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By: Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace chronicles the lives of five Russian aristocratic families during Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Many considered this book to be the best Russian work of literature of all time and it is massive in scale. The book is divided in four volumes and the chapters don't just contain the narrative of the plot to the novel but philosophical discussions as well. This may be intimidating to average book readers but they shouldn't be discouraged to try reading War and Peace. After all, this book was written for all and not just for intellectuals...

The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy The Cossacks

The Cossacks (1863) is an unfinished novel which describes the Cossack life and people through a story of Dmitri Olenin, a Russian aristocrat in love with a Cossack girl. This text was acclaimed by Ivan Bunin as one of the finest in the language.

By: Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Roughing It by Mark Twain Roughing It

The semiautobiographical travel memoir records Twain’s, more or less, personal journey across the Wild West in search of adventure while exploring variable locations. Accompanying his brother on what becomes a trip of a lifetime, the young Samuel Clemens finds himself in many different vocational roles as he explores and observes the magnificence of the American West. Not refraining from the usual social commentary, Twain directs criticism on various social and moral issues which he approaches through his sly and witty style...

Extracts from Adam's Diary by Mark Twain Extracts from Adam's Diary

Get the true story of Adam and Eve, straight from the source. This humorous text is a day-to-day account of Adam’s life from happiness in the “GARDEN-OF-EDEN” to their fall from grace and the events thereafter. Learn how Eve caught the infant Cain, and Adam takes some time to learn exactly what it is.

Eve's Diary by Mark Twain Eve's Diary

Eve's Diary is a comic short story by Mark Twain. It was first published in the 1905 Christmas issue of the magazine Harper's Bazaar, and in book format in June 1906 by Harper and Brothers publishing house. It is written in the style of a diary kept by the first woman in the Judeao-Christian creation myth, Eve, and is claimed to be "translated from the original MS." The "plot" of this novel is the first-person account of Eve from her creation up to her burial by, her mate, Adam, including meeting and getting to know Adam, and exploring the world around her, Eden...

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volumes 1 & 2 by Mark Twain Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volumes 1 & 2

Mark Twain’s work on Joan of Arc is titled in full “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte.” De Conte is identified as Joan’s page and secretary. For those who’ve always wanted to “get behind” the Joan of Arc story and to better understand just what happened, Twain’s narrative makes the story personal and very accessible. The work is fictionally presented as a translation from the manuscript by Jean Francois Alden, or, in the words of the published book, “Freely Translated out of the Ancient French into Modern English from the Original Unpublished Manuscript in the National Archives of France...

The Treaty with China by Mark Twain The Treaty with China

"A good candidate for 'the most under-appreciated work by Mark Twain' would be 'The Treaty With China,' which he published in the New York Tribune in 1868. This piece, which is an early statement of Twain's opposition to imperialism and which conveys his vision of how the U.S. ought to behave on the global stage, has not been reprinted since its original publication until now." (the online, open-access "Journal of Transnational American Studies" published it in the spring, 2010).

Book cover Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences

This is Mark Twain's vicious and amusing review of Fenimore Cooper's literary art. It is still read widely in academic circles. Twain's essay, Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses (often spelled "Offences") (1895), particularly criticized The Deerslayer and The Pathfinder. Twain wrote at the beginning of the essay: 'In one place in Deerslayer, and in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offenses against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.' Twain listed 19 rules 'governing literary art in domain of romantic fiction', 18 of which Cooper violates in The Deerslayer. (Introduction by Wikipedia and John Greenman)

Goldsmith's Friend Abroad Again by Mark Twain Goldsmith's Friend Abroad Again

This satire on the U.S.A.'s myth of being the "Home of the Oppressed, where all men are free and equal", is unrelenting in its pursuit of justice through exposure. It draws a scathingly shameful portrait of how Chinese immigrants were treated in 19th century San Francisco. (Introduction by John Greenman)

Essays on Paul Bourget by Mark Twain Essays on Paul Bourget

Collection of short essays concerning French novelist and critic Paul Bourget. Included: "What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us" and "A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget".

By: Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)

Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maud Montgomery Rainbow Valley

If you've read and loved Anne of Green Gables, you'd definitely like to add Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maud Montgomery to your collection. Published in 1919, it is the seventh book in the series and follows the further life and adventures of Anne Shirley. At Ingleside, Anne is now happily married to her childhood friend the devoted Gilbert Blythe and have now been together blissfully for fifteen years. They have six children. The book opens with the return of Anne and Gilbert (who is now a brilliant doctor) from a sojourn in London, where they had gone to attend a big medical congress...

By: William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

King Richard II by William Shakespeare King Richard II

The Tragedy of King Richard II, by William Shakespeare, is the first of the history series that continues with Parts 1 and 2 of King Henry IV and with The Life of King Henry V. At the beginning of the play, Richard II banishes his cousin Henry Bolingbroke from England. Bolingbroke later returns with an army and the support of some of the nobility, and he deposes Richard. Richard is separated from his beloved Queen, imprisoned, and later murdered. By the end of the play, Bolingbroke has been crowned King Henry IV...

