The World History Collection


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General World History Recommendations

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Spice: the History of a Temptation
by Jack Turner

Spices helped draw Europeans into their age of expansion, but the Western world was far from ignorant of them before that time. Turner's lively and wide-ranging account begins with the voyages of discovery, but demonstrates that, even in ancient times, spices from distant India and Indonesia made their way west and fueled the European imagination.
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Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think
by Victor Davis Hanson


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Victor Davis Hanson examines three great military encounters in history: Okinawa, Shiloh, and Delium, and connects past wars with current policy.

Salt: A World History  
by Mark Kurlansky

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Salt has a long and intriguing history. Kurlansky demonstrates how important salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning.

Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism
by Thomas L Friedman

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Friedman, a foreign affairs correspondent, has written an excellent book discussing recent history which aids our understanding of modern terrorism. Winner of the New York Times Book of the Year

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883
by Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester compellingly connects the biggest volcanic eruption in history with civil and religious unrest in Indonesia today. Krakatoa tells the frightening story in a blend of gentle geology and narrative history.
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The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History
by John M. Barry

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The flu epidemic killed 40 million people on the heels of the great devastation of World War I. This best-selling and critically acclaimed book tells the fascinating story.

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
by Thomas Cahill

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A History of the Jews
by Paul Johnson 

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From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life
by Jacques Barzun 

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 The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels
by Thomas Cahill

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The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture
by David Brion Davis

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 Uppity Women of Ancient Times
by Vicki Leon

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 Plagues and Peoples
by William H. McNeill

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Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya
by Dick Teresi

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A great book! Teresi, cofounder of Omni magazine, reveals the important contributions to science of the nonwestern cultures that most westerners don't know about.

Words That Shook the World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches and Events
by Richard Greene and others

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The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time
by Will Durant

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Pulitzer Prize-winning philosopher and historian Durant in probably his greatest work, tackling the greatest subjects of all time.

coverThe World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions by Huston Smith

Smith, the world renowned expert on religions, explains complex ideas clearly. A fascinatingbook, and very well written

Illustrated World Religions
by Huston Smithcover

a somewhat abbreviated version of World Religions with pictures

Galileo's Daughter
by Dava Sobel


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Dava Sobel bases her bestselling book on 124 surviving letters to Galileo from the his illegitimate daughter, Sister Mary Celeste.

 Europe: A History
by Norman Davies

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a magnum opus, the history of Europe from pre-history to the dismantling of the Soviet Union

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

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Diamond examines the geographical factors that caused Europe to develop in ways that led to global domination

Coal: A Human History
by Barbara Freese

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"Deleterious to health and beneficial to wealth, coal contains a tension that makes its story a compelling one." Booklist

Jewish Tales of Reincarnation
by Yonassan Gershom

delightful stories and teachings in which the author shows reincarnation to be a Jewish belief 
Jewish Tales of Reincarnation

The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions
by Phillip Novak
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essential sacred readings from Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and primal religion sources