A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 by James Shapiro (2006). A vibrant portrait of the Elizabethan Age.
The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro (2015). Masterful account of the Gunpower Plot and England under Elizabeth’s successor, James I.
John Adams by David McCullough (2001). Deserves every prize it won. Pulitzer winner.
Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis (1998). The lives and destinies of the three commanders of the Alamo, one of America’s most iconic forts.
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands (2006). Vivid biography of the sixth President.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2006). The major source for Spielberg’s film. Pulitzer winner.
Beethoven (1979) and Mozart: A Life (1995) by Maynard Solomon. Two essential and definitive biographies at a major turning point in western music.
Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors by Stephen E. Ambrose (1975). The straight story about two of the American west’s most famous characters. (Ambrose was accused of using other authors’ work without attribution in this and other books, so if that bothers you, act accordingly. This is still a mighty fine read.)
I don't think you fully understand, Mr. Bigelow. You've been murdered.
I agree with so many of the choices already here, but let me add a few more:
Lady Anne Somerset’s The Affair of the Poisons is the best guide I know to that fascinating period; John Dickson Carr’s The Murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey is one of the best things (and one of only two excursions into non-fiction) he ever wrote; Carolly Erickson’s Bonnie Prince Charlie, though slim, is a good introduction to the man and his world and a favorite of mine growing up (I am probably the only American who was intrigued by the British monarchy—and pretenders to the throne!—as a kid); and anything Richard Overy wrote about World War II.
Oh! and how could I forget Barbara Holland’s masterly Gentleman’s Blood? Marvellous examination of the history of duelling.
the Naked Olympics by Tony Perrottet medieval Women by Eileen Power life in a Medieval Village by Frances and Joseph Gies Medieval Lives by Terry Jones the Tudor Housewife by Alison Sim Mastes and Servants in Tudor England by Alison Sim how to be a Tudor by Ruth Goodman Elizabeth's Women, the Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman Scotland under Mary Stuart by Madeleine Bingham Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe by Steven Ozment women all on Fire, the Women of the English Civil War by Alison Plowden the Escape of Charles II by Richard Ollard WOmen in England 1760-1914 by SUsie Steinbach the French Revolution as seen by Madame Tussaud, Witness Extraordinary by Pauline Chapman liberty's Dawn, a people's history of the Industrial Revolution by Emma Griffin PErilous Question, the Drama of the Great Reform Bill of 1832 by Antonia Fraser QUeen Victoria Was Amused by Alan Hardy Recollections of Three Reigns by Frederick Ponsonby Life below Stairs in the Victorian & Edwardian Country House by Sian Evans The Virago Book of Women and the Great War edited by Joyce Marlow The Debs of Bletchley Park by Michael Smith