I’m looking to expand my knowledge of the “big picture” of history – the critical people, places, and events that formed nations over the course of centuries. So, I’ve decided I’d like to read some national histories, and I’m turning to all of you for some recommendations. The books should ideally span multiple centuries – they don’t necessarily have to go back to the beginning of time, per se; something that traces the course of, for example, a European country from the Middle Ages to the modern day would be good enough. Basically, if the book could legitimately be titled “The History of Spain” (or whatever country), that’s what I’m looking for.
And, if possible, I’d prefer “popular histories” – I know virtually every country has had a textbook history written about it, but something readable, accessible, and more-that-averagely interesting would be very welcome! Thanks in advance.