Richard III by William Shakespeare Richard III

Richard III is an early history play probably written and performed around 1592-93. It is the culmination of Shakespeare's earlier three plays about Henry VI, and chronicles the bloody career of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. As the play opens, the Wars of the Roses are over, King Edward IV (Richard's brother) is on the throne, and all is ostensibly well. The problem? Richard wants to be king - and he'll stop at nothing to realize his ambition.

Henry V by William Shakespeare Henry V

After the turmoil and uncertainty of Henry IV a new era appears to dawn for England with the accession of the eponymous Henry V. In this sunny pageant, the Chorus guides us along Henry's glittering carpet ride of success as the new king completes his transformation from rebellious wastrel to a truly regal potentate. Of course, there is an underlying feeling that the good times won't last, and this is all the more reason to enjoy the Indian summer before the protracted and bitter fall of the house of Lancaster.

Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus may be Shakespeare's earliest tragedy; it is believed to have been written in the early 1590s. It depicts a Roman general who is engaged in a cycle of revenge with his enemy Tamora, the Queen of the Goths. The play is by far Shakespeare's bloodiest work. It lost popularity during the Victorian era because of its gore, and it has only recently seen its fortunes revive.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Life of Marcus Antonius and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra's suicide. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumviri and the future first emperor of Rome. The tragedy is a Roman play characterized by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome.

Henry VI by William Shakespeare Henry VI

Henry VI, Part 1 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England. Whereas 2 Henry VI deals with the King's inability to quell the bickering of his nobles, and the inevitability of armed conflict, and 3 Henry VI deals with the horrors of that conflict, 1 Henry VI deals with the loss of England's French territories and the political machinations leading up to the Wars of the Roses, as the English political system is torn apart by personal squabbles and petty jealousy.

Cymbeline by William Shakespeare Cymbeline

Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare's late romances, which (like The Tempest and The Winter's Tale) combines comedy and tragedy. Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, angers her father when she marries Posthumus, a worthy but penniless gentleman. The King banishes Posthumus, who goes to Rome, where he falls prey to the machinations of Iachimo, who tries to convince him that Imogen will be unfaithful. Meanwhile, the Queen (Imogen's stepmother) plots against her stepdaughter by trying to plan a match between Imogen and her worthless son Cloten.

Henry VIII by William Shakespeare Henry VIII

This is Shakespeare's dutiful tribute to one of the most imposing and terrifying rulers in European history. The kingdom trembles as the giant monarch storms through his midlife crisis, disposing of the faithful Katharine of Aragon and starting a new life and, the king hopes, a line of succession with the captivating young Anne Bullen. Unlike his predecessors, Henry has no doubt about the security of his tenure on the throne, and dominates the royal court with absolute authority. The extent of the King's power is graphically illustrated by the fate of the Duke of Buckingham, who goes calmly to execution while deploring, not the unjust despotism of the king...

King John by William Shakespeare King John

The Life and Death of King John, a history play by William Shakespeare, dramatises the reign of John, King of England (ruled 1199–1216), son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and father of Henry III of England. It is believed to have been written in the mid-1590s but was not published until it appeared in the First Folio in 1623. John (24 December 1166 – 19 October 1216), also known as John Lackland or Softsword, was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death. His reign...

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens A Child's History of England

A Child’s History of England first appeared in serial form, running from January 25, 1851 to December 10, 1853 and was first published in three volume book form in 1852, 1853, and 1854. Dickens dedicated the book to “My own dear children, whom I hope it may help, bye and bye, to read with interest larger and better books on the same subject”. The history covered the period between 50 BC and 1689, ending with a chapter summarising events from then until the ascension of Queen Victoria.

By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

The Adventures of Gerard by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Adventures of Gerard

These lesser known stories were penned by Conan Doyle during the period between killing off Sherlock Holmes in 1893 and reluctantly resurrecting him some ten years later. The swashbuckling, eponymous hero, Etienne Gerard, is one of Napoleon's gallant French Hussars, who considers himself the finest of them all. Through these "Boys Own Adventures", Conan Doyle pokes gentle fun at both the French and the English. This is the second volume containing eight adventures.

By: Jules Verne (1828-1905)

Michael Strogoff by Jules Verne Michael Strogoff

This is the account of the perilous mission of Michael Strogoff, courier for Czar Alexander II, who is sent from Moscow to the besieged city of Irkutsk, where the governor, brother of the Czar, has taken his last stand against a Tartar rebellion led by the fearsome Feofar-Khan. When telegraph lines are cut between the Russian Far East and the mainland, Strogoff must make his way through hostile territory to warn the governor of the return of the traitor Ivan Ogareff, a disgraced former officer who seeks vengeance against the Tsar’s family by the destruction of Irkutsk.

The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne The Blockade Runners

Writing at the end of the American Civil War, Verne weaves this story of a Scottish merchant who, in desperation at the interruption of the flow of Southern cotton due to the Union blockade, determines to build his own fast ship and run guns to the Confederates in exchange for the cotton piling up unsold on their wharves. His simple plan becomes complicated by two passengers who board his new ship under false pretenses in order to carry out a rescue mission, one which Capt. Playfair adopts as his own cause. This is going make the Rebels in Charleston rather unhappy with him.Sure, his new ship is fast - but can it escape the cannonballs of both North and South?

