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Top 7 Historical Non-fiction Books

Updated on March 7, 2013

Non-fiction can be better than fiction

We probably all remember non-fiction books in school as those dry hardcover books with endless dates and names that were not at all fun to read. Yet there has been a resurgence of incredibly well written, interesting and dare I say educational books that have been released. These books set out to inform while also entertaining us on some great people and events. Even if non-fiction is not usually your cup of tea, give it a try and you might be surprised by what you find.

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Mao, The Unknown Story

Besides the terrible things Mao did once he gained power, this story tells his remarkable run-up to power. It might be hard to imagine but multiple times he was relieved of all command (fired!), but just rode to a new military camp that hadn't received the update and told them he was in charge. He would accomplish some amazing military victories to the point where the government could not get rid of him. Multiple times the world could have been saved from his wrath and cruelty, and yet thru his audacity he was able to maintain power. An interesting read!

Schulz and Peanuts

Many think Peanuts is just another comic strip that is equal to all others. Yet the remarkable story of Schulz is that his comic strip reflected his own life and was meant to be more for adults than ever for children. In fact he was created the strip in a method that most thought was ridiculous and frankly not sellable, treating children like adults and have less slap stick humor. One read of this book and you will never look at Peanuts the same again.

Candy Bombers

The story of the Berlin airlift after WWII which allowed the allies to save Western Germany from falling into communist control after the war. The most remarkable part of this story is not the innovation and heroism of the airlift, but the selfless acts of soldiers who began to give some tokens (chocolate) of respect back to the defeated Germans who for years were the hated enemy. A story of turning the other cheek and being proud of how a winning super power should treat its former enemies.

I have a full review and synopsis on squidoo. Check it out and let me know what you think.

The building of the Panama Canal

This might at first blush appear to be simply a story of amazing engineering (which it was), but it comprises the politics of one country paying to build a global engineering advancement in another country's border. It tells the story of how visionaries began a mission that they knew they would probably never live to see the end. The Panama canal is one of the most impressive feats, far greater than the Suez canal due to climate, location, length and sand vs dirt. Give this book a shot, it is worth it.

Von Braun, either a mass killer or genius to mankind

Von Braun is usually known as the founder of modern rocketry and NASA in the United States, yet he is not as well known for his use of slave labor in WWII Germany or his creation of some of the most deadline early trans-continental missiles ever used. He was a complex man who believed in the ends justify the means, that anyway he could learn to push mankind into space was worth the effort. You can decide for yourself what you think of him, but either way you will learn more about the space race and this complex figure in history.

I have a full review and synopsis of this book on squidoo. Let me know what you think.

Search for Abraham Lincoln's Assassinator

This story tells the story of the weeks leading up to and the months following Abraham Lincoln's assassination. A complex story of anger, love and belief in doing what is best for the country. Without the help of modern communication, the story traces how a country still recovering from a terrible civil war was able to maintain a level of professionalism and continuity even when its leader was killed in a horrible manner. You will see how law enforcement, military and all other branches worked together just as a government is designed to do, while at the same time trying to figure out if this was an act of war from inside the borders, outside or just a single crazy person. A quick read but interesting read.

I have a full review and synopsis on squidoo, let me know what you think.

Women in the Middle East

Anyone who believes they know how women are treated in the Middle East but has never experienced it first-hand should pick up this book for a quick education. A surprisingly soul searching book of a Western female doctor who goes to work in Saudi Arabia. We see some of the best sides of Islam enabling her to connect to her heritage and her friends, as well we bullies who cloak themselves in what they call religion to hurt, ridicule and terrorize others. Your views of the region, of the religion and its people will shift multiple times during the reading of this quick book, however hopefully by the end a clearly view of the intricacies that will educate more than a headline or an article in a newspaper ever could.

I have a full synopsis on squidoo. Let me know what you think.

Any books I missed?

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      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      So many wonderful stories on your list. I never imagined that Schulz and Charlie Brown would be one of the top historical, non-fiction books, but they certainly visited most homes in America! You must have a great library at home.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I read more fiction than non-fiction, but anything by Jon Krakauer goes on my TBR! I have a lens for Mr. Krakauer.

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      And some of the current events should inspire even more better-than-fiction works!

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 4 years ago

      Another great historical non-fiction is Rhode's Making of the Atomic Bomb. "Better than fiction" as they say...

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      These sound quite interesting - I may have to pick up one or two, I love good non-fiction. :) Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Interesting about Peanuts being more for adults. Maybe that's why I know so many adults who love Peanuts, including me!