If you’re reading this blog then I am pretty certain that – like me – you would be very happy to find a good history book or two underneath the tree on Christmas morning.
But it’s a whole different kettle of fish if you’re the one doing the buying. Everyone has their favourite historical subjects or eras. Picking the right book out of the plethora available can seem like a bit of a mine field!
That’s where my History Books Christmas Gift Guide 2019 comes in. I’ve scoured the historical bestsellers from 2019 to bring you my edit of the best history books from the past year. Just pick your time period, press order et voila! Christmas is sorted.
For the Medievalist in your life
If you’re related to someone who’s mad about the Middles Ages, you could do no worse than Crusaders: An Epic History of the Wars of the Holy Lands by self-proclaimed ‘history baller’ Dan Jones.
Unsurprisingly this book is about the Crusades – the sequence of religious wars fought between the late eleventh century and late medieval periods, in which armies from European Christian states attempted to wrest the Holy Land from Islamic rule.
Dan Jones is a great narrative writer. If his previous books are anything to go by, this is going to be a bestseller too.
Mum mad for the Early Modern?
We’ve all got one – that person for whom Early Modern is LIFE, and Tudor history makes up 99% of their bookshelves.
For them I would highly recommend Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort, Tudor Matriarch by Dr Nicola Tallis (check out my review of it for a really in-depth look). So much has been written about the Tudors, its rare for a new book to come out with a fresh new (properly evidenced) take on things – but this book does that. And to make it even better, its about the mother of the entire Tudor dynasty, Margaret Beaufort.
The Long Eighteenth Century
Sorry – no Jane Austen or Regency-era stories here! I’ve picked The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple.
The Anarchy tells the remarkable story of how the magnificent Indian Empire disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company. Basically, the East India Company was the first global corporate superpower, and this book tells its dark tale.
For the Victorian fan
There was only one book I could recommend here – The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold.
In fact, I would recommend this book to EVERYBODY, not just Victoriana fans. It truly is a game changer that will make you question everything you have ever been told about the victims of Jack The Ripper.
P.S. If you’re about worried about gory detail – then don’t. Hallie stops her descriptions of events before we get to that bit, so we focus solely on the female victims and not on the serial murderer.
For the Modern Historian
I must admit 20th Century history isn’t really my thing, but several people have recommended Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944 by Anthony Beevor.
And who am I to argue? It was also a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller – and I am not going to argue with that many people.
Arnhem tells the story of Operation Market Garden, the plan to end WWII by capturing the bridges leading to the Lower Rhine. I can just see your dad reading it on the sofa with a glass of something alcoholic during a lull on Christmas Day!
If for some reason none of this books float your boat, don’t forget to check out my other history book posts which are full of historical reading recommendations! Also don’t be afraid to message me on my social media channels if you’re looking for a very particular book. I’m always more than happy to help. Just think of me as your personal history book shopper!
(Please note this page uses Amazon affiliate links which will redirect you to Amazon.co.uk. I earn a small (seriously its minuscule) percentage from each qualifying sale. But don’t worry – I truly recommend and approve these history books, and I wouldn’t have chosen them otherwise!)