By: Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1867-1941)

Our Island Story by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall Our Island Story

Tailored specially to make history more palatable and interesting to children, Our Island Story, by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall, is a charmingly illustrated volume that promises hours of delight for parents as well as children. Beginning with the myths and legends about Albion, the author ensures that she captivates the child's imagination from the very first page. Unlike today's dry and non-committal history tomes that are prescribed in schools, Our Island Story is full of lyrical prose, literary allusions, heroic and tragic characters, the hunger for power and the glory of empire...

This Country of Ours by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall This Country of Ours

History made interesting for young readers—This Country of Ours by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall provides a simple and easy to comprehend way of looking at the history of the United States. Arranged chronologically in seven long chapters, it presents events in a story form, making them memorable and very different from other formats. One of the challenges that writers of history face is about fleshing out the characters and making the bland repetition of dates and dynasties seem relevant to modern day readers...

By: Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Spanning a period of nearly 1500 years, this monumental work of history tracks the orbit of one of the greatest Empires of all time. The sheer scale and sweep of the narrative is breathtaking in its ambitious scope and brings to vivid life the collapse of a magnificent military, political and administrative structure. Proceeding at a brisk pace, the original fourteen volumes describe debauched emperors, corrupt practices, usurpers and murderers, bloody battles, plunder and loot, barbarian hordes, tumultuous events like the Crusades and invaders like Genghis Khan and many more...

By: Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948)

History of the United States: The Colonial Period Onwards by Charles Austin Beard History of the United States: The Colonial Period Onwards

Vol. I: The Colonial Period. Charles Austin Beard was the most influential American historian of the early 20th century. He published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science. He graduated from DePauw University in 1898, where he met and eventually married Mary Ritter Beard, one of the founders of the first Greek-letter society for women, Kappa Alpha Theta. Many of his books were written in collaboration with his wife, whose own interests lay in feminism and the labor union movement (Woman as a Force in History, 1946)...

By: Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)

The History of England, from the Accession of James the Second by Thomas Babington Macaulay The History of England, from the Accession of James the Second

Hailed more as a literary masterpiece than an accurate account of historical facts, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second by Thomas Babington Macaulay is an admirable mix of fact and fiction. Modern day readers may find much that is offensive and insensitive in this five volume work which covers a particular period in the long and eventful history of Britain. However, it is certainly a book that leads the reader on to further research into the events and people mentioned...

By: Robert Louis Stevenson

The Black Arrow; a Tale of Two Roses by Robert Louis Stevenson The Black Arrow; a Tale of Two Roses

The Black Arrow tells the story of Richard (Dick) Shelton during the Wars of the Roses: how he becomes a knight, rescues his lady Joanna Sedley, and obtains justice for the murder of his father, Sir Harry Shelton. Outlaws in Tunstall Forest organized by Ellis Duckworth, whose weapon and calling card is a black arrow, cause Dick to suspect that his guardian Sir Daniel Brackley and his retainers are responsible for his father’s murder. Dick’s suspicions are enough to turn Sir Daniel against him, so he has no recourse but to escape from Sir Daniel and join the outlaws of the Black Arrow against him...

By: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

The Trumpet-Major by Thomas Hardy The Trumpet-Major

Our heroine, Anne Garland, lives quietly in a rural community deep in the English countryside. However, the arrival of several regiments preparing for an expected invasion brings colour and chaos to the county. A graceful and charming young woman, Anne is pursued by three suitors: John Loveday, the trumpet-major in a British regiment, honest and loyal; his brother Robert, a merchant seaman and womaniser, and Festus Derriman, the cowardly son of the local squire. Set at the time of the Napoleonic wars, this is the author’s only historical novel, and unusually for Hardy’s stories, most of the characters live happily ever after.

By: Jack London (1876-1916)

Book cover Road

Jack London credited his skill of story-telling to the days he spent as a hobo learning to fabricate tales to get meals from sympathetic strangers. In The Road, he relates the tales and memories of his days on the hobo road, including how the hobos would elude train crews and his travels with Kelly’s Army.

By: Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950)

The Outlaw of Torn by Edgar Rice Burroughs The Outlaw of Torn

The story is set in 13th century England and concerns the fictitious outlaw Norman of Torn, who purportedly harried the country during the power struggle between King Henry III and Simon de Montfort. Norman is the supposed son of the Frenchman de Vac, once the king's fencing master, who has a grudge against his former employer and raises the boy to be a simple, brutal killing machine with a hatred of all things English. His intentions are partially subverted by a priest who befriends Norman and teaches him his letters and chivalry towards women...

By: Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling Puck of Pook's Hill

Puck of Pook’s Hill is a children’s book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1906, containing a series of short stories set in different periods of history. The stories are all told to two children living near Pevensey by people magically plucked out of history by Puck.

Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling Plain Tales from the Hills

Named a "prophet of British imperialism" by the young George Orwell, and born in Bombay, India, Rudyard Kipling had perhaps the clearest contemporary eye of any who described the British Raj. According to critic Douglas Kerr: "He is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with." This force shines in THE PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS. (Introduction by Mike Harris)

Book cover France At War: On the Frontier of Civilization

In 1915, as the "Great War" (World War 1) entered its second year Rudyard Kipling made a journalistic tour of the front, visiting French armed forces. By then he was already winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (the first writer in English to be so honoured). He published his observations in articles in the Daily Telegraph in England, and in the New York Sun. At that stage of the war nationalistic sentiments were running high but the true cost of war was beginning to be understood "at home"...

