kipling’s Army???)
    More recently, Adam Hochschild’s brilliant BURY THE CHAINS, about the 18th Century British abolition movement, is what got me interested in writing my next book, A DISTANT MAGIC. He’s a fabulous writer (the book was a National Book Award finalist), and he makes a very complex subject comprehensible.
    So many books, so little time…
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  15. A topic like this for historical writers is like cocaine for actors! I’ll ditto Thomas Costain’s four book Plantagenet series–great reads, and they’re the source of most of what I know about those centuries of history. (Yes, I know they’re not impeccably accurate, but he told a great tale.) Ditto the recommendation of Elizabeth Longford’s THE YEARS OF THE SWORD.
    I have a weakness for John Keegan’s military history. He writes like a dream, and really makes military history come alive. His THE FACE OF BATTLE compares what it was like to fight at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme, showing how the experience of battle changed. (His Waterloo section was a prime source of my Waterloo book, SHATTERED RAINBOWS.)
    Also in the military history camp, Byron Farwell wrote some cool books about the Victorian army: QUEEN VICTORIA’S LITTLE WARS, ARMIES OF THE RAJ, and MR. KIPLING’S ARMY. Great research for several of my books (and how did I end up with two copies of Mr. Kipling’s Army???)
    More recently, Adam Hochschild’s brilliant BURY THE CHAINS, about the 18th Century British abolition movement, is what got me interested in writing my next book, A DISTANT MAGIC. He’s a fabulous writer (the book was a National Book Award finalist), and he makes a very complex subject comprehensible.
    So many books, so little time…
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  16. A topic like this for historical writers is like cocaine for actors! I’ll ditto Thomas Costain’s four book Plantagenet series–great reads, and they’re the source of most of what I know about those centuries of history. (Yes, I know they’re not impeccably accurate, but he told a great tale.) Ditto the recommendation of Elizabeth Longford’s THE YEARS OF THE SWORD.
    I have a weakness for John Keegan’s military history. He writes like a dream, and really makes military history come alive. His THE FACE OF BATTLE compares what it was like to fight at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme, showing how the experience of battle changed. (His Waterloo section was a prime source of my Waterloo book, SHATTERED RAINBOWS.)
    Also in the military history camp, Byron Farwell wrote some cool books about the Victorian army: QUEEN VICTORIA’S LITTLE WARS, ARMIES OF THE RAJ, and MR. KIPLING’S ARMY. Great research for several of my books (and how did I end up with two copies of Mr. Kipling’s Army???)
    More recently, Adam Hochschild’s brilliant BURY THE CHAINS, about the 18th Century British abolition movement, is what got me interested in writing my next book, A DISTANT MAGIC. He’s a fabulous writer (the book was a National Book Award finalist), and he makes a very complex subject comprehensible.
    So many books, so little time…
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  17. I can’t believe no on has mentioned Sharon Kay Penman yet. Man I love her books!!! I love that she really gets both sides and shows that they’re all just people.
    And if you haven’t read Ian Kelly’s Brummell bio, buy it NOW!
    I just finished BLACK LONDON, all about free blacks, slavery and abolition in 18th century England, and it was amazing! Lots of fodder for the book I’ve been tinkering with . . .

    Reply
  18. I can’t believe no on has mentioned Sharon Kay Penman yet. Man I love her books!!! I love that she really gets both sides and shows that they’re all just people.
    And if you haven’t read Ian Kelly’s Brummell bio, buy it NOW!
    I just finished BLACK LONDON, all about free blacks, slavery and abolition in 18th century England, and it was amazing! Lots of fodder for the book I’ve been tinkering with . . .

    Reply
  19. I can’t believe no on has mentioned Sharon Kay Penman yet. Man I love her books!!! I love that she really gets both sides and shows that they’re all just people.
    And if you haven’t read Ian Kelly’s Brummell bio, buy it NOW!
    I just finished BLACK LONDON, all about free blacks, slavery and abolition in 18th century England, and it was amazing! Lots of fodder for the book I’ve been tinkering with . . .

    Reply
  20. I can’t believe no on has mentioned Sharon Kay Penman yet. Man I love her books!!! I love that she really gets both sides and shows that they’re all just people.
    And if you haven’t read Ian Kelly’s Brummell bio, buy it NOW!
    I just finished BLACK LONDON, all about free blacks, slavery and abolition in 18th century England, and it was amazing! Lots of fodder for the book I’ve been tinkering with . . .

    Reply
  21. Two of my favorites are Prince of Pleasure by Saul David and Queens of England by Norah Lofts, which is in pretty ratty condition due to frequent use.

    Reply
  22. Two of my favorites are Prince of Pleasure by Saul David and Queens of England by Norah Lofts, which is in pretty ratty condition due to frequent use.

    Reply
  23. Two of my favorites are Prince of Pleasure by Saul David and Queens of England by Norah Lofts, which is in pretty ratty condition due to frequent use.

    Reply
  24. Two of my favorites are Prince of Pleasure by Saul David and Queens of England by Norah Lofts, which is in pretty ratty condition due to frequent use.

