Book Reviews, Book and Film Lists by Genre

Reviews of Books on Politics and Current Affairs, Climate Changes Self Help, Health and Self Improvement Reviews of Books about Italy Reviews of popular Book on Scientic Discovery, the Garden and Nature Reviews of books about Romance and Love

Books and Films on History

Robert Graves I Claudius - The Life of Claudius Germanicus – the last of the Julian Emperors. Claudius was married to Messalina, a beautiful but dangerous wife who ultimately poisoned him when he was emperor of Rome.
Will and Ariel Durant (1935-1975) The History of Civilisation (11 Volumes - Jun 1993).
It is probably one of the most comprehensive history books. You will not read it cover to cover, but rather use it, to read bits that interest you.

It is not liked by many historians because of its "all-inclusive approach" to historical events. Nevertheless, it is a monumental work giving lots of insights and establishing interesting relationships. If you can get a good out of print copy, don't hesitate to buy and keep it.
Eugene Weber -
Romanian born American (died 2007) historian who was educated at Sciences Po, Paris, Cambridge, University of Alberta and was a Professor at UCLA
The Western Tradition, Vol. 1: From the Ancient World to Louis XIV - 5th Edition
The book offers carefully selected documents reflecting the social, political, economic, cultural, and religious development of Western civilization. Volume I spans the rise of Western civilization from Egypt and Mesopotamia to the seventeenth century.

The Western Tradition Vol 2: From the Renaissance to the Present
Weber took a pragmatic approach to history. He once observed: "Nothing is more concrete than history, nothing less interested in theories or in abstract ideas. The great historians have fewer ideas about history than amateurs do; they merely have a way of ordering their facts to tell their story. It isn’t theories they look for, but information, documents, and ideas about how to find and handle them
Jacques Barzun (1907-2012) The Culture We Deserve - A series of stimulating essays about contemporary culture, sociology, art and literary criticism and moral behavior
Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm CH FRSL FBA (1917 – 2012) was a world renown British historian specializing in the rise of industrial capitalism, socialism, and nationalism. The Age of Revolution: (1789-1848) The work is challenging, learned, brilliant in its analytical power, wide-ranging in its lucid exposition of literary, aesthetic and scientific achievments and packed with novel insight.This volume follows the death of ancient traditions, the triumph of new classes, and the emergence of new technologies, sciences, and ideologies, with vast intellectual daring and aphoristic elegance.

The Age of Capital: (1848-1875) (1996)This book is most outstanding for its analyis of the trends that created the new order. With the sweep and sophistication that have made him one of our greatest historians, Hobsbawm indentifies this epoch's winners and losers, its institutions, ideologies, science, and religion.

The Age of Empire: (1875-1914) (1989) - The book discusses the evolution of European economics, politics, arts, sciences, and cultural life from the height of the industrial revolution to the First World War. Hobsbawm combines vast erudition with a graceful prose style to re-create the epoch that laid the basis for the twentieth century.

The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, (1914-1991) - (1996) Dividing the century into the Age of Catastrophe, 1914–1950, the Golden Age, 1950–1973, and the Landslide, 1973–1991, Hobsbawm marshals a vast array of data into a volume of unparalleled inclusiveness, vibrancy, and insight.
In the short century between 1914 and 1991, the world has been convulsed by two global wars that swept away millions of lives and entire systems of government.
David Thomson Europe since Napoleon (1990 Edition)
Gives a very thorough examination of Europe after Napoleon without going so far in depth that the reader would lose interest.
Lawrence James
(born 1943) is an English historian and writer educated at the University of York and at Merton College, University of Oxford
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire
This book covers the history of British expansion overseas from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Narrative and analysis are interwoven with revealing eyewitness quotation to provide keen insight into the minds of those involved in conquering, settling and ruling the greatest Empire the world has seen. Throughout, there are consistant themes; the search for profit and the moral misgivings it generated; domestic developments which made imperial expansion desirable; and the sense of national and personal destiny felt by the empire-builders. Spanning four centuries and six continents, James' magnificent survey examines the imperial experience and its legacy with tremendous verve. Informed, comprehensive and perceptive, it is the essential summary of the era. 'James' epic is not only a first-rate narrative, but also a penetrating portrait of the British...Having largely, if often inadvertently, selfishly or ham-fistedly, engineered the world we live in, we need the courage now to face up to our record as coolly and intelligently as Lawrence James has done' -
Paul Bushkovitch A Concise History of Russia (Cambridge Concise Histories 2011)

The book emphasizes the enormous changes in the understanding of Russian history resulting from the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, new material has come to light on the history of the Soviet era, providing new conceptions of Russia's pre-revolutionary past. The book traces not only the political history of Russia, but also developments in its literature, art, and science. Bushkovitch describes well-known cultural figures, such as Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Mendeleev in their institutional and historical contexts. Though the 1917 revolution, the resulting Soviet system, and the Cold War were a crucial part of Russian and world history, Bushkovitch presents earlier developments as more than just a prelude to Bolshevik power.
David Blackbourn
(born 1949 in Yorkshire)
History of Germany, 1780-1918: The Long Nineteenth Century - 2nd Edition
Here is contemporary historical scholarship at its best. Witty, modest about historical generalizations, but ever willing to introduce revisionism, Blackbourn demonstrates how to write thought-provoking and persuasive prose.
He is one of the brightest of a younger generation of Anglo-American scholars whose work has transformed the historiography of modern Germany over the past two decades