By: Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers follows the adventures of the young Gascon nobleman, D’Artagnan and his three trusted friends who served as musketeers in the king’s regiment – Athos, Porthos & Aramis. Written by Alexandre Dumas, the book was a bestseller during the time of its publication and it remains so even today. It follows the timeless theme of friendship and bravery. The main protagonist of the story is D’Artagnan who travels to Paris to realize his dreams of becoming one of the musketeers for the king...

The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas is part of the novel The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years After, published in serial form between 1857-50. It is also the last of the D'Artagnan stories written by Dumas and the three musketeers are the real heroes of the story, though the title is given to the man in the iron mask. The story opens with Aramis (one of the musketeers who is now a priest) taking the last confession of a prisoner who is condemned to be executed soon. His confession comes as a thunderbolt to the former musketeer...

Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas Twenty Years After

First serialized from January to August, 1845, Twenty Years After is the second book in The D’Artagnan Romances, and follows the gallant adventures of the musketeers, as they are once again summoned to alleviate the various threats that lurk in the political scene of France, as the country is threatened by a possible uprising. Enriched with exciting and well-developed characters, the novel adds more detail to its familiar characters, as the musketeers have matured and are portrayed in a more introspective light...

Celebrated Crimes by Alexandre Dumas Celebrated Crimes

Dumas's 'Celebrated Crimes' was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language -- has minced no words -- to describe the violent scenes of a violent time.In some instances facts appear distorted out of their true perspective, and in others the author makes unwarranted charges. The careful, mature reader, for whom the books are intended, will recognize, and allow for, this fact.The first volume comprises the annals of the Borgias and the Cenci. The name of the noted and notorious Florentine family has become a synonym for intrigue and violence, and yet the Borgias have not been without stanch defenders in history...

The Vicomte De Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas The Vicomte De Bragelonne

After The Three Muskateers and Twenty Years After the adventurous story of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan continues!The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (French: Le Vicomte de Bragelonne ou Dix ans plus tard) is the last of the Musketeer novels. It is usually divided into four volumes and this first volume contains chapters 1-75.

The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas The Black Tulip

The Black Tulip, written by Alexandre Dumas père and published in 1850, is a historical novel placed in the time of Tulipmania in the Netherlands. The novel begins with the 1672 politically motivated mob lynching of the de Witt brothers and then follows the story of Cornelius van Baerle, godson of Cornelius de Wit. Cornelius Van Baerle has joined the race to breed a truly black tulip – and to win the prize of 100,000 guilders, as well as fame and honour. As he nears his goal he is jailed and then of course rescued – by the beautiful Rosa, daughter of the jailer.

Book cover Louise de la Valliere

After The Three Muskateers and Twenty Years After the adventurous story of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan continues! The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (French: Le Vicomte de Bragelonne ou Dix ans plus tard) is the last of the Musketeer novels. It is usually divided into four volumes and this third volume contains chapters 141-208.

Book cover Ten Years Later

After The Three Muskateers and Twenty Years After the adventurous story of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan continues!The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (French: Le Vicomte de Bragelonne ou Dix ans plus tard) is the last of the Musketeer novels. It is usually divided into four volumes and this second volume contains chapters 76-140.

Book cover Chicot the Jester

This sequel to Dumas' “Marguerite de Valois” begins four years after the sudden death of King Charles IX and succession of his brother Henry III. The reign of King Henry III was plagued with rebellion and political intrigue due to the War of the Three Henries, where his regency was challenged by King Henry of Navarre (leader of the Huguenots) and Henry I, Duke of Guise (leader of the Catholic League). Dumas weaves two main storylines through this turbulent backdrop: one of the love ignited between le Comte de Bussy and la Dame de Monsoreau, and another of the friendship between King Henry III and his truly unique jester, Chicot (Jean-Antoine d'Anglerais).

By: Daniel Defoe (1659/1661-1731)

The History of the Plague in London by Daniel Defoe The History of the Plague in London

The History of the Plague in London is a historical novel offering an account of the dismal events caused by the Great Plague, which mercilessly struck the city of London in 1665. First published in 1722, the novel illustrates the social disorder triggered by the outbreak, while focusing on human suffering and the mere devastation occupying London at the time. Defoe opens his book with the introduction of his fictional character H.F., a middle-class man who decides to wait out the destruction of the plague instead of fleeing to safety, and is presented only by his initials throughout the novel...

