History books come in literally all sizes and weight. Glossy, colour photos to show artifacts and archaeological sites, families and individuals involved, maps, chronological tables, family trees as well as further reading bibliographies, chapter notes and an index are all common features in history nonfiction books.
The ancient Celts. Barry Cunliffe.
A dense, bordering academic title, that keeps the language at a level accessible to the non-academic reader. The format and break up of information and extensive illustrations, tables, diagrams all make the information being provided more accessible. Scattered throughout are translated quotes from primary sources. The author is a professor at Oxford and a leader in the field. The book is approached typically to history in chronological style which allows both a continuous reading or the ability to dip in and out at certain points in the timeline of history.
The Lady Queen : The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily. Nancy Goldstone.
A narrative account filled with facts and dates tells the story of Queen Joanna, a monarch who ruled in her own name in the fourteenth century. A lot of attention to detail from clothing to buildings. The use of primary sources within the text creates an academic tone to the book. This title could also be categorised in biography being the account of the life of Joanna.
“Nancy Goldstone takes us back to the turbulent and colorful Middle Ages, and with skill and passion brings fully to life one of history’s most remarkable women. Her research is impeccable, her eye for detail unerring, and in The Lady Queen she paints a captivating portrait of medieval royalty in all its incandescent complexity.” (https://www.bookbrowse.com/bb_briefs/detail/index.cfm/ezine_preview_number/4431/the-lady-queen)
Marco Polo: From Venice To Xanadu. Laurence Bergreen.
The author uses detailed description reflecting the deep research undertaken for this book. Even with the use of storytelling techniques, this is a dense read which will appeal to readers who interested in the full life of Marco Polo (not just The Travels component) and thirteenth century Venice and Asia. The book concludes with the legacy left by Polo ad the impact he had on subsequent travelers, explorers and cartographers even into the twentieth century.
The Vikings : A new history. Neil Oliver.
Complete with the bibliography, index, descriptions of principal characters and the use of primary texts quoted throughout, this is a portrayal of Viking life and society interacting with other societies of the era. The language and information provided in a literary historical essay style, can be dense in places,however the author uses his own personal reflections and imaginings throughout his own life about Viking life to break the density of the information being given. The book is also an example how ongoing discoveries result in new information on long past eras.
As well, this title is an example of how projects, like the lecture series in the science sub-genre can begin life in a non-book format. This one began as a tv project for the BBC.
The Russian court at sea : the voyage of HMS Marlborough, April 1919. Frances Welch.
This title is included as much to show a different style of lighter tone in history books. After a general introduction introducing the family and crew members involved in the event, the author uses the format of chapters as a diary of the date and day. It is a small book and is a relatively light easy reading. It does supply as is typical of this subject area a bibliography for further reading.
Veni, Vidi, Vici: Everything you ever wanted to know about the Romans but were afraid to ask. Peter Jones.
This is a good example of the lighthearted, bordering quirky approach to history. The format lends itself to a book that can be dipped in and out of rather than being read sequentially from cover to cover. Each chapter provides a timeline of the years to be covered within and the sections in the chapters are broken down with headings. Light, entertaining reading of topics within the subject matter ranging from political figures to food, war and entertainment. A good introductory level book.