12 Best History Audiobooks - Nonfiction and Captivating Memoirs

Here are the best history audiobooks to build up your knowledge of modern and ancient history in an enjoyable and educational way.

12 Best History Audiobooks - Nonfiction and Captivating Memoirs


Do you enjoy learning about the past through nonfiction and historical memoirs? Listening to history audiobooks is a great way to immerse yourself in the narratives and perspectives behind famous historical events...as well as those that perhaps are not well known. 


There are always lessons to learn from the past. Even if you briefly covered a topic in school, it can be helpful to listen to the best history audiobooks on that topic, and revive or brush up your knowledge. In doing so, you might also fill in interesting gaps that you may have missed before.


Additionally, audiobooks offer the opportunity for you to learn on the go or from the comfort of your own home, so you can expand your historical knowledge in a very convenient way.  


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What Are the Best History Audiobooks?

Here are the best history audiobooks to take you back in time through captivating experiences and well-researched accounts: 


1. Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine


This bestselling history audiobook is a summation of three and a half centuries of the Roman Empire as seen through the lives of ten of the most important emperors, from Augustus to Constantine.


Rome’s legacy remains today in so many ways, from language, law, and architecture to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Historian Barry Strauss examines this enduring heritage through the lives of the men who shaped it: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian, and Constantine.


During the days of these rulers, Rome gained in splendor and territory, then lost both. By the fourth century, the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire had changed so dramatically in geography, ethnicity, religion, and culture that it would have been virtually unrecognizable to Augustus.


Listen to Ten Caesars: get the free audiobook here


2. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics


The Boys in the Boat is the #1 New York Times bestselling story of how nine working-class boys from the American West triumphed at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, during the Nazi regime. 


It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler.


This intimate account relates an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times.


Listen to the Boys in the Boat: get the free audiobook here


3. Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult


Battle of Brothers is the inside story of the Royal family - particularly of the lives of Prince William and Prince Harry - from biographer Robert Lacey, who was a historical consultant to the award-winning Netflix series The Crown. 


This book reveals the untold details of William and Harry’s closeness and estrangement, asking what happens when two sons are raised for vastly different futures – one burdened with the responsibility of one day becoming king, the other with the knowledge that he will always remain spare.


How have William and Harry both agreed and diverged in their views of what a modern royal owes to their country? What role has Queen Elizabeth II played in marshalling her feuding heirs? What parts have Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle played in helping their husbands to choose their differing paths? 

 

This is an intriguing account of life behind closed doors for those who want to take a peek into the lives of members of the Royal family.


Listen to Battle of Brothers: get the free audiobook here


4. The Wright Brothers


This #1 New York Times bestseller from Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly—Wilbur and Orville Wright. 


The fact that these two bicycle mechanics had no more than a public high school education and little money never stopped them in their mission to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off, they risked being killed. 


In this enjoyable and fast-paced tale, McCullough draws on the extensive Wright family papers to profile not only the brothers but their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.


Listen to the Wright Brothers: get the free audiobook here


5. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition


Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to human bravery.


In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. 


Cut off from the outside world, Anne’s family faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. 


This moving historical audiobook offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty through the vivid experiences of a spirited young woman whose time in the world was tragically cut short.


Listen to the Diary of Anne Frank: get the free audiobook here


6. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed


In his million-copy bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond examined how and why Western civilizations developed the technologies and immunities that allowed them to dominate much of the world. 


Now in this companion volume, Diamond probes the other side of the equation: What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates?


Moving from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe. 


This nonfiction history audiobook weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives, raising the striking question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?


Listen to Collapse: get the free audiobook here


7. Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.


Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.


Although originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, these talented African American women were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of skilled workers. 


Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of space.


This audiobook chronicles these four womens’ career over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future. 


Listen to Hidden Figures: get the free audiobook here


8. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories From Rwanda


This remarkable audiobook chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority.


Though the killing was low-tech - largely by machete - it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days.


The chilling title of this book comes from the words of a Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president. 


With keen dramatic intensity, the author Phillip Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's 'genocidal logic' in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps, and the quest for justice.


Listen to "We Wish to Inform You...": get the free audiobook here


9. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China


Wild Swans is a story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history.


In this engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, author Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution.


As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving—and ultimately uplifting—detail the cycles of struggle and drama experienced by her family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.


Listen to the Wild Swans: get the free audiobook here


10. The Colosseum


Byron and Hitler were equally entranced by Rome's most famous monument.


Today it is the highlight of a tour of Italy for more than three million visitors a year, a concert arena for the likes of Paul McCartney, and a national symbol of opposition to the death penalty. Its ancient history is full of romantic but erroneous myths.


Yet the reality of the Colosseum is much stranger than the legend, as two prominent classical historians explain in this gripping account. 


In this historical audiobook, we learn the details of how the arena was built and at what cost; we are introduced to the emperors who sometimes fought in gladiatorial games staged at the Colosseum; and we take measure of the audience who reveled in, or opposed, these games. 


All these insights and more are compiled in such a way as to answer the question: Why are people all over the world so fascinated with this arena of death?


Listen to the Colosseum: get the free audiobook here


11. A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II


Virginia Hall was an American spy who worked for Britain and the U.S. and played a key role in undermining the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.


She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines - and despite her prosthetic leg - helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.


In reference to her, in 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her."


Yet her story is one that is rarely told. 


In this account - based on new and extensive research - Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall. Here you'll find a story of heroism, spycraft, and how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war. 


Listen to A Woman of No Importance: get the free audiobook here.


12. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World


From the first cities in Mesopotamia to the emergence of Greece and Rome, to the transmission of the Black Death, and the fall of Communism, the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East.


This popular history audiobook illuminates how the Silk Roads - the crossroads of the world, the meeting place of East and West - perhaps more than anything else, shaped global history over the past two millennia.


In an increasingly globalized planet, author Peter Frankopan shifts our attention eastward, explaining how even the rise of the West five hundred years ago resulted from its efforts to gain access to and control of these Eurasian trading networks.


Listen to the Silk Roads: get the free audiobook here


Final Thoughts 


So, that's a breakdown of the best history audiobooks to help you learn about a range of iconic historical events and figures. Were there any particular titles that caught your eye? 


Whether you'd like to learn more about ancient architecture, espionage during WWII, or Middle Eastern dynasties, you can readily educate yourself through historical audiobooks that offer absorbing narratives and insights from multiple perspectives. 


As you listen to audiobooks about history, you'll likely find that your geographical, cultural, and sociological knowledge also expands - enhancing your ability to connect the dots between various aspects of our modern world. 


=> Get a free history audiobook of your choice here.


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