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Empire, by Niall Ferguson - although it may prove controversial - is a fascinating history of the British Empire and I can personally attest to the quality of the audible narration, which was good enough to keep me entertained through about twelve hours of coach journeying :)

David Airey

Are we doing the audible recomendations again? I've been hanging on to this one since THOR days! The Diary of Samuel Pepys, read by Kenneth Branagh.

SP is the original podcaster - alternating serious insight with pointless anaectode. The story he tells is history real, raw and personal- before time has had a chance to filter, sort and soften the edges.

And Kenneth sounds exactly like Mike Duncan WOULD sound if Mike Duncan had spent 5 years with the Royal Shakespear Co.

Christian F

Monarchy, by David Starkey. It is a great read that is read by the author and focuses on the English monarchy from Henry VII up to the 19th century. The book is directly relevant to the English Revolution that features prominently in it. Starkey is a royal historian who did a TV series to go along with this book that is kind of like Carl Sagan's Cosmos for English history buffs.

Neah L.

Common Sense, by Thomas Paine. A famous pamphlet dating from the American Revolutionary War, it is a little ahead of the current subject in the podcast but it has the makings of any idealistic revolutionary text. Common Sense is an explanation of the idealism behind many revolutions.


1776 by David McCullough is a great book and he reads it, well, pretty much the way you want pretty much every history book to be read.

Jared S

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Tells the little known story of *how* we managed to maintain all the Historical texts we have. We all know the stories of the often illiterate monks transcribing for years, but this book tells of the middlemen who traveled the world looking for lost books, in these monasteries, and bringing them back to the world. It's a Pulitzer prize winner and a national book award finalist. A must read for any fans of history.


The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. Covers the exact same time period in England Mike is covering in a fun historical fiction slant. Neal stephenson is always a good read and the first few books of his cycle are dynamite!

Carrie Palmer

The Maid and The Queen by Nancy Goldstone

How Yolande of Aragon created Joan of Arc and got Charles VII made King of France

Jonathan Newcombe

1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islamd and the West by Roger Crowley

Your Rome podcast is really great (I'm catching up, just made it to Otho), so I thought this would be a nice "final chapter" to your podcast. This could be seen as the final moment of the "Roman" empire.

Keep up the great work!

Neil Lee

+1 for 1776 - David McCullough voice and style are a joy to listen to.

One Summer: America 1927 - Bill Bryson - also read by the author - excellent story about the momentous year when Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, NY Yankees and Babe Ruth were at their finest and much more besides.

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory- Ben McIntyre - well read and intriguing.

Welcome back BTW - great to have you back on air! :)

Graham P. Clark

Killing Lincoln, by Martin Dugard and Bill O'Reilly. So fascinating. One of those books that will make you wish your trip in the car was a little bit longer!


Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie (and narrated by the unmatched Frederick Davidson).

Not only is Peter the Great incredibly interesting in his own right, but you also get a rather thorough biography of his equally compelling rival, Charles XII of Sweden.

One way I would describe Peter the Great is that he echos Hadrian very strongly. Both men had this incredible lifelong restless energy that led them to be constantly traveling throughout their domains so they could micromanage on the spot and while both men used the grandeur of their office skillfully for political purposes, in their private lives they both far preferred simple living. Peter the Great married a peasant woman, preferred escaping his palaces to live in a simple cottage and was a fully trained shipwright who loved working with his hands (and who loved the sea, which was profoundly atypical for a Russian of his day. He singlehandedly transformed Russia from a naval non-entity to a naval power during his reign).

Charles XII on the other hand was a born warrior who loved camp life and similarly eschewed the niceties due to a king in order to endure the hardships of camp life amongst his men. His story is rather tragic in that he spent virtually his entire reign on campaign and his final defeat at the hands of Peter signed of the death knell of Sweden as a great power and caused him to flea Russia after his army was utterly shattered and spend years as the somewhat unwelcome "guest" of the Ottoman sultan.


Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English by John McWhorter

It's short, just under 5:30 hours, and narrated by the author. He does spend some time bashing people who disagree with his ideas, but he's entertaining and informative.

Also: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

Despite the title, the history is of physics, cosmology, geology, biology and paleontology. But Bryson plays the language like a musical instrument, and you get to learn a great deal about the subjects he covers. More important, he presents his subjects in a historical context.


