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I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I too wasn't interested in history at all until I read this book: The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power ( http://www.amazon.com/Prize-Epic-Quest-Money-Power/dp/143911...) Which was a fascinating history from the rise of oil in modern times uptil the first Gulf War. I would love recommendations on other history books that got people turned onto history?

I actually got into history through visual sources and maps, like Colin McEvedy's "Penguin Atlas of Medieval History." But the history books that I remember really changing my life include Simon Schama's "The Embarrassment of Riches" (a fantastic history of the rise and fall of the Dutch empire), Alfred Crosby's "Ecological Imperialism" (similar to 1491, but more wide-ranging), and Fernand Braudel's Civilization and Capitalism series (the best history books of the 20th century, in my view).

I also remember loving John Brewer's "The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century" and Mario Biagioli's "Galileo Courtier." Also "Mad Blood Stirring" by Edward Muir, which tackles the question of why 16th century Italian street life was so incredibly violent.

Edit: seems apropos to mention that a couple friends of mine are about to launch a site for historians to curate lists of their favorite books on key topics, called Backlist: http://backlist.cc

> I actually got into history through visual sources and maps

I've noticed that fantasy novels often include maps of the fictional geography of the world, and fantasy authors sometimes write introductions basically on the theme "I've always loved maps and thought they were special". Personally, I've never really looked at those omnipresent maps, because they never matter in the story.

On the other hand, maps are incredibly useful when reading history. Or they would be... but history books almost never include them!

Cherokee Tragedy: The Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People by Thurman Wilkins

The Prize is my second favorite book of history/non-fiction ever. My favorite is "The Power Broker" which has a similar sort of style and scale. Highly recommended.

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