Historical Fiction

The best way to learn history is not always in a textbook. (That's probably the worst way, really, but more on that elsewhere.) While learning history through novels can be taken too far (it is fiction after all), there's much to be said for getting a feel for the Civil War through books like The Red Badge of Courage or Across Five Aprils, or learning about the deep rifts between Saxons and Normans in Medieval England through Scott's Ivanhoe.

A well-researched historical novel imparts something no list of names and dates can—a picture of life among a particular people at a particular time, the way they thought, the way they ate, who they admired, how they traveled. Sometimes readers are introduced to real historical figures and events from an intimate perspective, not the stale cardboard presentations common in schools.

There's plenty of nonsense available, of course, and just because the cover says a book takes place in Renaissance Italy or ancient Egypt doesn't mean it's a good book, or even that it's historical fiction in the true sense. A writer who simply transposes stories on different time periods isn't really saying anything about that time period, they're just trying to inflate sales with an appeal to the exotic and unfamiliar.

Such bogus historical fiction is really just fantasy. The good stuff is real and bright and dusty and loud, just like an old Roman city or a battle between Roundheads and Cavaliers. It reflects the religious sentiments of the characters as they would have been, such as in Lilli Thal's brilliant Medieval epic Mimus. It shows how one small action can lead to many much larger events, as happens frequently in C.S. Forester's Hornblower series.

