Recommend Me Some Narrative History

I’ve got five credits collecting dust on my Audible account and I want to cancel my membership for a while so that I can catch up with my library. Thing is, you lose any existing credits when you cancel the membership (that’s how they getcha) so I need to spend them now.

I enjoy well-written narrative histories and non-fiction and I’d like some recommendations. It doesn’t have to be something you’ve specifically listened to an audio version of.

Stuff I’ve enjoyed in the past, digitally and in dead-tree format:

A lot of David McCullough’s stuff. John Adams, Truman, 1776, Mornings on Horseback, etc.
*The Demon Under the Microscope
Charlie Wilson’s War
The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge, and a Small History of the Big Con

I also just picked up [url=]The Last Battle[/ur] based on this article, because the premise sounds so completely awesome.

I’m not worried about specific time periods or topics. Just looking for strong historical narratives about genuinely interesting bits of history.

On an unrelated note, if you know of anything as completely hilarious as John Hodgeman’s audiobook trilogy I’d love to hear about them too.

Unbroken, of course.

American Lion (Andrew Jackson),
The First American (Ben Franklin),
His Excellency (George Washington), and
Team of Rivals (Lincoln)

are all excellent.

I highly recommend The Lost City of Z by David Grann. It switches between a narrative history of the early exploration of South America and a current narrative of the author trying to follow the trail himself. It’s gripping.

The River of Doubt, about Theodore Roosevelt’s adventures in South America, is good, though dark.

For something that fits neither of your requested categories (narrative history and Hodgmanesque humor) but falls somewhere between them, have you tried Sarah Vowell (e.g. Assassination Vacation)?

I’ll plug Shelby Foote’s enormous The Civil War: A Narrative. Tons of fascinating anecdotes. Foote has a flair for storytelling, but a detectable Southern bias; I like to read the works of Bruce Catton and James McPherson for contrasting views (although they don’t qualify as “narrative”).

One of my favorites is H.W. Brands:

The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream
American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
American Dreams: The United States Since 1945
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times
The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr
Lone Star Nation: The Epic Story of the Battle for Texas Independence
The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace
The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years’ War Over the American Dollar
The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield: A Tragedy of the Gilded Age
T.R.: The Last Romantic
Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

You might like Sarah Vowell:

Assassination Vacation
The Partly Cloudy Patriot
Unfamiliar Fishes
The Wordy Shipmates

eta: I missed Thudlow Boink’s recommendation of Vowell. So consider this a “seconded”.

The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding by Robert Hughes.
Churchill and Gandhi: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age by Arthur Herman is absolutely fascinating.

I’ll second Foote.

Not sure if it’s “narrative” history, as I’m not familiar with the term. But I’m reading it currently and it’s quite good: Inferno: The World at War 1939-1945. I think you can figure out what it’s about. Plus, you’d be getting bang for your buck–it’s like 700 pages long. :stuck_out_tongue:

A while back, we had another thread in which somebody recommended The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932 - 1972. I got it and am enjoying it so far, although at over 57 hours it’s going to take me awhile to get through it. (Note that, contrary to some of the older customer reviews, I haven’t noticed any problems with the quality of the recording.)

Thanks for the recommendations!

I have purchased:

Unfamiliar Fishes
The River of Doubt (The Lost City of Z also sounded good, but I didn’t want two stories about exploring South America, and TR wins out)
Team of Rivals
The Glory and the Dream

I wanted The Fatal Shore, but it was unfortunately not on Audible.

The Foote books sound awesome, but they are (literally) 150 hours worth of narration across three volumes. That’s going straight to my list, but it’s going to have to be a paper (or Nook) read.