Adamson, Lynda G. World Historical Fiction.

Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1999.

Any heavy reader is always happy to come across a source that recommends other books to read, and if historical novels are your thing, this is an excellent place to start. The author is well known to librarians, for whom this fat volume is mostly intended, and she includes here more than 6,000 books from all periods of history, all with annotations.

And there are five separate indexes to help you zero in on what interests you, whether you’re searching by author, title, genre, place/time, or broad subject (which is not the same as genre). The usual definition of an “historical novel” is one in which the setting is at least a generation earlier than the date when it was written. (Though I admit it’s difficult for me to think of, say, the Vietnam War as “history” in this sense.) However, most readers aren’t that strict about it and librarians are used to recommending Jane Austen’s works as historical fiction, even though she was writing about her own time. And that’s the more elastic definition Adamson follows here, including (for instance) James Jones’s The Thin Red Line and Tim O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato. The organization is geographical, and then by time period, so you can easily browse through your favorite bit of history. Books of special interest to young adults are noted, and also are brought together in an appendix. The main thing to be aware of, though, is that “world” in the title means that this volume covers everyplace except the United States. Adamson compiled another volume for that called American Historical Fiction — equally expensive, almost equally thick, and just as useful.

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