Top Ten History Books of 2013

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Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Very British Coup by Christopher de Bellaigue


An account of the life of Muhammad Mussadegh who became Prime Minister of Iran after the Second World War. This 72 year-old man presided over the nationalisation of his countries oil resources. Consequently the British and American Intelligence services launched a coup to remove him. Very useful reading for those wanting background on the current Iranian situation. Full review...

Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang


Jung Chang presents an extensively researched account of the life and times of Dowager Empress Cixi, a monumental figure in both Chinese and world history, responsible for instigating China's transition from medievalism to the modern age. Full review...

The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox


A superlatively readable book that tells of a seemingly dry slice of history with utmost clarity. Full review...

The Great War by Peter Hart


A thorough account encompassing all aspects of the Great War, discussing how it affected the world scene and the lives of ordinary people. Full review...

The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder That Changed the World by Greg King and Sue Woolmans


A biography of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his wife Sophie, whose assassinations at Sarajevo in 1914 led to the outbreak of the First World War. Full review...

The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy by Jo Marchant


Jo Marchant delves into the history surrounding one of the greatest discoveries of all time and looks to science to answer some of the big unanswered questions about Tutankhamen. Full review...

The Double Cross System by J C Masterman


Leave reading West's introduction to the end and dive straight into Masterman's formal (but highly readable) report into the activities overseen by the XX Committee for intriguing insights into some of the real successes of WW2 ~ and some of the ideas that came to nothing. West's introduction makes much more sense reading it after you have some idea of what he's talking about. A fascinating historical document that still resonates with what might just be still going on today. Recommended. Full review...

The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer


A social history that vividly evokes the reality of how it would have been for people of all walks of life to live in the England of Queen Elizabeth. Full review...

The Black Count: Glory, revolution, betrayal and the real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography 2013

Fascinating tale of an almost-forgotten hero. Huge recommendation. Full review...

A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa by A T Williams


Revelations about 26-year-old Baha Mousa, whose severely bruised body that have, since his death in 2003 while being questioned by British troops in their Basra base, become one of the most notorious matters to emerge out of the Allied occupation of Iraq. A prizewinning, lucid, forensic account. Full review...


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