By: Herman Melville

White Jacket, or The World in a Man-of-War by Herman Melville White Jacket, or The World in a Man-of-War

This is a tale based on Melville's experiences aboard the USS United States from 1843 to 1844. It comments on the harsh and brutal realities of service in the US Navy at that time, but beyond this the narrator has created for the reader graphic symbols for class distinction, segregation and slavery aboard this microcosm of the world, the USS Neversink. (Introduction by James K. White)

Book cover The Encantadas, Or Enchanted Isles

The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles is a novella by American author Herman Melville. First published in Putnam's Magazine in 1854, it consists of ten philosophical "Sketches" on the Encantadas, or Galápagos Islands. It was collected in The Piazza Tales in 1856. The Encantadas was to become the most critically successful of that collection. All of the stories are replete with symbolism reinforcing the cruelty of life on the Encantadas. (Introduction excerpted from Wikipedia)

By: G. K. Chesterton

A Short History of England by G. K. Chesterton A Short History of England

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a prolific writer on many topics. His views of history were always from the standpoint of men and their interactions, and it may fairly be said he saw all of history as a battle between civilization and barbarism. So it has always been, and that remains true even today.“But it is especially in the matter of the Middle Ages that the popular histories trample upon the popular traditions. In this respect there is an almost comic contrast between the general information...

Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is a book that has become a classic of Christian apologetics. In the book's preface Chesterton states the purpose is to "attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it." In it, Chesterton presents an original view of the Christian religion. He sees it as the answer to natural human needs, the "answer to a riddle" in his own words, and not simply as an arbitrary truth received from somewhere outside the boundaries of human experience.

What's Wrong With the World by G. K. Chesterton What's Wrong With the World

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936) has been called the “prince of paradox.” Time magazine observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.” His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction. The title of Chesteron’s 1910 collection of essays was inspired by a title given to him two years earlier by The Times newspaper, which had asked a number of authors to write on the topic: “What’s wrong with the world?”...

The Ballad of the White Horse by G. K. Chesterton The Ballad of the White Horse

An English epic poem that follows the exploits of Alfred the Great in his defense of Christian civilization in England from the heathen nihilism of the North. Following a string of defeats at the hands of the invading Danes, a vision from heaven in the river island of Athelney fills Alfred with joy and hope. Though it gives no promise of victory in the coming struggle, it inspires him to rally his chieftains for a last stand against the invading hordes. His adventures lead throughout the country...

What I Saw in America by G. K. Chesterton What I Saw in America

“Let me begin my American impressions with two impressions I had before I went to America. One was an incident and the other an idea; and when taken together they illustrate the attitude I mean. The first principle is that nobody should be ashamed of thinking a thing funny because it is foreign; the second is that he should be ashamed of thinking it wrong because it is funny.” (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)

The New Jerusalem by G. K. Chesterton The New Jerusalem

“On the road to Cairo one may see twenty groups exactly like that of the Holy Family in the pictures of the Flight into Egypt; with only one difference. The man is riding on the ass.” “The real mistake of the Muslims is something much more modern in its application than any particular passing persecution of Christians as such. It lay in the very fact that they did think they had a simpler and saner sort of Christianity, as do many modern Christians. They thought it could be made universal merely by being made uninteresting...

A Utopia of Usurers by G. K. Chesterton A Utopia of Usurers

“Now I have said again and again (and I shall continue to say again and again on all the most inappropriate occasions) that we must hit Capitalism, and hit it hard, for the plain and definite reason that it is growing stronger. Most of the excuses which serve the capitalists as masks are, of course, the excuses of hypocrites. They lie when they claim philanthropy; they no more feel any particular love of men than Albu felt an affection for Chinamen. They lie when they say they have reached their position through their own organising ability...

Lord Kitchener by G. K. Chesterton Lord Kitchener

“The paradox of all this part of his life lies in this–that, destined as he was to be the greatest enemy of Mahomedanism, he was quite exceptionally a friend of Mahomedans.”

By: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott Hospital Sketches

Alcott in 1862 served as a nurse in Georgetown, D.C during the Civil War. She wrote home what she observed there. Those harrowing and sometimes humorous letters compiled make up Hospital Sketches.

Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott Under the Lilacs

"When two young girls decide to have a tea party with their dolls and a mysterious dog comes and eats their prized cake, they end up finding a circus run-away, Ben Brown. Ben is a horse master, and loves horses, so when the Moss' take the young boy in, they decide to give him work at the neighbors house driving cows (on a horse, of course). After that a series of events happens, and Ben finds out his beloved father is dead. Miss Celia, a neighbor, feels sorry and comforts him, and finally offers to let Ben stay with her and her fourteen-year-old brother, Thornton who is called Thorny...

By: Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo The Hunchback of Notre Dame

One of the great literary tragedies of all time, The Hunchback of Notre Dame features some of the most well-known characters in all of fiction - Quasimodo, the hideously deformed bellringer of Notre-Dame de Paris, his master the evil priest Claude Frollo, and Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy condemned for a crime she did not commit.

By: Elizabeth Gaskell

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell Mary Barton

Mary Barton is the first novel by English author Elizabeth Gaskell, published in 1848. The story is set in the English city of Manchester during the 1830s and 1840s and deals heavily with the difficulties faced by the Victorian lower class. The novel begins in Manchester, where we are introduced to the Bartons and the Wilsons, two working class families. John Barton reveals himself to be a great questioner of the distribution of wealth and the relation between the rich and the poor. He also relates how his sister-in-law Esther has disappeared after she ran away from home...

By: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort by Edith Wharton Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort

American novelist Edith Wharton was living in Paris when World War I broke out in 1914. She obtained permission to visit sites behind the lines, including hospitals, ravaged villages, and trenches. Fighting France records her travels along the front in 1914 and 1915, and celebrates the indomitable spirit of the French people.

