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Best Alternate History Books

Dive into the 'what-ifs' of history with these critically acclaimed alternate history books, ranked based on their prominence in literary articles and history buffs' recommendations.

Recommendations from 34 articles, Barack Obama, John Legend, Mindy Kaling and 25 others.
Best Alternate History Books
81 books on the list
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The Man in the High Castle book cover
The Man in the High Castle
Philip K. Dick - 1992-06-30 (first published in 1962)
Goodreads Rating
This gripping novel depicts an America in which slavery is once again legal and Jews must hide under false identities. Nazi Germany and Japan occupy the United States following a devastating defeat in World War II. Set in 1962 San Francisco, this Hugo Award-winning book seamlessly blends science fiction and serious social commentary, revealing a chilling alternate reality that challenges readers to question the nature of history and humanity itself.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union book cover
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
A Novel (P.S.)
Michael Chabon - 2007-05-01
Goodreads Rating
This novel follows the Jewish refugees and their descendants living in the Federal District of Sitka, a temporary safe haven created after the Holocaust and Israel's collapse. Detective Meyer Landsman, a homicide detective with a failing personal life, has to investigate a murder in his hotel before the District is set to revert to Alaskan control. Chabon weaves together a suspenseful murder mystery, a love story, and an exploration of exile and redemption in this one-of-a-kind novel.
Farthing book cover
Jo Walton - 2006-08-08
Goodreads Rating
In an alternate postwar England where fascism is on the rise, upper-class families of the "Farthing set" are gathered for a weekend retreat. When Sir James Thirkie is found murdered with a yellow Star of David pinned to his chest, Lucy Kahn realizes her Jewish husband is about to be framed for the crime. As they search for a way out, they navigate a dangerous political landscape with surprising twists and turns. Jo Walton's Farthing is a thrilling masterpiece.
The Years of Rice and Salt book cover
The Years of Rice and Salt
Kim Stanley Robinson - 2003-06-03 (first published in 2002)
Goodreads Rating
Explore a world where the Black Death kills 99% of Europe's population in this thought-provoking novel. Follow the rise and fall of nations, dynasties, and religions, as soldiers, kings, scholars, and explorers navigate a world where Buddhism and Islam reign supreme, and Christianity is only a footnote. Discover how culture, power, and love have changed in this bold alternate history.
His Majesty's Dragon book cover
His Majesty's Dragon
Naomi Novik - 2006-03-28
Goodreads Rating
Step into a thrilling alternate history where aerial combat is taken to new heights - on the backs of mighty dragons! Join Captain Will Laurence as he embarks on a daring adventure after capturing a French frigate and seizing an unhatched dragon egg. Navigating through the high-stakes world of the Aerial Corps as the master of the extraordinary dragon Temeraire, Laurence will need to learn the daring tactics of airborne battle as France's own dragon forces prepare to invade British soil.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell book cover
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
A Novel
Susanna Clarke - 2006-08-01 (first published in 2004)
Goodreads Rating
Get transported to a world where English magicians once commanded forests and summoned fairy servants, but now only write about magic in lengthy papers. That is, until Mr Norrell emerges from his reclusive life at Hurtfew Abbey with a library of forgotten books and the powers of England's magicians. He even manages to raise a woman from the dead, and creates ghostly fleets to support the war against Napoleon. But when a rival magician, the extroverted Jonathan Strange, appears, their differing ideas of what magic should be lead to a dangerous conflict. This is a sophisticated and witty historical novel with an enchanting world that will leave you wanting more.
Recommended by
Joanne Freeman
The Plot Against America book cover
The Plot Against America
Philip Roth - 2005-09-27 (first published in 2004)
Goodreads Rating
In this alternate version of American history, Charles Lindbergh, a hero aviator and isolationist, becomes President and negotiates an "understanding" with Adolf Hitler. Anti-Semitism becomes commonplace, disrupting a young boy's life and tearing apart his family in Newark. A captivating narrative that explores the consequences of nationalistic ideals and their impact on individuals.
Recommended by
Daniel PinkMia Farrow
The Underground Railroad book cover
The Underground Railroad
A Novel
Colson Whitehead - 2016-08-02
Goodreads Rating
Follow Cora's journey through the Underground Railroad, a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath Southern soil. As she flees from state to state, she encounters iterations of her own world at each stop. Colson Whitehead's book is a harrowing tale of one woman’s escape from the horrors of bondage while weaving in the saga of our nation from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, this powerful meditation on history is not to be missed.
11/22/63 book cover
A Novel
Stephen King - 2011-11-08
Goodreads Rating
Travel back in time to prevent the JFK assassination in this suspenseful novel. Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, is enlisted by his friend Al to embark on the insane, yet possible, mission to stop history from taking its tragic turn. With a portal to 1958 at his disposal, Jake finds himself in a new world of Elvis, big American cars, and Lee Harvey Oswald. But when Jake falls in love with a woman from this era, his newfound life becomes complicated. Stephen King delivers a thrilling tribute to a simpler era, taking readers on a heart-stopping journey through time.
The Calculating Stars book cover
The Calculating Stars
A Lady Astronaut Novel (Lady Astronaut (1))
Mary Robinette Kowal - 2018-07-03
Goodreads Rating
In the face of a climate cataclysm that will make Earth inhabitable, humanity must rapidly colonize space. Elma, a talented pilot and mathematician, joins the International Aerospace Coalition's mission to put a man on the moon. But why can't women go too? Elma's determination to become the first Lady Astronaut challenges societal norms and may change the course of space exploration.
1632 by Eric Flint
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The Alteration by Kingsley Amis
Fatherland by Robert Harris
The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove
The Difference Engine by William Gibson
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Making History by Stephen Fry
Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove
Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Weapons of Choice by John Birmingham
SS-GB by Len Deighton
Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Dominion by C. J. Sansom
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore
Wild Cards I by George R. R. Martin
Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
Lest Darkness Fall & Timeless Tales Written in Tribute by L Sprague de Camp, Frederik Pohl, David Drake, S. M. Stirling, David Weber, Harry Turtledove, Alexei Panshin, Cory Panshin
The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer
Lest Darkness Fall & Related Stories by L. Sprague de Camp
Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card
Half a Crown by Jo Walton
The Peshawar Lancers by S. M. Stirling
Transition by Iain M. Banks
Voyage by Stephen Baxter
The Separation by Christopher Priest
The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad
Everfair by Nisi Shawl
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
Island in the Sea of Time by S. M. Stirling
GURPS Alternate Earths by Kenneth Hite, Craig Neumeier, Michael S. Schiffer, Steve Jackson Games Staff
Kinning by Nisi Shawl
Lion's Blood by Steven Barnes
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
The Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
Tilting the Balance by Harry Turtledove
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Alternate Histories of the World by Matthew Buchholz
GURPS Alternate Earths 2 by Kenneth Hite, Craig Neumeier, Michael S. Schiffer, Steve Jackson Games Staff
Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle
Wake Up And Dream [jhc] by Ian R. MacLeod
V-S Day by Allen Steele
Beat the Devils by Josh Weiss
RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey
The Coming of the Quantum Cats by Frederik Pohl
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Watchmen by Alan Moore
1633 by David Weber, Eric Flint
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove
American Hippo by Sarah Gailey
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
1634 by Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce, George Guidall, Recorded Books
Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear
The Aquiliad, Book I by S. P. Somtow
Pompeii by Robert Harris
Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler
Antique Rare SIGNED Michael Chabon ~ The Final Solution ~ Moonglow ~ Yiddish Policemans Union [Hardcover] Michael Chabon by Michael Chabon
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin