9 Fascinating Non-Fiction Books About History

By
Wed, 7 Nov 2018

Whether you're an avid scholar or just a curious person with a love of non-fiction, reading books about history can be an entertaining and worthwhile hobby. Learning about great leaders, ancient civilizations, or even the recent past can give you new perspective and make you better equipped to face the present and future. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

9 Fascinating Non-Fiction Books About History

Title Author(s) Subject More by the Author
1. American Ulysses Ronald C. White Jr. President Ulysses S. Grant A. Lincoln
2. Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter Lucinda Hawksley Princess Louise Bitten by Witch Fever
3. Five Presidents Clint Hill & Lisa McCubbin Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, & Ford Mrs. Kennedy and Me
4. Now the Hell Will Start Brendan I. Koerner The greatest manhunt of World War II The Skies Belong to Us
5. The Players Ball David Kushner The rise of the Internet Masters of Doom
6. Skeletons on the Zahara Dean King 12 American solders surviving the Sahara The Feud
7. Empire of Blue Water Stephan Talty Sir Henry Morgan Agent Garbo
8. The Woman Who Smashed Codes Jason Fagone WWII codebreaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman Ingenious
9. Without Precedent Tim Marshall Chief Justice John Marshall Unlikely Allies

5 Fantastic Historical Films

  1. Ben-Hur
  2. Lincoln
  3. The Sound of Music
  4. The King's Speech
  5. The Last of the Mohicans

Why Is History Important?

In Depth

Reading historical accounts takes us back to some of the most significant moments in time. Not only can it teach us the origin of our culture, but it can also make us understand our society's present situation, allowing us to be prepared for humanity's future endeavors. From political biographies to tales of the internet's early days, here are nine fascinating non-fiction books about history, listed in no particular order.

At #1 is "American Ulysses." Ronald C. White gives us an in-depth look at the life of Ulysses S. Grant, focusing on his political achievements, and his character as a general, businessman, and family man. With historical maps and illustrations, the narrative shows how America's 18th president defended equal rights for African-Americans, and fought against the unjust government policies towards Native Americans. White also details how Grant's alcohol problem affected his presidency, displaying unbiased information about his career and personal life.

At #2 is "Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter." After researching Princess Louise's life, Lucinda Hawksley was compelled to write about the sixth child of Queen Victoria, addressing the rumors that made archivists lock her records away. Desperate to escape her mother's controlling nature, Princess Louise led a life of mystery and rebellion. She pursued a career in the arts, and was the first British princess to attend a public school and marry a commoner. The book also details her love affairs, and the speculations of having an illegitimate son.

After researching Princess Louise's life, Lucinda Hawksley was compelled to write about the sixth child of Queen Victoria, addressing the rumors that made archivists lock her records away.

Next, at #3 is "Five Presidents." Former Secret Service Agent Clint Hill chronicles his seventeen years of service protecting five U.S. presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. Written with Lisa McCubbin, the book presents a unique insider's view of these administrations as Hill humanizes each leader, bringing to life their personalities, beliefs, and passions.

With details of some of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century like the Cold War and assassination of John F. Kennedy, the narrative weaves history with Hill's informative insights.

At #4 is "Now the Hell Will Start," a gripping novel about the role and treatment of African-Americans in World War 2 by Brendan I. Koerner. It follows the story of Herman Perry who was sent to India to join other black workers in building the Ledo Road. Having an inadequate food supply, the laborers suffered from nightmarish working conditions and racism under white officers. Hopeless and miserable, Perry lost control, shot an unarmed officer, fled to the jungle, and eventually stumbled into a tribe of headhunters.

Hopeless and miserable, Perry lost control, shot an unarmed officer, fled to the jungle, and eventually stumbled into a tribe of headhunters.

Next, at #5 is "The Players Ball." David Kushner details the battle between Gary Kremen, founder of Match.com, and Stephen Michael Cohen, who made millions by swindling him out of the domain name Sex.com. Having bought dozens of internet addresses, Kreman predicted that the rise of the internet would be powered by love and lust. While developing his dating site, he found out about the unauthorized transfer of ownership of one of his domains. The book presents the scandalous lawsuit between a genius and a con man, exploring the challenges that built the digital world.

At #6 is "Skeletons on the Zahara," a harrowing story about the courage, brotherhood, and survival of twelve sailors in the Sahara Desert. Dean King chronicles the two-month journey of Captain James Riley and his crew who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa, and found themselves robbed and enslaved by nomadic Arab tribesman. With brutally honest descriptions, the book details what these men did in the face of starvation, dehydration, torture, and walking miles across burning sand, depicting all the inhumane struggles that left them grasping for their humanity and sanity.

At #7 is "Empire of Blue Water," an enthralling account about the history of pirates in the Caribbean. It follows the story of Captain Henry Morgan, a Welshman privateer who was commissioned by the British to secure their hold in the region. He gathered estranged soldiers, mercenaries, and runaway slaves as his crew, and attacked Spanish ships and cities for valuable possessions. Stephan Talty describes their political tension, bloody battles, apocalyptic disasters, and outlaw lifestyle, making it a thrilling and informative read for pirate enthusiasts.

He gathered estranged soldiers, mercenaries, and runaway slaves as his crew, and attacked Spanish ships and cities for valuable possessions.

Next up, at #8 is "The Woman Who Smashed Codes." Journalist Jason Fagone presents the biography of Elizabeth Smith Friedman, "America's first female cryptanalyst" and wife of William Friedman, who is known as the "Godfather of Cryptology." Even though her accomplishments in World War 1 and 2 were significant and groundbreaking, she has been undervalued and unacknowledged. She was even left out of many history books, due to widespread sexism in the 1900s.

With details about the history of America's codebreaking, the narrative follows her hardships, breakthroughs, and technical contributions in highly readable prose.

Finally, at #9 is "Without Precedent," a comprehensive account of John Marshall who is known as the "greatest chief justice" of the United States. Written by law professor Joel Richard Paul, the book follows the life and accomplishments of the fourth chief justice.

Written by law professor Joel Richard Paul, the book follows the life and accomplishments of the fourth chief justice.

Born in 1755 to an impoverished family, Marshall had little formal education, yet he managed to reinvent himself as a highly distinguished lawyer. Paul narrates his 34-year tenure, highlighting his significant contributions, such as establishing fundamental constitutional principles, and producing numerous unanimous decisions.