Historical Fiction

Discussion in 'Books' started by flowergirl, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. Jon Pall

    Jon Pall Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 29, 2003
    Washington D.C/Sao Paulo
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    I am also about two months too late for these subforum threads...but here are my two cents.

    I am a big fan of Sienkiewicz's novels, the standouts for me being "Quo Vadis" and "Teutonic Knights", though I can hardly vouch for the historical accuracy and unbiasedness of the latter (a nationalistic tale of gallant Polish knights fighting evil German knights)

    Despite the obvious religious themes which are not my cup of tea, I loved Lloyd Douglas's "The Robe" which tells the story of the Roman centurion who wins Jesus's robe in a game of lots at the crucifixion and follows him around on his travels to Greece, Rome, and Palestine.

    Robert Harris's "Pompeii", Gore Vidal's "Julian", Wilbur Smith's "Eagle in the Sky" (1960's is history to me), Gary Jenning's "Aztec" are some of my other favorites.
     
  2. Anthony

    Anthony Member+

    United States
    Aug 20, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels" about the Battle of Gettysburg is a classic.

    His son then wrote a series of three movels about the Civil War generation "Gone for Soldiers" (about Winfield Scott's invasion of Mexico), "Gods and Generals" about the coming of the Civil War and the War up to Gettysburg, and "The Last Full Measure" about after Gettysburg.

    He also wrote two novels on the American Revolution. "Rise to Rebellion" is about the time before the war and "The Glorious Cause" was about the Revolution itself.

    He also wrote a novel on WWI, but I have not read it, and I understand it is not as good as his previous novels.

    There is also a book about ancient Greece and the Persion invasion called "Gates of Fire" that I recomend.
     
  3. Anthony

    Anthony Member+

    United States
    Aug 20, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If you like alternative history, I recomend Turtledove's "Agent of Byzantium" about a world where Mohamed is a Christian saint. Turtledove is prehaps the biggest name in alternative history. My problem with him is that he tries to push every real historical character into his books. When it works, it can be funny. In "The Two Georges," about a world where the US remains a British colony, Richard Nixon is an extremely sucessful used car saleman, JFK is a somewhat slimy radical media baron, and his unnamed brother is the archbisop of Boston.

    In other books, he tries to fit historical figures in places where it makes no sense, and does nothing to further the story. In the Worldwar series (about an alien invasion during WWII), he does things like have Mussolini show up in Missouri to look over a captured alien ship. It is silly and does nothing to further the story.
     
  4. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I really like Philip Kerr's "Berlin Noir" trilogy, March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Reqium. It's great crime fiction as well as great historical fiction.
     
  5. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    Bored? I couldn't put it down. And the ending was quite significant. Too bad Hollywood ********ed it up, because if they'd been more accurate they could have made an excellent movie.

    As far as the original question, I really enjoyed the books by Ian Pears, especially 'Dream of Scipio' and also 'An Instance of the Fingerpost'.

    'Dream of Scipio' in particular I found to be an excellent book. It blends three stories about three thoughtful characters from three different historical eras, and explores how each of them deals with complex moral decisions. Deep in philosophy, it is one of the best historical novels I've ever read.
     
  6. Tsunami

    Tsunami Member

    Oct 16, 2000
    SD, CA
    Club:
    Arsenal LFC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
  7. scottinkc

    scottinkc Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Kansas City, MO
    I hope the book was better than the movie. That was the most boring 3 hours of my life.
     
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  8. Anthony

    Anthony Member+

    United States
    Aug 20, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The book was great. Joshua Chamberlain was one of the most remarkable soldiers in US history and the book really gets into his head and his motivations. Windfield Scott Hancock was also a remarkable man who unfortunately is overshadowed in history by Grant and Lee and the other giants of the time.
     
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  9. Fleck

    Fleck New Member

    May 14, 2004
    Sacramento
    I recently read Wilbur Smith's The River God, it was a great story about ancient Egypt...
     
  10. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jan 25, 2002
    Acnestia
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Seconded. There really is no comparison between the movie (which was really lame) and the book, which as far as I know is highly regarded by both historians and soldiers and is a great read as well.
     
  11. scottinkc

    scottinkc Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Kansas City, MO
    I've read a couple of these. I like how the fictional main characters is just some regular shmo who interacts with all of the real historical characters and events.

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned James Michener. I know that he has come in for some criticism recently, but I still like his work.


    I may have to check it out then. Thanks.
     
  12. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    OH
    Funny you mention this, as it's what I'm teaching right now. The students loving it.
     
  13. art

    art Member

    Jul 2, 2000
    Portland OR
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Kenneth Roberts deserves a mention, great stuff set in the Revolutionary period though he also writes about the War of 1812.

    Also Harold Kieth is lesser known but wrote a great American Civil War history-fiction children's book called "Rifles for Waite" about the far-far western theatre of that conflict, it's one of the most detailed accounts of the war in Kansas/Missouri/Oklahoma that I've found.
     
  14. argentine soccer fan

    Staff Member

    Jan 18, 2001
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Club:
    CA Boca Juniors
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    I've been meaning to read these ever since they were recommended here and in another thread, but never got around to it. Finally I got the chance.

    I read "The First Man in Rome" and "The Grass Crown" and they are everything I expected. The characters of the two main protagonists, Marius and Sula, are very well developed. As interesting and complex as they are as historical figures, McCollough manages to make them even more so. And a number of other historical characters from the time of the Republic are also well developed, including some very interesting female characters like Livia Drusa, her child Servilia, and Aurelia, Julius Caesar's mother.

