New Old World history
These books offer new perspectives on the past and its impact on the present.
Heart of Europe: A History of the Holy Roman Empire (Belknap Press) by Peter O. Wilson examines the empire founded by Charlemagne that ruled much of Europe for a thousand years, meant to be a unified Christian civilization but often fractured by wars and cultural divides.
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Knopf) by Peter Frankopan reframes world history around the ancient routes that joined the East and West, allowing not only trade but religious, political and cultural exchange over many centuries.
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Liveright) by Mary Beard is the acclaimed classicist's revisionist, immensely readable story of the Roman Empire, from its unprecedented rapid rise to its continuing influence on the modern world.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor