The Greatest Russian, British "Nonfiction, European History" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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European History

European History is a category of books that focuses on the historical events, people, and cultures of Europe. It covers a wide range of topics, including the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the modern era. This category of books explores the political, social, economic, and cultural developments that have shaped Europe over the centuries, from the rise and fall of empires to the impact of wars and revolutions. It provides readers with a deeper understanding of the rich and complex history of Europe and its influence on the world.

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  1. 1. Postwar by Tony Judt

    "Postwar" is a comprehensive analysis of the history of Europe from the end of World War II to the early 21st century. The book examines the major political, cultural, social, and economic changes that have shaped the continent, including the Cold War, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the rebuilding of Western Europe, and the challenges of integrating Eastern Europe into the European Union. It also delves into the impact of these events on the daily lives of Europeans, exploring themes of memory, identity, and the struggle to come to terms with the past.

    The 2094th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Alan Turing by Andrew Hodges

    This biography provides a comprehensive look at the life and work of a pioneering computer scientist and mathematician who played a crucial role in breaking the Enigma code during World War II. It delves into his groundbreaking contributions to the development of computer science, his tragic prosecution for homosexuality, and his enduring legacy in the field of artificial intelligence and computing. The book not only celebrates his scientific achievements but also examines the social context of his time, shedding light on the challenges he faced and the impact of his work on future generations.

    The 2474th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Citizens by Simon Schama

    "Citizens" is a detailed and comprehensive exploration of the French Revolution, offering a fresh perspective on the historical event. The book examines the revolution from its earliest beginnings to its aftermath, delving into the causes, key figures, and the immediate and long-term consequences. It provides a vivid and engaging account, highlighting that the revolution was not just a period of bloodshed and turmoil, but also a time of radical political and social change that shaped the course of modern history.

    The 3408th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Unwomanly Face Of War by Svetlana Alexievich

    "The Unwomanly Face Of War" is a powerful and poignant collection of interviews with Soviet women who fought in World War II. Through their testimonies, the author sheds light on the often overlooked and untold stories of these brave women who served as snipers, pilots, nurses, and soldiers on the front lines. The book explores their experiences, sacrifices, and the lasting impact of war on their lives, providing a unique and intimate perspective on the realities of war from a female point of view.

    The 3894th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain by Peter Fryer

    "Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain" is a comprehensive account of the African diaspora in Britain from Roman times to the present day. The book explores the various contributions of Black people to the British society, culture, and economy, challenging the traditional narrative that Black presence in Britain began with the Windrush generation. The author delves into the struggles, achievements, and resilience of Black people in Britain, offering a nuanced and detailed historical perspective.

    The 4630th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Mendeleyev's Dream by Paul Strathern

    This book traces the history of chemistry from the ancient philosophers' wild speculations about the composition of the universe to the creation of the periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleyev. Through a blend of storytelling and science, it explores the development of atomic theory and chemical elements, leading up to Mendeleyev's groundbreaking dream in which he envisioned the periodic table in its modern form. The narrative delves into the lives and discoveries of key figures in the field of chemistry, illustrating how their work contributed to our understanding of the elements that make up the world around us.

    The 4782nd Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. English Society In The Eighteenth Century by Roy Porter

    This book offers a comprehensive exploration of the social landscape of 18th-century England, delving into the diverse aspects of daily life and the remarkable transformations that characterized the era. It examines the intricate fabric of English society, from the lives of the aristocracy to the conditions of the poor, and how the age was shaped by factors such as urbanization, commercialization, and the Enlightenment. The narrative captures the contrasts and contradictions of the period, revealing how advancements in education, culture, and industry coexisted with persistent inequality and social strife, painting a vivid picture of a dynamic and evolving society.

    The 5152nd Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. The Age Of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm

    "The Age of Extremes" is a historical analysis that explores the tumultuous period of the 20th century, spanning from 1914 to 1991. This work delves into the profound transformations and conflicts that defined the era, including the two World Wars, the Cold War, the rise of fascism and communism, and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. The book examines the impact of economic crises, technological advancements, and social changes on global societies, offering insights into how these extreme conditions shaped the modern world and its political landscapes. The narrative combines a detailed account of historical events with a critical evaluation of their economic and cultural implications, providing a comprehensive overview of a century marked by both unprecedented progress and devastating turmoil.