Whether you're into the technical descriptions of battles found in Henty's boy-versus-the-world stories, or prefer the romance of The Scarlet Pimpernel, or like to break your heart over and over with books like Amos Fortune, Free Man, historical fiction is above all fiction of the present—not to be kept in the annals of the past, it shows us that the people of long ago (or not so long ago) are not so different than the people of today.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?
1,775 Items found Print
21
Aubrey/Maturin #21
by Patrick O'Brian
from W. W. Norton and Co.
Nautical Fiction for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
Aaron and the Green Mountain Boys
by Patricia Lee Gauch, illustrated by Margot Tomes
from Betterway Books
Historical Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Abandoned on the Wild Frontier
Trailblazer Books
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Bethany House
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
Abandoned on the Wild Frontier
Trailblazer Books
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Castle Rock Creative
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
$8.99
Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt
from Berkley Books
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
1965 Newbery Honor Book
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$8.99
Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt
from Berkley Books
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
1965 Newbery Honor Book
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$9.99
Adam and His Kin
by Ruth Beechick
from Mott Media
Historical Fiction for 7th-10th grade
in Ancient History (Location: HISW-ANC)
Adam of the Road
Puffin Newbery Library
by Elizabeth Gray
from Puffin Books
Historical Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1943 Newbery Medal winner
in Action & Adventure Stories (Location: FIC-ADV)
$8.99 $5.00 (2 in stock)
Adam of the Road
by Elizabeth Janet Gray, illustrated by Robert Lawson
1962 Printing from Viking Press
for 3rd-5th grade
in Action & Adventure Stories (Location: FIC-ADV)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Adam of the Road
Puffin Modern Classics
by Elizabeth Gray
from Puffin Books
Historical Fiction for 3rd-8th grade
1943 Newbery Medal winner
in Puffin Classics (Location: FIC-PUF)
$8.99
Adara
by Beatrice Gormley
from Eerdmans
for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$9.00 $5.00 (2 in stock)
Addy Learns a Lesson
by Connie Porter
from American Girl
for 4th-6th grade
in American Girl (Location: SER-AMGIRL)
Addy Learns a Lesson
by Connie Porter
from American Girl
for 4th-6th grade
in American Girl (Location: SER-AMGIRL)
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies
Hornblower Series #11
by C. S. Forester
from Little, Brown & Company
Nautical fiction for 8th-Adult
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$16.99 $10.00 (1 in stock)
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies
Hornblower Series #11
by C. S. Forester
from Little, Brown & Company
for 9th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$14.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Robin Hood
Puffin Classics
by Roger Green, illustrated by Arthur Hall
from Puffin Books
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 5th-9th grade
in Action & Adventure Stories (Location: FIC-ADV)
Adventures of Robin Hood
Everyman's Library Children's Classics
by Roger Green, illustrated by Walter Crane
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 5th-9th grade
$20.00
Adventures of Robin Hood
Puffin Classics
by Roger Green, illustrated by Arthur Hall
from Puffin Books
Legends and Folklore for 5th-9th grade
in Puffin Classics (Location: FIC-PUF)
$8.99
Adventures of the American Revolution
by Susan Olasky
from P&R Publishing
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
After the Dancing Days
by Margaret I. Rostkowski
from HarperTrophy
for 7th-9th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.99 $4.00 (2 in stock)
After the Train
by Gloria Whelan
from HarperCollins
for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
After the War
by Carol Matas
from Simon Pulse
Historical Fiction for 5th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$7.99 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Against the World
by Henry Coray
from Inheritance Publications
Biography for 5th-8th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$9.95
Alamo All Stars
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #6
by Nathan Hale
from Amulet Books
for 3rd-8th grade
in Comic Books & Graphic Novels (Location: FIC-COMIC)
$14.99
Alexander of Macedon
International Collectors Library
by Harold Lamb
from International Collectors Library
for 4th-8th grade
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
Alexandre Dumas Three Musketeers Collection
Oxford World's Classics
by Alexandre Dumas
from Oxford University
Historical Fiction/Adventure for 9th-12th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Ali and the Golden Eagle
by Wayne Grover
from Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.
for 5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$7.00 (2 in stock)
Ali and the Golden Eagle
by Wayne Grover
1st edition from Greenwillow Books
for 5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Alia's Mission
by Mark Alan Stamaty
from Dragonfly Books
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
All But Lost - Volume I
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
All But Lost - Volume II
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
All But Lost - Volume III
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
All Sail Set
by Armstrong Sperry
from David R. Godine
Nautical Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1936 Newbery Honor Book
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$14.95 $10.00 (2 in stock)
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad
On My Own History
by Marlene Targ Brill
from First Avenue Editions
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Almost Home
Daughters of the Faith
by Wendy G. Lawton
from Moody Press
Historical Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
in Daughters of the Faith (Location: SER-DAU)
$7.99 $5.00 (4 in stock)
Ambushed in Jaguar Swamp
Trailblazer Books
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Bethany House
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
Ambushed in Jaguar Swamp
Trailblazer Books
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Castle Rock Creative
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
$8.99
American Army of Two
On My Own History
by Janet Greeson
Reprint from First Avenue Editions
for 1st-3rd grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
American Dream: 1620-1765
by Colleen L. Reece, Norma Jean Lutz, Susan Martins Miller
from Barbour Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in Sisters in Time (Location: SER-SIS)
American Twins of the Revolution
by Lucy Fitch Perkins
from Salem Ridge Press
for 3rd-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Amethyst Ring
by Scott O'Dell
from Houghton Mifflin
for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Amon's Adventure
by Arnold Ytreeide
from Kregel Publications
Historical Fiction for 2nd-6th grade
in Easter & Lent (Location: HOLIDAY)
$18.99 $10.00 (1 in stock)
Amos Fortune, Free Man
by Elizabeth Yates, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin
from Puffin Books
Realistic Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1951 Newbery Medal winner
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$7.99
Andie's Moon
Historical House: 1969
by Linda Newbery
from Educational Development Corporation
for 3rd-6th grade
in Series Books (Location: SER-MISC)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Andries
by Hilda Van Stockum
from Bethlehem Books
for 5th-8th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$14.95
Angel Knew Papa and the Dog
