Historical Fiction books out there. If you would like to read something not on the list, please ask

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The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Rhodes, Richard

Few great discoveries have evolved so swiftly—or have been so misunderstood. From the theoretical discussions of nuclear energy to the bright glare of Trinity, there was a span of hardly more than twenty-five years. What began as merely an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan Project, and then into the bomb, with frightening rapidity, while scientists known only to their peers—Szilard, Teller, Oppenheimer, Bohr, Meitner, Fermi, Lawrence, and von Neumann—stepped from their ivory towers into the limelight.

 mapping the silk road

Mapping the Silk Road and Beyond

 Nebenzahl, Kenneth

 This volume reproduces in full color 80 beautifully rendered and rare maps, more than 40 of which have never been published for the general public.


Mary, Bloody Mary

Meyer, Carolyn

The story of Mary Tudor's childhood is a classic fairy tale: A princess who is to inherit the throne of England is separated from her mother; abused by an evil stepmother who has enchanted her father; stripped of her title; and forced to care for her baby stepsister, who inherits Mary's rights to the throne.


Meiko and the Fifth Treasure

Coerr, Eleanor

When the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Mieko's nearby village was turned into ruins, and her hand was badly injured. Mieko loves to do calligraphy more than anything, but now she can barely hold a paintbrush. And she feels as if she has lost something that she can't paint without-the legendary fifth treasure, beauty in the heart. Then she is sent to live with her grandparents and must go to a new school. But Mieko is brave and eventually learns that time and patience can help with many things, and may even help her find the fifth treasure.


Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel

Golden, Arthur

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it.


Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

King, Ross

Re-creates Michelangelo's day-to-day world: the assistants who worked directly on the Sistine Chapel, the continuing rivalry with Raphael and others who had much to do with his world (da Vinci, Savonarola, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Erasmus…) A clear vision of the "novelty" of Michelangelo's image of God, and how "completely unheard of in previous depictions of the ancestors of Christ" was his use of women.

 the murder of king tut

 The Murder of King Tut

 Patterson, James

 The authors describe their investigation into the death of King Tut, recounting how they drew on forensic clues, historical information, and the writings of Howard Carter to conclude that Tut did not die of natural causes.


Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History

Le Couteur, Penney M.


Burreson, Jay

A fascinating account of seventeen groups of molecules that have greatly influenced the course of history. These molecules provided the impetus for early exploration, and made possible the voyages of discovery that ensued.


Nathaniel’s Nutmeg

Milton, Giles

The tiny island of Run is an insignificant speck in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago--remote, tranquil, and now largely ignored. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, however, Run's harvest of nutmeg turned it into the most lucrative of the Spice Islands, precipitating a fierce and bloody battle between the all-powerful Dutch East India Company and a small band of ragtag British adventurers led by the intrepid Nathaniel Courthope. The outcome of the fighting was one of the most spectacular deals in history: Britain ceded Run to Holland, but in return was given another small island, Manhattan.


Nectar in a Sieve

Markandaya, Kamala

In a small village in India, a simple peasant woman recalls her life as a child bride, a farmer's wife, and a devoted mother amidst fights to meet changing times, poverty, and disaster. This is the very moving story of a woman in India whose whole life was a gallant and persistent battle to care for those she loved. Markandaya's first published novel Nectar in a Sieve was a bestseller and cited as an American Library Association Notable Book in 1955. Its depiction of rural India and the suffering of its poor made it popular in the West.


Not without My Daughter

Mahmoody, Betty

In August 1984, Michigan housewife Betty Mahmoody accompanied her husband to his native Iran for a two-week vacation. To her horror, she found herself and her four-year-old daughter, Mahtob, virtual prisoners of a man rededicated to his Shiite Moslem faith, in a land where women are near-slaves and Americans are despised. Their only hope for escape lay in a dangerous underground that would not take her child...


Oliver Twist

Dickens, Charles

Set in Victorian London, this is a tale of a spirited young innocent's unwilling but inevitable recruitment into a scabrous gang of thieves. Masterminded by the loathsome Fagin, the underworld crew features some of Dickens' most memorable characters, including the vicious Bill Sikes, gentle Nancy, and the juvenile pickpocket known as the Artful Dodger.

the ottoman centuries

 The Ottoman Centuries

 Lord Kinross

 The Ottoman Empire began in 1300 under the almost legendary Osman I, reached its apogee in the sixteenth century under Suleiman the Magnificent, whose forces threatened the gates of Vienna, and gradually diminished thereafter until Mehmed VI was sent into exile by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk).


A Passage to India

Forester, E.M.

Novel about a young English woman in colonial India. It tells of the clash of cultures in British India after the turn of the century. In exquisite prose, Forster reveals the menace that lurks just beneath the surface of ordinary life, as a common misunderstanding erupts into a devastating affair.


Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

 Card, Orson Scott

 The fictional portrait of Christopher Columbus is combined with the story of a future scientist who believes she is capable of altering human history to create a world overflowing with hope and healing, but her interference has unexpected repercussions for the present and future.


