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The Fabric of Civilisation

★★★★☆ (2020)
“Surrounded by textiles, we’re largely oblivious to their existence and the knowledge and efforts embodied in every scrap of fabric.”

Any visitor to the West Berkshire Museum can see the Newbury Coat, a coat made in 1811 from sheep to finished garment within a day…

Latest reviews and posts below…
Heretics and Believers book cover

Heretics and Believers

★★★★★ (2018)
Heretics and Believers, winner of the Wolfson History Prize in 2018, provides a comprehensive description and analysis of the English Reformation. The author, Peter Marshall, is a professor of history at the University of Warwick.

Reflections on WordPress – 8 months in

On this post I’m not going to be talking about history books but instead about WordPress.com the web platform behind this website – my thoughts after having used it for 8 months now…

History books published in December 2021

So it’s the new year. I know what you are thinking: what will 2022 bring? What are my resolutions for the year? And what history books were published in December 2021?

While I can’t help you with the first two points we have you covered with the third question…!

Powers and Thrones

★★★★☆ (2021)
After reading this book, I asked my dad to buy me Dan Jones’ Plantagenets for Christmas. So I clearly enjoyed reading it. At 639 pages long (excluding index and bibliography) it makes light work of a 1,000 years of predominantly European history. In the opening few pages we are promised ‘it is going to fun’ and it delivers…

Fifth Sun

★★★★★ (2020)
If Flamingo Snake was going to get out of the palace alive he would have to drum with all the exuberance, the raw power that he possessed.

It shouldn’t even have been him leading the show: the chief musician had fainted – perhaps from terror – and Flamingo Snake had taken over the starring role at the last minute. For he and his men to survive, he would need to put all this out of his mind and instead focus on all his attention on his drum and his song: a protest song directed at the most powerful leader in the known world.


★★★★★ (2020)
This is the celebrated Byzantine Emperor Justinian who is credited with reconquering the Western Roman Empire through his general Belisarius. The image itself is not from the capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) as you might expect, but instead from the small Italian city of Ravenna, on the north east coast of Italy…

The Best Popular History Books of 2021

What were the best popular history books published in hardback in 2021 in the UK?

These are the best popular history books that we have read and reviewed on this site.

A Curious History of Sex

★★★★☆ (2020)
Sex, as we all know, has been around for about two billion years or so. But we humans continue to struggle with what sex is supposed to be all about. As Kate Lister notes in the introduction to “A Curious History of Sex”: “Humans are the only creatures that stigmatise, punish and create shame around their sexual desires…

History books published in November 2021

There are fewer new history books released in November – no doubt it is considered a bit late for the Christmas market.

The quality still looks high though…

What’s the benefit of reading history books?

As members of the human race, we all start out like Jason Bourne in the Robert Ludlum series of thrillers – all we have is a name. The past before we were born is blank and unknown. Gradually we piece together what the dickens happened and how on earth we got to this point.

Jason Bourne did it by running around Europe with a gun and a ridiculous array of special abilities.

We do it by reading history books.

Scenes from Prehistoric Life

★★★☆☆ (2021)
4070 years ago on the east coast of Britain a small community of about 200 people built a circular wooden palisade about 7 metres across. Right in the centre of this circle of upright timbers was an oak tree…

The Enlightenment

★★★★★ (2020)
The author, Ritchie Robertson, is a professor of German language and literature at the University of Oxford. His treatment of the Enlightenment is broad, both in terms of subject matter and geographic scope…


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