Best History Books for UPSC IAS Preparation

In this article, we will see some of the most important History Books for UPSC (Indian & World History). We will also see the NCERT books (Both old and new) that every UPSC aspirant should read.

History is the most important subject in the UPSC exam. In this article, we’ll see some important books to refer to for studying history. But right before jumping straight into the topic, let’s know about history.

As we all know, history is the study of a person or a group of people and their actions, interactions, and decisions. Thus, by studying history, we know about past stories of great leaders and revolutionaries as we know them today.

Now, if we talk about Indian history, the history of the Indian terrain has formed political systems today. The primary purpose of this subject is to stand at the center of these distinct rigorous debates about our existence in terms of politics, economics, culture, society, and leadership.

Importance of History in the UPSC Exams

As I said, History is an important subject from the UPSC point of view and is also one of the main subjects in all the three modes of exam like the Preliminary, Mains and the interview. 

This is because the aspirants must know about the past events and revolutions of India. However, History can also be taken up as an optional subject in the UPSC exams. You can join IAS Coaching Institute for the preparation.

Let’s see what types of History are generally asked in the UPSC exams. 

Types of History

1. World history 

World history focuses on past events and revolutionaries from all around the globe. This history is mainly asked in the mains exam particularly. 

2. The ancient history 

This history focuses on a timeline regarding the earliest possible human settlements around 6000 BC. 

3. The medieval history of India 

It focuses on the timeline of when kings and emperors used to rule different regions of India. 

Note- Both ancient and medieval history carries significant weightage in the prelims and mains exam. 

-It heavily covers paper 1 of the mains exam.

Read More: How To Read Newspaper For UPSC

4. The modern history of India 

Modern Indian history focuses on a time when Britishers ruled India till the time India got independence. So it is asked in both prelims and mains exams.

This was about history and the importance of history in the UPSC exam. Now let’s see some history books to prepare for UPSC exams.

History Books for UPSC Exams

1. Ancient Indian History Books

● The Wonder That was India – A.L. Basham 

● Ancient India – An Introductory Outline – D.N. Jha 

● History of India, Vol. I – Romila Thapar 

● Aspects of Political Ideas and Institutions in Ancient India – R.S. Sharma 

● Material culture & Social Formation in Ancient India – R.S. Sharma 

● Indian Feudalism – R.S. Sharma 

● Ashoka & Decline of the Maurya – Romila Thapar Buy Now 

● A History of South India – K.A. Nilkantha Sastri 

● Ancient India and Indian Archaeology- Archaeological Survey of India 

● Ancient India Social and Culture – Luniya 

● An Advanced History of India – R.C. Majumdar H.C. 

● Ancient India – L.Mukherjee 

● The rise of civilization of India and Pakistan – Bridget and Raymond Allchin 

● Mauryan Ashoka and the decline of the Mauryan empire – Romila Thapar 

● Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum 

● Indus Civilization – (a) IGNOU booklet no. 2 

Read More: How To Read Newspaper For UPSC

These were some amazing books to refer to the topic of ancient Indian history. Let’s see books on medieval history.

2. Medieval Indian History Books

History Books for UPSC

● Medieval India (Macmillan) – Satish Chandra 

● The Wonder That was India (Vol.2) – S.A.A. Rizvi 

● The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556-1707 – Irfan Habib 

● The Mughal Empire – J.F. Richards 

● Urban Dynamics – H.C. Verma 

● The Marathas – Gordon 

● Advanced study in the History of Medieval India – Volume I – J.L. Mehta 

● Advanced study in the History of Medieval India – Volume II – J.L. Mehta 

● Advanced study in the History of Medieval India – Volume III – J.L. Mehta 

● Medival India – Volume I – Satish Chandra 

● Medival India – Volume II – Satish Chandra 

● History Of Medieval India – Satish Chandra 

● Medieval India – L. Mukherjee 

● The Advanced History of India – Majumdar, Raychaudhuri & Datta 

● Social life and cultural life of both Delhi Sultanate and Mughal India – J.L. Mehta 

● A history of South India – K. A. Nilakanta Shastri 

● IGNOU material (especially on agriculture and agrarian relations and culture) 

These were some most famous history books on medieval India. Now let’s see some modern Indian history books.

3. Modern Indian History Books

● Modern India (Macmillan) – Sumit Sarkar 

● Anatomy of the Raj (PPH) – Subhash Chakravarty

● India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra 

● The Raj Syndrome (Penguins) – Subhash Chakravarty 

● VAID’s Fundamentals of History Series

○ Administrative History Pravin Kumar

○ Constitutional History Pravin Kumar

○ Social History Pravin Kumar 

○ Freedom Struggle Pravin Kumar 

● Peasant Movements in India – D.N. Dhanagare 

● India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra and others 

● Gandhi – B.R. Nanda 

● Gandhi – Judith Brown 

● Freedom Struggle (NBT) – Bipan Chandra & others 

● Modern Indian History – Groover & Groover. 