By: Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375)

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio The Decameron

Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron is a collection of novellas or short novels written during the 14th century. There are 100 tales contained in the book which is presented together. The book’s title The Decameron combines the two Greek words “deka” meaning ten and “hemera” meaning day. The title can be literally translated as “ten day,” which is also the time frame in which the stories are told by the 7 young women and 3 young men. In the book, each of the ten persons took their turns to tell stories for a day...

By: Stephen Leacock (1869-1944)

Chronicles of Canada -- Dawn of Canadian History: Aboriginal Canada by Stephen Leacock Chronicles of Canada -- Dawn of Canadian History: Aboriginal Canada

Most readers of Stephen Leacock's works are familiar with his witty and humorous writings, but few may be aware that he was also a gifted teacher, political ideologue, economist and fiction writer. Though he wrote six books on Canadian history, none of them attained the status of a standard text on the subject and were regarded more as opinion pieces without much academic foundation. Yet, the Chronicles of Canada series by Stephen Leacock remains an interesting and entertaining read. In this volume, Dawn of Canadian History: Aboriginal Canada, which is part of a thirty-two book series of short and simple essays, Leacock explores the little known origins of Canada's past...

The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice by Stephen Leacock The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice

This lengthy political essay by noted Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock was written while he was professor of political economy at McGill University. He argues for a middle ground between individualism/capitalism and pure socialism. Listeners in the early 21st century may find this 90-year old essay oddly topical.

By: Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)

Book cover Under Western Eyes

Under Western Eyes (1911) is a novel by Joseph Conrad. The novel takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Geneva, Switzerland, and is viewed as Conrad's response to the themes explored in Crime and Punishment, Conrad being reputed to have detested Dostoevsky. It is also, some say, Conrad's response to his own early life; his father was a famous revolutionary imprisoned by the Russians, but, instead of following in his father's footsteps, at the age of sixteen Conrad left his native land forever...

By: Jacob Abbott

Cleopatra by Jacob Abbott Cleopatra

The French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal once remarked, “Cleopatra's nose. Had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed!” Such was the legendary power and attraction of this most famous woman ruler that generations of artists, readers, writers, historians and poets have ensured that she remains immortal and unforgettable. Jacob Abbott's Cleopatra is a work of historical biography, told in a highly dramatic and gripping style. It brings the characters and the circumstances to vivid life, making it an entertaining read for people of all ages...

Queen Elizabeth by Jacob Abbott Queen Elizabeth

The history of a woman who rose above and beyond tragedy, grief and personal loss to become one of the most powerful figures in sixteenth century Europe is wonderfully told in this biography Queen Elizabeth, by Jacob Abbott. Beginning with the tragic circumstances of Elizabeth's mother, the lovely and doomed Anne Boleyn's execution and Henry VIII's dissolution of the English Catholic Church, the story of Elizabeth's rise to power is reflective of the England's domination of world politics as well...

Peter the Great by Jacob Abbott Peter the Great

“There are very few persons who have not heard of the fame of Peter the Great, the founder, as he is generally regarded by mankind, of Russian civilization. The celebrity, however, of the great Muscovite sovereign among young persons is due in a great measure to the circumstance of his having repaired personally to Holland, in the course of his efforts to introduce the industrial arts among his people, in order to study himself the art and mystery of shipbuilding, and of his having worked with his own hands in a ship-yard there...

Hannibal by Jacob Abbott Hannibal

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer's aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott William the Conqueror

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

Mary Queen of Scots by Jacob Abbott Mary Queen of Scots

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

History of Julius Caesar by Jacob Abbott History of Julius Caesar

The book chronicles the extraordinary life and leadership of Rome’s Emperor Julius Caesar, from his early years to his assassination.

Richard I by Jacob Abbott Richard I

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

Charles I by Jacob Abbott Charles I

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

Richard III by Jacob Abbott Richard III

Jacob Abbott chronicles the unspeakably treacherous rise of Richard III to the throne of England in the midst of the war between the Yorks and the Lancasters and his ultimate fall on the Field of Bosworth. (Introduction by Cathy Barratt)

Margaret of Anjou by Jacob Abbott Margaret of Anjou

Margaret of Anjou, wife of England’s Henry VI, played a key role in launching the storied War of the Roses – the 30-year civil conflict fuelled by the Lancasters and the Yorks, each vying for the British throne in the 15th century. (Summary by Cathy Barratt.)

Richard II, Makers of History by Jacob Abbott Richard II, Makers of History

Chronicles the life of Richard II, born in 1367 in Bordeaux, France, who later wore the crown of King of England.

By: Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1865-1947)

The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy The Elusive Pimpernel

First Published in 1908, The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is the 4th book in the classic adventure series about the Scarlet Pimpernel.

By: John B. Bury (1861-1927)

A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great by John B. Bury A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great

For the Irish historian John Bagnell Bury, history should be treated as a science and not a mere branch of literature. Many contemporary histories written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were poetic and heroic in tone, blending fact and fiction, myths and legends. They sometimes relied on sources from Shakespeare and classical poets. For Bury, the facts of history may be legendary or romantic in nature, but they should be recounted in a scholarly and non-judgmental manner, without the accompanying emotions...

