…What the heck: open book thread.

Tell me what I should be reading.  I could use some good historical fiction choices (I already read George MacDonald Fraser and Patrick O’Brian).


  • Chris Wild says:

    Moe, ever read Follet? Pillars of the Earth is his epic tome but honestly, I found his WWII-based fiction highly entertaining (Eye of the Needle, Jackdaws, Hornet Flight)

  • Demosthenes says:

    If you’re into alternate history, may I recommend something by Harry Turtledove, especially “Guns of the South” or “Agent of Byzantium”? And (sort of) in the same vein, “Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus” by Orson Scott Card.

  • Skip says:

    Well, I just finished the ARC of Hot Gate, the third book in John Ringo’s Troy Rising series, and it was pretty decent, though I still think the first book in the series is the best of them. Tomorrow Fedex should deliver Wise Man’s Fear, book two of the Kingkiller Saga – if you didn’t read Name of the Wind, the first book, that’s highly recommended.

    As for historical fiction? Hmm, haven’t really read any of that non-recently unless you count the 1632 series, though I did enjoy Colleen McCullough’s Roman series a few years back. I see she’s written two novels in it I haven’t read though.

  • Stan Pruss says:


    This is book 1 of the polish trilogy by Henryk Sienkiewicz translated by W. S. Kuniczak.

    You’ll love and hate me for this because of how long but totally absorbing it is. It also has much to say about today. Read the James A. Michener (Foreword)

  • Phineas says:

    I haven’t read them, myself, but several friends quite like Dorothy Dunnett’s historical fiction: http://is.gd/6mogWt

  • Kyle Haight says:

    Neal Stephenson’s “Baroque Cycle” books. I also enjoyed Ed Cline’s “Sparrowhawk” series — the first novels about the American Revolution I’ve read that do a decent job with the ideas.

  • DanB says:

    For historical fiction, C. S. Forrester’s Hornblower series.

    For science fiction, I’d recommend Drake’s Lt. Leary series, which coincidentally, the first book, “With the Lightnings” is available in Baen’s free Library here:

    Drake acknowledges being inspired by O’Brian for these, and the parallels are pretty apparent. Fun reads.

    Another series similar to the 1632 series is “The cross time Engineer” books by Leo Frankowski.

  • Demosthenes says:

    Additionally, if you’re in more of a mood for straight historical fiction, may I recommend “Agincourt” by Bernard Cromwell, or any of the SPQR novels by John Maddox Roberts (the first one is entitled “The King’s Gambit”).

  • Brian Swisher says:

    Pretty much anything written by Edith Pargeter/Ellis Peters: Her “Cadfael” mystery series is well-known, but she also wrote a bunch of straight historical fiction: The “Brothers of Gwynedd” Quartet, A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury, The Heaven Tree…she covers lots of medieval history, mostly in the regions of the Welsh marches…

  • tom says:

    Recommended historical fiction:
    – Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Chronicles series (5 books)
    – The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss (I have read several of his books — their is a similar pattern in his books, gets predictable)
    – Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign by Stephen Talty

    Highly recommended non-fiction:
    – The Ghost Mountain Boys by James Campbell
    – A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight by Robert J. Mrazek
    – One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel C. Fick (story of a Marine Lt. on his first deployment when 9/11 occurred)

    Decent non-fiction:
    – The Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napoleon’s Greatest Army by Stephan Talty (sounds dull, but wasn’t)
    – The Confident Hope of a Miracle: The True Story of the Spanish Armada by David Hanson
    – The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

  • audax says:

    Moe, You mnight like two very informative books by Dr. Daniel Boorstin the former Librarian of Congress. “The Discoverors” and “The Creators”. I heard Dr. Boorstin speak in 1992 at the Honolulu State Library on the 500th Anniversery of Columbus’ “Discovery” of the Americas. His answer to some Marxist who tried to disrupt his talk was remarkable and the answer can be found in his book “The Discoverors” (maybe I will do a Diary on it at Red State, lol.

    If you like “right wing/patriotic” spy thrillers then anything by Alex Berenson, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, or Daniel Silva. For historical novelized history (ancient Greek) would recommend Steven Pressfield.

  • UtahMan says:

    Kind of a Napoleonic Wars theme here, but…

    Bernard Cornwell’s “Sharpe” series is highly recommended.

    Just finished the first novel in Dudley Pope’s “Ramage” series, and it was fun.

    And Michael Shaara’s “The Killer Angels,” is a must-read.

  • countrydoc says:

    To repeat: Bernard Cornwell’s “Sharpe” series. Superb writing and rip-roaring fun to read. I also enjoyed how at the end of each book he talked about the actual battles, what the battlefields looked like today and how the book and history differed.

  • john henry says:

    Since Christmas I have read Vernon Kellogg’s bio of Herbert Hoover published in 1920 (Available free for the Kindle from Gutenberg) and volumes 1 & 2 of Hoover’s memoirs. I just started volume 3 the other day.

    Hoover was an extremely interesting man. COmletely self-made, highly successful as a mining engineer and businessman and then WWI began and he was not yet 40.

    First he organized, using mostly private funds, the evacuation of Americans from Europe. Then he organized a massive relief effort, opposed by both sides and with no US govt involvement, that fed tens of millions of people. He did this through the war and after.

    Kellogg was one of his top lieutenants in the feeding efforts and devotes much of his bio to the story. Hoover tells much of the story over again in his memoirs.

    Vol 2 covers his time as Secty of Commerce.

    Vol 3 covers the Depression and his time as Prez. As I said, I am only a couple chapters into Vol III but he discusses the causes of the depression. What most struck me was that you could have dated it 2010 and republished it as the story of the current recession. Housing problems? Check. Mortgage problems? Check. Credit issues? Check. Problems with the Fed? Check. Problems with European mismanagement of their economies? Check.

    Interesting books. Hoover is a terrific writer. Makes even dull stuff interesting.

    All 3 volumes are available as PDFs from the Hoover Presidential Library. I saved them as plain TXT and e-mailed them to my Kindle.


    John Henry

    Also, for a palate cleanser, I am reading Trollope’s “Can You Forgive her” downloaded free from Amazon.

  • Brian Swisher says:

    Robert Graves of “I, Claudius/Claudius the God” fame also has other historical novels to savor: among them, Count Belisarius, which I have read, and King Jesus, which I have not (yet)…

  • Patrick Thomas says:

    Take a look at The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey. It deals with Ireland just before the Republic. You have to keep reading after the 50th page, trust me, not everyones going to die and it does end nice.

  • audax says:

    Moe, Reread your post and you asked for historical fiction….for a really good read would recommend the Masters of Rome series of historical fiction novels by Colleen McCullough set in ancient Rome during the last days of the old Roman Republic; The series chronicles the lives and careers of Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Pompeius Magnus, Gaius Julius Caesar, and the early career of Caesar Augustus. It chronicles Roman history from January 1, 110 BC to January 16, 27 BC.

    The First Man in Rome (1990); 110–100 BC
    The Grass Crown (1991); 97–86 BC
    Fortune’s Favourites (1993); 83–69 BC
    Caesar’s Women (1997); 67–59 BC
    Caesar (1998); 54–48 BC
    The October Horse (2002); 48–41 BC
    Antony and Cleopatra (2007); 41–27 BC

  • Jeff Niles says:

    Have you considered the “Prelude to Glory” series by Ron Carter? It follows a fictional family through a historically accurate depiction of the Revolutionary War. It is 9 volumes (if I remember correctly.)

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