The 10 Best History Textbooks

video play icon 10 Best History Textbooks

This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in July of 2018. With so many to choose from, picking the right history textbook can be a challenge. We have combed through hundreds of volumes to find you some of the most well-written and comprehensive options available. Some of our selections are broad enough to explore everything from the dawn of civilization onward, while others narrow their focus to significant periods and places. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Glencoe World History

2. Lies My Teacher Told Me

3. A History of Modern Europe

Editor's Notes

February 06, 2020:

There are history books about nearly everything -- from art history to music and language and anything in between. Our focus for this list included texts that mainly focus on empires and civilization in a broad sense, with a few alternatives thrown in for good measure. You'll find comprehensive volumes on Africa with History of Africa and Africa in World History, as well as texts that concentrate on the United States, like United States History and American History: Connecting with the Past. We also cherry-picked books on ancient, medieval, world, and European history. You'll find options for middle and high school students as well as those in college.

In this latest update, we rounded this list out to an even ten items and brought A History of Modern Europe and History of Africa up to their most recent editions. We added Lies My Teacher Told Me, another book focused on America, but with a twist. This selection tackles the often overlooked issues with many standard textbooks that are written with bias or gloss over facts and addresses them with a lighthearted style and well-researched information. We also introduced Cowen's History of Life as a bit of a departure for those who want to know more about our and other species' origins and the history of the planet.

We prioritized books written by respected scholars, with helpful pedagogy like colorful visuals and maps, as well as useful glossaries, indexes, recommendations for further reading, and online resources. We're fully aware that history can be boring for many learners, so we chose books with passionate, lively prose that try to avoid bias and bring history to life without getting mired in controversy or ignoring it completely.

4. The History of the Medieval World

5. Cowen's History of Life

6. Africa in World History

7. American History: Connecting with the Past

8. The History of the Ancient World

9. History of Africa

10. United States History

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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