History can make for great stories.  Augmented or completely true, biography or time line, truth can be stranger than fiction and fiction can make the history more compelling.

Come along and follow my twisted reasoning…
I read mostly fiction.  I’ve taken forays into various nonfiction genres, mostly essays, preferably humorous, in the vein of Umberto Eco’s Travels with a Salmon, or anything by David Sedaris.  Occasionally, a piece of history contained within a novel will lead me to seek out the truth.

I went on an egyptology kick after reading a trilogy of books about Ahkenaten back when I was a teenager.  I have been interested in books on Egypt ever since.  Funny thing is, I cannot for the life of me remember the original books that led me on this (so far) 27 year adventure.  So, if anyone out there can recall any historical novels based on Akhenaten and Nefertiti, please let’s have a title and author.  It would be a wonderful thing to me as I’ve been dying to reread these books from an adult perspective.

In a somewhat convoluted way, the BBC series I Claudius led me to Robert Graves’ novels, which are two of the best I’ve ever read, “I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God”.  I then began to devour actual imperial Roman history, and worked forwards and backwards, again over a 25-30 year period in my life.

Russian literature led me, more indirectly, to look into Russian history, from the time of Ivan the Terrible through the fall of Tsarism.  I read book after book of Russian history, and the subject still fascinates me.  I’ve had a lifelong love of Dostoyevsky, which took me into other Russian novelists, some I liked almost as well and some I didn’t.  The historical research began because it seemed to me that there was something profoundly different about the Russian psyche that gave rise to such dark, introspective, lavish writing.  Even Solzhenitsyn, so much more contemporary, continues the baroque language and symbolic richness of his fathers and grandfathers, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Chekov, and Tolstoy.

What historical novels have compelled you to read more about it?  What are your favorite historical novels?  What are your favorite history books?  And, as always, what have you read lately?

0 0 votes
Article Rating