by Douglas Kaine McKelvey
from Rabbit Room Press
for 2nd-4th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$12.99
Angel on the Square
by Gloria Whelan
from HarperCollins
for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$9.99 $5.50 (1 in stock)
Anna and the King (adapted)
by Margaret Landon
from HarperCollins
Historical Fiction for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Anna and the King of Siam
by Margaret Landon
from HarperCollins
Historical fiction for 9th-12th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$14.95
Anna of Byzantium
by Tracy Barrett
from Random House
Historical Fiction for 7th-10th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.99 $4.00 (1 in stock)
Anna of Byzantium
by Tracy Barrett
from Delacorte Press
for 7th-10th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$7.50 (2 in stock)
Anna's Fight for Hope
Sisters in Time
by JoAnn A. Grote
from Barbour Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in Sisters in Time (Location: SER-SIS)
Anson's Way
by Gary D. Schmidt
from Clarion Books
for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Anthony Burns
by Virginia Hamilton
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Apple and the Arrow
by Conrad & Mary Buff
from Houghton Mifflin
Realistic Fiction/Historical Fiction for 4th-6th grade
1952 Newbery Honor Book
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$9.99
Apprentice
by Pilar Molina Llorente
Reprint from Sunburst Book
for 2nd-4th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$7.99 $5.00 (3 in stock)
Apprentice
by Pilar Molina Llorente
First American Edition from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$7.00 (1 in stock)
Apprentice of Florence
by Ann Kyle, illustrated by Erick Berry
from Houghton Mifflin
for 5th-8th grade
1934 Newbery Honor Book
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Aquila's Drinking Gourd
by Pamela Dell
from Tradition Books
for 1st-3rd grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Archie's War
by Marcia Williams
from Candlewick Press
for 5th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Arctic Son
by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Wendell Minor
from Disney-Hyperion
for 1st-3rd grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
Arrow Over the Door
by Joseph Bruchac
from Puffin Books
for 3rd-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$6.99 $4.00 (3 in stock)
Art of Keeping Cool
by Janet Taylor Lisle
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-8th grade
2001 Scott O'Dell Award
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$2.50 (2 in stock)
Arthur Erskine's Story
Reformation Trail Series #14
by Deborah Alcock
from Inheritance Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Reformation Trail Series (Location: FIC-WH06)
$25.95
Assassins in the Cathedral
Trailblazer Books
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Bethany House
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
Assassins in the Cathedral
Trailblazer Books
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Castle Rock Creative
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
$8.99
At Aboukir and Acre
by G. A. Henty
from Preston Speed
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th Grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
At Aboukir and Acre
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th Grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
At Aboukir and Acre
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
At Agincourt
by G. A. Henty
from Preston Speed
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
At Agincourt
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
$20.00
At Agincourt
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
Historical Fiction for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
At the Point of the Bayonet
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
At the Point of the Bayonet
by G. A. Henty
from Robinson Curriculum
for 6th-10th grade
in G. A. Henty Books (Location: FIC-HEN)
Attack in the Rye Grass
Trailblazer Series
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Bethany House
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
Attack in the Rye Grass
Trailblazer Series
by Dave and Neta Jackson
from Castle Rock Creative
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
$8.99
Audrey of the Outback
by Christine Harris
for 1st-3rd grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Augustine Came to Kent
Bethlehem Books Living History Library
by Barbara Willard
from Bethlehem Books
Biography for 5th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$14.95
Aunt Jane's Hero
by Elizabeth Prentiss
from Calvary Press
for 7th-10th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Bachelor Girl
Rocky Ridge Years Book 8
by Roger Lea MacBride
First Edition from HarperCollins
for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Bad News for Outlaws
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
from Carolrhoda Books, Inc.
for 5th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$19.99
Ballad of Lucy Whipple
by Karen Cushman
from HarperCollins
for 3rd-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.99 $3.00 (2 in stock)
Balloon Boy of San Francisco
by Dorothy Kupcha Leland
from Tomato Enterprises
for 7th-9th grade
in Action & Adventure Stories (Location: FIC-ADV)
$9.95
Bandit of Ashley Downs
TrailBlazer Book
by Dave & Neta Jackson
from Bethany House
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Bandit of Ashley Downs
TrailBlazer Book
by Dave & Neta Jackson
from Castle Rock Creative
for 3rd-7th grade
in Trailblazer Books (Location: SER-TRAIL)
$8.99
Barbary Jihad
Monroe Family Chronicles #4
by Douglas Wilson
from Veritas Press
for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$15.00
Bat 6
by Virginia Euwer Wolff
from Scholastic Inc.
Historical Fiction for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Battle for Quebec
North Star Books #38
by F. Van Wyck Mason, illustrated by Victor Mays
from Houghton Mifflin
for 4th-8th grade
in Vintage History & Biographies (Location: VIN-HIS)
Battle of Seattle
by Douglas Bond
from P&R Publishing
for 4th-9th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$11.99
Bears, Pirates and Silver Lace
by Anne B. Fisher; illustrated by Phil Nesbitt
from Binford & Mort Publishing
for 2nd-4th grade
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$7.00 (1 in stock)
Beat to Quarters
Hornblower Series #6
by C. S. Forester
from Little, Brown & Company
Nautical fiction for 10th-Adult
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$16.99 $9.00 (1 in stock)
Beau Geste
by Percival Christopher Wren
from Reader's Digest
for 11th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$9.00 (1 in stock)
Beckoning Hills
Land of the Free Series
by Joseph H. Gage, illustrated by Floyd Torbert
1st edition from John C. Winston
Historical fiction for 6th-10th grade
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
Beckoning Road
by Caroline Dale Snedeker
from American Home-School Publishing
American Historical Fiction for 7th-12th Grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Becky and Her Brave Cat, Bluegrass
by Miriam E. Mason
for 2nd-5th grade
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$38.00 (1 in stock)
Becoming Naomi Leon
by Pam Munoz Ryan
from Scholastic Press
for 5th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Beggars' Bible
by Louise Vernon
from Herald Press
Historical Fiction for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$10.99
Beggars' King
by Howard C. Emmons
from Van Kampen Press
for 7th-10th grade
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$15.00 (1 in stock)
Beggars' Victory
Struggle for Freedom Series #3
by Piet Prins
from Inheritance Publications
Historical Fiction for 4th-8th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$11.95
Behind Rebel Lines
by Seymour Reit
from Graphia
for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$9.99
123456789101112131415161718