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The Curved

The Official Harold Lamb Site

Histories and Biographies

After his initial success with Genghis Khan: Emperor of all Men, Lamb wrote succesful biographies and history books until the end of his life. At the time they were published they were very well received. As he could speak a large number of languages most westerners never learn, he could go to original sources that wouldn't have helped many authors. His histories pull the reader in like fiction, and are laden with interesting facts and details about intriguing people. Once you read a Harold Lamb history book you come away knowing not only something about the period, but the people behind the deeds.

Lamb's history books are a curious mix of styles, though all are frequently organized in libraries as either fiction or biography. Some, like Nur Mahal and Omar Khayyam, are straight historical fiction. Alexander, Cyrus, and Theodora and the Emperor are all a strange mix of fiction and fact, and none of them quite succeed. Alexander is the most mixed of them all, feeling much like a historical novel through the first half and a history book through the second.

Genghis Khan is a good history book--one of the earliest of the Genghis Khan books available in the English language--but Tamerlane is even better, and March of the Barbarians is truly excellent--one of Lamb's very best books. Certainly it is my favorite, and was the favorite of his son Frederick's. March of the Barbarians is the history of all the waves of barbarian movements from Asia into Europe, and has a fascinating, detailed look at both Genghis Khan and his most important descendants. If you're wanting information about Genghis Kahn and the Mongols, turn here first.


Alexander of Macedon

Cyrus the Great

Suleiman the Magnificent

Babur the Tiger: First of the Great Moguls

Genghis Khan: Emperor of All Men


Charlamagne: The Legend and the Man

Hannibal: One Man Against Rome

Theodora and the Emperor

The City and The Tsar, Constantinople, and The March of Muscovy are all good solid history books, detailing the periods indicated by their titles. Muscovy and City and the Tsar are really something of a two-volume set providing most of the history of early Russia.


The City and the Tsar: Peter the Great

Earth Shakers

The March of the Barbarians

Constantinople: The Birth of an Empire

The Flame of Islam

The March of Muscovy: Ivan the Terrible

The Crusades

Iron Men and Saints

New Found World: How North America was Discovered and Explored

Earth Shakers combines two books in one: Tamerlane and The March of the Barbarians. The Crusades combines Iron Men and Saints and The Flame of Islam.

Juvenile History

These two books are history aimed at children; Genghis Kahn and the Mongol Horde is a slightly condensed and watered down retelling of the deeds of the mighty manslayer. Chief of the Cossacks is the biography of Stenka Razin, the famed Cossack leader sometimes likenened to Robin Hood. In this accout, rapine is left out and slaughter minimized.

Chief of the Cossacks

Genghis Kahn and the Mongol Horde

Hannibal: One Man Against Rome

(Doubleday, 1958)

This is the first Harold Lamb book I ever read, and I credit it with my lifelong fascination with Hannibal. A riveting reconstruction of the life of a brilliant patriot, it sweeps the reader into Hannibal's times and fosters an understanding of this complex man who devoted his life to stave off Roman expansion into the lands of his people, who in the end betrayed him. Through Lamb we see all of Hannibal's brilliant tactics and witness numerous Zorro-like escapades and jests; but we also watch as one-by-one all of those closest to Hannibal fall, until he is left to struggle on alone.

The Crusades

(Doubleday, 1956. Combines Iron men and Saints (Doubleday, 1930) and The Flame of Islam (Doubleday 1930))

Whether you're reading it as two separate volumes or in the combined work, this material is hard to set down. Lamb first sets the stage by describing life in the area with which each book is concerned (Medieval Europe and in the Moslem countries, respectively) then the action explodes. I've read novels that have been less engaging. Lamb's crusade history is loaded with authentic details and little-known information, analysis of the events, and descriptions of acts heroic and despicable on both sides. This work garnered Lamb a medal from the Persian government for "scientific research." A spellbinding retelling of a complex and brutal period of history.




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