    Reply
  25. REDCOATS AND REBELS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTON THROUGH BRITISH EYES by Christopher Hibbert. Fascinating read including excerpts from many personal accounts. I love to look at things from another perspective.
    Speaking of another perspective… I’m looking for a book (preferably a personal journal) that tells the story of Waterloo from a Prussian’s perspective. Suggestions, anyone?

    Reply
  26. REDCOATS AND REBELS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTON THROUGH BRITISH EYES by Christopher Hibbert. Fascinating read including excerpts from many personal accounts. I love to look at things from another perspective.
    Speaking of another perspective… I’m looking for a book (preferably a personal journal) that tells the story of Waterloo from a Prussian’s perspective. Suggestions, anyone?

    Reply
  27. REDCOATS AND REBELS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTON THROUGH BRITISH EYES by Christopher Hibbert. Fascinating read including excerpts from many personal accounts. I love to look at things from another perspective.
    Speaking of another perspective… I’m looking for a book (preferably a personal journal) that tells the story of Waterloo from a Prussian’s perspective. Suggestions, anyone?

    Reply
  28. REDCOATS AND REBELS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTON THROUGH BRITISH EYES by Christopher Hibbert. Fascinating read including excerpts from many personal accounts. I love to look at things from another perspective.
    Speaking of another perspective… I’m looking for a book (preferably a personal journal) that tells the story of Waterloo from a Prussian’s perspective. Suggestions, anyone?

    Reply
  29. LOL, Mary Jo — history resources are incredibly addictive for historical writers, absolutely!
    To all who’ve mentioned the Waterloo books ~ I haven’t read a lot on the Waterloo campaign and I’ve always meant to read more, and these are some great suggestions. I look forward to finding some of them (and time to read them as well!). Thanks!
    Kalen, I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles, yet you’re so right, she’s wonderful, and in a class by herself for historical fiction.
    Norah Lofts is another who wrote some nonfiction with a fiction writer’s pen, and Christopher Hibbert is another of the great names among nonfiction historical writers. I loved his book on the Hundred Years’ War.
    Great suggestions ~ thanks!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  30. LOL, Mary Jo — history resources are incredibly addictive for historical writers, absolutely!
    To all who’ve mentioned the Waterloo books ~ I haven’t read a lot on the Waterloo campaign and I’ve always meant to read more, and these are some great suggestions. I look forward to finding some of them (and time to read them as well!). Thanks!
    Kalen, I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles, yet you’re so right, she’s wonderful, and in a class by herself for historical fiction.
    Norah Lofts is another who wrote some nonfiction with a fiction writer’s pen, and Christopher Hibbert is another of the great names among nonfiction historical writers. I loved his book on the Hundred Years’ War.
    Great suggestions ~ thanks!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  31. LOL, Mary Jo — history resources are incredibly addictive for historical writers, absolutely!
    To all who’ve mentioned the Waterloo books ~ I haven’t read a lot on the Waterloo campaign and I’ve always meant to read more, and these are some great suggestions. I look forward to finding some of them (and time to read them as well!). Thanks!
    Kalen, I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles, yet you’re so right, she’s wonderful, and in a class by herself for historical fiction.
    Norah Lofts is another who wrote some nonfiction with a fiction writer’s pen, and Christopher Hibbert is another of the great names among nonfiction historical writers. I loved his book on the Hundred Years’ War.
    Great suggestions ~ thanks!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  32. LOL, Mary Jo — history resources are incredibly addictive for historical writers, absolutely!
    To all who’ve mentioned the Waterloo books ~ I haven’t read a lot on the Waterloo campaign and I’ve always meant to read more, and these are some great suggestions. I look forward to finding some of them (and time to read them as well!). Thanks!
    Kalen, I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles, yet you’re so right, she’s wonderful, and in a class by herself for historical fiction.
    Norah Lofts is another who wrote some nonfiction with a fiction writer’s pen, and Christopher Hibbert is another of the great names among nonfiction historical writers. I loved his book on the Hundred Years’ War.
    Great suggestions ~ thanks!
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  33. You have got to read The Greatest Traitor, about Roger Mortimer; author is Ian Mortimer (no relation). Impeccably researched and brilliantly written, it has enough suspense to fool you into thinking it’s fiction.
    BTW, I love Sharon Kay Penman–but she writes fiction, not non-fiction.

    Reply
  34. You have got to read The Greatest Traitor, about Roger Mortimer; author is Ian Mortimer (no relation). Impeccably researched and brilliantly written, it has enough suspense to fool you into thinking it’s fiction.
    BTW, I love Sharon Kay Penman–but she writes fiction, not non-fiction.

    Reply
  35. You have got to read The Greatest Traitor, about Roger Mortimer; author is Ian Mortimer (no relation). Impeccably researched and brilliantly written, it has enough suspense to fool you into thinking it’s fiction.
    BTW, I love Sharon Kay Penman–but she writes fiction, not non-fiction.

    Reply
  36. You have got to read The Greatest Traitor, about Roger Mortimer; author is Ian Mortimer (no relation). Impeccably researched and brilliantly written, it has enough suspense to fool you into thinking it’s fiction.
    BTW, I love Sharon Kay Penman–but she writes fiction, not non-fiction.

