Non-Fiction

Riot Recommendation: Creative History Books

In Riot Recommendation, we take a request for a recommendation and turn it over to the Book Riot community to help them with ideas.

shakespeare's pubThis installment of the Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Shakespeare’s Pub by Pete Brown.

Welcome to the George Inn near London Bridge; a cosy, wood-panelled, galleried coaching house a few minutes’ walk from the Thames. Grab yourself a pint, listen to the chatter of the locals and lean back, resting your head against the wall. And then consider this: who else has rested their head against that wall, over the last six hundred years?

Chaucer and his fellow pilgrims almost certainly drank in the George on their way out of London to Canterbury. It’s fair to say that Shakespeare popped in from the nearby Globe for a pint, and we know that Dickens certainly did. Mail carriers changed their horses here, before heading to all four corners of Britain—while sailors drank here before visiting all four corners of the world.

The pub, as Pete Brown points out, is the ‘primordial cell of British life’ and in the George he has found the perfect example. All life is here, from murderers, highwaymen, and ladies of the night to gossiping peddlers and hard-working clerks.

 

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Okay, you might not be into reading the kinds of history books you remember from high school (I know I’m not), but what if you could learn about London through the lens of a pub (see the sponsor title above) or, like, American culture through popular music trends? Better, right? Good writing and an interesting angle can make just about any subject interest–one need look no further than the success of books like Mark Kurlansky’s Salt for proof of concept–so today we want to know: what are the best books that take a creative approach to exploring history?

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