● A struggle for Independence – Bipin Chandra Buy Now 

● Freedom Struggle – Bipin Chandra 

● Modern India – L. Mukherjee

● A new look into the modern Indian history – B.L Grover 

● Freedom struggle – Bipin Chandra, Varun Dey and Amlesh Tripathy (NBT) 

● India’s struggle for independence – Bipin Chandra 

● Modern India – Sumit Sarkar 

● IGNOU materespeciallyially on freedom struggle) 

Read More: UPSC Preparation Tips for Working Professionals

After seeing almost all the Indian history books of all the periods like ancient, medieval, and modern history, let’s now talk about world history books. 

4. World History Books

History Books for UPSC

● The Mainstream of Civilization – Strayer, Gatzke & Harbison 

● Western Civilizations – Burns & others 

● Industry & Empire – E.J. Hobsbawm 

● Age of Revolution – E.J. Hobsbawm 

● Age of Capital – E.J. Hobsbawm 

● Age of Empires – E.J. Hobsbawm 

● The social basis of Democracy & Dictatorship – B.J. Moore 

● Europe Since Napoleon – David Thompson 

● Europe Since 1815 – W.C. Craig 

● Europe Since 1870  – James Joll

These were some world history books for UPSC preparations. Apart from these books, more books needed to be read.
The ncert books give the readers a basic idea of the topic, making it much easier to read. In addition, the ncert helps build a strong foundation as it focuses more on the basics than going far ahead in detail.

Now let’s see some NCERT History Books from class 6th to class 12th.

NCERT History Books for UPSC

NCERT History Books

  • Class VII NCERT History Book – Our Past I 

● Class VIII NCERT History Book – Our Past II, Our past III 

● Class IX NCERT History Book – India and the Contemporary World – I 

● Class X NCERT History Book – India and the Contemporary World – II 

● Class XI NCERT History Book – Themes in World History 

● Class XII NCERT History Book – Indian History Themes I 

● Class XII NCERT History Book – Indian History Themes II 

● Class XII NCERT History Book – Indian History Themes III

● Class XI NCERT Art & Culture – An Introduction to Indian Art 

● Class XI NCERT Art & Culture – Living Craft Traditions of India.

Suppose you are searching for history books for UPSC. In that case, these books are the most basic and trusted books for history, not only for history but also for other subjects like economics, science, polity, geography, etc.
Read these books first before reading any other books. They help in building basics and a good platform for advanced learning.
Let’s see some old ncert history books. Are also seen as a resourceful book as it contains many things that have been excluded from the latest edition books.

 Old NCERT History Books for UPSC

1. Ancient history 

● Class VI – Ancient India (Old) 

● Class XI – Ancient India (Old) 

2. Medieval Indian History 

● Class VII – Medieval India (Old) 

● Class IX – Story of Civilization Part-I (Old) 

● Class X – Story of Civilization Part-II (Old) 

● Class XI – Medieval India (Old) 

3. Modern Indian History 

● (NCERT | Class 11) old 

Modern India – Bipan Chandra

Students also take up history as an optional subject. There are specific books that you might find interesting to read regarding the optional history subject.

Books for History Optional

1. Ancient History 

● A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: from the Stone Age to the 12th Century – Upinder Singh 

2. Medieval History of India 

● Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat 

(1206-1526) – 1 – Satish Chandra 

● Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals – Mughal Empire (1526-1748) – 2 – Satish Chandra 

● Medieval India: The Study Of A Civilization – Irfan Habib 

3. Modern Indian history 

● From Plassey to Partition and After A History of Modern India – Sekhar Bandyopadhyay 

● India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra 

● India since Independence – Bipan Chandra 

4. World history 

● A History of the Modern World: An Outline – Ranjan Chakrabarti 

● Mastering Modern World History (Palgrave Master Series) – Norman Lowe 

There are two more types of books you need to see. These are very helpful during the preparation time.

History Books for Concepts and Knowledge

1. What is History – E.H. Carr 

2. Historian’s Craft – Marc Block 

3. The Past and the present Indian History – Lawrence Stone 

4. The Past as Present: Forging Contemporary Identities Through History – Romila Thapar 

Guide for History Books

1. Indian History – Krishna Reddy 

2. Indian History – Agnihotri 

3. Competition Wizard Workbook. 

4. IGNOU Material 

5. Y.D.Mishra 

These were some really important books for history preparation. Please read all the books as I’ve mentioned above. Please don’t read any other history books other than the books I’ve suggested to you. 

These books are more than enough to prepare for history during the prelims and the mains. 

Now for the interview, the candidate must know the history of his native place, along with the nation’s history in building the modern-day political system and government bodies.

Conclusion 

History is a very vast subject, so you need to be smart while selecting the books for UPSC preparation. There are major history books for UPSC that will help you to clear your UPSC Exam. Along with these books, you can join a good IAS Coaching to help you in your preparation.