12 Best History Books You Should Read 2023

Want to know about history? Here are some best history books that I found useful to read.

Reading history books can benefit you a lot like knowing about the past could anticipate the future, getting to know the culture and living of the past, what went wrong and right? and a lot more.

So I gathered some of the best history books that will give you some information about the future.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind By Yuval Noah Harari

sapiens

Sapiens By Yuval Noah Harari is a classic book about the history of the human species from the homo sapiens in Africa to the present day. He also talks about the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, and the history of religion, and the scientific revolution.

Sapiens consists of four parts and uses a combination of scientific research, historical analysis, and philosophical approaches in the book.

You should read the book to know more about it. Highly recommended.

Lessons From the Book:

  • We are a special species because we can create myths that could hold us together.
  • The scientific revolution described us the understanding of the world but raised questions about the use of technology in the modern era.
  • The rise of agriculture and the formation of cities led to inequality and social hierarchies in society.

Quotes from the Book:

  • How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy, or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.
  • History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was plowing fields and carrying water buckets.
  • You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.

The Guns of August By Barbara Tuchman

The Guns of August By Barbara Tuchman

The Guns of August is a book about the series of events that led to World War I. In this book, the author describes the first month of the world with respect to major powers and how the diplomatic and military proceeded with the war and the early battles.

Barbara Tuchman made this award-winning book possible because of the extensive research with primary sources like government documents, personal diaries, and other resources.

You should read the book to know how World War I happened and the causes and consequences of it.

Lessons From the Book:

  • The cause of World War I is a mixture of diplomatic and military power that led to it rather than one individual or country.
  • The war had a lot of impact on the collapse of empires, and the rise of new power.
  • The war had cost human lives of millions.

Quotes from the Book:

  • Nothing so comforts the military mind as the maxim of a great but dead general.
  • Human beings, like plans, prove fallible in the presence of those ingredients that are missing in maneuvers – danger, death, and live ammunition.
  • in the midst of war and crisis, nothing is as clear or as certain as it appears in hindsight

1776 By David McCullough

1776 book

1776 is a non-fiction book about independence and the pivotal story of American history. The book talks about how colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and secure their freedom.

The book focuses on military campaigns, political developments, and the role of George Washington in the era.

David McCullough is a historian who has written several highly successful books including ”John Adams” and “The Wright Brothers”

Lessons From the Book:

  • The success of the revolution is due to the large involvement of the leadership of George Washington.
  • 1776 is the event of the birth of a new nation and the development of American democracy and freedom.

Quotes from the Book:

  • There are no people on earth in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily kindled, and burns so remarkably, as Americans
  • In truth, the situation was worse than they realized, and no one perceived this as clearly as Washington. Seeing things as they were, and not as he would wish them to be, was one of his salient strengths.
  • It was a day and age that saw no reason why one could not learn whatever was required – learn vitally anything – by the close study of books.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies By Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies By Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel is a non-fiction book about the development of agriculture, the spread of disease, and the role of technology and innovation in shaping human societies.

The book talks about the pattern and the factor that contributed to the development of human societies.

This book argues that distribution of the wealth and power in human societies is because of geographical and environmental factors rather than intelligence.

Lessons From the Book:

  • Geographical and environmental factors made a huge impact on shaping the world.
  • The spread of the disease has a significant impact on the development of human societies.
  • Technological innovation is one of the important factors in human progress in societies.

Quotes from the Book:

  • History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among people’s environments, not because of biological differences among people themselves
  • Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots.
  • My two main conclusions are that technology develops cumulatively, rather than in isolated heroic acts, and that it finds most of its uses after it has been invented, rather than being invented to meet a foreseen need.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World By Jack Weatherford

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World By Jack Weatherford

This non-fiction book talks bout the life and legacy of Genghis Khan, the founder, and leader of the Mongol Empire.

The author argues Genghis Khan is not just a ruthless conqueror but also a visionary leader who laid the foundation of many modern institutions.

This covers the rise of the Mongol Empire, the organization of Mongol armies, and the impact of the Mongol Empire on societies.

Lessons From the Book:

  • Genghis Khan is not just a ruthless conqueror but also a visionary leader who laid the foundation of many modern institutions
  • The armies of the Mongols were effective and that allowed them to conquer vast territories.
  • The Mongol Empire had an impact on societies and cultures.

Quotes from the Book:

  • The first key to leadership is self-control.
  • If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.
  • Without the vision of a goal, a man cannot manage his own life, much less the lives of others.

The Lessons of History By Will Durant and Ariel Durant

The Lessons of History By Will Durant and Ariel Durant

The Lessons of History is a non-fiction book that talks about the major themes and patterns of human history.

