10 Essential Important History Books Every Scholar Should Read

Understanding History Through Books

The study of history is a captivating exploration of our past and the events that have formed our present. The profound knowledge contained within the important history books transports us to diverse epochs, granting us a comprehension of varying viewpoints and cultures. Let us embark on an exciting journey, uncovering the most influential history books that have significantly shaped our global comprehension.

Section I: Pioneering Historical Literature

1. ‘The History of the Peloponnesian War’ by Thucydides

This classical work from ancient Greece is a paragon of historical scholarship. Thucydides, a contemporary of Socrates, meticulously chronicled the conflict between Athens and Sparta, offering an objective analysis that set the benchmark for historical narratives.

2. ‘The Histories’ by Herodotus

Often referred to as the ‘Progenitor of History’, Herodotus was another distinguished historian from ancient Greece. His oeuvre ‘The Histories’ is a compilation of his inquiries into the beginnings of the Greco-Persian Wars. It’s an indispensable read for its thorough exploration of archaic cultures and civilizations.

3. ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ by Edward Gibbon

Gibbon’s magnum opus, encompassing six volumes, is a monumental contribution to historical literature. It traces Western civilization from the zenith of the Roman Empire to the downfall of Byzantium, making it an essential read for those interested in understanding the ascendance and decline of empires.

important history books

Section II: Inclusive Histories

1. ‘A People’s History of the United States’ by Howard Zinn

Zinn’s narrative offers a distinct viewpoint on American history, highlighting the experiences of marginalized communities. Its compassionate and humanistic approach provides an alternative interpretation of historical events, making it an integral addition to any collection of historical fiction masterpieces lose yourself in timeless narratives.

2. ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies’ by Jared Diamond

Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work delves into how geographical factors and environmental conditions influenced the evolution of human societies across continents. It explores why certain societies thrived while others struggled, offering a unique perspective on global history.

3. ‘The Making of the English Working Class’ by E.P. Thompson

Thompson’s seminal work scrutinizes the formation and evolution of the English working class during the Industrial Revolution. It’s a crucial text for understanding socio-economic transformations in modern history.

Section III: Microhistories

1. ‘The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller’ by Carlo Ginzburg

Ginzburg’s narrative provides an intriguing insight into the life and beliefs of a 16th-century Italian miller. As a quintessential example of microhistory, it concentrates on individuals or small groups to illuminate broader historical trends.

2. ‘The Return of Martin Guerre’ by Natalie Zemon Davis

This fascinating microhistory narrates the tale of a 16th-century French peasant who mysteriously vanished and later returned, only to be accused of being a fraud. It’s a gripping exploration of identity, remembrance, and the essence of truth.


The realm of history books is extensive and diverse, offering countless insights into our past. The books discussed here represent just a fraction of the vast literature but are undoubtedly among the most important history books to peruse. Each one offers a unique perspective on various facets of human history, contributing to our comprehensive understanding of our origins and potential future directions.

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