Book Review: The Timetables of History, by Bernard Grun

If you write historical fiction (or, like myself, historical fantasy) there's always research involved. The Timetables of History, by Bernard Grun is a phone book-sized volume that can be the foundation for your research.

In its third edition, the book is based on Werner Stein's 1946 classic, which has sold millions of copies. Now, translated into English, the volume is accessible to even more people.

I first bought this book as a reference for our homeschooling history program, but soon realized it would be invaluable for writers of historical fiction.

The book is a huge timeline, beginning at 5000B.C. What makes it unique, is that each year is divided into seven sections, giving readers a comprehensive look into what else was happening that year.

The categories are:

* History and Politics
* Literature and Theater
* Religion, Philosophy, and Learning
* Visual Arts
* Music
* Science, Technology, Growth
* Daily Life

It's fascinating to look up well-known events or people and discover what music everyone was talking about, or what scientific advancements were just being discovered. A book like this can give your novel more of a comprehensive feel. A detailed index is included, if you have a specific event, invention, or person in mind. It will take you directly to the page you need.

Though online resources are available, this inexpensive (but massive) volume will be well-used. Everything at your fingertips.

Do you write historical fiction? What resources do you turn to most?


  1. Hi Debbie,
    I write historical short stories which center around the gold rush in British Columbia. Old rare books (out of print) are a great source and also I am finding a lot of incredible information on the internet.

  2. That's great, Michelle! I also use GoogleBooks and It's amazing what you can find. THe New York Public Library has a lot of resources, too. Also, Google Earth has some places where you can 'dial back time' and walk the streets of the past. I blogged them under 'research' in the sidebar.


  3. OOOH! Even if I didn't need to research, that's definitely a book I want on my shelf!

  4. And it's only $20! So cheap for such a huge book.




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