The list author says: "There are so many wonderful books about historical figures, cultures, events, and eras of our planet, (and, of course some marginal books on these topics exist as well but none of those losers are listed here!), both works of fiction and of non-fiction. Some of these works aren't necessarily page-turners but they're all captivating for those of us who savor the past. I've penned full reviews on most of them so you can check those for more detail. This list represents an unorthodox blending (everything from mystery novels to academic works) of the scholarly with the imaginative.
"A.K.A. "Murder Down Under" [American title], you'll find Upfield's mystery yarns wholly linked with the actualities of early 20th-Century Australia. All of Upfield's murder mysteries are equally articulate on this point. FICTION."
"Mphahlele was a product of Apartheid South Africa which he precisely describes in this wonderful, fact-based, fictional account. But it's not all doom and gloom (surprisingly!) and you'll not soon forget this fine story."
"I've read all the English translations  and I like Garnett's version the best of all for her artful, lyrical prose. A monumental fictional account of Napoleon's invasion of Tsarist Russia  and much more."
"Here we have one of the most intriguing stories of Russia's violent history. Did a beloved Tsar actually fake his own death and then live on as a hermit-monk ["starets"] for many years? Find out! NON-FICTION."
"A novel of truth. Immigrants in Chicago's early-period slaughterhouse industry were treated like chattel by the local robber-barons. The publication of this hair-raising account led directly to food safety legislation in the U.S. FICTION."
"Tough reading and a very old book, but a real eye-opener. The genesis of the city-state around early Rome, in Greece, and some in India. How "private gods" and "city gods" received tribute and other local customs. Written as non-fiction and [later] in conflict with Durkheim's views on these topics. SPECULATION."
"Published just months prior to the death of Princess Di, Kelly details a sordid history of the family who became known to us as *The Windsors*, and how they influenced Great Britain and the world. Terrific, hard-hitting, gossipy non-fiction."
"Prince Kropotkin became a sort of benevolent anarchist and he traveled widely during the 19th Century across Europe and into the wilderness of Siberia and the Orient. An amazing glimpse of little-known territories and obscure societies. NON-FICTION."
"Life under the cruel USSR Stalinist and subsequent Communist dictatorships. Follow Matthews' family and in-laws from their initial relative prosperity into a realm of frequent abject misery. NON-FICTION."
"The culture of 12th Century Europe is revealed through Weir's diligent digging for facts from the most obscure of sources. While the reading is at times cumbersome, the reader will believe every word she has written. NON-FICTION."
"Unger penned this hallmark work contemporary with this (commencing) 1904 war which ultimately led to disaster for Russia and for the Romanov Tsarist Monarchy. Here, the Japanese are established as a world power. NON-FICTION."
"A landmark novel about civil war in 1937 Spain. One garners a perceived authentic feel for the conflict and for the people involved. I think that this was Hemingway's finest work -- infinitely readable. FICTION."
"A detailed account of the French and Indian War (1754-1763) in which *Lieutenant Colonel George Washington* played a vital role. Most Americans can tell you little of this bloody conflict. NON-FICTION."
"Born 37 A.D., Josephus provides us with about the only corroborating evidence of "The New Testament" stories and figures, especially regarding Jesus Christ; however, a number of his *historical facts* are now often challenged -- written as non-fiction."
"This entire series (of which there are now many entries) details cultural life in remote Appalachia as well as much of its regional history, particularly regarding the late 19th- and early to middle 20th-centuries. Especially highly recommended for Americans of [Protestant] Scotch-Irish and [Catholic] Italian ancestry. View the Film "Matewan" for a partial explanation of this. NON-FICTION."
"A profound novel of this often violent and bloody culture. Jennings did a superb job of capturing the Aztec societal mores for the reader, (much of it through speculation based upon research.) FICTION."
"A nuts-and-bolts look at mankind's scientific, industrial, economic, and cultural history from Ptolemy forward to contemporary times. I'm concluding the list with this book because it represents a summary of man, his environment, and time. NON-FICTION."