The following books are a selection of those that have helped me over the last five years to develop as a history teacher. As such this list is permanently incomplete. Some of these have inspired me. Others I’ve found useful for enquiries. Some I’ve never used in the classroom explicitly but have changed the way I’ve thought about the discipline. All of them have had an impact upon me in some way.

I would of course urge people to purchase these books – not least because in my mind the best books are covered in pencilled marginalia. Nonetheless I wanted to share some of these digitally to be used in department CPD.


We’ve not always got time to commit to a whole book. Some of these articles have influenced the way I’ve taught or thought about aspects of the past and the ways I present them to my students. Many of these have been shared with me by friends and I would never have come across otherwise.

Ahmed, Shahab. “Chapter 1 – ‘What Is Islam?’” In What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic. Princeton ; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2016.

Anderson, Perry ‘Why Partition?’ London Review of Books Vol. 34 No. 14 · 19 July 2012

Camp, Stephanie M.H. “‘I Could Not Stay There’: Enslaved Women, Truancy and the Geography of Everyday Forms of Resistance in the Antebellum Plantation South.Slavery & Abolition 23, no. 3 (December 2002): 1–20.

Crewe, Tom ‘Warrior, Lover, Villain, SpivLondon Review of Books Vol. 38 No. 1 · 7 January 2016

Drescher, S. “Cart Whip and Billy Roller: Antislavery and Reform Symbolism in Industrializing Britain.” Journal of Social History 15, no. 1 (September 1, 1981): 3–24.

Jose, Vinod K ‘The Rise of Narendra ModiThe Caravan Magazine | 1 March 2012

Hall, Catherine. “Doing Reparatory History: Bringing ‘Race’ and Slavery Home.” Race & Class 60, no. 1 (July 2018): 3–21.

Holt, Thomas C. “Marking: Race, Race-Making, and the Writing of History.” The American Historical Review 100, no. 1 (February 1995): 1.

Humiliated Silence: Multiculturalism, Blame and the Trope of ‘Moving On.’” Museum and Society 8(3) (November 2010): 128–57.

Jones, Cecily. “Contesting the Boundaries of Gender, Race and Sexuality in Barbadian Plantation Society.” Women’s History Review 12, no. 2 (June 1, 2003): 195–232.

McCarthy, Cameron, and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz. “Teaching Difficult History: Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery and the Challenge of Critical Pedagogy in the Contemporary Classroom.Power and Education 2, no. 1 (March 2010): 75–84.

Rediker, Marcus. “History from below the Water Line: Sharks and the Atlantic Slave Trade.” Atlantic Studies 5, no. 2 (August 2008): 285–97.

Srinivasan, Amia ‘He, She, One, They, Ho, Hus, Hum, Ita’ London Review of Books Vol. 42 No. 13 · 2 July 2020

Historical Theory and Pedagogy

The following books have had a real impact on the ways I’ve conceptualised history as a discipline – specifically what can and what should be involved in our enquiries into the past. In particular All Knees and Elbows of Susceptibility and Refusal: Reading History from Below confirmed to me that I could explore the past in creative and meaningful ways with my students and do so in good company.

Améry, Jean. At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a Survivior on Auschwitz and Its Realities. Repr. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Pr, 1980.

Benjamin, Walter. On The Concept of History. New York: Classic Books America, 2009.

Bevernage, Berber. History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence, 2012.

Halberstam, Judith. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011.

Hicks, Dan. The Brutish Museums. The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution. London: Pluto Press, 2020.

Iles, Anthony, Tom Roberts, and Transmission: Committee for the Visual Arts. All Knees and Elbows of Susceptibility and Refusal: Reading History from Below, 2012.

Mohamud, Abdul, Robin Whitburn, Jenice L View, Martin Spafford, and Michelle Hussain. Doing Justice to History Transforming Black History in Secondary Schools, 2016.

Nuthall, Graham. The Hidden Lives of Learners. Wellington [N.Z.: NZCER Press, 2007.

Paul, Herman, and Anthony Runia. Key Issues in Historical Theory. New York ; London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.

Ross, Kristin. Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune. Paperback edition. London New York: Verso, 2016.

Rossi, Nora. Letter to a Teacher by the School of Barbiana. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973.

Rothberg, Michael. Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Cultural Memory in the Present. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2009.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, and Hazel V. Carby. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 2015.

Wolfe, Patrick. Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race. First published. London New York: Verso, 2016.

Historical Studies (Britain and its Empire)

There are some here that I’ve found useful to teach with and others I’ve drawn upon to directly inspire schemes of work. Many haven’t found their way directly into the classroom (yet) but all have provided an interesting view of Britain and its Empire. For obvious reasons the line between ‘British’ and ‘World’ history is somewhat arbitrary.

Barringer, T. J., and Wayne Modest, eds. Victorian Jamaica. Durham: Duke University Press, 2018.

Blackburn, Robin. The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800. London ; New York: Verso, 2010.

———. The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848. London ; New York: Verso, 1988.

Brown, Vincent. Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020.

Craton, Michael. Testing the Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies. Cornell paperbacks, 1. print. Ithaca, NY.: Cornell Univ. Press, 2009.

