Every month throughout 2022, History Hit has brought you our Book of the Month – a book that’s been published each month that we think is a great read. From ancient Egyptian leaders, histories of Britain, neolithic Stonehenge to the late Queen Elizabeth II, the books have covered many historical eras and have, we hope, provided a wealth of interesting information and insight.
Here’s an overview of all our Book of the Months from 2022 – if there are any you haven’t read yet then perhaps this might help sway you.
January: ‘1942: Britain on the Brink’ by Taylor Downing
1942: Britain at the Brink by Taylor Downing was History Hit’s Book of the Month in January 2022. Published by Little, Brown Book Group, it explores the string of military disasters that plagued Britain in 1942 and led to two attacks on Winston Churchill’s leadership in the House of Commons.
This book prompted us to explore 6 Reasons 1942 Was Britain’s ‘Darkest Hour’ of World War Two.
February: ‘How to Build Stonehenge’ by Mike Pitts
How to Build Stonehenge by Mike Pitts was History Hit’s Book of the Month in February 2022. Published by Thames & Hudson, the book draws on new research to explore why, when and how Stonehenge was built. Pitts highlights what we know about its construction, what we don’t know and the many theories that abound.
How did these stones make their way to Wiltshire, and where exactly did they come from? We explored The Origins of Stonehenge’s Mysterious Stones.
March: ‘Horizons: A Global History of Science’ by James Poskett
This book shows why the history of science demands a global perspective, not one centred on Europe. Does the History of Science Give Europe Too Much Credit?
April: ‘A Little History of Art’ by Charlotte Mullins
A Little History of Art by Charlotte Mullins was History Hit’s Book of the Month in April 2022. Published by Yale University Press, it explores several millennia of art history, from prehistoric cave paintings to the modern art of the 21st century.
We picked out 3 female artists who feature in A Little History of Art and who played important roles in art history, despite emerging in the midst of an overwhelmingly male cultural milieu: Beyond Male Western Art: 3 Overlooked Female Artists from History
Jessie Childs’ The Siege of Loyalty House was History Hit’s Book of the Month for May 2022. Drawing on unpublished manuscripts and following the lives of artists, apothecaries and merchants, Childs presents an immersive and original history of the English Civil War. The Siege of Loyalty House is published by The Bodley Head, an imprint of Penguin Books.
As Jessie Childs notes, the English Civil War claimed a greater proportion of British lives than the First World War. And yet, perhaps inevitably, our understanding of the scale of a conflict that wreaked unfathomable destruction and violence on the British population has dimmed over the centuries. The Siege of Loyalty House plunges us into the heart of a vicious conflict through a gripping and immersive portrayal of one of its defining episodes: The Siege of Basing House: A Bloody Chapter of the English Civil War
June: ‘A History of Delusions’ by Victoria Shepherd
Victoria Shepherd’s A History of Delusions was History Hit’s Book of the Month in June 2022. Published by Oneworld Publications, it explores historical accounts of delusions, from King Charles VI’s belief that he was made of glass, to the scores of 19th-century women who believed that they were dead, that they were ‘walking corpses’.
This book explores 9 of the most common delusions, and looks at the real lives and struggles behind the bizarre psychiatric case studies in the archives: Glass Bones and Walking Corpses: 9 Delusions from History.
July: ‘Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It’ by Janina Ramirez
Janina Ramirez’s ‘Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It‘ was History Hit’s Book of the Month in July 2022. Published by Ebury publishing (Penguin), the book sees the medieval world with fresh eyes and discovers why these remarkable women were removed from our collective memories.
Often women’s names were struck through in manuscripts with the annotation Femina – woman – entered as an explanation for the erasure. This book seeks to bring the stories of medieval women to life, and to the fore. We explored the story of Marjery Kempe, a perfect example of this kind of surviving story: Giving Voice to the Extraordinary Life of a Medieval Woman
August: ‘Lost Realms: Histories of Britain From the Romans to the Vikings’ by Thomas Williams
Thomas Williams’ book, ‘Lost Realms: Histories of Britain From the Romans to the Vikings‘ was History Hit’s Book of the Month in August 2022, published by William Collins (Harper Collins). The book paints a vivid portrait of the medieval world and examines how different the future map of Britain could have looked, looking at nine of the forgotten realms of Dark Ages Britain – Elmet, Hwicce, Lindsey, Dumnonia, Essex, Rheged, Powys, Sussex and Fortriu – uncovering their forgotten life and untimely demise.
Powys in particular played a varied role in this period, from its role in Welsh history, its conflicts with England and later with the Normans. We explored just some of the events that make up its history: The Lost Realm of Powys in Early Medieval Britain.
September: ‘All the Knowledge in the World: A Short History of the Encyclopedia’ by Simon Garfield
‘All the Knowledge in the World’ by Simon Garfield was History Hit’s Book of the Month in September 2022 and is published by Orion Books. The book is a history and celebration of those who created the most ground-breaking and remarkable publishing phenomenon of any age, the encyclopedia.
For 2,000 years, humans have attempted to summarise their ever-growing knowledge in encyclopedias. From the ancient works of Pliny the Elder in Rome to the sprawling online databases of Wikipedia, what we as humans know has been constantly written and rewritten, chronicling our story on this planet and often salvaging it from the ravages of time. We explored a short history of a vast subject: The History of the Encyclopedia.
October: ‘Treasured: How Tutankhamun Shaped a Century’ by Christina Riggs:
On 4 November 1922, British Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the entrance to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb, prompting Tutankhamun to become the most famous Egyptian of all, and his tomb to be one of the most famous archaeological discoveries of all time. Tutankhamun ruled Egypt for under a decade, until his death aged around 19. After his death, records of his reign were erased – his legacy nearly lost to the sands of time.
There’s no doubt various medical conditions afflicted Tutankhamun during his lifetime, leading to speculation over to what extent these contributed to his death, or whether they were unrelated. We explored the different theories: How Did Tutankhamun Die?
November: ‘Cleopatra’s Daughter: Egyptian Princess, Roman Prisoner, African Queen’ by Jane Draycott
Jane Draycott’s book, Cleopatra’s Daughter: Egyptian Princess, Roman Prisoner, African Queen was History Hit’s Book of the Month for November, and is published by Head of Zeus publishing. It is the first modern biography of one of the most fascinating, and unjustly neglected, female rulers of the ancient world: Cleopatra Selene.
Cleopatra Selene was one of three children born to Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman triumvir Mark Antony. A princess who became a prisoner, she went on to become an important and influential ruler in her own right, at a time when most women were marginalised. Unlike her mother and other contemporary female rulers of the time whose regimes experienced domestic trouble, civil wars and rebellions, it is thought little is known of Cleopatra Selene simply because of her success.
We explored more about how this remarkable woman became an influential ruler: Cleopatra’s Daughter, Cleopatra Selene: Egyptian Princess, Roman Prisoner, African Queen.
Gyles Brandreth’s book, ‘Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait’ is a personal account of the life and character of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, and was our Book of the Month for December 2022.
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, died on 8 September 2022 at the age of 96. Incredibly, she was still working right up until 2 days before her death. Lots has been written about Queen Elizabeth II’s remarkable life, reign and times, though in his book, Gyles Brandreth tells the story from his perspective as someone who knew her husband well, and had met her, talked with her and kept a record of those conversations.
Whilst we clearly didn’t know Elizabeth as personally as Gyles did, we explored some of the lesser-known facts about her that may surprise you: Unusual Facts About the Late Queen Elizabeth II.