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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.

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. I’m sure that there are other fantastic history books out there which unfortunately we haven’t had the time to read. To see all history books from 2021 check out this page.

So without further ado and in no particular order: here are the favourites! The links take you to more details on each book below.

Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History

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Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History
A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution

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A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution
Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

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Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth
The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World

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The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World
Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World

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Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World
About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks

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About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks
The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

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The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China
The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris

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The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris
Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History
Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ“


Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Our clothes project an image of us to the world, and how that image has been controlled and read in the past still has an influence on us today. This book gives a fascinating insight into how.

A great read for anyone interested in fashion, tailoring โ€“ or simply social history.

A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution
A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution

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A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An excellent book that will enrich your understanding of the past and what has made us who we are. It has helped me to build some mental scaffolding across a 6 million year gap in my historical knowledge, the almost magical transformation from ape to human that has given us language, festivals, machines, art โ€“ and tiny balls.

Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth
Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

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Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Norse America gives us an authoritative and very readable account of Viking settlement in North America. But it is also the fascinating and sometimes troubling story of the โ€œVikings firstโ€ advocates: a mix of dreamers, pranksters, fraudsters โ€“ and those trying to drum up the tourist trade.

A gripping read, it makes us question the โ€œtruthโ€ of history that we sometimes take for granted, and how we choose our stories is as important as their accuracy.

The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World
The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ“


The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Favereauโ€™s โ€˜The Hordeโ€™ gives you a glimpse of the world as it might have seemed to the Mongols โ€“ a vast stretch of grassland, mountains, rivers and forests, full of peoples with celebrated histories and complex lifestyles. โ€œCity landโ€ was on the outside or the edge of this world and was relevant mainly when it could be exploited.

While the narrative can feel dense at times, this is an excellent book which will bring this world to life.

Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World
Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ“


Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A thrilling read, Giles Milton combines a strong narrative of four tense years in Berlin in the aftermath of the Second World War with personal stories at turns harrowing and uplifting.

Checkmate in Berlin describes the opening gambit in a conflict which would continue for the next 40 years.

About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks
About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks

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About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks

Rating: 4 out of 5.

About Time will give you a new perspective on otherwise familiar landmarks โ€“ it can help you see the everyday in new and insightful ways.

A well written and pleasantly proportioned book, it is highly recommended and will appeal to all sorts of people.

The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China
The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ“


The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Last Embassy offers an alternative viewpoint to that of China vs the West, an absorbing travelogue, and a sneak peek into the Qianlong Emperorโ€™s court. It is also a very engaging read with a smooth but vivid writing style.

I would enthusiastically recommend this to anyone with an interest in Chinaโ€™s past โ€“ or present.

The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris
The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ“


The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Colin Jones tells the story of Robespierreโ€™s vertiginous fall over the course of a single day: from the voice of the Revolution to its victim. It is fascinating to trace what happens when those in power give orders, people decide whether or not to go along with them, and thenโ€ฆ everything goes crazy.

If you have any interest in the French Revolution, or politics in general, or the โ€œprocesses of historyโ€ you will find The Fall of Robespierre a riveting, rigorous and thought-provoking read.

Well that’s it, if you have made it this far! Feel free to share your own favourites in the comments below.

By Anthony Webb

Bipedal omnivore with outsized head and dextrous forelimbs

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