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The 12 Best Books on History According To Mark Manson

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

History is a tapestry of human experiences, woven with triumphs, tragedies, and the relentless march of time.

It provides us with valuable insights into the origins of civilizations, the evolution of societies, and the lessons we can glean from the past.

Renowned author and thought leader Mark Manson has curated a list of twelve captivating books on history that promise to transport readers through the annals of time. Whether you're a history enthusiast or a curious mind, these books are sure to offer a deep and thought-provoking journey into our collective past.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.

Drawing from their monumental "History of the World" series, the Durants distill centuries of human history into insightful lessons that offer profound glimpses into the patterns and dynamics that shape civilizations.

“History reports that the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all.”

― Will Durant, The Lessons of History

In a sweeping narrative, Harari explores the origins of Homo sapiens and traces our species' journey from hunter-gatherers to the architects of complex societies, offering fresh perspectives on our shared past.

"People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. "

― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

A comprehensive account of World War II and the Nazi regime, Shirer's magnum opus provides an in-depth examination of the events that led to one of the most devastating periods in history.

“No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler. The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it.”

― William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

Robert Moses, the enigmatic figure behind much of New York City's infrastructure, is the subject of this in-depth biography that delves into the nature of power and its impact on urban development.

“Hospitality has always been a potent political weapon. Moses used it like a master. Coupled with his overpowering personality, a buffet often did as much for a proposal as a bribe.”

― Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

Through the personal stories of survivors, Hershey provides a gripping and harrowing account of the events surrounding the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and its profound impact on humanity.

“...their faces were wholly burned, their eyesockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks.”

― John Hersey, Hiroshima

This book explores the revival of ancient texts during the Renaissance and their role in shaping modern thought, offering a fascinating perspective on the transformative power of ideas.

“The greatest obstacle to pleasure is not pain; it is delusion.”

― Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

Beevor's meticulously researched narrative provides a gripping and detailed account of the battle of Stalingrad, a pivotal moment in World War II that changed the course of history.

“This armchair strategist never possessed the qualities for true generalship, because he ignored practical problems.”

― Antony Beevor, Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943

Pinker challenges prevailing notions about the increasing violence in human societies by presenting a meticulously researched argument for the decline of violence over time.

“The only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers, those who are still breastfeeding their babies."--Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.”

― Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Mann offers a fresh perspective on the indigenous cultures of the Americas before the arrival of Europeans, challenging conventional assumptions about their complexity and sophistication.

“It is always easy for those living in the present to feel superior to those who lived in the past.”

― Charles C. Mann

Weatherford sheds light on Genghis Khan's legacy and his impact on the development of modern societies, dispelling myths and revealing his profound influence.

“If you can't swallow your pride, you can't lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.”

― Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Written by one of the earliest historians, this account of the Peloponnesian Wars provides insights into the dynamics of conflict, power, and human nature that remain relevant to this day.

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”

― Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

A historical masterpiece, Gibbon's work chronicles the events leading to the fall of the Roman Empire and offers a comprehensive examination of this pivotal period.

“The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.”

― Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


Have you read these books? What are your thoughts on them?

If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my History book lists on my blog —


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