History is one of the most important subjects for lakhs of aspirants who are preparing for the Civil Services Examination (CSE) conducted by the UPSC. The subject constitutes a major part of both the Prelims and the Mains Examination. Some topics like ancient, medieval, and Modern history of India, the sub-continent traces the origins of early civilisation, the inception, growth, and expansion of kingdoms and empire are of extreme importance while preparing for the UPSC CSE Exam. History is a tricky subject but when thoroughly prepared holds certain benefits. If you want to prepare well in history then there are several books written by Indian and foreign authors which give an in-depth knowledge about the subject to the aspirants.
Here’s a list of highly recommended history books by various successful candidates and coaching centres.
1.The Wonder that was India- A L Basham
The book authored by late A L Basham in 1954, was one of its kind in-depth research on the ancient roots in the subcontinent. The Wonder that was India gives a comprehensive detail about the existence of civilisation on the Indian landmass way before the time of Romans, while it also delves into the development of Indus Valley civilisation and the possible reason behind the decline of such a prosperous civilisation.
2.History of Medieval India- Satish Chandra
History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra serves as one of the best resource book on Medieval India for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains aspirants. The book is a comprehensive guide to a period of thousand years from 800 AD to 1800 AD, this period in the Indian subcontinent is often referred as the Golden age as India was way ahead in terms architecture and society against their Western counterparts.
3.Indian Art and Culture- Nitin Singhania
This book is widely considered as an important work on Indian Heritage and Culture, the author has covered the vast majority of the syllabus for General Studies Paper 1 in the UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania has captured the journey of Indian art, literature and architecture over the centuries.
4.History of Modern India- Bipan Chandra
The Late Historian Bipan Chandra is revered as one of the finest contemporary historians. History of Modern India is considered as a benchmark for Modern Indian History. The book was published in the year 2009, the book covers the pre-Independence British era, the Indian freedom struggle, national movement, and colonialism. According to experts, Bipan Chandra’s book serves a good resource for all the UPSC Civil Services Prelims and Mains aspirants.
5.From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India- Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern is believed to be an unbiased take on the Modern India. The book is has been able to outline the modern Indian history. Author Sekhar Bandyopadhyay has been careful in treating the modern Indian history as period of intense dispute. This careful interpretation of Indian history has made the book a popular one among the Civil Services Prelims and Mains aspirants.
Additional History reference books for Civil Services Prelims and Mains
Apart from the five books mentioned above aspirants can also try different books from renowned authors such as India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma, India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha, India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra, and Mastering Modern History by Norman Lowe.
Must read books for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains aspirants
The standard NCERT History textbooks from class 6th onwards till class 12th history books helps in developing a stronger base for further preparation. The books cover all the topics part of UPSC Civil Services Prelims and Mains History syllabus.
How to prepare History for UPSC Civil Services exam?
UPSC Civil Services Examination is one of the toughest entrance exams with a meagre passing percentage. Every year lakhs of aspirants appear for the exam after months and years’ of preparation, it becomes important that they prepare well. History is a core subject for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains, thus, every aspirant should ensure that they have completed the syllabus well in time to do a thorough revision of every topic and work on the positive areas and negative areas. The aspirants should look at previous ten years history section questions, as it helps in getting a gist of question pattern and the important topics to cover.