After completing his dissertation at Jesus College, University of Cambridge -lecturer at Queen Mary College in 1976 and Birkbeck College, both University of London,1979. In 1992 he moved to the U.S. becoming a professor at Harvard. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994
Jonathan Fenby The History of Modern France (2016)
A history of modern France from the end of Napoleon's reign to Francois Hollande in 2015 placing it in the context of the 1789 revolution and the variety of counter-revolutions. The history is an interesting mixture of French politics, surrounding world events, and French culture. This is a well researched book with extensive citations and an up to date list of references that treats the related literature fairly. Jonathan Fency - educated at New College, University of Oxford. He is an Associate Fellow of the London School of Economics (LSE), the  School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and the Royal Institute of International Events (Chatham House).
Simon Michael Schama Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution(1990)

Some critics said it is the most authoritative social, cultural, and narrative history of the French Revolution ever produced. It was certainly the most history series of events that changed the course of history. It is certainly a good basis for understanding and analysing the reasons of the revolution.
Daniel J Boorstin (1914 – 2004) was an American historian at the University of Chicago. He had studied at Harvard Balliol College and Yale The Americans – The Colonial Experience
It is an essential interpretation of how the habits of people who lived more than two centuries ago shaped the lives of modern Americans. Boorstin shows how an undiscovered continent shattered long-standing traditions and utopian fantasies with the hard demands of everyday life far from the sophisticated centers of European civilization: "Old categories were shaken up, and new situations revealed unsuspected uses for old knowledge," writes Boorstin. He starts with a series of penetrating essays on the Puritans of Massachusetts, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, the philanthropists of Georgia, and the planters of Virginia, then tackles a set of diffuse topics that range from astronomy to language to medicine in fascinating vignettes.The Colonial Experience  is must reading for anybody interested in the development of the American character

The Americans: The National Experience  (1967) The crucial period of American history from the Revolution to the Civil War. Here we meet the people who shaped, and were shaped by, the American experience

The Americans: The Democratic Experienc - This book tells the story of the invention of a new democratic culture and the reorientation of the national character through countless little revolutions in economy, technology, and social rearrangements...Illuminated by reflections that are original, judicious and sagacious...A huge fascinating omnibus of a exhilarating adventure that carries us along the highways and byways of a national history like no other.

The Tragic Daughters of Charles I

The three daughters of Charles I had hard and difficult lives. An excellent history of their lives.

by Sarah-Beth Watkins

(April 8 2019)

Carolina of Orange-Nassau (1743-1787)
She was regent of the Netherlands from 1765 until 1766 during the minority of her brother Willem V of Orange

by Moniek Bloks

(February 6, 2019)
Anne of Cleves(1515-1557)
Henry VIII wife and Queen of England for a few months.

by Sarah-Beth Watkin

(November5th, 2018)

My Dear Hamilton
A book of histiorical fiction of letters written by Alexander Hamilton's (1755-1804) wife to her husband. It is based on extensive research and a large number of documents

by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

(April 3, 2018)

Margaret TudorQueen of Scots
A fascinating look into the life of a complex and vital woman who seemed so close to power at times but so isolated and alone at others.

bySarah-Beth Watkins

(December 8, 2017)

Jefferson's America
A well written and well researched book, that goes into a lot of detail, it did at times seem a bit dry

by Julie M. Fenster

(May 22, 2017)
Catherine of Braganza, Charles II's Restoration Queen
The fascinating story about the Catholic queen of Charles II
by Sarah-Beth Watkins

(April 11 2017)
The Confessions of Young Nero
Nero not as a Hollywood film hero, but portrayed as a responsible ruler who had to master difficult times

by Margaret George

(January 19, 2017)

The Tudor Brandons - Mary and Charles – Henry VIII's Nearest & Dearest
The book is about the rise of Charles and the complex life of Mary as both a political pawn, and as a woman who tried to do her duty by her brother the king. She was a woman who tried hard to have some control over her circumstances..

by Sarah-Beth Watkins

(June14 2016)

James Fenimore Cooper - A Life
He was an important American figure, a writer and novelist, and this work is a thorough examination not only of his life but the history of the time and the role he played in it.

by Nick Louras

(May 4 2016)

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem
It is not a political biography, Instead it is the biography of a sephardic woman and her female relatives in Jerusalem
The reader gets an intimate view of the life of an extended family

by Sarit Yishai-Levi

(April 18 2016)
Louisa - The Extraordinary Life of Mrs Adams
The extraordinary biography of Louisa Catherine Adams, wife of President John Quincy Adams. From her time in London, to her marriage to John Quincy Adams and their travels and adventures together across Europe.

by Louisa Thomas
(March 28 2016)

As the Sun King Rises
The story of Cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602-1661), the political spin doctor behind Louis XIII and Louis XIV
by Yves Jégo and Denis Lépée

(November 22nd 2015)
Napoleon: A Concise Biography (1769-1821)
An excerllent introduction to Napoleon Bonaparte's political, military and historic triumphs and disasters
by David A. Bell

(February 5th, 2015)


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