    The 5685th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Rise And Fall Of The Great Powers by Paul Kennedy

    The book in question offers a comprehensive analysis of the economic and military factors that have shaped the relative power of nations from the 16th century to the late 20th century. It argues that the rise and fall of great powers are closely linked to their ability to manage economic resources and maintain military strength. The author examines the patterns of history to show how the overextension of an empire's resources often leads to decline, and suggests that managing the balance between wealth and power is crucial for the longevity of a great power. The book also provides insights into the potential future of global power dynamics by considering the implications of these historical patterns for contemporary superpowers.

    The 5886th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Nations And Nationalism by Ernest Gellner

    This book presents a theoretical exploration of the concept of nationalism, the social conditions fostering it, and its role in the modern world. The author argues that nationalism is a product of industrial society, which necessitates a homogenous culture for communication and a centralized education system to sustain the industrial and economic structure. The work critically examines the origins and implications of nationalism, suggesting that it is not an ancient phenomenon but rather a relatively recent one that arises when a society transitions from agrarian to industrial. The author contends that nationalism serves to align the political and national unit, without necessarily corresponding to pre-existing ethnic or cultural identities, and is a political principle that holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent.

    The 6626th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd

    This book is a comprehensive exploration of the city of London, from its ancient origins to the modern era. The author delves into the city's rich history, culture, and unique character, examining its evolution through various lenses such as crime, religion, commerce, education, and entertainment. The narrative is brought to life with fascinating anecdotes, vivid descriptions, and a wealth of historical detail, providing an immersive and engaging portrait of one of the world's most iconic cities.

    The 6707th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The London Hanged by Peter Linebaugh

    "The London Hanged" is a historical analysis that delves into the economic and social aspects of capital punishment in 18th-century London. The book examines how the legal system, particularly through the use of public executions at Tyburn, was employed to control the laboring classes as London evolved into a capitalist economy. It explores the lives and trials of those sentenced to hang, not just for heinous crimes but often for petty thefts, reflecting the harsh penal codes of the time. The narrative connects these executions to broader themes of class struggle, economic exploitation, and the development of legal institutions that supported property rights over human rights, offering a critical look at the intersections of law, labor, and capital.

    The 7200th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse

    "Sun Dancing" presents a vivid tapestry of medieval Irish monasticism, combining historical facts with imaginative storytelling. The book delves into the austere and spiritually intense lives of monks on Skellig Michael, a remote island off the Irish coast, during the early centuries of Christianity in Ireland. Through a blend of narrative and analysis, the text explores the harsh realities of monastic life, the cultural and religious contributions of these communities, and the broader context of Irish and European history during this period. The author weaves together the daily routines, spiritual practices, and legendary tales of these monks, providing a window into a world where faith and endurance converge amidst the isolation of the Atlantic Ocean.

    The 7572nd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes

    "A People's Tragedy" is an in-depth exploration of the Russian Revolution from 1891 to 1924. The book offers a comprehensive study of the Revolution's roots, its progression, and its aftermath, from the famine that gripped Russia in the 1890s, through the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, to the establishment of the Bolshevik regime and the death of Lenin. The author uses a broad range of sources, including personal letters, diaries, and government documents, to present a detailed, humanized view of the Revolution's impact on everyday individuals, bringing to life the experiences of peasants, workers, soldiers, and intellectuals.

    The 8883rd Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

    This book offers a unique perspective on world history, telling the story of humanity through the examination of 100 man-made objects. The author, a museum director, uses items from the British Museum, ranging from a 2 million-year-old Olduvai stone cutting tool to a contemporary credit card, to explore various themes such as trade, religion, art, science, and politics. The book provides a fascinating lens through which to view the evolution of human civilization.

    The 8985th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

    This book provides a deeply researched examination of the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, focusing on the lives of four individuals born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. The book explores how, after the fall of the Soviet Union, instead of moving towards a democratic society, Russia has seen a rise in a new form of totalitarianism under its current leadership. It delves into the psychological shift in the Russian populace, the government's use of homophobia as a method of control, and how the internet and social media have been weaponized for political purposes.

    The 9220th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. 1,000 Years Of Annoying The French by Stephen Clarke

    This book is a humorous and informative exploration of the longstanding rivalry between England and France, delving into a millennium's worth of historical conflicts, cultural misunderstandings, and entertaining anecdotes. The author examines key events and figures that have shaped the relationship between the two nations, from the Norman Conquest to modern-day politics, all while debunking myths and offering witty insights into how these two European neighbors have continued to eye each other with a mix of animosity and fascination. Through its engaging narrative, the book reveals the complexities and idiosyncrasies of Anglo-French history, showcasing how the past thousand years have been marked by both mutual annoyance and grudging admiration.

