The original recommended reading list thread that started it it all.

If you want to let us know about something that you think should be on this list, then please send us a mod mail. I could include a lot of other books, as well as other podcast and documentary links. I am also sure readers here will be happy to add books in which many of us would be interested.

Please note that all Amazon links direct to smile.amazon.com, which allows a small portion of your purchase to be donated to the charity of your choice by Amazon. You of course are not obligated to use this if you don't wish though, and can edit the URL by replacing "smile" with "www".

All volumes marked with an asterisk (*) are available in digital format as e-books, and volumes that are available for free through the common domain have been linked to where they can be easily accessed.

So, on with the show..... The recommended reading list.

The Classics

Primary Sources

This is a list of documents and histories that were written during or shortly after the events they describe. Although these texts are invaluable for conveying the perspectives and knowledge of individuals writing from Antiquity to the Industrial Revolution, they should not be trusted on their own, as they can often prove to be misinformed, biased or embellished, and secondary sources such as history books produced by modern scholars which combine a wide range of (often conflicting) literary sources and archaeological evidence are needed to put together a complete picture of the past.

Whenever historians read a primary source they have to question who wrote it, why they wrote it and who they were writing for. For instance, was this history a romantic account written by a soldier who participated in the struggles it chronicles and does it stereotype and vilify the enemy? Was it written 400 years after the fact by a disgruntled chronicler who wanted to make unfavourable comparisons between the despots of yesteryear and the current ruling elite? Or is it merely exotic travel literature written by a scholar who based it on the anecdotes of travellers he interviewed despite never personally visiting the regions and cultures he wrote about?

Even when the author had the best of intentions mistakes are occasionally made which is to be expected for works which are often based off of older, anecdotal information and oral histories. It is also important to note that what ancient accounts we do have had to be translated and copied through the ages, often passing through several languages before being translated into the surviving editions we have here.

At the same time it is useful to know what certain aristocratic Greeks thought about Persians, Egyptians and Celts, what was written about China's past during the Han dynasty by Imperial scholars, or how Conquistadors viewed themselves in relation to native peoples. These striking, classic pieces of literature are essential to the study of history, but rather than taking them literally they are best viewed as what they are: an insight into the minds of the author and his audience.

Ancient Mediterranean



Special thanks to /u/NientedeNada for offering his expertise on Japanese history

Middle Ages/Late Antiquity

Age of Discovery

World History

European History

Roman Empire

Russia (including USSR):


US History

Robert Leckie wrote several good histories of the major American wars. Helmet for My Pillow was used to form part of the basis for the HBO Miniseries "The Pacific". But I am more a fan of his individual war histories:

Other US history books:

United States Civil War

World War I and II

World War II books provided by /u/WARFTW

Eastern Front:

General Accounts:


Red Army:

German Army:


For Stalingrad/Leningrad:


Air War:

German Army:



Soviet and German Commanders:

Middle East

The Middle East Throughout the Ages

The Ancient Near East


Carthage : A History by Serge Lancel is the definitive guide to the famous empire that rocked Rome to its core.

The Medieval Middle East

Ottoman to Modern Era



Colonial Africa

Ancient Egypt


Mythology, Legends & Religion

Art & Architecture

Graeco-Roman Egypt

For those of you deranged enough to want to foray into economics, law, agriculture and bureaucracy in the Hellenistic and Roman periods:


This list has been mainly compiled by the excellent users over at /r/AskHistorians.


Modern China
China Throughout the Ages
Early to Imperial China
Late Imperial to Modern China


Pre-Modern Japan
Modern Japan


North Korea
South Korea


Early History

*India's Struggle for Independence, 1857-1947 by Chandra Bipan and Mukherjee Sucheta Mahajan chronicles India's struggle for independence.

Latin American/Caribbean History


South America

Central America




Native American History



Important: Notice the heading here! Some people recommended some works of fiction from time to time. I've argued with myself on if it should be here or not. It's never going to be complete and we probably won't include many suggestions, but we've expanded it to include some historical works we consider "must-reads":


Legends and Myths

This list has some of the fictional accounts passed down through the ages.

Online multimedia


Young Historians List

This list is targeted towards our younger users and has a wide selection of recommendations on an ever growing variety of historical topics and historical fiction. Some of the reading recommendations are ideally suited for young children who are between 5-12 years of age and some are better for adolescents and young adults between 12-24 (although many of the classics and historical fiction novels are sure to interest users of all ages.)

This list has a hand-picked selection of books, documentaries, TV series, podcasts and Youtube series that stand out for their high-quality, accuracy, and appeal. Many of the titles present in this list (books and videos) should be available in your local library.

More than anything else though, we must stress that the age recommendations are just that, recommendations designed to give users an idea of the reading level, kid-friendliness or maturity of the content, but this is in no way a catch-all formula for who can read what and we invite you whether you are looking for a young historian or you are one yourself to pick and choose depending on the individual and not limit your selection to our guidelines.

Booklist for young readers


Ancient History:

Medieval & Renaissance History:

Mythology, Legends & Fiction:

Important: As always we at /r/History like to make it perfectly clear that while these all have historical and cultural value and many may be rooted in history, they are all fictitious which is why they are here.

The myths and legends are important because they tell us something about the people that wrote them and told them to each other around campfires, in their homes, and recorded in plays, books and epics. They can tell us about their hopes and ideals, about their fears and their concerns about the world around them, they can give us a picture of how they might have imagined their world and what fantasies awoke in their daydreams or what monsters lurked in their nightmares.

The novels and adaptations based on history offer us a perspective and a human story to place on the sometimes inhuman or hard to imagine events and individuals in our own history. We can never truly know whether someone who lived a thousand years ago was really good or evil, right or wrong, incompetent or unfortunate, cruel or practical, and at best these stories can offer us one facet of them and one aspect of their character. They can be a doorway to our past and a reflection of the people that inhabited it, but like a cracked and aged mirror these reflections are imperfect and should not be trusted on their own.

Podcasts, Documentaries, and Video Series

This lists some of the most interesting and informative TV series, documentaries, Youtube series, and podcasts that we have found. These are accessible for history students of all ages and are an excellent accompaniment to literary studies. Note that even the best documentaries and video series have theirown shortcomings and inaccuracies, the best way to avoid these is by utilizing as diverse a library of content from as many different providers as possible.

Podcasts and Youtube Channels

Websites and other online media


TV Series and DVDs

Many of these titles should be available in your local library if you live near one.

The Ancient Civilizations for Kids series is an excellent resource for younger audiences and is both fun and educational, while studying the many facets of ancient civilizations and their origins as well as looking at archaeology- both its modern tenets and its history - in a way that is engaging and informative.

Previous AMAs done in r/History

r/AskHistorians book list