6 Best Books on European History (2023 Review)

To the adventurous mind, European history is very interesting. Largely speaking, the history is Europe can be divided into four eras – prehistoric Europe, classical antiquity, Middle Ages, and the modern era. No one knows how the name “Europe” became established on the second-smallest continent in the world, but myths trace it to the Greek god Zeus and the Phoenician woman Europa.

best books on european history

Best Books on European History: Our Top Recommendations

You can study these 6 of the best books on European history if you really want to know more about how Europe formed and even the formation of the European Union. These books were handpicked by our internal team of editors and reviewed for historical accuracy, factual correctness, geographical maps, colorful images and illustrations, print and digital formats, and academic objectives among others.

In these 6 best books on European history, you will learn about the earliest European settlers during the Paleolithic Era, the discovery of agriculture, the discovery of copper and the making of metallurgy, and the construction of megaliths such as Stonehenge.

You will also learn about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam in Europe, the Renaissance, the Crusaders and Protestant Reformation, and even the first and second world wars.

1. Advanced Placement European History


Advanced Placement European History is written for students sitting for the AP European History examination and other related academic tests. It is approved for use for the College Board course and for students of National and European history. Each chapter features free-response and multiple-choice questions that students can attempt to evaluate their comprehension skills. 

This history book is divided into four chronological periods that cover the entire European history. It weighs heavily on historical perspectives and historical data and mirrors the emancipation, cultural structures, political identities, ethnic races, and geopolitical zones of countries of Europe today. This book comes highly recommended for students and scholars.

  • Author(s): Lou Gallo and Robert Wade  
  • Publisher: Perfect Learning  
  • Current Edition: Paperback, Student Edition (December, 2018) 
  • Pages: N/A

2. A Short History of Europe: From Pericles to Putin


This book tells the story of the formation and rise of ancient Europe to what it is today. It covers the histories of Caesar, Charlemagne, Machiavelli, Marx, and of course Putin. It x-rays the development of the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the French Revolution, the two World Wars, and the disintegration of the USSR. 

A Short History of Europe: From Pericles to Putin features an illustrated history of Europe in a comprehensive manner that students, scholars, and historians would find digestible. According to the author, this European history book tells the tales of a “continent whose imperial ambitions, internal clashes, and existential threats are as vital today as they were during the conquests of Alexander the Great.”

  • Author(s): Simon Jenkins  
  • Publisher: Public Affairs  
  • Current Edition: Hardcover, Illustrated Edition (March, 2019) 
  • Pages: 400

3. European History: Everything you always wanted to know about…


This book is written for people who are interested in European history. It equips readers with the ancient knowledge of ancient Europe through prehistoric times through the Dark and Middle Ages to modern era Europe. It mirrors the wars, struggle for dominance, economic and cultural systems, social and political challenges, as well as the historical figures that helped shape the newly emerged Europe.

Divided into four major historical periods, this book covers everything you have always wanted to know about the history of Europe. It also examines the major events that shaped each period, as well as the historical analyses necessary for understanding the significance of these events. Written by reputable professors and scholars, this book is recommended for students and general users who desire to understand European history and culture.

  • Author(s): Sterling Education  
  • Publisher: Sterling Test Prep  
  • Current Edition: Paperback (September, 2020) 
  • Pages: 562

4. European History for Dummies


European History for Dummies is a rich book that tells of the people and power in ancient Europe. This book covers the Roman reigns, the Renaissance, the two World Wars, and even the Eurovision in a spellbinding literary resource that can only be appreciated by people who are fascinated with past and present Europe. It is very rich in cultural and political value and should be obtained by all students of history.

According to the author, this history book “takes you on a fascinating journey through the disasters, triumphs, people, power, and politics that have shaped the Europe we know today.” As if that is not enough, readers will also learn the impacts of the smallest continent on the general world; the activities of Romans, Greeks, and even Barbarians; the great leaders who waged Middle Ages wars; world explorers such as Columbus and Vasco da Gama; and religious wars among others. 

  • Author(s): Sean Lang  
  • Publisher: For Dummies  
  • Current Edition: Paperback, 2nd Edition (March, 2011) 
  • Pages: 440

5. European History: A Captivating Guide to the History of Europe


In this rich European history book, you will discover prehistoric tales of Europe, the Neolithic Revolution, the Bronze and Iron Age, early European tribes and settlers, the Dark and Middle Ages, Marco Polo and the Renaissance, Joan of Arc, the Vikings and the Rise of Wessex, Isabella 1 of Castile, and other great periods such as the Discovery, Reformation, Enlightenment, and the revolutions.

For those who need to know: “Europe’s past is characterized by fighting and warfare, and it is punctuated with great works of art, philosophy, science, and technology. Despite all the infighting and territorial exploits, Europeans have managed to create some of the most beautiful pieces of literature, architecture, political structures, and ideas the world has ever seen.”

  • Author(s): Captivating History  
  • Publisher: Independently Published  
  • Current Edition: Paperback (May, 2019) 
  • Pages: 140

6. 5 Steps to a 5: AP European History 2023


This European history text is very suitable for people sitting for College Board examinations. It offers comprehensive coverage of major topics and provides practice tests that align the requirements of certification bodies. Written by professional AP educators, this book is recommended for people who must pass their AP course exam in one sitting.

  • Author(s): Beth Bartolini-Salimbeni and Wendy Petersen  
  • Publisher: McGraw Hill  
  • Current Edition: Paperback, 1st Edition (August, 2022) 
  • Pages: 352