Audiobook Adventures: Five Non-Fiction Books

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything in my Audiobook Adventures series… Hell, it’s been a while since I listened to an audiobook! Which is ridiculous really as they’re great. To correct this, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to pick up at least one audiobook a month by getting an Audible subscription. It shouldn’t be difficult to find the time for this as I usually use audiobooks when commuting and cooking, so it won’t even eat into my normal reading time.

Now, as those who have been following my blogging journey for any period of time can tell, I mostly read fantasy with some sides science fiction and historical fiction. But, I do enjoy some non-fiction genres too, namely history and travel writing. I just don’t always get around to reading as much of it as I would like and so this felt like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone!

Personally, I find non-fiction easier to focus on in audiobook form than fiction anyway, so this should work out just peachy. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, lets look at some of the books I want to pick up, shall we…


Persian Fire by Tom Holland

Topics: Ancient History | Greek History | Persian History | War

In 480 BC, Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece. Its success should have been a formality. For seventy years, victory – rapid, spectacular victory – had seemed the birthright of the Persian Empire. In the space of a single generation, they had swept across the Near East, shattering ancient kingdoms, storming famous cities, putting together an empire which stretched from India to the shores of the Aegean. As a result of those conquests, Xerxes ruled as the most powerful man on the planet. Yet somehow, astonishingly, against the largest expeditionary force ever assembled, the Greeks of the mainland managed to hold out. The Persians were turned back. Greece remained free. Had the Greeks been defeated at Salamis, not only would the West have lost its first struggle for independence and survival, but it is unlikely that there would ever have been such and entity as the West at all.

Tom Holland’s brilliant new book describes the very first ‘clash of Empires’ between East and West. Once again he has found extraordinary parallels between the ancient world and our own. There is no competing popular book describing these events.


The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England by Marc Morris

Topics: Anglo-Saxon History | English History | The Dark Ages

Sixteen hundred years ago Britain left the Roman Empire and swiftly fell into ruin. Grand cities and luxurious villas were deserted and left to crumble, and civil society collapsed into chaos. Into this violent and unstable world came foreign invaders from across the sea, and established themselves as its new masters.

The Anglo-Saxons traces the turbulent history of these people across the next six centuries. It explains how their earliest rulers fought relentlessly against each other for glory and supremacy, and then were almost destroyed by the onslaught of the vikings. It explores how they abandoned their old gods for Christianity, established hundreds of churches and created dazzlingly intricate works of art. It charts the revival of towns and trade, and the origins of a familiar landscape of shires, boroughs and bishoprics. It is a tale of famous figures like King Offa, Alfred the Great and Edward the Confessor, but also features a host of lesser known characters – ambitious queens, revolutionary saints, intolerant monks and grasping nobles. Through their remarkable careers we see how a new society, a new culture and a single unified nation came into being.


24 Hours in Ancient Athens by Philip Matyszak

Topics: Ancient History | Greek History | Ancient Athens

Athens, 416 BC. A tenuous peace holds. The city-state’s political and military might are feared throughout the ancient world; it pushes the boundaries of social, literary and philosophical experimentation in an era when it has a greater concentration of geniuses per capita than at any other time in human history. Yet even geniuses go to the bathroom, argue with their spouse and enjoy a drink with friends.

Few of the city’s other inhabitants enjoy the benefits of such a civilized society, though – as multicultural and progressive as Athens can be, many are barred from citizenship. No, for the average person, life is about making ends meet, whether that be selling fish, guarding the temple or smuggling lucrative Greek figs.

During the course of a day we meet 24 Athenians from all strata of society – from the slave-girl to the councilman, the vase painter to the naval commander, the housewife to the hoplite – and get to know what the real Athens was like by spending an hour in their company. We encounter a different one of these characters every chapter, with each chapter forming an hour in the life of the ancient city. We also get to spy on the daily doings of notable Athenians through the eyes of regular people as the city hovers on the brink of the fateful war that will destroy its golden age.


SPQR by Professor Mary Beard

Topics: Ancient History | Roman History | Empire

Ancient Rome matters.

Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories – from Romulus and Remus to the Rape of Lucretia – still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today.

SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world’s foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria, but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us.

Covering 1,000 years of history, and casting fresh light on the basics of Roman culture from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, this is a definitive history of ancient Rome.


Crusaders: An Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands by Dan Jones

Topics: Medieval History | Middle Eastern History | The Crusades | Religion | War

Dan Jones, best-selling chronicler of the Middle Ages, turns his attention to the history of the Crusades – the sequence of religious wars fought between the late eleventh century and late medieval periods, in which armies from European Christian states attempted to wrest the Holy Land from Islamic rule, and which have left an enduring imprint on relations between the Muslim world and the West.

From the preaching of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II in 1095 to the loss of the last crusader outpost in the Levant in 1302-03, and from the taking of Jerusalem from the Fatimids in 1099 to the fall of Acre to the Mamluks in 1291, Crusaders tells a tale soaked in Islamic, Christian and Jewish blood, peopled by extraordinary characters, and characterised by both low ambition and high principle.

Dan Jones is a master of popular narrative history, with the priceless ability to write page-turning narrative history underpinned by authoritative scholarship. Never before has the era of the Crusades been depicted in such bright and striking colours, or their story told with such gusto.


That should keep me going for a few months!

Do any of you enjoy listening to non-fiction audio? What books would you recommend? Let me know!

Jack

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