The book consists of short essays including the topics like war and violence, and economics. religion and the rise and fall of empires.

Lessons From the Book:

  • History is not a linear progression but a series of patterns that can be found in different societies.
  • History can be valuable to give more information to decide the future.
  • Human nature is largely unchanged throughout history.

Quotes from the Book:

  • History reports that the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all
  • In progressive societies the concentration[of wealth] may reach a point where the strength of number in the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.
  • The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.

A Short History of Nearly Everything By Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything By Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything is a popular science book by Bill Bryson that talks about the history of science, the origin of the universe, and the evolution of life on Earth.

This book can give the essence of science in human history and how it evolved throughout time.

Lessons From the Book:

  • The history of science is a story of human curiosity, ingenuity, and perseverance.
  • The study of science is a collaborative effort.

Quotes from the Book:

  • It is a curious feature of our existence that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.
  • Geologists are never at a loss for paperweights.
  • 99.99 percent of all species that have ever lived are no longer with us.

A Little History of the World By E.H Gombrich

A Little History of the World By E.H Gombrich

The Little History of the World is a popular history book that gives you an overview of human history from the stone age to the present day.

Lessons From the Book:

  • History is a narrative of human experiences.
  • The story of human history is a story of ongoing changes and evolution in human civilization.
  • Study of history can prepare us for the future.

Quotes from the Book:

  • China is, in fact, the only country in the world to be ruled for hundreds of years, not by the nobility, nor by soldiers, nor even by the priesthood, but by scholars.
  • The first man to understand the extraordinary magical power of applying mathematical calculation to things in nature was an Italian called Galileo Galilei.
  • Cyrus became the lord of that great realm. His first act was to free all the people held in captivity by the Babylonians. Among them were the Jews, who went home to Jerusalem

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World By Peter Frankopan

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World By Peter Frankopan

The Silk Road is a book that explores the history of the world through a vast network of trade routes that linked the East and West over two thousand years.

This book covers the rise and fall of empires, the spread of religion and culture, the exchange of goods and ideas on the silk road, and more interesting history that lead to the development of human civilization.

Lessons From the Book:

  • The silk road is a key factor in shaping world history.
  • The rise and fall of empires were linked to the silk road and the exchange of goods and ideas.
  • Understanding the history of the silk road can help us understand the world today.

Quotes from the Book:

  • We think of globalization as a uniquely modern phenomenon; yet 2,000 years ago too, it was a fact of life, one that presented opportunities created problems and prompted technological advances.
  • Only a European author could have concluded that the natural state of man was to be in a constant state of violence, and only a European author would have been right.
  • Money, rather than men, began to be used as currency for trade with the East.

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World By Niall Ferguson

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World By Niall Ferguson

The Ascent of Money is a non-fiction book that explores the history of money, banking, and finance and explores the evolution of financial systems from ancient times to the present day.

The author argues the important role of finance that shaped the world and how it makes an important factor in the rise of Western civilization.

Lessons From the Book:

  • Financial innovation made an important role in the shape of the world.

Quotes from the Book:

  • Money may make the world go round, but it is also the root of most of its problems.
  • The ascent of money has been essential to the ascent of man.
  • There really is no such thing as ‘the future’, singular. There are only multiple, unforeseeable futures, which will never lose their capacity to take us by surprise.

The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life By Prof Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life By Prof Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong

The Ancestor’s Tale is a book about the evolution of humans from ancestral lineage to humans’ earliest forms of life on Earth. This book talks about the varieties of species and evolutionary events from mammals to the evolution of humans.

The book talks about how all living organisms, that may be different today share a common ancestry that brings us back billions of years.

Lessons From the Book:

  • All organisms share a common ancestry.
  • Evolution is an ongoing process.
  • All organisms are constantly adapting to their environment in order to survive.

Quotes from the Book:

  • My objection to supernatural beliefs is precisely that they miserably fail to do justice to the sublime grandeur of the real world. They represent a narrowing down from reality, an impoverishment of what the real world has to offer.
  • Evolution is a trajectory through multidimensional space, in which every step of the way has to represent a body capable of surviving and reproducing as well as the parental type reached by the preceding step of the trajectory.
  • Individuals are temporary meeting points on the crisscrossing routes that genes take through history.

Conclusion

History can be confusing sometimes but with your intellect you can understand it better. We here at, Productivity Side don’t talk about History, this is a part of the “Book Series” that covers a different range of best books. We talk about productivity in your work and life and how you can improve yourself with it. Subscribe to our newsletter to know about productivity in your work and life.

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