I am really into reading historical books and am a history buff, however historical fiction has always been my favorite to read. I enjoy books that outline a story using historical characters with a good plot, but also books that can explain history.
My favorite books I have ever read were Colleen McCoulough's "Masters in Rome" series.
The books tell about the fall of the Roman Republic and the story is simply engaging because she brings these characters to light.
I have also been reading Steven Saylor's "Novels of Ancient Rome" series
His character is a detective in ancient Rome who helps solve murder cases for people like Cicero, Pompey, and Caesar but always ends up in big trouble such as fighting in battles and meeting with important people.
I am asking for any recommendations on what books to read that are like the ones I have described. I love books with these great plots and characters, but also books that teach history. I was hoping I could find some great authors to hook onto maybe in an ancient Greece setting or the middle ages, WW2, etc. The historical time period isn't very relavent as long as it can tell a historical story.
I love this one.
The Great Gatsby, oh and by the way there is an article on the main blog on "Top 100 Must Read Manly Books" or similar title, make sure you check it out !
"Gates of Fire" by Steven Pressfield.
Kipling has some great books. "The Man Who be King" is my favorite.
Can't go wrong with John Stack, or Robert Harris.
Harry Turtledove also wrote some historical fiction (without the alternate part) under the name H. N. Turteltaub. "Justinian" is a fictional "biography" of Justinian II of the Byzantine Empire. My understanding was that it was a fiction book written using a lot of the research he did for his Ph.D. work. He also wrote a series referred to as the Hellenistic Seafarers. The first one is titled "Over the Wine Dark Sea" It's fun slice-of-life/adventure fiction about Greek traders from Rhodes sailing around the post-Alexander Greek world. I found it nice to get some historical fiction set in the ancient world that wasn't all war.
Mr. Turtledove recommended L. Sprague de Camp in his afterword. You have to really work to find his stuff. I had to ask the librarian, and they went into the basement stacks to get it. "An Elephant for Aristotle" tells a story one of Alexander's officers being sent back to Greece to give Aristotle a gift from Alexander. Seeing as he has to travel from modern India to Greece, it was a good chance to explore the ancient world. If I remember the afterword correctly, the author wrote the story because there is a text in which Aristotle accurately describes an elephant, but based on what historians know about Aristotle's movements during his life, he was never in a place where elephants lived. So, the author came up with one possible way Aristotle could have seen an elephant. I found Mr. de Camp's style a little more challenging to get into than the more modern writers, but certainly entertaining.
I have just finished "Winter of the World", by Ken Follett. It's the second in a series referred to as the Century Trilogy. The first was "The Fall of Giants". The first starts a little before WWI, and follows families in the U.K., Germany, Russia and the U.S. The second starts following the next generation of the same families through the depression and WWII. He hasn't published the third, but I'm looking forward to them. I also read "The Pillars of Earth" by Mr. Follett, about building a cathedral. I enjoyed that too.
I can also recommend "The Sand-Reckoner" by Gillian Bradshaw. It's about Archimedes in Syracuse.