    The 9391st Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Caravaggio by Andrew Graham Dixon

    This book provides an in-depth exploration of the life and work of the revolutionary Italian painter known for his dramatic use of light and shadow, which came to define the Baroque style of painting. The biography delves into the artist's tumultuous personal life, marked by violent encounters and a temper as fiery as his groundbreaking artistic talent. Through meticulous research, the author reconstructs the painter's journey from his humble beginnings to his rise to fame and his ultimate tragic downfall, offering insights into his masterpieces and his enduring influence on the art world.

    The 9391st Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Why the West Rules - For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris

    This book is a comprehensive exploration of the historical and cultural patterns that have led to Western dominance in the world. The author uses a broad range of evidence from archaeology, genetics, and linguistics to trace the development of East and West from prehistoric times to the present, arguing that physical geography, rather than culture, religion, or great men, is the primary driving force behind the rise of the West. The book also offers a forecast for the future, predicting a shift in global power from the West to the East.

    The 9435th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore

    The book is a comprehensive and vivid historical narrative that delves into the rich and tumultuous past of one of the world's most contested and sacred cities. Spanning thousands of years, the work chronicles the city's inception, its central role in the development of three major monotheistic religions, and the endless series of conflicts and transformations it has undergone. Through a tapestry of personal stories, political intrigue, and religious fervor, the author weaves together a detailed account of Jerusalem's multifaceted history, revealing how this unique city has been revered, fought over, and cherished by countless generations.

    The 9515th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went To War In 1914 by Christopher Clark

    "The Sleepwalkers" by Christopher Clark is a comprehensive account of the events leading up to World War I. The book argues that the war was not caused by any one nation or individual, but rather a combination of factors including nationalism, alliances, and miscommunication. Clark explores the complex political landscape of Europe in the early 20th century and the actions of key players such as Kaiser Wilhelm II and Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The book provides a detailed analysis of the events leading up to the war and challenges traditional narratives of blame and responsibility.

    The 9574th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. The Ordeal Of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman In World History. by Linda Colley

    "The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh" by Linda Colley tells the story of a remarkable woman who lived in the 18th century and traveled the world, experiencing various cultures and societies. Elizabeth Marsh was born into a wealthy family in England but faced many challenges throughout her life, including being kidnapped in Morocco and facing financial ruin. Colley uses Marsh's story to explore themes of gender, power, and imperialism, and to shed light on the experiences of women in world history.

    The 9574th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. Black And British by David Olusoga

    This book is a comprehensive exploration of the Black British experience, tracing the rich and complex history of Black people in Britain from Roman times to the present day. It delves into the often overlooked contributions of Black Britons and examines the cultural, social, and political impacts of African and Caribbean communities in the UK. The narrative confronts the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and racism, while also celebrating the resilience and achievements of the Black British population. Through a blend of historical analysis, personal stories, and cultural commentary, the book provides a nuanced account of how Black history is inextricably interwoven with the broader British narrative.

    The 10123rd Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. Viking Britain by Thomas Williams

    This historical work delves into the profound impact of Norse warriors on the British Isles from the eighth to the eleventh century. It explores the Vikings not merely as savage raiders, but as settlers, traders, and integral contributors to the cultural and political landscape of medieval Britain. The book offers a nuanced view of the era, challenging the traditional narrative of the Vikings as mere plunderers, and instead painting a complex picture of their roles as colonizers, craftsmen, and even lawmakers, who left a lasting legacy on British language, society, and geography. Through a blend of archaeological evidence and historical records, the narrative brings to life the world of the Vikings in Britain with vivid detail and scholarly insight.

    The 10216th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. The Embarrassment Of Riches by Simon Schama

    "The Embarrassment of Riches" is an expansive historical analysis that delves into the culture, society, and identity of the Dutch during the height of their Golden Age in the 17th century. The book explores how the Netherlands, a small, newly independent nation, managed to become a global economic powerhouse and a cradle of artistic and intellectual innovation. Through a rich tapestry of details, the author examines various aspects of Dutch life, from domestic interiors and public rituals to the values and anxieties of the era, illustrating how the wealth accumulated from trade and colonial expansion influenced Dutch culture, morality, and social customs.

    The 10308th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.