One of my favourite things about reading books is the fact you get to travel to exotic locations or to different periods in history and experience what it was like for yourself. Since periods in history are so varied around the world, I’ve decided to separate my lists into British History and World History.
Ancient Greece spanned from the 8th century BC to the 6th century AD. The different periods within were known as the Greek Dark Ages, Archaic Greece, Classical Greece, Hellenistic Greece and Roman Greece.
Ancient Egypt was concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the country now known as Egypt. The Ancient Egyptian civilisation coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt and consisted of a series of dynasties with the most powerful being the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, the New Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Kingdom. The Ptolemaic Kingdom ended with the death of Cleopatra and the Roman conquest in 30 BC.
- Thornton, Stephanie: Daughter of the Gods
Byzantine Empire (395-1453)
The Byzantine Empire or the Eastern Roman Empire was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
- Thornton, Stephanie: The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora
Mongol Empire (1206–1368)
The Mongol Empire emerged from the unification of several nomadic tribes in the Mongol homeland under the leadership of Genghis Khan who was proclaimed ruler of all the Mongols in 1206. The empire grew rapidly under his rule and that of his descendants and became the largest contiguous land empire in history. After the death of Kublai Khan in 1294, the empire began to fragment over succession disputes and civil wars.
Italian Renaissance (14C to 17C)
The Italian Renaissance began in the 14th century and lasted until the 17th century. The Italian Renaissance is best known for its achievements in painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, philosophy, science and exploration which had all suffered during the Dark Ages. The Renaissance began in Tuscany, sparking economic prosperity in Florence, and it soon spread throughout Europe.
Japanese Edo Period (1603-1868)
The Edo period dates between 1603 and 1868 when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country’s 300 regional daimyo. The shogunate was officially established in Edo on 24 March 1603 and came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on 3 May 1868 which restored imperial rule to Japan.
- Downer, Lesley: The Shogun’s Queen (The Shogun’s Quartet #1)
- Downer, Lesley: The Last Concubine (The Shogun’s Quartet #2)
- Downer, Lesley: The Courtesan & The Samurai (The Shogun’s Quartet #3)
Colonial Australia (1788-1900)
The history of Australia from 1788–1900 covers the early colonial period from the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Sydney, New South Wales, who established the penal colony, to the eventual founding of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
- Grenville Kate: The Secret River
British Ceylon (1815-1948)
Ceylon was the British Crown colony established on present day Sri Lanka between 1815 and 1948. The British embarked on a plantation programme and coffee became the primary export until a devastating leaf disease destroyed the entire industry. The plantation owners soon switched to the production of tea and later rubber which made Ceylon one of the richest countries in Asia. The plantations were often worked by Tamils from India who were brought to Ceylon by the British as indentured servants.
British Burma (1824-1948)
The British had a foothold in parts of Burma since 1824, however it was finally annexed as a Province of British India on 1 January 1886. The monarch was abolished and the British took direct control of the government while taking steps to repress Burmese culture. The British separated Burma from British India in 1937 and gained independence on 4 January 1948.
- Jefferies, Dinah: The Missing Sister
British India (1858–1947)
India was ruled by the British Crown from 1858 to 1947 and included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom, which were collectively called British India, and those ruled by indigenous rulers, known as the princely states. In 1947, two independent dominions, India and Pakistan, were created when the country was partitioned, displacing between 10 and 12 million people along religious lines. The partition did irreparable damage and led to thousands of people being made homeless.
Republic of China (1912-1949)
The Republic of China was established in 1912 after the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China, was overthrown by revolution. China was invaded by Japan in 1937 but when the Japanese Empire surrendered after the Second World War, China was torn apart by civil wars which resulted in the Chinese Communist Party establishing the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
- See, Lisa: Shanghai Girls
Communist China (1940-Present)
The Communist Party gained control of China after the end of the Chinese Civil War and the People’s Republic of China was declared on 21 September 1949. China developed an independent industrial system, however the Great Leap Forward, a large-scale economic and social reform project, resulted the deaths of more than 45 million people between 1958 and 1961 due to famine. Although social control has been significantly relaxed over the past few decades, political thinking is still restricted despite freedom of speech being recognised as part of the constitution.
Nazi Germany (1933–1945)
The Nazi Party seized power in Germany in 1932 after winning the greatest share of the popular vote in the two Reichstag general elections. Adolf Hitler was then appointed as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933 and he began passing a series of policies designed to bring the whole country under his dictatorship. As Nazi sympathisers took over key positions in civil organisations, trade unions were dissolved and political adversaries murdered. Hitler also instigated a massive rearmament programme in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles and secret plans were made to invade eastern European countries. on 1 September 1939, Germany’s invasion of Poland led to the outbreak of the Second World War which would not end until May 1945.
Cold War (1947-1979)
The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states (the Eastern Bloc), and the United States with its allies (the Western Bloc) after World War II.
- Furnivall, Kate: The Guardian of Lies