History Books for UPSC: Best IAS Books for Indian, Ancient, Modern & World History

By Durga Prashanna Mishra|Updated : April 5th, 2022

History Books for UPSC would play a vital role as this subject is part of every stage of the UPSC exam. History in UPSC entails ancient history, modern history, world history, and Indian history. It is imperative for the aspirants to have a list of all important History Books for UPSC, and that’s why we have created this post. Here we are going to cover the best IAS History Books for UPSC Prelims, Mains, and Optional exams.

In addition, we have also added a preparation strategy that will help you to cover the UPSC History Books in an efficient manner and make it easier for you to fetch optimum marks in history. Below we have listed the best books for ancient history, world history, modern history, and Indian history.

Table of Content

History Books for UPSC

It is important to understand History Syllabus for UPSC before you choose the ideal IAS History book. History is a part of the UPSC Syllabus for prelims, mains, and optional subjects. Candidates preparing for the upcoming UPSC Exam must understand the difference in the scope of the syllabus and choose the books wisely. 

For ease of understanding, we have categorized the History Books for UPSC into the following parts:

  • Ancient History Book for UPSC
  • Medieval History Book for UPSC
  • Modern History Book or UPSC
  • World History Book for UPSC
  • Indian History Book for UPSC

History Books for UPSC Prelims

The UPSC Prelims Syllabus for history covers modern history, ancient history, and medieval history, Below we have listed some of the Best History Books for UPSC that cover these topics.

  • Ancient History Book for UPSC Prelims- India’s Ancient Past by R. S. Sharma
  • Ancient History Book for UPSC Prelims- History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Modern History Book for UPSC Prelims- A Brief History of Modern India, NCERT Class XI Modern India- Bipan Chandra

History Books for UPSC Mains

NCERT History Books for UPSC are good enough for UPSC prelims, but when it comes to the UPSC Mains Syllabus for History, candidates need to jump into some advanced history books as the questions in the Mains round require in-depth knowledge of the subject. The history syllabus for Mains comprises modern history, modern world history, modern Indian history, medieval history, and ancient Indian history. 

Here are some of the best History Books for UPSC that you can cover for the Mains exam.

UPSC History Books Category

Best History Books for UPSC

Modern History Book for UPSC

History of Modern World – Jain and Mathur

Modern Indian History Books

India After Gandhi – Ramchandra Guha

History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra

Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania

From Plassey to Partition

World History Book for UPSC

Mastering Modern World History-Norman Lowe

Ancient Indian History Books

India’s Ancient Past- RS Sharma

The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Basham

Best Indian History Books for UPSC Optional

Those candidates who have opted for history optional have to pick the best History Books for UPSC. As per UPSC Previous Year Question Paper analysis, questions from the history optional were found to have a difficulty level of moderate to difficult. That is why it is crucial for the candidates to have an in-depth study of history from the following UPSC History Books for Optional.

  • A New Look at Modern Indian History From 1707 to the Modern Times- Alka Mehta and B L Grover S
  • Mastering Modern World History- Norman Lowe (Best book for World History UPSC)
  • The Penguin History Of Early India: From The Origins To AD 1300- Romila Thapar
  • History of Medieval India- Satish Chandra (Medieval history book for UPSC exam)
  • History Of Modern India- Bipan Chandra
  • India’s Ancient Past- Ram Sharan Sharma
  • Age of Revolution 1789-1848- Eric Hobsbawm
  • Age Of Capital: 1848-1875 (History of Civilization)- Eric Hobsbawm
  • Age of Capital -E.J. Hobsbawm
  • Age of Empires -E.J. Hobsbawm
  • Age of Revolution- E.J. Hobsbawm
  • Contemporary World History (NCERT) -Arjun Dev 
  • Modern Indian History- Bipan Chandra
  • The social basis of Democracy & Dictatorship -B.J. Moore
  • The Mainstream of Civilization -Strayer, Gatzke & Harbison
  • The story of Civilization, Vol. 2 (NCERT) -Arjun Dev
  • Europe Since 1815 -W.C. Craig
  • Europe Since 1870 -James Joll.
  • Europe Since Napoleon -David Thompson
  • Industry & Empire -E.J. Hobsbawm

History Books for UPSC PDF

As you can see, we have provided a long list of the best History Books for UPSC. you can bookmark this page so that it will be easier for you to keep track of all these books. Alternatively, you can download the PDF list of all these books we have mentioned above from the below-given link.

>>Download UPSC History Book-list PDF

History Books for UPSC (Category-Wise)

To make things convenient for the candidates, we have categorized the History Books for UPSC into four parts. Candidates can check out highly recommended history books category-wise below

Ancient History Book for UPSC

Ancient history deals with past events from the beginning of writing and recorded human history until the early middle ages. Here are some of the best History Books for UPSC to cover this section. Starting from some basic reads to standard reads, this list covers all of them.