Peter the Great: His Life and World

Massie, Robert

The life of this captivating historical figure, chronicling the pivotal events that shaped a boy into a legend—including his “incognito” travels in Europe, his unquenchable curiosity about Western ways, his obsession with the sea and establishment of the stupendous Russian navy, his creation of an unbeatable army, his transformation of Russia, and his relationships with those he loved most: Catherine, the robust yet gentle peasant, his loving mistress, wife, and successor; and Menshikov, the charming, bold, unscrupulous prince who rose to wealth and power through Peter’s friendship. Impetuous and stubborn, generous and cruel, tender and unforgiving, a man of enormous energy and complexity, Peter the Great is brought fully to life.



Harris, Robert

The young engineer Marcus Attilius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay of Naples. His predecessor has disappeared. Springs are failing for the first time in generations. And now there is a crisis on the Augusta’s sixty-mile main line—somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.

 pope joan

Pope Joan: A Novel

Cross, Donna Woolfolk

 Rebelling against medieval strictures forbidding the education of women, young Joan assumes the identity of her murdered brother and is initiated into the monastery of Fulda, where she distinguishes herself as a great Christian scholar before relocating to Rome and becoming a powerful force in religious politics


The Prince and the Pauper

Twain, Mark

During the reign of England's Henry VIII two boys were born on the same date, with identical features--which no one noticed, in as much as they belonged to two opposed social spheres: Edward Tudor, crown prince, and Tom Canty, a grimy street urchin. By chance happening to meet one day they consider it a lark to switch places (Prince-for-a-Day) and pretend to step into each other's roles. But disaster occurs when the King suddenly dies; Tom is mistaken for the prince and hauled off to the Palace, where he is ignorant of formal speech, prescribed behavior and court etiquette. His protests of not being the real heir fall on deaf ears. Thinking that the crown prince has gone mad evil schemers with their own agenda of usurping the throne plot to profit by him--prince or pauper as he turns out to be.


The Prize

Yergin, Daniel

Deemed "the best history of oil ever written" by Business Week and with more than 300,000 copies in print, Daniel Yergin’s Pulitzer Prize–winning account of the global pursuit of oil, money, and power has been extensively updated to address the current energy crisis.


The Question of Hu

Spence, Jonathan

To French Jesuit Jean-Francois Foucquet, John Hua Chinese widower from Canton and a convert to Catholicismseemed like the perfect choice to serve as the missionary's translator and assistant. So Foucquet took Hu back to Paris with him in 1722, but Hu acted bizarrely on the overseas crossing and was confined for two years in the lunatic asylum of Charenton. Hu's behavior was clearly irrational: he wielded a knife, made strange proclamations, slept outdoors. But was he insane, and if so, did his journey to the West somehow trigger the reaction?

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The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

Chang, Iris


Red Azalea

Min, Anchee

This is a memoir of growing up in the last years of Mao’s China. As a child, she was asked to publicly humiliate a teacher; at seventeen, she was sent to work at a labor collective. Forbidden to speak, dress, read, write, or love as she pleased, she found a lifeline in a secret love affair with another woman. Miraculously selected for the film version of one of Madame Mao’s political operas, Min’s life changed overnight.


The Red Tent

Diamant, Anita

Told in Dinah's voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

Schirer, William

An unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world.


Salt: A World History

Kurlansky, Mark

 A history of salt notes its role as currency, in the establishment of trade routes and cities, and as an agenda of war, noting key figures who played major parts in its manufacture and distribution.



Maaluf, Amin

Recounts the creation of his Rubaiyat throughout the history of the Seljuk Empire, his interactions with historical figures sich as Vizir Nizam al-Mulk and Hassan al-Sabbah of the order of the Assassins, and his love affair with a female poet of the Samarkand court. The second half of the story documents the efforts of a fictional American named Benjamin O. Lesage to obtain the (fictional) original copy of the Rubaiyat, witnessing Persian history throughout the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1907, only to lose this manuscript in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.


The Samurai

Endo, Shusaku

Tells of the journey of some of the first Japanese to set foot on European soil and the resulting clash of cultures and politics.


Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened the East

Milton, Giles

Englishman William Adams was one of only twenty-four survivors of a fleet of ships bound for Asia, and he had washed up in the forbidden land of Japan. The traders were even more amazed to learn that, rather than be horrified by this strange country, Adams had fallen in love with the barbaric splendour of Japan - and decided to settle. He had forged a close friendship with the ruthless Shogun, taken a Japanese wife and sired a new, mixed-race family. Adams' letter fired up the London merchants to plan a new expedition to the Far East, with designs to trade with the Japanese and use Adams' contacts there to forge new commercial links.


The Scarlet Pimpernel

Orczy, Baroness Emmuska

Reign of terror in France during/after the French Revolution.


Shaka The Story of a Zulu King

Coutts, Alex

The book is an historical novel that tells of the origins of the Zulu nation, and the birth, rise and death of King Shaka ka Senzangakhona, most notable amongst a long line of remarkable monarchs. The author describes his boyhood years, assumption of the Zulu leadership, defeat and incorporation of numerous Natal and Zululand tribes and clans, relations with the sometimes manipulative and devious Port Natal traders, and assassination after the loss of his mother Nandi brought on increasing, schizophrenic mood swings that worked to the detriment of the nation as a whole.



Hesse, Hermann

 This allegorical novel, set in sixth-century India around the time of the Buddha, follows a young man on his search for enlightenment.

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