    Reply
  37. Ditto to Hibbert. I loved The Days of the French Revolution.
    A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester. Highly entertaining. I wish we’d gotten to read him in school. Kids would actually remember his version of history.
    Um… Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.
    And many more…

    Reply
  38. Ditto to Hibbert. I loved The Days of the French Revolution.
    A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester. Highly entertaining. I wish we’d gotten to read him in school. Kids would actually remember his version of history.
    Um… Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.
    And many more…

    Reply
  39. Ditto to Hibbert. I loved The Days of the French Revolution.
    A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester. Highly entertaining. I wish we’d gotten to read him in school. Kids would actually remember his version of history.
    Um… Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.
    And many more…

    Reply
  40. Ditto to Hibbert. I loved The Days of the French Revolution.
    A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester. Highly entertaining. I wish we’d gotten to read him in school. Kids would actually remember his version of history.
    Um… Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.
    And many more…

    Reply
  41. What about John Prebble’s books on Scottish history? I sobbed all the way through The Highland Clearances. And Cullodden….
    People in the US might have read Prebble’s The Buffalo Soldiers. There are others. I haven’t read any except the Scottish ones.

    Reply
  42. What about John Prebble’s books on Scottish history? I sobbed all the way through The Highland Clearances. And Cullodden….
    People in the US might have read Prebble’s The Buffalo Soldiers. There are others. I haven’t read any except the Scottish ones.

    Reply
  43. What about John Prebble’s books on Scottish history? I sobbed all the way through The Highland Clearances. And Cullodden….
    People in the US might have read Prebble’s The Buffalo Soldiers. There are others. I haven’t read any except the Scottish ones.

    Reply
  44. What about John Prebble’s books on Scottish history? I sobbed all the way through The Highland Clearances. And Cullodden….
    People in the US might have read Prebble’s The Buffalo Soldiers. There are others. I haven’t read any except the Scottish ones.

    Reply
  45. I’ve found “The Regency Companion” by Laudermilk and Hamlin and “The Regency Reference Book” by Emily Hendrickson to be enjoyable and invaluable.
    I second the following suggestions, because they’re high on my list of readable historical nonfiction:
    Susan: Carolly Erickson’s books
    Elaine: All books by the Gies couple, including the picture books.
    SusanW: “Guns” by Jared Diamond
    Kalen: Ian Kelly’s books

    Reply
  46. I’ve found “The Regency Companion” by Laudermilk and Hamlin and “The Regency Reference Book” by Emily Hendrickson to be enjoyable and invaluable.
    I second the following suggestions, because they’re high on my list of readable historical nonfiction:
    Susan: Carolly Erickson’s books
    Elaine: All books by the Gies couple, including the picture books.
    SusanW: “Guns” by Jared Diamond
    Kalen: Ian Kelly’s books

    Reply
  47. I’ve found “The Regency Companion” by Laudermilk and Hamlin and “The Regency Reference Book” by Emily Hendrickson to be enjoyable and invaluable.
    I second the following suggestions, because they’re high on my list of readable historical nonfiction:
    Susan: Carolly Erickson’s books
    Elaine: All books by the Gies couple, including the picture books.
    SusanW: “Guns” by Jared Diamond
    Kalen: Ian Kelly’s books

    Reply
  48. I’ve found “The Regency Companion” by Laudermilk and Hamlin and “The Regency Reference Book” by Emily Hendrickson to be enjoyable and invaluable.
    I second the following suggestions, because they’re high on my list of readable historical nonfiction:
    Susan: Carolly Erickson’s books
    Elaine: All books by the Gies couple, including the picture books.
    SusanW: “Guns” by Jared Diamond
    Kalen: Ian Kelly’s books

    Reply
  49. The lists are already long, and because my contributions deal, on the whole, with much earlier periods of history, I won’t add to them here.
    I did, however, want to thank Susan/Sarah most warmly for raising this topic, and thereby making the point that non-fiction writing (in this case, on historical topics) can be as readable, exciting and enjoyable as fiction. Like many other writers of non-fiction, I see it as a central objective to try to make my work interesting and readable, and I have often been hurt and offended by generalised, thoughtless sneers about ‘academic writing’, based on an assumption that anyone with a doctorate and in an academic job can’t possibly write interesting prose.
    There is good and bad writing in every genre, fiction and non-fiction alike; if a text is boring, muddled, overblown and heavy as lead, it is bad, even if it is a romantic novel: if it is sparkling, clear and full of enthusiasm and lively insights, it is good, even if it is a study of flint-knapping technology in late Palaeolithic Kent.
    Thank you, all of you here who know that non-fiction can be great reading!
    😀

