The Top 30 Histories Ranked by Reviews

See an Overview of this Rating System and Algorithm Here

Top 10

#1 Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon


Rating: 5 out of 5.

The First World War. The planet hadn’t seen a major war between all the Great Powers since the downfall of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. But 99 years later the dam breaks and a Pandora’s Box of violence engulfs the planet.

#2 Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Since the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision in 2015, sexual identity has dominated both public discourse and cultural trends — yet no historical phenomenon is its own cause. From Augustine to Marx, various views and perspectives have contributed to the modern understanding of the self. In this timely audiobook, Carl Trueman analyzes the development of the sexual revolution as a symptom — rather than the cause — of the human search for identity.

#3 Ibram X. Kendi’s Four Hundred Souls


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A chorus of extraordinary voices tells the epic story of the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire. The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States.

#4 Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Empire of Pain is the saga of three generations of a single family and the mark they would leave on the world, a tale that moves from the bustling streets of early twentieth-century Brooklyn to the seaside palaces of Greenwich, Connecticut, and Cap d’Antibes to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. It follows the family’s early success with Valium to the much more potent OxyContin, marketed with a ruthless technique of co-opting doctors, influencing the FDA, downplaying the drug’s addictiveness.

#5 Carl Trueman’s Strange New World


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

How did the world arrive at its current, disorienting state of identity politics, and how should the church respond? Historian Carl R. Trueman shows how influences ranging from traditional institutions to technology and pornography moved modern culture toward an era of “expressive individualism.” Investigating philosophies from the Romantics, Nietzsche, Marx, Wilde, Freud, and the New Left, he outlines the history of Western thought to the distinctly sexual direction of present-day identity politics and explains the modern implications of these ideas on religion, free speech, and personal identity. 

#6 Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: a Narrative


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Random House publisher Bennett Cerf commissioned southern novelist Shelby Foote to write a short, one-volume history of the American Civil War. Thirty years and a million and a half words later—every word having been written out longhand with nib pens dipped into ink—Foote published the third and final volume of what has become the classic narrative of that epic war.

#7 Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation’s communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union’s top man in London, but from 1973 on he was secretly working for MI6. For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB…

#8 Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars


Rating: 4 out of 5.

World War II was the most lethal conflict in human history. Never before had a war been fought on so many diverse landscapes and in so many different ways, from rocket attacks in London to jungle fighting in Burma to armor strikes in Libya. The Second World Wars examines how combat unfolded in the air, at sea, and on land to show how distinct conflicts among disparate combatants coalesced into one interconnected global war. Drawing on 3,000 years of military history, bestselling author Victor Davis Hanson argues that despite its novel industrial barbarity, neither the war’s origins nor its geography were unusual. Nor was its ultimate outcome surprising.

#9 Michael Reeves’ The Unquenchable Flame


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Burning pyres, nuns on the run, stirring courage, and comic relief: the Protestant Reformation is a gripping tale, packed with drama. But what motivated the Reformers? And what were they really like? The Unquenchable Flame, a lively, accessible, and fully informative introduction to the Reformation by Michael Reeves, brings to life the movement’s most colorful characters (Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, The Puritans, etc.), examines their ideas, and shows the profound and personal relevance of Reformation thinking for today.

#10 Edward Baptist’s The Half has Never Been Told


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution — the nation’s original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy.

Top 30

  1. Vincent, Lynn. Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History. (4.17)
  2. Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas 1, 2, 3. (4.15 avg.)
  3. Rothstein, Richard. The Color of Law: a Forgotten History of how our Government Segregated America. (4.14)
  4. Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns. The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (4.14)
  5. Mcwhorter, John. The Story of Human Language. (4.08)
  6. Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. (4.08)
  7. Ambrose, Stephen. Band of Brothers. (4.06)
  8. Churchill, Winston. The Second World War 1-6. (4.05 avg.)
  9. Holland, James. The War in the West: Germany Ascendant 1939-1941. (4.0)
  10. Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens. (4.0)
  11. Beevor, Anthony. The Second World War. (3.97)
  12. McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom. (3.97)
  13. Mangalwadi, Vishal. The BookThat Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of the Western World. (3.93)
  14. Lewis, Damien. SAS Ghost Patrol: The Ultra-Secret Unit that Posed as Nazi Stormtroopers. (3.93)
  15. Fukuyama, Francis. Political Order & Political Decay. (3.93)
  16. Sears, Stephen. Gettysburg. (3.93)
  17. Milton, Giles. Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. (3.93)
  18. Meyer, G.J. A World Undone: The Story of the Great War. (3.93)
  19. Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Gene: an Intimate History. (3.93)
  20. Packer, J.I. A Quest for Godliness. (3.91)