The Students' Roman Empire by John B. Bury The Students' Roman Empire

The writings of J. B. Bury (1861-1927), on subjects ranging from ancient Greece to the 19th-century papacy, are at once scholarly and accessible to the layman. This work covers the period from the beginning of the Roman Empire until Gibbon begins; from Augustus through Marcus Aurelius and the Antoinine Emporers.

By: Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)

The Life of Cicero by Anthony Trollope The Life of Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC) was an orator, statesman, philosopher and prolific correspondent, who rose as a ‘new man’ in Rome in the turbulent last years of its republican government. Anthony Trollope, best known as a novelist, admired Cicero greatly and wrote this biography late in life in order to argue his virtues against authors who had granted him literary greatness but questioned his strength as a politician and as a man. He takes a personal approach, affording us an insight into his own mind and times as well as those of his subject...

By: Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527)

History of Florence and of the Affairs of Italy by Niccolò Machiavelli History of Florence and of the Affairs of Italy

History of Florence and of the Affairs of Italy is an historical account by Niccolò Machiavelli. Toward the end of 1520, the Cardinal Giulio of Medici, later Pope Clement VII, offered Machiavelli the appointment to write a history of Florence. Although Machiavelli was reluctant to accept, accepting was his only way to regain the good graces of the Medici who had regained power and were in a position to offer him employment and protection. Doing the history also provided a way for Machiavelli’s views to become the “official” history of Florentine and Italian affairs. Once completed, the work was presented officially to Giulio, now Pope, in May of 1526.

By: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

Nearly 160 years after it was first published, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass continues to inspire, enthrall and educate generations of readers. This collection of poems serves as a vehicle for Whitman's philosophy, ideals, love of nature and mystical musings and it subsequently became one of the corner stones of American literature. Whitman was inspired to write Leaves of Grass based on Ralph Waldo Emerson's clarion call for a truly American poet who would tell of its glories, virtues and vices...

By: Edith Nesbit (1858-1924)

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit The Story of the Treasure Seekers

The six Bastable children are plunged into grief when their mother dies and their father's business partner cheats him of all his money. As a result, he loses not only his fortune but also his good name. However, the children decide to lend a hand. Determined to restore both, the children set out to find some way of making money. A variety of amusing and exciting events follow as they plunge into a series of scrapes in search of a legendary lost treasure. Published in 1899, The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E Nesbit was her first children's novel...

Royal Children of English History by Edith Nesbit Royal Children of English History

From the first chapter: “History is a story, a story of things that happened to real live people in our England years ago; and the things that are happening here and now, and that are put in the newspapers, will be history for little children one of these days. And the people you read about in history were real live people, who were good and bad, and glad and sorry, just as people are now-a-days.” E. Nesbit writes about some of the people behind the names, dates and battles of English History in this lovely book for older children. The original book contains some beautiful illustrations and you can see those by clicking the ‘Gutenberg’ link below.

By: Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Lincoln at Cooper Union by Abraham Lincoln Lincoln at Cooper Union

On 27 February 1860, Abraham Lincoln gave this address at the Cooper Union in New York City. When he gave the speech, Lincoln was considered by many to be just a country lawyer. After he gave the speech, he soon became his party’s nominee for president.

By: Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter

A beautiful woman who is punished for the mortal sin of loving a man other than her husband, a cowardly lover, a vengeful husband, a rebellious illegitimate child and the oppressive and patriarchal morality of 17th century Puritanism in Boston. Together these form an unforgettable and thought-provoking glimpse of how much social attitudes have changed over the centuries. Nathaniel Hawthorne was the creator of such beloved works as Twice-Told Tales, A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls, The House of the Seven Gables and spine-chilling tales like Roger Malvin's Burial...

By: Andre Norton (1912-2005)

Book cover Rebel Spurs

In 1866, only men uprooted by war had reason to ride into Tubacca, Arizona, a nondescript town as shattered and anonymous as the veterans drifting through it. So when Drew Rennie, newly discharged from Forrest’s Confederate scouts, arrived leading everything he owned behind him—his thoroughbred stud Shiloh, a mare about to foal, and a mule—he knew his business would not be questioned. To anyone in Tubacca there could be only one extraordinary thing about Drew, and that he could not reveal: his name, Rennie...

Book cover Ride Proud, Rebel!

Drew Rennie, served as a cavalry scout in Confederate general John Hunt Morgan's command. He had left home in 1862 after a final break with his harsh grandfather, who despised him since his birth because of his mother's runaway marriage to a Texan. During the final year of conflict Drew has the additional responsibility of looking out for his headstrong fifteen-year-old cousin Boyd, who has run away from home to join Morgan's command and has a lot to learn in the school of hard knocks the army provides. The story follows the two of them and a new friend, Anson Kirby, through campaigns in Kentucky, Tennessee and later on deeper into the South, first with Morgan and later under Forrest.