    Reply
  50. The lists are already long, and because my contributions deal, on the whole, with much earlier periods of history, I won’t add to them here.
    I did, however, want to thank Susan/Sarah most warmly for raising this topic, and thereby making the point that non-fiction writing (in this case, on historical topics) can be as readable, exciting and enjoyable as fiction. Like many other writers of non-fiction, I see it as a central objective to try to make my work interesting and readable, and I have often been hurt and offended by generalised, thoughtless sneers about ‘academic writing’, based on an assumption that anyone with a doctorate and in an academic job can’t possibly write interesting prose.
    There is good and bad writing in every genre, fiction and non-fiction alike; if a text is boring, muddled, overblown and heavy as lead, it is bad, even if it is a romantic novel: if it is sparkling, clear and full of enthusiasm and lively insights, it is good, even if it is a study of flint-knapping technology in late Palaeolithic Kent.
    Thank you, all of you here who know that non-fiction can be great reading!
    😀

    Reply
  51. The lists are already long, and because my contributions deal, on the whole, with much earlier periods of history, I won’t add to them here.
    I did, however, want to thank Susan/Sarah most warmly for raising this topic, and thereby making the point that non-fiction writing (in this case, on historical topics) can be as readable, exciting and enjoyable as fiction. Like many other writers of non-fiction, I see it as a central objective to try to make my work interesting and readable, and I have often been hurt and offended by generalised, thoughtless sneers about ‘academic writing’, based on an assumption that anyone with a doctorate and in an academic job can’t possibly write interesting prose.
    There is good and bad writing in every genre, fiction and non-fiction alike; if a text is boring, muddled, overblown and heavy as lead, it is bad, even if it is a romantic novel: if it is sparkling, clear and full of enthusiasm and lively insights, it is good, even if it is a study of flint-knapping technology in late Palaeolithic Kent.
    Thank you, all of you here who know that non-fiction can be great reading!
    😀

    Reply
  52. The lists are already long, and because my contributions deal, on the whole, with much earlier periods of history, I won’t add to them here.
    I did, however, want to thank Susan/Sarah most warmly for raising this topic, and thereby making the point that non-fiction writing (in this case, on historical topics) can be as readable, exciting and enjoyable as fiction. Like many other writers of non-fiction, I see it as a central objective to try to make my work interesting and readable, and I have often been hurt and offended by generalised, thoughtless sneers about ‘academic writing’, based on an assumption that anyone with a doctorate and in an academic job can’t possibly write interesting prose.
    There is good and bad writing in every genre, fiction and non-fiction alike; if a text is boring, muddled, overblown and heavy as lead, it is bad, even if it is a romantic novel: if it is sparkling, clear and full of enthusiasm and lively insights, it is good, even if it is a study of flint-knapping technology in late Palaeolithic Kent.
    Thank you, all of you here who know that non-fiction can be great reading!
    😀

    Reply
  53. I also appreciate the works of William Manchester. He wrote a biography of Winston Churchill’s early life that was riveting. I waited a long time for Churchill, the war years but never saw it. Perhaps the amount of primary material was so great he couldn’t get it tamed into a coherent story. I may be wrong, but I think he died before he could finish.

    Reply
  54. I also appreciate the works of William Manchester. He wrote a biography of Winston Churchill’s early life that was riveting. I waited a long time for Churchill, the war years but never saw it. Perhaps the amount of primary material was so great he couldn’t get it tamed into a coherent story. I may be wrong, but I think he died before he could finish.

    Reply
  55. I also appreciate the works of William Manchester. He wrote a biography of Winston Churchill’s early life that was riveting. I waited a long time for Churchill, the war years but never saw it. Perhaps the amount of primary material was so great he couldn’t get it tamed into a coherent story. I may be wrong, but I think he died before he could finish.

    Reply
  56. I also appreciate the works of William Manchester. He wrote a biography of Winston Churchill’s early life that was riveting. I waited a long time for Churchill, the war years but never saw it. Perhaps the amount of primary material was so great he couldn’t get it tamed into a coherent story. I may be wrong, but I think he died before he could finish.

    Reply
  57. Good history is a great read, no matter what the century or subject. Most of my history reading of late has been American history. Here are some of my “keepers”–ate them up like candy:
    “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” by Jay Winik
    “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg
    “The Fifties” by David Halberstam
    “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose
    “Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey” by Lillian Schlissel
    “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” by Joseph J. Ellis

    Reply
  58. Good history is a great read, no matter what the century or subject. Most of my history reading of late has been American history. Here are some of my “keepers”–ate them up like candy:
    “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” by Jay Winik
    “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg
    “The Fifties” by David Halberstam
    “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose
    “Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey” by Lillian Schlissel
    “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” by Joseph J. Ellis

    Reply
  59. Good history is a great read, no matter what the century or subject. Most of my history reading of late has been American history. Here are some of my “keepers”–ate them up like candy:
    “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” by Jay Winik
    “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg
    “The Fifties” by David Halberstam
    “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose
    “Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey” by Lillian Schlissel
    “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” by Joseph J. Ellis

    Reply
  60. Good history is a great read, no matter what the century or subject. Most of my history reading of late has been American history. Here are some of my “keepers”–ate them up like candy:
    “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” by Jay Winik
    “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg
    “The Fifties” by David Halberstam
    “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose
    “Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey” by Lillian Schlissel
    “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” by Joseph J. Ellis

    Reply
  61. “I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles,”
    Oh! I thought a couple of the titles mentioned were historical fiction. Whoops!
    IMO you can’t beat THE RISE OF THE EGLAITATIN FAMILY by Trumbach if you’re writing 18th or early 19th century set books.

