Archive for January 12th, 2010

Judging history books by their covers

12 January 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

I’ve always been intrigued by what draws us to history texts. Reviews? Dewey? Blind necessity? It’s easy to tick those boxes. But what about the ones that get randomly picked up in Waterstones in the three-for-two, pulled from the shelves of Charlie Byrne’s, Hodges Figgis, Chapters or your local Hughes and Hughes?

By now you’ve digested the dozens of year-end and decade-end lists of best books, the ones that appeared under the tree on Christmas morning or were passed to relatives, friends or significant others in the hope of liberating them from their philistine hands later in the year. Regular readers might even have expected a Pue’s best of the year round up. Monthly recommendations but no year-end or decade-end lists, what’s that all about? (Actually, it’s a collective editorial ethos, an effort to avoid the pointless crush of ranking personal taste and coming out with something so general it appeals only to a narrow section of your readership.)

But in a year full of great history book covers, creating this short list was too good an opportunity to pass up. Here are five of my favourites from 2009, with an explanation why, but feel free to add a comment with yours and I will add them to the gallery. See more