Curtis, Mark. Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World. London: Vintage, 2003.

Duffy, Eamon. The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village. New Haven, Conn. London: Yale University Press, 2001.

Field, Paul, Robin E. R Bunce, Leila Hassan, Margaret Peacock, and Race Today Collective, eds. Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A ‘Race Today’ Anthology, 2019.

Fryer, Peter. Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain. New ed. Get Political 7. London: Pluto Press, 2010.

Gott, Richard. Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt. London ; New York: Verso Books, 2011.

Green, Toby. A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution, 2020.

Hall, Catherine. White, Male and Middle-Class: Explorations in Feminism and History. Reprinted. Cambridge: Polity, 2007.

Hall, Catherine, Nicholas Draper, Keith McClelland, Katie Donington, and Rachel Lang. Legacies of British Slave-Ownership: Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain, 2016.

Hall, Stuart, Sally Davison, David Featherstone, Michael Rustin, Bill Schwarz, and Stuart Hall. Selected Political Writings: The Great Moving Right Show and Other Essays. Stuart Hall, Selected Writings. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017.

Holt, Thomas C. The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938. Johns Hopkins Studies in Atlantic History and Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Jack, Ian. Before the Oil Ran out: Britain 1977-86. London: Flamingo, 1988.

Kaufmann, Miranda. Black Tudors: The Untold Story. London, England: Oneworld Publications, 2017.

Linebaugh, Peter, and Marcus Rediker. The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. London: Verso, 2007.

Morris, Jan. The Spectacle of Empire: Style, Effect and the Pax Britannica. 1st ed. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1982.

Morton, A. L. A People’s History of England. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1989.

Nubia, Onyeka. England’s Other Countrymen: Black Tudor Society, 2019.

Olusoga, David. Black and British: A Forgotten History. London: Macmillan, 2016.

Parker, Matthew. The Sugar Barons. London: Windmill Books, 2012.

Rediker, Marcus. The Slave Ship: A Human History. London: John Murray, 2008.

Sonabend, Daniel. We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle of Post-War Britain. First edition hardback. New York: Verso Books, 2019.

Turner, Alwyn W. A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s. London: Aurum, 2013.

Turner, Alwyn W. Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s. London: Aurum Press, 2009.

Turner, Alwyn W. Rejoice! Rejoice! Britain in the 1980s. London: Aurum Press, 2013.

William Dalrymple, Dalrymple. The Anarchy. London: Bloomsbury Publishing (UK), 2019.

Williams, Eric Eustace. Capitalism & Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Historical Studies (World)

Although the history of Britain at times overlaps and interrupts the histories examined in these books, I found them useful reminders of the world and processes beyond this island. We live in a time where the UK’s Right are confecting Historical ‘culture wars’ as an electoral strategy. As a useful antidote these books attest to how little Britain mattered to many places and times in the world’s past.

Adamson, Peter. Philosophy in the Islamic World: A Very Short Introduction. First edition. Very Short Introductions 445. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Alkhateeb, Firas. Lost Islamic History: Reclaiming Muslim Civilisation from the Past. Revised and Updated edition. London: Hurst & Company, 2017.

Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. 4th Owl Books ed. New York: H. Holt & Co, 2007.

Clark, Christopher M. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 2014.

Edelman, Marek. The Ghetto Fights. London: Bookmarks, 1990.

Federici, Silvia Beatriz. Caliban and the Witch. 2., rev. Ed. New York, NY: Autonomedia, 2014.

James, C. L. R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint l’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Second edition, Revised. New York: Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, Inc, 1989.

Masalha, Nur. The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory. London ; New York: Zed Books, 2012.

Miéville, China. October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, 2018.

Sivasundaram, Sujit. Waves across the South a New History of Revolution and Empire, 2020.

Wood, Ellen Meiksins. The Origin of Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1999.

Zakaria, Anam. 1971: A People’s History from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Haryana, India: Vintage, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2019.

Historical Fiction

I’m by no means well-read in this and I’m always looking for more reccomendations. But for various reasons the following books allowed me to imagine the past differently.

Ali, Tariq. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree. London ; New York: Verso, 1993.

Crace, Jim. Harvest, 2013.

Endore, S. Guy. Babouk. Voices of Resistance. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1991.

James, Marlon. The Book of Night Women. New York: Penguin Group, 2010.

Lalami, Laila. The Moor’s Account. First Vintage Books edition. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2015.


Although nominally a different discipline with its own shibboleths and traditions, sociology has commonly provided important insights into aspects of the past (and their memory) that I’ve taught, and the classrooms I’ve taught them in.

Akala. Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, 2019.

De Noronha, Luke. Deporting Black Britons: Portraits of Deportation to Jamaica. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020.

Hoque, Aminul. British-Islamic Identity: Third-Generation Bangladeshis from East London. London: Institute of Education Press, University of London, 2015.

Kundnani, Arun. The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror. London ; New York: Verso, 2014.

Phipps, Alison. Me, Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism, 2020.

Roediger, David R. The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. Rev. ed. Haymarket Series. London ; New York: Verso, 2007.

Younge, Gary. Another Day in the Death of America. London : London : London: Guardian Books ; Faber and Faber Ltd. ; Bloomsbury House, 2016.

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