    Reply
  62. “I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles,”
    Oh! I thought a couple of the titles mentioned were historical fiction. Whoops!
    IMO you can’t beat THE RISE OF THE EGLAITATIN FAMILY by Trumbach if you’re writing 18th or early 19th century set books.

    Reply
  63. “I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles,”
    Oh! I thought a couple of the titles mentioned were historical fiction. Whoops!
    IMO you can’t beat THE RISE OF THE EGLAITATIN FAMILY by Trumbach if you’re writing 18th or early 19th century set books.

    Reply
  64. “I think we haven’t mentioned Sharon Kay Penman because we’re looking at nonfiction titles,”
    Oh! I thought a couple of the titles mentioned were historical fiction. Whoops!
    IMO you can’t beat THE RISE OF THE EGLAITATIN FAMILY by Trumbach if you’re writing 18th or early 19th century set books.

    Reply
  65. Well, most of my nonfiction are science books, so I’ll skip those LOL . . . and whatever little bit is left is more modern politics, but two books I have (one is a photocopy of a book from the college library — gave up waiting for them to give it away! LOL) about history I like are both biographies of Hatshepsut (lady pharaoh of Egypt). The photocopy edition is maybe from 1969, give or take, and the other is a heck of a lot more recent, maybe the 90s.
    Now if you want physics/astronomy/related books. . . I can go on for the rest of the month with a list. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  66. Well, most of my nonfiction are science books, so I’ll skip those LOL . . . and whatever little bit is left is more modern politics, but two books I have (one is a photocopy of a book from the college library — gave up waiting for them to give it away! LOL) about history I like are both biographies of Hatshepsut (lady pharaoh of Egypt). The photocopy edition is maybe from 1969, give or take, and the other is a heck of a lot more recent, maybe the 90s.
    Now if you want physics/astronomy/related books. . . I can go on for the rest of the month with a list. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  67. Well, most of my nonfiction are science books, so I’ll skip those LOL . . . and whatever little bit is left is more modern politics, but two books I have (one is a photocopy of a book from the college library — gave up waiting for them to give it away! LOL) about history I like are both biographies of Hatshepsut (lady pharaoh of Egypt). The photocopy edition is maybe from 1969, give or take, and the other is a heck of a lot more recent, maybe the 90s.
    Now if you want physics/astronomy/related books. . . I can go on for the rest of the month with a list. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  68. Well, most of my nonfiction are science books, so I’ll skip those LOL . . . and whatever little bit is left is more modern politics, but two books I have (one is a photocopy of a book from the college library — gave up waiting for them to give it away! LOL) about history I like are both biographies of Hatshepsut (lady pharaoh of Egypt). The photocopy edition is maybe from 1969, give or take, and the other is a heck of a lot more recent, maybe the 90s.
    Now if you want physics/astronomy/related books. . . I can go on for the rest of the month with a list. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  69. Oh, PS — I didn’t put the authors of those two books down because I don’t have them in front of me. Sorry ’bout that. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  70. Oh, PS — I didn’t put the authors of those two books down because I don’t have them in front of me. Sorry ’bout that. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  71. Oh, PS — I didn’t put the authors of those two books down because I don’t have them in front of me. Sorry ’bout that. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  72. Oh, PS — I didn’t put the authors of those two books down because I don’t have them in front of me. Sorry ’bout that. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  73. Oh, so many lovely books!! 😀
    Barbara, I agree on the World Lit Only By Fire, a wonderful book. A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman is another masterpiece!
    Anne, of course! John Prebble! His book on Culloden is masterful history, and he brings out the heartbreak in that story.
    Keira, I love Emily Hendrickson’s Regency Companion — invaluable, and such a nice author too!
    AgTigress, thank you for the thumbs-up, and I, for one, would love to hear some of your favorite nonfiction historical reads! I love the ancient subjects, and Roman Britain is a particular weakness of mine. I almost majored in archaeology in grad school, though ended up in medieval.
    Kathy, I haven’t read Manchester’s work on Churchill, but I’ll bet it was brilliant.
    What a great American list, Melinda! Check out Anderson’s Crucible of War, if you’re interested in pre-Revolutionary America, it’s riveting, the sort of read that barrels along.
    Lois, got any favorite titles on history of science/physics? My son’s a doc and his fiance is a biochemist/biophysicist (yeah, both) so I could find some birthday gifts that they would both understand…. *g*
    ~Susan Sarah, drooling over these great lists!

    Reply
  74. Oh, so many lovely books!! 😀
    Barbara, I agree on the World Lit Only By Fire, a wonderful book. A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman is another masterpiece!
    Anne, of course! John Prebble! His book on Culloden is masterful history, and he brings out the heartbreak in that story.
    Keira, I love Emily Hendrickson’s Regency Companion — invaluable, and such a nice author too!
    AgTigress, thank you for the thumbs-up, and I, for one, would love to hear some of your favorite nonfiction historical reads! I love the ancient subjects, and Roman Britain is a particular weakness of mine. I almost majored in archaeology in grad school, though ended up in medieval.
    Kathy, I haven’t read Manchester’s work on Churchill, but I’ll bet it was brilliant.
    What a great American list, Melinda! Check out Anderson’s Crucible of War, if you’re interested in pre-Revolutionary America, it’s riveting, the sort of read that barrels along.
    Lois, got any favorite titles on history of science/physics? My son’s a doc and his fiance is a biochemist/biophysicist (yeah, both) so I could find some birthday gifts that they would both understand…. *g*
    ~Susan Sarah, drooling over these great lists!