A History of Britain Volume 2 by Simon Schama. It covers the Civil War and Glorious Revolution eras.
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn. Great book on Henry VII.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan. Focuses a lot on the revolutionary aspects of 1st century CE Judea.

For something different, I tried one Audible's new offerings from "The Great Courses," namely, The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World by Professor Robert Garland.

It focused on the daily lives of average people beginning in pre-history and going up through the middle ages. It is in lecture form, but was far more entertaining then I remember my college lectures being.

Give it a try; 25 hours of listening enjoyment!

Austin Smith

Audible has an abridged version of Iain Pear's "An Instance of the Fingerpost" which is a terrific novel about the English Civil War and the Restoration.

Shannon Kaman

The Black Count by Tom Reisse. Great non fiction about Alex Dumas during the French Revolution. A half black noble man from the colonies (Haiti) who becomes one of the best generals of the revolution. How he is betrayed by Napoleon, and Hyde inspiration for is sons famous novels (Alexander Dumas, Count of Mounte Cristo).
It's fanatistic, and does an amazing job exploring revolutionary France, race, privilege and betrayal. You'll never see Napoleon the same way again.


The Men who Lost America by Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy‎, from King George III to Cornwallis this book fills in the gaps about the paper figures we learn about in US public schools about the revolutionary war.

Why they did what they did, what motivated them and the reasons beyond the Founding Fathers actions that made the colonies a new and independent country.

Tor K. Haugen

There are lots of goodies in the "Great Courses" series - long, thorough lecture series and some truly excellent lecturers. So far I have particularly enjoyed "The American Civil War", narrated by Professor Gary W. Gallagher and "The Peloponnesian War", narrated by Professor Kenneth W. Harl.

There's also "The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest", narrated by Professor Jennifer Paxton, which might serve as a good prep-course for the English Revolution episodes.


I really enjoyed "Conquests and Cultures" by Thomas Sowell. A study of 4 cultural groups, the British, the Slavs of Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. How they were shaped by their geography and contacts with other cultures. While the author is well known as a conservative commentator I found this book fairly down the middle.

David Anderson

Enjoying the new podcast, and very glad that you started with seventeenth-century England. I have yet to encounter a good Audible offering on the English Civil War but I can heartily recommend the great C.V. Wedgwood's history of the 30 years war which they have. CVW is an incomparable narrative historian, and she puts forth all her powers in this book. No conflict I've ever read about is more complex and confusing than this one but in Wedgwood's hands it is not only comprehensible but exciting. And as you know, understanding the 30 yrs war is essential for understanding the English crisis.

Hannah Morse

I didn't discover The History of Rome until after it was completed, but I have listened to it all the way through multiple times and I decided that, while slightly off topic, that some of you may enjoy...

The Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher.

Total and complete fiction series inspired by two cliches- pokemon and the lost roman legions. Taking place in a different world, the story follows through his coming of age a young man named Tavi who every one though or hoped would never amount to anything, but then did. I have not listened to the audio book, but I have a friend who has, who says it is great, so I know it's available.

Peter Van Smith

Three recommendations:

The Cousins’ Wars by Kevin Phillips – Compares the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War. The book is very dense on statistics and not too detailed on battles. His thesis is that the three wars were really the same war between the same combatants speaking the same language, just at different times. The same side “won” in each war.

A History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill in four Volumes – The New World is Volume Two, which discusses the English Civil War. Volume 3 is the Age of Revolution, which discusses the American Revolution. There is probably no new information, but interesting in getting WC’s point of view.

Oliver Cromwell by Theodore Roosevelt (Yes, the Rough River, Governor, President, Nobel Peace Prize winning, Medal of Honor Theodore Roosevelt.) It was like TR sitting in a room with you and talking about anything that crosses his mind all with references to Cromwell. There were lots of good commentaries on religious freedom, then and now. There were several comparisons with the American Civil War and Revolution. There is probably no new information, but TR has some interesting insights.

Chris Trent

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell — It is, nominally, about how Hawaii became American, but it's also a charming travelogue of the islands in the classic style. The author's voice—both literary and literal—reinforces the sense of cheerfully bemused tourism. It's a nice reminder that high-stakes political drama is not limited to the ancient past or the great empires.

And +1 for Simon Schama's series. I can't recommend them highly enough.


Great to have you back Mike! Still making my transition from The History of Rome, I have really been fascinated by:

The Poison King - The Life and Legend of Mithradates - Rome's Deadliest Enemy. By Adrienne Mayor.

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