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Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should Read

Here is a list of the best Microhistory books, some I have read myself, some that I did research on, and all have great reviews!

1. What is Microhistory? (2013)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadThis unique and detailed analysis provides the first accessible and comprehensive introduction to the origins, development, methodology of microhistory – one of the most significant innovations in historical scholarship to have emerged in the last few decades. The introduction guides the reader through the best-known example of microstoria, The Cheese and the Worms by Carlo Ginzburg, and explains the benefits of studying an event, place or person in microscopic detail. In Part I, István M. Szijártó examines the historiography of…
Author(s): Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon

2. Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution (2012)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should Read“Excellent…Tucker’s chronicle of the world of 17th-century science in London and Paris is fascinating.” ―The EconomistIn December 1667, maverick physician Jean Denis transfused calf’s blood into one of Paris’s most notorious madmen. Days later, the madman was dead and Denis was framed for murder. A riveting exposé of the fierce debates, deadly politics, and cutthroat rivalries behind the first transfusion experiments, Blood Work takes us from dissection rooms in palaces to the streets of Paris, providing an unforgettable portrait of an era that wrestled…
Author(s): Holly Tucker

3. Village China Under Socialism and Reform: A Micro-History, 1948-2008 (2010)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadVillage China Under Socialism and Reform offers a comprehensive account of rural life after the communist revolution, detailing villager involvement in political campaigns since the 1950s, agricultural production under the collective system, family farming and non-agricultural economy in the reform, and everyday life in the family and community. Li’s rich examination draws on original documents from local agricultural collectives, newly accessible government archives, and his own fieldwork in Qin village of Jiangsu province to highlight the continuities in rural transformation. Firmly disagreeing with those who claim that recent…
Author(s): Huaiyin Li

4. Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital (2017)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadBellevue Hospital, on New York City’s East Side, occupies a colorful and horrifying place in the public imagination: a den of mangled crime victims, vicious psychopaths, assorted derelicts, lunatics, and exotic-disease sufferers. In its two and a half centuries of service, there was hardly an epidemic or social catastrophe—or groundbreaking scientific advance—that did not touch Bellevue.     David Oshinsky, whose last book, Polio: An American Story, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, chronicles the history of America’s oldest hospital and in so doing also charts the rise of…
Author(s): David Oshinsky

5. Futurism: A Microhistory (Italian Perspectives) (2019)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadThis volume offers a unique and fresh perspective on Italian Futurism by approaching it, for the first time, through the lens of microstoria. In this ‘history from below’ of what is one of Europe’s most famous and important avant-garde movements, large-scale questions on the history of Futurism are explored by focusing on objects, practices and situations as diverse as The Church, Puppets, The Letterhead or Gymnastics. With contributions from fifteen renowned international scholars, the book offers an exciting, kaleidoscopic view of Futurism and its multiple…
Author(s): Sascha Bru, Luca Somigli, et al.

6. Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (1998)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadMark Kurlansky’s third work of nonfiction and winner of the 1999 James Beard Award is the biography of a single species of fish, but it may as well be a world history with this humble fish as its recurring main character. Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could. What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod, frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again,…
Author(s): Mark Kurlansky

7. Color: A Natural History of the Palette (2003)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadDiscover the tantalizing true stories behind your favorite colors.For example: Cleopatra used saffron—a source of the color yellow—for seduction. Extracted from an Afghan mine, the blue “ultramarine” paint used by Michelangelo was so expensive he couldn’t afford to buy it himself. Since ancient times, carmine red—still found in lipsticks and Cherry Coke today—has come from the blood of insects. #47,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #18 in Art History (Books) #120 in Graphic Design Color Use #1 in Afghanistan Travel Guides Would you like to ?If you are a seller for this product,…
Author(s): Victoria Finlay