    Reply
  75. Oh, so many lovely books!! 😀
    Barbara, I agree on the World Lit Only By Fire, a wonderful book. A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman is another masterpiece!
    Anne, of course! John Prebble! His book on Culloden is masterful history, and he brings out the heartbreak in that story.
    Keira, I love Emily Hendrickson’s Regency Companion — invaluable, and such a nice author too!
    AgTigress, thank you for the thumbs-up, and I, for one, would love to hear some of your favorite nonfiction historical reads! I love the ancient subjects, and Roman Britain is a particular weakness of mine. I almost majored in archaeology in grad school, though ended up in medieval.
    Kathy, I haven’t read Manchester’s work on Churchill, but I’ll bet it was brilliant.
    What a great American list, Melinda! Check out Anderson’s Crucible of War, if you’re interested in pre-Revolutionary America, it’s riveting, the sort of read that barrels along.
    Lois, got any favorite titles on history of science/physics? My son’s a doc and his fiance is a biochemist/biophysicist (yeah, both) so I could find some birthday gifts that they would both understand…. *g*
    ~Susan Sarah, drooling over these great lists!

    Reply
  76. Oh, so many lovely books!! 😀
    Barbara, I agree on the World Lit Only By Fire, a wonderful book. A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman is another masterpiece!
    Anne, of course! John Prebble! His book on Culloden is masterful history, and he brings out the heartbreak in that story.
    Keira, I love Emily Hendrickson’s Regency Companion — invaluable, and such a nice author too!
    AgTigress, thank you for the thumbs-up, and I, for one, would love to hear some of your favorite nonfiction historical reads! I love the ancient subjects, and Roman Britain is a particular weakness of mine. I almost majored in archaeology in grad school, though ended up in medieval.
    Kathy, I haven’t read Manchester’s work on Churchill, but I’ll bet it was brilliant.
    What a great American list, Melinda! Check out Anderson’s Crucible of War, if you’re interested in pre-Revolutionary America, it’s riveting, the sort of read that barrels along.
    Lois, got any favorite titles on history of science/physics? My son’s a doc and his fiance is a biochemist/biophysicist (yeah, both) so I could find some birthday gifts that they would both understand…. *g*
    ~Susan Sarah, drooling over these great lists!

    Reply
  77. Lois: the more recent biography you mention of Hatshepsut, the 18th-Dynasty ruler, is probably *Hatchepsut: the Female Pharoah*, by Joyce Tyldesley (London 1996).
    I don’t know of an earlier biography in English, though there is a French one from 1979, by S. Ratie, *La Reine Hatchepsout; sources et problemes* (sorry, can’t do accents here).
    There are, of course, many other works on the period, and on the subject of women in ancient Egypt, which deal with her kingship.
    (NB, variant spellings of ancient Egyptian names are normal. 😉 )

    Reply
  78. Lois: the more recent biography you mention of Hatshepsut, the 18th-Dynasty ruler, is probably *Hatchepsut: the Female Pharoah*, by Joyce Tyldesley (London 1996).
    I don’t know of an earlier biography in English, though there is a French one from 1979, by S. Ratie, *La Reine Hatchepsout; sources et problemes* (sorry, can’t do accents here).
    There are, of course, many other works on the period, and on the subject of women in ancient Egypt, which deal with her kingship.
    (NB, variant spellings of ancient Egyptian names are normal. 😉 )

    Reply
  79. Lois: the more recent biography you mention of Hatshepsut, the 18th-Dynasty ruler, is probably *Hatchepsut: the Female Pharoah*, by Joyce Tyldesley (London 1996).
    I don’t know of an earlier biography in English, though there is a French one from 1979, by S. Ratie, *La Reine Hatchepsout; sources et problemes* (sorry, can’t do accents here).
    There are, of course, many other works on the period, and on the subject of women in ancient Egypt, which deal with her kingship.
    (NB, variant spellings of ancient Egyptian names are normal. 😉 )

    Reply
  80. Lois: the more recent biography you mention of Hatshepsut, the 18th-Dynasty ruler, is probably *Hatchepsut: the Female Pharoah*, by Joyce Tyldesley (London 1996).
    I don’t know of an earlier biography in English, though there is a French one from 1979, by S. Ratie, *La Reine Hatchepsout; sources et problemes* (sorry, can’t do accents here).
    There are, of course, many other works on the period, and on the subject of women in ancient Egypt, which deal with her kingship.
    (NB, variant spellings of ancient Egyptian names are normal. 😉 )