    The description of life and politics in Rome, the military campaigns, and even the society gossip is fascinating. I enjoyed how the author cleverly uses the character of Rutilius Rufus as a prolific letter writer who keeps Marius informed of not just the important political issues going on in Rome but also of all the silly gossip we might expect from the patrician society of the time.

    I also particularly appreciated her occasionally shifting the narrative from the Romans to give us the point of view of a foreign king, like Jugurtha or Mithridates, which makes for a nice change of pace. I was left hoping to hear first hand from the Germans, though.

    You have to enjoy Roman history to trully appreciate these books, because the story involves a large number of historical characters, many of whom have similar names and minor roles, and I imagine it might be overwhelming for some readers. But it's superbly done.

    I'm looking forward to getting the third book, "Fortune's Favorites", in which she concludes the story of Sula and moves on to Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Cicero, characters who have already been introduced as youngsters with a bright future.

    Sucks that we know how it ends, though.
     
  15. CrewArsenal

    CrewArsenal Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Pickerington, Ohio
    Historical fiction is my favorite genre, especially mysteries; I prefer ancient history (Egypt, Greece, Rome etc.) up through about 1400 A.D. as a general rule.

    My list of favorite authors include P.C. Doherty, aka Paul Doherty, Susanna Gregory, Alys Clare, Ellis Peters (the Brother Cadfael series got me started in this genre), Edward Marston, Bernard Knight, Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Candace Robb, Conn Iggulden, Peter Tremayne, Rosemary Rowe, Ariana Franklin, Alan Gordon, Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, Priscilla Royal, Kate Sedley, Steven Saylor, and John Maddox Roberts.

    Those are off the top of my head, as I know there are others I always seek out.

    One of my favorite sites is www.fantasticfiction.co.uk. It has news on forthcoming books of all types, and lists thousands of authors with their books. You can set your preferences to USA or UK for new books (when published). I set mine to UK, as many of the authors I like are British, and their books get released there first, so I have a little heads up.
     
  16. Voodoo United

    Voodoo United Member

    Jan 7, 2008
    Easton, Ma
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    A personal favorite of mine is "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostava.

    It pretty much deals with the history of Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. One of the few books that after I finished, I started reading it again.
     
  17. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    She keeps it pretty interesting. Fortune's Favorites is a great book too, with some of my favorite scenes, as is Caesar's Women.
    I also agree that you need to really appreciate history to enjoy these books, but that's what makes these books so great for me - its the detail she goes into the actual research she does. It may never get truly historical, but damn does it get close. After reading her books you become incredibly frustrated when you read supposedly "excellent historical fiction" that talks about Cato as a patrician. Feh.
    Enjoy the rest - its great stuff.
     
  18. Roger Allaway

    Roger Allaway Member+

    Apr 22, 2009
    Warminster, Pa.
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    And some other classic ones: Tale of Two Cities, The Grapes of Wrath, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Caine Mutiny, All The King's Men.
     
  19. leg_breaker

    leg_breaker Member

    Dec 23, 2005
    Tale of Two Cities is shit.
     
  20. Felixx219

    Felixx219 BigSoccer Supporter

    Nov 8, 2004
    Kansas City, MO
    Club:
    Kansas City Wizards
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm picked up the first book of the Aztec series. I believe that qualifies as historical fiction. Has anyone read those books?
     
  21. Ian Lozada

    Ian Lozada New Member

    May 29, 2001
    The Pick Four Pool
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Another one happy to recommend the McCullough Rome books, also her out of print The Song of Troy, which tells the whole Trojan War story from beginning to end, unlike, say, The Iliad.

    I'd be surprised if we see anymore from her, unfortunately. Not only is the End of The Republic arc pretty complete, but Colleen writes her novels by hand and has been steadily going blind over the last few years, which is why Antony and Cleopatra featured maps by a different artist.

    One of my favorite things about McCullough, by the way, is that she doesn't leave too many of her characters completely unsympathetic. I defy you to not go from disliking Scaurus or Metellus Pius to respecting them tremendously. Even Cato, at the very end, has his one heroic turn in the March of the Ten Thousand section of The October Horse.

    ***

    If you're a fan of these Roman novels, of course, you have to read I, Claudius and Claudius The God by Robert Graves.
     
  22. ASU55RR

    ASU55RR Member

    Jul 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY/Brno,CZ
    Club:
    FC Zbrojovka Brno
    Nat'l Team:
    Czechia
    [​IMG]

    Within the subversive black humor and sarcasm, the Good Soldier Svejk does provide one of the clearest pictures of Austria's Hungary's attempt to rally an unsupportive populace and poorly administered military hierarchy. Also, it is quite entertaining.
     
  23. allegrabene

    allegrabene New Member

    Jul 11, 2009
    Alexandria, Va
    Club:
    Celtic FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    qft
     
  24. malby

    malby Member+

    Liverpool FC
    Republic of Ireland
    May 11, 2004
    Rep of Ireland
    Club:
    Drogheda United
    Nat'l Team:
    Ireland Republic
    Is this good or bad??:confused:

    Just finished Harris' second book about Cicero. Truly great.
     
  25. allegrabene

    allegrabene New Member

    Jul 11, 2009
    Alexandria, Va
    Club:
    Celtic FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    qft=quoted for truth. Uris' books about Ireland are second to none.
     

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