8. Mabel Normand: The Life and Career of a Hollywood Madcap (2016)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadAmerican silent film star Mabel Normand (1892-1930) appeared in a string of popular movies opposite the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle during the 1910s and 1920s, before dying of tuberculosis at age 37. Her brief but remarkable career, which included director and writer credits as well as heading her own studio and production company, was marred by scandal–police connected her to the unsolved 1922 murder of director William Desmond Taylor–that defined her legacy. This book highlights Normand’s substantial yet long overlooked contributions to film history and popular…
Author(s): Timothy Dean Lefler


 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadWhen he proposed to his girlfriend, Tom Zoellner gave what is expected of every American man–a diamond engagement ring. But when the relationship broke apart, he was left with a used diamond that began to haunt him. His obsession carried him around the globe, from the “blood diamond” rings of Africa; to the sweltering polishing factories of India; to mines above the Arctic Circle; to illegal diggings in Brazil; to the London headquarters of De Beers, the secretive global colossus that has dominated the industry for more than a century and permanently…
Author(s): Tom Zoellner

10. Sex, Death and Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover s World Tour (2009)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadWhen award-winning Texas food writer Robb Walsh discovers that the local Galveston Bay oysters are being passed off as Blue Points and Chincoteagues in other parts of the country, he decides to look into the matter. Thus begins a five-year journey of discovery into the culture of one of the world’s oldest delicacy, and adventure that takes him from oyster reefs to oyster bars and from corporate boardrooms to hotel bedrooms in a quest for the truth about the world’s most profitable aphrodisiac. On the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts of the United States, as well as the Canadian Maritimes, Ireland, England, and France, the…
Author(s): Robb Walsh

11. The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (2013)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadThe Cheese and the Worms is an incisive study of popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, the miller known as Menocchio, who was accused of heresy during the Inquisition and sentenced to death. Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records to illustrate the religious and social conflicts of the society Menocchio lived in. For a common miller, Menocchio was surprisingly literate. In his trial testimony he made references to more than a dozen books, including the Bible, Boccaccio’s Decameron, Mandeville’s Travels, and a “mysterious” book that may have been…
Author(s): Carlo Ginzburg , John Tedeschi, et al.

12. The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War (Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World) (2009)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should Read“A most persuasive work that repositions the American debates over emancipation where they clearly belong, in a broader Anglo-Atlantic context.” — Reviews in HistoryWhile many historians look to internal conflict alone to explain the onset of the American Civil War, in The Problem of Emancipation, Edward Bartlett Rugemer places the origins of the war in a transatlantic context. Addressing a huge gap in the historiography of the antebellum United States, he explores the impact of Britain’s abolition of slavery in 1834 on the coming of the war and reveals the strong…
Author(s): Edward Bartlett Rugemer

13. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power (2004)

 Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should ReadThis landmark book tracks matters of intimacy to investigate matters of state in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Indonesia, particularly the critical role played by sexual arrangements and affective attachments in creating colonial categories and distinguishing the ruler from the ruled. Arguing that social classification is not a benign cultural act but a potent political one, Ann Laura Stoler’s essays focus on parents and parenting, nursing mothers, servants, orphanages, and abandoned children to reveal why they were understood as so essential to imperial governance and why they have been so consistently absent from its…
Author(s): Stoler

Best Microhistory Books Everyone Should Read

We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Genesis and download some microhistory books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.

Roman Tales: A Reader’s Guide to the Art of Microhistory

Author(s): Thomas V. Cohen
ID: 2421310, Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2019, Size: 3 Mb, Format: pdf

Theoretical Discussions of Biography: Approaches from History, Microhistory, and Life Writing

Author(s): Hans Renders, Binne De Haan, Nigel Hamilton
ID: 1398489, Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Year: 2014, Size: 3 Mb, Format: pdf

Tales of Gotham, Historical Archaeology, Ethnohistory and Microhistory of New York City

Author(s): Meta F. Janowitz, Diane Dallal
ID: 920041, Publisher: Springer, Year: 2013, Size: 10 Mb, Format: pdf

Please note that this booklist is not final. Some books are truly record-breakers according to USA Today, others are drafted by unknown authors. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant links you could recommend? Drop a comment if you have any feedback on the list.

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