Little known ‘Mike Jones fact’ – I originally went to college to get a history degree and eventually teach in the university. God had different plans for me and after two years of studying history, I pivoted into graphic design and quickly working fulltime as a creative professional
But all these years later, I still love learning about history through books and podcast. Here are some of the most impactful, helpful, and interesting to me. If you want to grow in your understanding of the where we’ve been as human beings (and perhaps learn where we’re headed) these are worth a read (or a listen).
I’ll keep updating this over time with other books I’ve found helpful in my own development as well as add reviews so keep this post saved or jump on my newsletter list. (Yes, all the book links are Amazon affiliate – so if you’re feeling generous, snag a couple of these for yourself or a friend.)
- Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt
- 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann
- The First World War by John Keegan
- The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It by Richard Hofstadter
- An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power by John Steele Gordon
- King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild
- Villa and Zapata: A History of the Mexican Revolution by Frank McLynn
- The Housing Boom and Bust by Thomas Sowell
- The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D. Kaplan
- Napoleon: A Biography by Frank McLynn
- The Making of Modern Japan by Kenneth Pyle
- Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert Bix
- China’s Path to Modernization: A Historical Review from 1800 to the Present by Ranbir Vohra
- The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson
- The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years by Bernard Lewis
- The Dream and the Tomb: A History of the Crusades by Robert Payne
- Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans by Ronald Takaki
- Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb by Ronald Takaki
- The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder by Peter Zeihan
- The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die by Niall Ferguson
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- Revolutions by Mike Duncan (literally hundreds of episodes covering major revolutions such as the English Revolution, American, French, various Latin American ones, and Russian revolution). Most episodes are 30ish minutes each but easy to binge multiple in a row.
- Fall of Civilizations – a great overview of various civilizations in history, how they progressed and finally fell. Each episode covers one civilization in about 3ish hours.
- Presidential – a survey of American presidents, from Washington through Trump. A great historical overview with each episode focusing on one president.
- More Perfect (by Radiolab) – an fascinating look at the Supreme Court and it’s trajectory as a growing influence in American law, government, and society since the founding of the US Constitution.
- History of Rome by Mike Duncan – another great series (nearly 200 episodes) covering the full history Rome – from the legendary first 7 kings, through the republic, to the empire, up until the fall of the Western half of the empire. I pretty much only listened to this podcast on commutes for like 3 months, it was so good.
- The History of Byzantium – developed by a fan of Mike Duncan’s History of Rome podcast, this series follows on with the history of the Byzantine empire after the fall of the Western Roman empire. Each episode is roughly 20-30 minutes each and there are over 250 episodes. Quite an in-depth project!