Recommended History Books for IAS Mains Optional

IAS mains history book list

History is one of the most popular optional subjects in the IAS exam partly because we all have studied History in our school and/or college days. Also, it is fun and interesting to read with all the historic tales, battles, and cultures to study. This post lists the recommended History optional subject books for IAS Mains exam. The books are categorized as per the syllabus: Ancient, Medieval, Modern History, and World History.

Books for Ancient Indian History (Paper 1)

India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma

You should start your History mains preparation with this fundamental book from the celebrated historian RS Sharma. India’s Ancient Past is the elaboration of the old syllabus NCERT from the same author and starts from the pre-historic society and goes right up to the early medieval society.

You will need to read India’s Ancient Past for Prelims and Mains General Studies preparation. So, this is the first book you should get for your History preparation.

Recommended Reading:

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A History of Ancient and Medieval India by Upinder Singh

Upinder Singh is a renowned historian and the daughter of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In this book on the History of Ancient and Medival India, Prof. Upinder Singh explains the intricacies of the ancient and medieval Indian societies in startling detail.

The focus is always on presenting accurate and authoritative information about ancient India. If you wish to read history in easy to understand manner, you should definitely read A History of Ancient and Medieval India for your History mains preparation.

Recommended Reading:

Last updated on August 9, 2020 7:45 pm

The Wonder that was India

AL Basham’s The Wonder that was India is a historical classic and is highly useful for your History optional preparation. It explores the beginnings of the Indus valley civilization, then goes on to explore the Aryan civilization and formation of the present societal structure in the Indian subcontinent.

Recommended Reading:

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Books for Medieval History (Paper 1)

Medieval India by Satish Chandra

Just like you started your ancient Indian history preparation with a fundamental book, you should do the same with the medieval Indian history syllabus of IAS mains. Satish Chandra’s Medieval India covers a period of 1000 years with expertise. It starts from the 8th Century history and continues right up to the disintegration of the Mughal empire.

The unique aspect of Satish Chandra’s Medieval History is the detailed explanation of the various attacks that India was subjected to in this period. He also explains the economic, social, and political trends quite skilfully.

Recommended Reading:

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There are two other books you can refer for medieval Indian history for IAS mains optional preparation. These books by JL Mehta go into the minute details of events of medieval history and are quite helpful for preparing the history syllabus of IAS mains exam.

Also Read: The best books for Prelims and Mains general studies preparation.

Books for Modern History (Paper 2)

There are three books to read for modern Indian history syllabus of IAS mains.

India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra

You should start your modern Indian history preparation with Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence. Bipin Chandra is the renowned historian who has also authored the old syllabus NCERT textbook on modern India.

In this book, Bipin Chandra explores modern Indian history from the 18th Century up to India’s independence in 1947. The best part about India’s Struggle for Independence is the balanced view it offers on the controversial developments during this period which includes the rise of left wing and right wing militancy.

Recommended Reading:

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Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum

The second book to read for preparing History for IAS mains is Spectrum’s Brief History of Modern India. This book is a very lucid summary of the developments that took place after the disintegration of the Mughal empire right till the independence period.

The highlight of Brief History of Modern India is its comprehensive coverage of the events of this period in a bulleted reading list which is easy to recollect for students of history.

Recommended Reading:

Last updated on August 9, 2020 7:45 pm

India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

The third important book you should read is Ramachandra Guha’s India After Gandhi. As you know, the History optional  syllabus of IAS mains exam includes the period after independence. And Guha’s book is the best book you can read to cover the post-independence period.

Whether it is Nehru’s Socialism or the emergency period and its political aftershocks, Ramachandra Guha tackles all these topics with ease in India After Gandhi. This book is regularly updated and includes the period after 2014 which is basically a post-Congress period in India’s political history.

Recommended Reading:

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Book for World History (Paper 2)

History of the World by Arjun and Indira Dev

The final book to refer for history mains preparation is Arjun and Indira Dev’s History of the World. Since the paper-2 history syllabus of IAS mains includes the world history topic, you should read this book to cover world history from UPSC’s perspective.

