Any good books on European history

I like history a lot, the problem is that the historical books I always read about are American history. I always wanted to study Medieval Europe the most, mostly the Templars.

I would like to read any book about European history, both medieval times to modern European times.

Some topics I would enjoy reading
The Templars
Any medieval European Period
War books on European history
Modern History

I don’t have time at the moment to list out my recommendations, but I will say that finding good books on the Templars is going to be very difficult as much of the scholarship that surrounds the order is (basically) untrue (due to few sources and to remnants of the persecution of the order by Philip IV).


P.S. I recommend the author, Christopher Dawson.

If I can recommend a blog that has frequent reviews of books on medieval history, check out It features (very) in-depth reviews of books on Medieval History. The blogger is an avowed atheist, yet is surprisingly supportive of the Church and its positive impact on medieval history, and frequently calls out his fellow atheists for their misstatements of fact.

Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization" is an accessible and interesting read.
You might also want to read some of the books describing monastic rules (such as Tee Rule of st. Benedict)… Sometimes the primary texts are the most interesting way to get into history: Ecclesiastical History of the English People by the Venerable Bede might intrigue you. For an alternative entry point into the Napoleonic Wars, you might read War and Peace by Tolstoy- either on its own, or in combination with a standard history book. All Quiet on the Western Front is a classic piece of literature dealing with WWI.
If your preference runs to standard history books, I’ve always appreciated John Keegan’s work on WWII.
Happy Reading!

Well everyone thanks for replies. Any more reccomendations would be nice:)

My sister has all quiet on the western from I might ask her if I can borrow it. War and peace is another book I would enjoy reading.

Has anyone read A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman? I know it was widely praised 30 years ago when it was released and that it won the (US) National Book Award.

Here is a short synposis, from

In A Distant Mirror, historian Barbara Tuchman reveals in harrowing detail a “tortured century” with parallels to our own. People in the fourteenth century were subjected to natural and man-made disasters, including the Hundred Years’ War, the Crusades, insurrection, lawlessness, the Schism of the Church, massacres of Jewish people, and the Black Death, which claimed the lives of nearly half the population living between India and Iceland. Barbara Tuchman introduces a nobleman, Enguerrand de Coucy (1340-1397), a “whole man in a fractured time,” who takes the reader through the century and gives a personalized context through which to understand the events and attitudes of the day. A Distant Mirror goes beyond recording facts to analyze the psychology of the age as it follows Enguerrand from one battle to the next, observing how bankruptcies, crop failures, revolts, and plagues effectively forced people apart so that “emotional response, dulled by horrors, underwent a kind of atrophy…” Suggesting that the “relative emotional blankness of a medieval infancy may account for the casual attitude toward life and suffering,” she illustrates the discrepancy between the ideal and the real apparent in upper-class traditions of chivalry, in the practice of Christianity, and in the impossible regulations imposed on nobles, priests, and commoners alike. Pessimism inevitably resulted, for “man had lost confidence in his capacity to construct a good society.” This fascinating portrayal of a tumultuous time provides insights into the present and hope for the future.

I read it a long time ago but remember it was very good. Following de Coucy was an interesting way to organize the timeline.

I’d also highly recommend the History of Christendom 6-volume history by Professor Warren H. Carroll, which covers the entire history of the world, especially Europe, from an unabashedly Catholic perspective. Really well written, not dry at all. Many libraries carry it and it is available in paperback.

Here’s a reader’s review and information on the volumes.

I also read it ‘back in the day’ but that was a long time and many books ago. I’m afraid I’m no longer in a position to give it a critical evaluation.:blush:

Although he was better known as a writer of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov wrote a series of suprisingly excellent history books.

They were originally intended for a junior high school / high school Freshmen and Sophomore level of reading when they were written in the 1960s but I would put their reading level today at Freshmen college level.

Asimov was a professional scientist before becoming a writer; he does take some jabs at organized religion and Christianity in his books, but I still strongly recommend them.

I also strongly recommend them even though they are older books. They are a good introduction to the medieval period and would give you a good understanding of the period.

Each book also contains many interesting historical facts about Western culture and usually a timeline at the back.

Isaac Asimov:

The Dark Ages

The Shaping of England

The Shaping of France

Constantinople: The Forgotten Empire

Asimov wrote other books in the series about ancient civilizations: Roman Empire, the Near East, Greece and also about American History.

You can probably find some of them in most public libraries (often in the Juvenile section of the library); a larger public library in a wealthy community would probably have more. sells some of the Asimov series but they are out of print and they want $80.00 for some of them, and while these are well written and interesting books, I wouldn’t recommend paying that price for them. I would pay around $20 or $25 maximum.

I also recommend:

The Devil’s Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe by James Chambers.

I enjoyed this book on the Templars, which attempts a more balanced (Catholic-friendly) perspective.

The Templars, Knights of Christ
Regine Pernoud
Ignatius Press

I saw that Christendom Press is taking pre-orders for Volume 6 – at last!! I’ve been waiting for that ever since I bought the other 5 volumes several years ago. Can’t afford the $64 pre-order price for the hardback, though… I hope it comes out in paperback soon… the series is the best comprehensive history I’ve ever read. So sad that Dr. Carroll didn’t live to see it published, but I’m sure he is much happier where he is now…

I would second that and was going to suggest it, until I saw that you had posted it.

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