  • NCERT Class XI Ancient India
  • NCERT Class XII Theme in Indian History- I
  • The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Basham
  • India’s Ancient Past- Ram Sharan Sharma

World History Book for UPSC

World History Books for UPSC contain topics from world history events such as Europe Unification, World War, Liberation from Colonial Rule, and more. Here is a list of history books that would help you cover all the topics from world history.

  • Europe Since 1815 -W.C. Craig
  • Europe Since 1870 -James Joll.
  • Europe Since Napoleon -David Thompson
  • The Story of Civilization, Part 2 by Arjun Dev, NCERT
  • Contemporary World History for class XII (Old NCERT Book) ( Amazon Link )
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
  • Mastering Modern World History-Norman Lowe

Modern History Book for UPSC

Modern history elaborates on the history of the world beginning after the middle ages. It mainly focuses on the concerts and notions of political history and cultural and social development in the world. Below we have mentioned some of the best History Books for UPSC that cover this section.

  •  A Brief History of Modern India
  • NCERT Class XI Modern India- Bipan Chandra
  • India After Gandhi – Ramchandra Guha
  • History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra
  • Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania
  • From Plassey to Partition
  • History of Modern World – Jain and Mathu
  • Mastering Modern World History-Norman Lowe

Indian History Book for UPSC

Indian history covers a big portion of the History Syllabus for UPSC and that’s why you need to prepare properly for this section. Here are the best History Books for UPSC that will help you in the preparation of Indian history.

  •  India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma
  •  History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra
  • India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  • India After Independence: Bipan Chandra
  • The Wonder That Was India: AL Basham
  • India After Gandhi: Ramachandra Guha
  • Ancient and Medieval India: Poonam Dalal Dahiya

How to Prepare with History Books for UPSC?

When it comes to preparing the History Books for UPSC many aspirants do a common mistake of jumping into the standard books without building a strong foundation. A subject like a history requires a deep understanding of topics, and no one can fetch good marks in this paper with just rote memorization from the IAS history books. And that is why we have prepared a stagey that would help you to cover the history books in the right way.

  • Before jumping to any book, go through the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers at least 2 to 3 times to understand the depth of questions.
  • Start with NCERTs as they will help you to clear your basics. We have provided all the NCERTs required for history.
  • After completing the NCERT history books you can start reading the standard books 
  • You don’t have to read the whole book, just keep the UPSC Syllabus near and read accordingly.
  • Don’t cover one topic from multiple books at a time.

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FAQs

  • NCERT History Books for UPSC are recommended by most IAS toppers and they are a must for IAS Preparation. However, they are not enough if you want to crack the IAS Exam. You need to be depending on the standard books as well especially if you have chosen history as your optional. Selective readings like Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence, AL Basham’s The Wonder That Was India, Rajiv Ahir’s Brief History of Modern India, would be helpful for UPSC history preparation.

  • Modern history is a part of both Prelims, Mains, and also UPSC optional. Here are a few modern History Books for UPSC that you shouldn’t miss. Covering these books would be helpful in every stage of the UPSC Exam.

    • NCERT Class XI Modern India – Bipan Chandra
    • A New Look at Modern Indian History From 1707 to the Modern Times- Alka Mehta and B L Grover S
    • History of Modern World – Jain and Mathur
    • History of Modern India – Bipan Chandra
  • Ancient History Books for UPSC will guide you through the cultural and political events from the beginning of human history till early middle age, and the following are the best books to cover this section.

    • NCERT Class XI Ancient India
    • NCERT Class XII Theme in Indian History- I
    • The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Basham
    • India’s Ancient Past- Ram Sharan Sharma
  • Questions from world history will come in the UPSC Prelims, Mains, and optional exam. That’s why candidates need to prepare from the best world History Books for UPSC. here are some of the highly recommended books for world history.

    • The Story of Civilization, Part 2 by Arjun Dev, NCERT
    • Contemporary World History for class XII (Old NCERT Book) ( Amazon Link )
    • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
    • Mastering Modern World History-Norman Lowe
  • All the UPSC aspirants must pay attention to the Indian history section because every year many questions are asked from this section. While there are tons of books to cover Indian history, here are some of the selected ones

    •  India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma
    •  History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
    • History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra
    • India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra
    • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
    • India After Independence: Bipan Chandra
  • No matter if you are a beginner or not, whenever you are covering UPSC Books make sure to start with basic always. Understanding the basic concepts would help to build a solid foundation, and you can move further with some of the advanced UPSC history books. Make sure to make short notes that would help you during your revision period. Don’t try to cover one topic from several history books at a time. 

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