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Do you like history books?

1615 Views 27 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  Alan Parkinson
I like history books so when these Charles River Editors books were offered free I grabbed all of them.

They are brief histories which you can read in about 30 minutes each.

They are well written and cover the main points. I just read the Roman Empire and The Age of Exploration exploration. Normally these books sell for $4.95 so if you like history grab them while they are free.

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I can answer this question quickly:  No.  I hate reading about history.  Even in the Outlander series, which I love, the history parts are very boring to me.
I love reading history, and historical fiction.  In fact I just finished a historical novel, FIELD GRAY by Phillip Kerr, and now I've started AGENT ZIGZAG, the true story of an Englishman who became a Nazi agent, then betrayed them as soon as he was back on British soil.
Love them, if they're well-written (which to me equals easy to read - plain English, minimal jargon, simple sentence structure).

I must admit I've tended to avoid the Brief History series because of the multimedia content and 'optimised for larger screens' listings - here are a couple I found yesterday that look good, though:

Paris: An Illustrated History

OK, so that last one exposes me as a word nerd... :D
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I enjoy reading about historical people, i.e. I have a biography of Isaac Newton that I've been meaning to get to for months. And I've been chipping away at one of Bingham's books on the Incans for the past year.

I don't enjoy historical fiction at all, although it might depend on the era. I can happily read about times after about 1890 (Sherlock Holmes), but before that, it's iffy. But that's just me.

BTW... if the Roman empire interests you, AND you're a fan of historical fiction, you might like this mystery series:

(first book in the Marcus Didius Falco series, not free)
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Love books about history and particularly American history.  David McCullough's John Adams is what got me started and also Robert Caro's Master of the Senate (about LBJ).

I'm reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson right now.
Excellent, thanks for the recs.  I love all historical eras, all places, but I prefer my non-fiction to be entertaining and not dry.  The Liza Picard series of London books are a great read.
For me it depends on the historical period. Yes for some. No for others. I'm a fan of McCullough's John Adams too and his 1776. I've read McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom (one volume history of the Civil War) right through and it stays on my bookshelf for reference and has probably been read another couple of times bit by bit over the years.
I obviously love history but those "brief history" freebies are a bit of a disappointment if you ask me. They don't really contain much that you wouldn't find on Wikipedia. They might be good for the average individual who doesn't normally read about history but has a mild interest in knowing a little more about it. But I think for people who are really into history, if they are going to read up on a subject, they'll find something more comprehensive than these.
Bleekness said:
Depends on the subject matter. If it's straight history, I like military campaigns and conflicts.

That reminds me, I have a copy of Guns Germs and Steel on my bookcase I haveta get to...
My brother was just reading that in April when he was visiting me! I'm not really into military history though.
I just love history (non-fiction) in a way that I would have thought impossible when at school.
I agree with CJ about the Lisa Picard books - highly readable and informative.
At the moment I'm reading 'Regency Style' by Stephen Pariessien (Phaidon) and its a wonderful tome- although I cant see it ever coming to Kindle until the colour issues are sorted out (hmmm, maybe iPad....could this be an excuse to buy an iPad at long last?) Wait, I'm getting carried away.
Seriously, I love the colour plates and wonderful photos, and in my view its why some books will take a very long time to find an equal in electronic format.
I am a huge fan of history, but I tend to like historical fiction.  And it all depends on the historical subject.  I don't like grand sweeping historical books with titles like "The Franco-German War."  But, I read the book about the shark that attacked swimmers along the New Jersey beach in 1916 and ultimately inspired Benchley when writing Jaws.  I read true crime and other books that could be considered history. 
I love history books, but I honestly don't think that a book you can read in 30 minutes can cover the "main points" of ANY period of history. A 30 read couldn't get through the arguments over what are the main points or if there are main points.

I can see that being helpful for someone who doesn't really have an interest in history but wants a little basic information for some reason.

Edit: I agree with balaspa in his comments about historical fiction. But then I wouldn't write it if I didn't love it, I hope.

JRTomlin said:
I love history books, but I honestly don't think that a book you can read in 30 minutes can cover the "main points" of ANY period of history.
I'm not sure a book that can be read in 30 minutes can even be called a "book". More like an essay.
Thanks for the rec, Franklin. I'll check them out. I love reading history books and you can't beat free. :)
I love reading and writing history. I'm researching Jean Lafitte for a sequel novel I'm writing and I'm really enjoying going back in time and reading some of the material of the day (the language was VERY different in that time.) Lafitte's memoirs have been fun, as have writings about Andrew Jackson and James Monroe.
My two favourite types of reads are history and social science. I'm actually going through a heap of titles right now on Scandinavian history.
Half the books I read are history books. That seems to be where I find interesting characters. Right now I'm reading the biography on James Polk, A Country of Vast Designs. So far, a real good read.
I'm currently reading, or rather drooling over, 'Regency Style' by Adrian Paris. A gorgeous hunk of a book with fabulous illustrations. Love it.
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