The Ten Best History Books of 2020

Our favorite titles of the year resurrect forgotten histories and help explain how the country got to where it is today

This year's top titles include One Mighty and Irresistible Tide, You Never Forget Your First, and Caste. (Illustration by Shaylyn Esposito)

In a year marked by a devastating pandemic, a vitriolic presidential race and an ongoing reckoning with systemic racism in the United States, these ten titles served a dual purpose. Some offered a respite from reality, transporting readers to such varied locales as Tudor England, colonial America and ancient Jerusalem; others reflected on the fraught nature of the current moment, detailing how the nation’s past informs its present and future. From an irreverent biography of George Washington to a sweeping overview of 20th-century American immigration, these were some of our favorite history books of 2020.

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