My Historical Fiction Fantasies

Much to the consternation of my vaccine-and internet-obsessed wife, I’m a big fan of the not so recent past. I can watch documentaries about pre-Christian Europe for hours on end. I can read pretty esoteric tomes on the daily life of medieval peasants and get something out of them. I can even listen to reconstructions of ancient music and try (try) to appreciate it. So is it really any surprise that I’m excited about the Hilary Mantel sequel to Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies?

I pre-ordered it for my iPad. I started prepping myself by reading the essays of another amazing female historical fiction author, Marguerite Yourcenar. I reread the amazing Red Shift. I re-watched the BBC Simon Schama hosted History of Britain. I’m almost ready to take this book on.

But it got me thinking: There are so many books about the Tudors, Middle Ages, and American West…what are a few of the more underappreciated antipodes of human history, hardly ever touched by the human imagination? Here are a few that sprang to mind:

1. The Fall of the Byzantine Empire. Rome this and Rome that, but I’d like to read a kick-ass Byzantine Empire book. I’m sure there are a few out there, and if they’re really really good, please make a few recommendations to me.

2. The Gauls. They’re kind of Celtic, right? See, I don’t know anything about them, and I’d like to.

3. Crossing the Bering Strait. I’d love to read a sort of long, slow, and deep history of humans populating the Americas.

4. The Great Wall. A slightly fictionalized history of the Great Wall of China would be amazing…the politics, labor, fighting, and ultimate failure.

These are just a few ideas. What are yours? Please share! Also recommendations of books that already exist are always welcome, of course.

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