    Reply
  81. I guess I don’t read much history, and when I have, it has tended to be history of radical movements or feminism.
    It’s worth mentioning a pamphlet which came out years ago called “Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers” by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English.
    Also Emma Goldman’s autobiography “Living My Life” I found completely fascinating when I read it, which I must confess, was years ago. Kirpatrick Sale’s book on SDS is dense with information, yet reads interestingly. Except for the pamphlet, I don’t think the above discuss periods likely to be used in romances, however. i keep thinking I ought to come up with something I’ve read more recently, but——
    Merry

    Reply
  82. I guess I don’t read much history, and when I have, it has tended to be history of radical movements or feminism.
    It’s worth mentioning a pamphlet which came out years ago called “Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers” by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English.
    Also Emma Goldman’s autobiography “Living My Life” I found completely fascinating when I read it, which I must confess, was years ago. Kirpatrick Sale’s book on SDS is dense with information, yet reads interestingly. Except for the pamphlet, I don’t think the above discuss periods likely to be used in romances, however. i keep thinking I ought to come up with something I’ve read more recently, but——
    Merry

    Reply
  83. I guess I don’t read much history, and when I have, it has tended to be history of radical movements or feminism.
    It’s worth mentioning a pamphlet which came out years ago called “Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers” by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English.
    Also Emma Goldman’s autobiography “Living My Life” I found completely fascinating when I read it, which I must confess, was years ago. Kirpatrick Sale’s book on SDS is dense with information, yet reads interestingly. Except for the pamphlet, I don’t think the above discuss periods likely to be used in romances, however. i keep thinking I ought to come up with something I’ve read more recently, but——
    Merry

    Reply
  84. I guess I don’t read much history, and when I have, it has tended to be history of radical movements or feminism.
    It’s worth mentioning a pamphlet which came out years ago called “Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers” by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English.
    Also Emma Goldman’s autobiography “Living My Life” I found completely fascinating when I read it, which I must confess, was years ago. Kirpatrick Sale’s book on SDS is dense with information, yet reads interestingly. Except for the pamphlet, I don’t think the above discuss periods likely to be used in romances, however. i keep thinking I ought to come up with something I’ve read more recently, but——
    Merry

    Reply
  85. I used to love reading biographies of historical figures and ones I particularly liked were by Nancy Mitford of Love in a Cold Climate fame. She wrote biographies of Frederick the Great, Madame de Pompadour and my favorite The Sun King about Louis XIV. She had a great knack of brining the era alive.

    Reply
  86. I used to love reading biographies of historical figures and ones I particularly liked were by Nancy Mitford of Love in a Cold Climate fame. She wrote biographies of Frederick the Great, Madame de Pompadour and my favorite The Sun King about Louis XIV. She had a great knack of brining the era alive.

    Reply
  87. I used to love reading biographies of historical figures and ones I particularly liked were by Nancy Mitford of Love in a Cold Climate fame. She wrote biographies of Frederick the Great, Madame de Pompadour and my favorite The Sun King about Louis XIV. She had a great knack of brining the era alive.

    Reply
  88. I used to love reading biographies of historical figures and ones I particularly liked were by Nancy Mitford of Love in a Cold Climate fame. She wrote biographies of Frederick the Great, Madame de Pompadour and my favorite The Sun King about Louis XIV. She had a great knack of brining the era alive.

    Reply
  89. I found some great suggestions here! I love non-fiction, mostly on historical subjects but I can be side-tracked. Just recently I ended up buying “Life and Death in Eden” by Trevor Lummis, for example, an account of what happened to the mutineers of the Bounty – not my usual topic, but a great read!
    Favourites include:
    The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser, about woman’s life in 16th century Britain.
    Mauve: How one man invented a colour that changed the world by Simon Garfield. I love stuff about such details!
    Tulipomania: The story of the world’s most coveted flower and the extraordinary passions it aroused by Mike Dash. Tulips, 17th century speculation – this book is fun as well as interesting.
    David Bodanis: E=mc2. The biography of the world’s most famous equation. I am not very interested in physics, but this book really pullded me in. Bodanis follows the lives and discoveries of all those physicists who worked towards Einstein’s ultimate discovery. there is a kind of spin-off, about 18th century physicist Mme Chatelet (who was Voltaire’s lover) but I haven’t read that one yet.
    Many more, but those should do for now. Thanx for all the suggestions!

    Reply
  90. I found some great suggestions here! I love non-fiction, mostly on historical subjects but I can be side-tracked. Just recently I ended up buying “Life and Death in Eden” by Trevor Lummis, for example, an account of what happened to the mutineers of the Bounty – not my usual topic, but a great read!
    Favourites include:
    The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser, about woman’s life in 16th century Britain.
    Mauve: How one man invented a colour that changed the world by Simon Garfield. I love stuff about such details!
    Tulipomania: The story of the world’s most coveted flower and the extraordinary passions it aroused by Mike Dash. Tulips, 17th century speculation – this book is fun as well as interesting.
    David Bodanis: E=mc2. The biography of the world’s most famous equation. I am not very interested in physics, but this book really pullded me in. Bodanis follows the lives and discoveries of all those physicists who worked towards Einstein’s ultimate discovery. there is a kind of spin-off, about 18th century physicist Mme Chatelet (who was Voltaire’s lover) but I haven’t read that one yet.
    Many more, but those should do for now. Thanx for all the suggestions!