By: George Eliot (1819-1880)

Adam Bede by George Eliot Adam Bede

A young carpenter falls in love with the village beauty. She, however, has set her sights on a dashing army captain who's the son of the wealthy local squire. Meanwhile, a beautiful and virtuous young woman preacher arrives in the village. What happens to these people and the strange twists and turns that their lives take are described in the rest of the book. Adam Bede was George Eliot's first published novel. Published in 1859, the book has remained a firm favorite with readers and academicians alike and is still taught in many English literature courses all over the world...

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot The Mill on the Floss

The novel details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, a brother and sister growing up on the river Floss near the village of St. Oggs, evidently in the 1820’s, after the Napoleonic Wars but prior to the first Reform Bill (1832). The novel spans a period of 10-15 years, from Tom and Maggie’s childhood up until their deaths in a flood on the Floss. The book is fictional autobiography in part, reflecting the disgrace that George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) herself had while in a lengthy relationship with a married man, George Henry Lewes...

By: Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin The Voyage of the Beagle

The book, also known as Darwin’s Journal of Researches, is a vivid and exciting travel memoir as well as a detailed scientific field journal covering biology, geology, and anthropology that demonstrates Darwin’s keen powers of observation, written at a time when Western Europeans were still discovering and exploring much of the rest of the world. Although Darwin revisited some areas during the expedition, for clarity the chapters of the book are ordered by reference to places and locations rather than chronologically. With hindsight, ideas which Darwin would later develop into his theory of evolution by natural selection are hinted at in his notes and in the book .

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin by Charles Darwin The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin is the autobiography of the British naturalist Charles Darwin which was published in 1887, five years after his death. Darwin wrote the book, which he entitled Recollections of the Development of my Mind and Character, for his family. He states that he started writing it on about May 28, 1876 and had finished it by August 3. The book was edited by Charles Darwin’s son Francis Darwin, who removed several passages about Darwin’s critical views of God and Christianity...

By: Alexander Hamilton (1755/1757-1804)

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton The Federalist Papers

In order to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution in the late 1780s, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Hay wrote a series of 85 articles and essays explaining their reasons to support the constitution. Most of these articles were published in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet and they later became known as “The Federalist Papers.” In reading the articles, one will encounter very interesting issues like Hamilton’s opposition to including the Bill of Rights in the Constitution and why he thinks a Union is better than a Confederation...

By: The 9/11 Commission

The 9/11 Commission Report by The 9/11 Commission The 9/11 Commission Report

Taking the reader back to the horror and devastation of September 11, 2001, the 9/11 Commission Report by the 9/11 Commission, is the official report that presents the final findings of the committee Krean Hamilton Commission (better known as the 9/11 Commission.) The report reveals not just the events that happened on that fateful day, but also describes the circumstances that led up to it. It analyzes the role of several government agencies in the drama and also pinpoints the lacunae in the system that allowed such events to occur...

By: Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage is a fiction that tells the story of a soldier named Henry Fleming during the American Civil War. The novel gained widespread praise from critics and was also a commercial success shortly after its release and made Stephen Crane an instant celebrity at the young age of 24. In the novel, Henry was one of the enlisted soldiers in the 304th New York Regiment. He flees from battle in one of the skirmishes they had against the Confederates and to hide his cowardice, he attempted to inflict a wound to himself which is referred to as the “red badge of courage...

By: Plato (428/427 BC - 348/347 BC)

Phaedo by Plato Phaedo

Plato's Phaedo is one of the great dialogues of his middle period, along with the Republic and the Symposium. The Phaedo, which depicts the death of Socrates, is also Plato's seventh and last dialogue to detail the philosopher's final days (the first six being Theaetetus, Euthyphro, Sophist, Statesman, Apology, and Crito).In the dialogue, Socrates discusses the nature of the afterlife on his last day before being executed by drinking hemlock. Socrates has been imprisoned and sentenced to death by an Athenian jury for not believing in the gods of the state and for corrupting the youth of the city...

By: James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)

The Last Of The Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper The Last Of The Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans is an epic novel by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in January 1826. It was one of the most popular English-language novels of its time, and helped establish Cooper as one of the first world-famous American writers.The story takes place in 1757 during the French and Indian War, when France and Great Britain battled for control of the American and Canadian colonies. During this war, the French often allied themselves with Native American tribes in order to gain an advantage over the British, with unpredictable and often tragic results.

The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper The Spy

Between 1865-73 the tumultuous American Revolution rages on in different battlefields. The air is thick with hatred and suspicion as the Continental and British armies clash in bloody warfare. In Westchester County, New York, an area is considered a neutral ground for both forces, Harvey Birch plies his dangerous mission. An innocuous peddler by day, he is in fact an American spy, though he does nothing to correct anyone who assumes he is a British spy. In a magnificent country mansion, The Locusts, live the wealthy Whartons...

The Pathfinder by James Fenimore Cooper The Pathfinder

Natty Bumppo goes by many names: La Longue Carabine, Hawk Eye, Leatherstocking, and in this tale, The Pathfinder. Guide, scout, hunter, and when put to it, soldier, he also fills a lot of roles in pre-Revolution upstate New York. An old friend, Sergeant Dunham of the 55th Regiment of Foot, asks him to guide his daughter through the wilderness to the fort at Oswego where Dunham serves. With the French engaging native Indian allies against the British and the Yankee colonists, such a journey is far from safe...


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