Recommended Reading:

Last updated on August 9, 2020 7:45 pm

These books are as per the revised History syllabus for IAS Mains and will be useful in your preparation of History optional.

Recommended Books for IAS

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30 Comments

  1. Sir,
    I’m 38 yrs old PH (OH) candidate. i want to start preperation for IAS. would it be worthwhile for me to do the same. does UPSC prefers low age candidates. kindly guide me.

  2. Hi Sir,

    Good morning , the above listed history books are also available in Hindi with same author and publication please advise.

    Vikrant

  3. Hi Sir,

    Good morning thank you for guidance its too helpful for us who are preparing for Civil service.
    sir would you please suggest books for MAINS GS 1, GS 2, GS 3, GS 4, GS 5 which author and publication i should go for.
    also please tell that all the books u have suggested for history and PUB AD are available in Hindi, from same Author.
    please reply sir.

    thank you.
    Vikrant

  4. Sir,
    I have graduated as an electrical engineer in 2013 and want to take English Literature as my optional for UPSC mains next year. Any tips, advice or suggestions (apart from “don’t take English ) 🙂 ??

  5. hello sir i am an civil service aspirant and my question is, is it possible to crack civil service with out coaching center s help .if possible sir how i crack the prelims of 2014 .

  6. hello sir my question is this i am in class x11 and i want to clear ias exam just after x11 …would it be possible? and if how.?

  7. Sir,
    I m a student of electronics engineering final year…and i want to go for ias prelims 2014…so pls can u suggest me that do i have the sufficient time for preperation as the exam is just 8 months away…
    I would be thankful to you.

  8. Sir can u plz suggest me only one standard book as text book for history(each one for ancient,medival,modern,world history) so that i can by them,i will make xeror of remaining little uncovered portions from other referrence books

  9. hi sir…can u plz tell me which books i should to refer for history which is included in the gs main paper 1 ..sir i m totally getting confused….i just dont understand from where ,i should start the prepration for ias 2015 exam…….plzz sir give me some guideline…at this time ..i have most needed of ur help….it will b very heplful for me…..

    1. Hi Nisha,

      First you should start with some websites like

      http://youtube.com

      from there you can some idea then you can create some notes and start reading The Hindu new paper daily basis, That will help you for mains paper.

      Please don’t be confused and Believe on yourself, You can do it 🙂

  10. namstay sir , mai ias officer bannaa chaahtaa huuunn sir aap liez bataayay ki 12 k baad mai kyaa kroon .mainay 11 mai arts lee hai

    1. Hello sir
      Ur suggestions is very useful for all the aspirant.can u please do a little more fevour also give guidence to prepare history paper mains in hindi as i m a hindi student.

  11. Sir, I am planning to choose history in mains.. not going for coaching.. i have a doubt whether all these books mentioned above need to be read for appearing in mains??
    Please advice..

  12. Sir,
    Is it of any use to study Mesopotamian culture, Islamic Empires and early or actually primitive world history viz. The new NCERT for class 11. Since old NCERTs are not available I have started with new ones and 11th standard for the time being. But after completing around 100 pages of the book, I am still confused if this is important or should I shift to Only Modern History of the world (1500AD – post world wars) and Detailed study of Ancient history be limited to indian History Only.

    Please guide, 2015 will be my first attempt. please suggest good books for history after NCERTs are done.

    Aman

    1. I suggest you first focus on Modern Indian History from 18th century period since this will be important for both, Prelims as well as Mains. Then you can proceed from there.

  13. SIr;
    I want to start the study for ias exams . i have more intrest in history and administrtion is looking more easy . what was the best for me.
    Plz sir give me suitable list of books .while i want to prepare form base

  14. Hi sir thank u for listed out the important topics for economy like this can u suggest me for remaining subjets like polity geography history plz and one more thing I want to ask am purchasing all books what u mentioned in this web site and wt about science and technology plz clarify my queries

  15. Hello Sir,
    I would request you to tell me if it is worthy of taking classes for history optional. Or Shall I do this myself.
    Also sir please provide me with the study material for the same.

  16. sir i just started preparing properlyfor ias exams.i wants to know about the recommended books of history economy n gk for ias pre n mains…my main subject is also history..

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