    Reply
  91. I found some great suggestions here! I love non-fiction, mostly on historical subjects but I can be side-tracked. Just recently I ended up buying “Life and Death in Eden” by Trevor Lummis, for example, an account of what happened to the mutineers of the Bounty – not my usual topic, but a great read!
    Favourites include:
    The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser, about woman’s life in 16th century Britain.
    Mauve: How one man invented a colour that changed the world by Simon Garfield. I love stuff about such details!
    Tulipomania: The story of the world’s most coveted flower and the extraordinary passions it aroused by Mike Dash. Tulips, 17th century speculation – this book is fun as well as interesting.
    David Bodanis: E=mc2. The biography of the world’s most famous equation. I am not very interested in physics, but this book really pullded me in. Bodanis follows the lives and discoveries of all those physicists who worked towards Einstein’s ultimate discovery. there is a kind of spin-off, about 18th century physicist Mme Chatelet (who was Voltaire’s lover) but I haven’t read that one yet.
    Many more, but those should do for now. Thanx for all the suggestions!

    Reply
  92. I found some great suggestions here! I love non-fiction, mostly on historical subjects but I can be side-tracked. Just recently I ended up buying “Life and Death in Eden” by Trevor Lummis, for example, an account of what happened to the mutineers of the Bounty – not my usual topic, but a great read!
    Favourites include:
    The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser, about woman’s life in 16th century Britain.
    Mauve: How one man invented a colour that changed the world by Simon Garfield. I love stuff about such details!
    Tulipomania: The story of the world’s most coveted flower and the extraordinary passions it aroused by Mike Dash. Tulips, 17th century speculation – this book is fun as well as interesting.
    David Bodanis: E=mc2. The biography of the world’s most famous equation. I am not very interested in physics, but this book really pullded me in. Bodanis follows the lives and discoveries of all those physicists who worked towards Einstein’s ultimate discovery. there is a kind of spin-off, about 18th century physicist Mme Chatelet (who was Voltaire’s lover) but I haven’t read that one yet.
    Many more, but those should do for now. Thanx for all the suggestions!

    Reply
  93. Well, my favorite science ones (or must haves in it), any by Einstein, of course 🙂
    I get everything Steven Hawking touches 🙂
    and God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe – Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe by Amir D. Aczel
    and The Accelerating Universe – Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos by Mario Livio
    Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy – Kip S. Thorne
    Einstein’s Miraculous Year – Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics – John Stachel
    Subtle Is the Lord – The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein – Abraham Pais
    Quintessence: The Mystery of the Missing Mass – The Search for Missing Mass in the Universe – Lawrence M. Krauss
    Einstein: His Life and Universe – His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson (this is the new one that just came out last month)
    The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins – Alan H. Guth
    The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory – Brian Greene
    just a snip of the library around me. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  94. Well, my favorite science ones (or must haves in it), any by Einstein, of course 🙂
    I get everything Steven Hawking touches 🙂
    and God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe – Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe by Amir D. Aczel
    and The Accelerating Universe – Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos by Mario Livio
    Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy – Kip S. Thorne
    Einstein’s Miraculous Year – Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics – John Stachel
    Subtle Is the Lord – The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein – Abraham Pais
    Quintessence: The Mystery of the Missing Mass – The Search for Missing Mass in the Universe – Lawrence M. Krauss
    Einstein: His Life and Universe – His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson (this is the new one that just came out last month)
    The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins – Alan H. Guth
    The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory – Brian Greene
    just a snip of the library around me. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  95. Well, my favorite science ones (or must haves in it), any by Einstein, of course 🙂
    I get everything Steven Hawking touches 🙂
    and God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe – Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe by Amir D. Aczel
    and The Accelerating Universe – Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos by Mario Livio
    Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy – Kip S. Thorne
    Einstein’s Miraculous Year – Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics – John Stachel
    Subtle Is the Lord – The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein – Abraham Pais
    Quintessence: The Mystery of the Missing Mass – The Search for Missing Mass in the Universe – Lawrence M. Krauss
    Einstein: His Life and Universe – His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson (this is the new one that just came out last month)
    The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins – Alan H. Guth
    The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory – Brian Greene
    just a snip of the library around me. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  96. Well, my favorite science ones (or must haves in it), any by Einstein, of course 🙂
    I get everything Steven Hawking touches 🙂
    and God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe – Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe by Amir D. Aczel
    and The Accelerating Universe – Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos by Mario Livio
    Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy – Kip S. Thorne
    Einstein’s Miraculous Year – Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics – John Stachel
    Subtle Is the Lord – The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein – Abraham Pais
    Quintessence: The Mystery of the Missing Mass – The Search for Missing Mass in the Universe – Lawrence M. Krauss
    Einstein: His Life and Universe – His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson (this is the new one that just came out last month)
    The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins – Alan H. Guth
    The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory – Brian Greene
    just a snip of the library around me. LOL 🙂
    Lois

    Reply

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