36 books for history lovers

It’s been a fantastic year for new history books, but which titles absolutely demand attention? Here's an index of our books of the year 2018 – as chosen by our panel of historians and experts – to help you choose the perfect book for a history fan this Christmas…

(Illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare for BBC History Magazine)

The full list of our Books of the Year 2018 was published in the Christmas 2018 issue of BBC History Magazine, on sale now. If you’re a subscriber to BBC History Magazineclick here to read full reviews from our panel of historians and experts, including picks by Tracy Borman, Rana Mitter, Alison Weir and Simon Sebag Montefiore…

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Medieval

1

The Restless Kings: Henry II, His Sons and the Wars for the Plantagenet Crown

by Nick Barratt (Faber and Faber) Chosen by Laura Ashe

The Restless Kings: Henry II, His Sons and the Wars for the Plantagenet Crown by Nick Barratt

2

The Western Wind

by Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape) Chosen by Nick Rennison

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

Spy stories

3

Invisible Agents: Women and Espionage in Seventeenth-Century Britain

by Nadine Akkerman (Oxford University Press) Chosen by Leanda de Lisle

Invisible Agents: Women and Espionage in Seventeenth-Century Britain by Nadine Akkerman
4

Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations

by Ronen Bergman (Random House) Chosen by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman

5

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

by Ben Macintyre (Viking) Chosen by Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre

Asian history

6

The British in India: Three Centuries of Ambition and Experience

by David Gilmour (Allen Lane) Chosen by Dominic Sandbrook

The British in India: Three Centuries of Ambition and Experience by David Gilmour

7

A Business History of India: Enterprise and the Emergence of Capitalism from 1700

by Tirthankar Roy (Cambridge University Press) Chosen by Andrew Roberts

A Business History of India: Enterprise and the Emergence of Capitalism from 1700 by Tirthankar Roy

8

The Great Flowing River: A Memoir of China from Manchuria to Taiwan

by Ch’i Pang-yuan (Columbia University Press) Chosen by Rana Mitter

The Great Flowing River: A Memoir of China from Manchuria to Taiwan by Ch’i Pang-yuan

9

The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, The Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War

by George Morton-Jack (Little, Brown) Chosen by Andrew Roberts

The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, The Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War by George Morton-Jack

Tudors and Stuarts

10

Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him

by Tracy Borman (Hodder and Stoughton) Chosen by Alison Weir

Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him by Tracy Borman

11

Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

by Peter Marshall (Yale University Press) Winner of the 2018 Wolfson History Prize

Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation by Peter Marshall

12

Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh

by Anna Beer (Oneworld) Chosen by Tracy Borman

Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh by Anna Beer

13

The Poison Bed

by Elizabeth Fremantle (Pegasus) Chosen by Leanda de Lisle

The Poison Bed by Elizabeth Fremantle

14

Thomas Cromwell: A Life

by Diarmaid MacCulloch (Allen Lane) Chosen by Leanda de Lisle and Laura Ashe

Thomas Cromwell: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch

15

A Tudor Christmas

by Alison Weir and Siobhan Clarke (Jonathan Cape) Chosen by Tracy Borman

A Tudor Christmas by Alison Weir and Siobhan Clarke (Jonathan Cape)

Empires

16

American Empire: A New Global History

by AG Hopkins (Princeton University Press) Chosen by Dominic Sandbrook

American Empire: A New Global History by AG Hopkins

17

Lords of the Desert: Britain’s Struggle with America to Dominate the Middle East

by James Barr (Simon and Schuster) Chosen by Peter Frankopan and Dominic Sandbrook

Lords of the Desert: Britain’s Struggle with America to Dominate the Middle East by James Barr

18

Ottoman Odyssey: Travels Through a Lost Empire

by Alev Scott (Riverrun) Chosen by Rana Mitter

ttoman Odyssey: Travels Through a Lost Empire by Alev Scott

Modern history 

19

The Colour of Time: A New History of the World, 1850-1960

by Marina Amaral and Dan Jones (Head of Zeus) Chosen by Laura Ashe

The Colour of Time: A New History of the World, 1850-1960 by Marina Amaral and Dan Jones

20

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

by Adam Tooze (Allen Lane) Chosen by Anne Applebaum

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze

21

Crucible: Thirteen Months that Forged Our World

by Jonathan Fenby (Simon and Schuster) Chosen by Rana Mitter

Crucible: Thirteen Months that Forged Our World by Jonathan Fenby

22

The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America

by Timothy Snyder (Bodley Head) Chosen by Anne Applebaum

The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder

Crime and punishment

23

The Gallows Pole

by Benjamin Myers (Bluenose) Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers

24

Only Killers and Thieves

by Paul Howarth (One) Chosen by Nick Rennison

Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Georgian and Victorian

25

Mrs Whistler

by Matthew Plampin (The Borough Press) Chosen by Nick Rennison

Mrs Whistler by Matthew Plampin

26

Napoleon: The Man Behind the Myth

by Adam Zamoyski (William Collins) Chosen by Anne Applebaum

Napoleon: The Man Behind the Myth by Adam Zamoyski

27

Nelson in Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799

by Jonathan North (Amberley Publishing) Chosen by Andrew Roberts

Nelson in Naples: Revolution and Retribution in 1799 by Jonathan North

28

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free

by Andrew Miller (Sceptre) Chosen by Nick Rennison

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller

The ancient world

29

Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity

edited by Nicola di Cosmo and Michael Maas (Cambridge University Press) Chosen by Peter Frankopan

Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity edited by Nicola di Cosmo and Michael Maas

30

Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian

by Peter Heather (Oxford University Press) Chosen by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian by Peter Heather

Royal life

31

Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal House

by Adrian Tinniswood (Jonathan Cape) Chosen by Alison Weir

Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal House by Adrian Tinniswood

32

Kensington Palace: Art, Architecture and Society

by Olivia Fryman, Sebastian Edwards et al (Yale University Press) Chosen by Tracy Borman

Kensington Palace: Art, Architecture and Society by Olivia Fryman, Sebastian Edwards et al

33

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret

by Craig Brown (Fourth Estate) Winner of the James Tait Black Prize for Historical Biography

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown

34

Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace

by Steven Brindle (Royal Collection Trust) Chosen by Alison Weir

Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace by Steven Brindle

Social history

35

All Among the Barley

by Melissa Harrison (Bloomsbury) Chosen by Nick Rennison

All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

36

A Field Guide to the English Clergy

by Fergus Butler-Gallie (Oneworld) Chosen by Peter Frankopan

A Field Guide to the English Clergy by Fergus Butler-Gallie
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Click here to find out more about the books featured in this year’s list.