Obviously international stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum-leaders are influenced by what’s gone on before. In this case, I’m going to pretty arbitrarily say that history is anything that happened before World War II; later than that, and it belongs in one of the other categories. Why? Well, it seems like most of us have a general idea of international relations from then on: the Cold War, the end of the Cold War, etc. but judging from some of the classmates I had in college, general knowledge of international stuff before WWII breaks down pretty fast. You can pick history books about any country you want (other than your native one), or about the world as a whole, or about a religion, or about anything else you can think of that’s international!
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
- A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich
- King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild: see my very positive review.
- Africa: A Biography of the Continent by John Reader
- Life along the Silk Road by Susan Whitfield
- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
- Everyday Life in Traditional Japan by Charles Dunn and Laurence Broderick
- The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 by William Dalrymple
- The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk
- China: A New History, Enlarged Edition by John King Fairbank and Merle Goldman
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
- A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn
- America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins: see my good review.
- The Penguin History of Latin America by Edwin Williamson
The Middle East
- City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa by Adam LeBor
- Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour by Barbara W. Tuchman