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How to Prepare History Optional for UPSC | Syllabus & Book for History Optional UPSC

Among the 48 subjects in India’s History Books and Syllabus for UPSC exam is one of the most popular optional subjects. As this subject doesn’t need any prior knowledge or understanding of the subject matter, many candidates choose this as their optional subject. This subject doesn’t need much prior coaching or preparation rather than studying. As every subject needs a studying strategy, this history optional subject also needs a good studying strategy. Otherwise, the aspirants won’t be able to score good marks.

List of Books for History Optional UPSC Exam

History has a vast syllabus and hence there is a lot to read. The History syllabus for UPSC centers on the candidates’ capacity to understand the methods used to study history and their knowledge of chronological events. History optional upsc books are something that you need while preparing for the exams. Since history has a vast syllabus candidates are supposed to refer to a lot of history optional books for upsc. There are a lot of history optional upsc books which you can refer to crack the exams in one go. Here are some of the famous history optional upsc books :

  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania.
  • A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century by Upinder Singh
  • From Plassey to Partition and After A History of Modern India by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
  • A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century by Farooqui Salma Ahmed
  • Contemporary India: Economy, Society, Politics by Neera Chandhoke
  • A History of Modern World by Jain and Mathur
  • Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
  • India’s Ancient Past by R. S. Sharma.
  • History of Medieval India: From 647 A.D. to the Mughal Conquest by Satish Chandra.
  • History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra.
  • India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra.
  • The Wonder that was India – Al Basham
  • Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas – Romila Thapar
  • Medieval India: From Sultanate to Mughals – 1 – Satish Chandra
  • Medieval India: From Sultanate to Mughals – 2 – Satish Chandra
  • History of the World – Arjun Dev

Boooks for History optional paper 1 syllabus

This subject has 2 papers (Paper I and Paper II) in the UPSC syllabus. Each paper consists of 250 marks each

  1. Source
  • Pre-history and Proto-history
  • Indus Valley Civilization: Origin, date, extent, characteristics, decline, survival and significance, art and architecture.
  • Megalithic Cultures
  • Aryans and Vedic Period, Vedic Period, Transformation from Rig Vedic period to the later Vedic period; Political, social and economic life; Significance of the Vedic Age; Evolution of Monarchy and Varna system.
  • Period of Mahajanapadas, Republics and monarchies; Rise of urban centres; Trade routes; Economic growth; Introduction of coinage; Spread of Jainism and Buddhism; Rise of Magadha and Nandas, Iranian and Macedonian invasions and their impact.
  • Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautilya and Arthashastra; Ashoka; Concept of Dharma; Edicts; Polity, Administration; Economy; Art, architecture and sculpture; External contacts; Religion; Spread of religion.
  • Post-Mauryan Period
  • Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India: Kharavela, The Satavahanas, Tamil States of the Sangam Age; Administration, economy, land grants, coinage, trade guilds and urban centres; Buddhist centres; Sangam literature and culture; Art and architecture.
  1. Themes in Early Indian Cultural History
  1. Early Medieval India, 750-1200
  1. Cultural Traditions in India, 750-1200: Philosophy
  1. The Thirteenth Century: Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate
  1. The Fourteenth Century
  1. Society, Culture and Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, Centuries, Society, Culture, Economy
  1. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century
  1. The Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Century – Society and Culture
  1. Akbar: Conquests and consolidation of the Empire; Establishment of Jagir and Mansab systems; Rajput policy; Evolution of religious and social outlook, theory of Sulh-i-kul and religious policy; Court patronage of art and technology
  1. Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century
  • Economy and Society in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
  • Culture in the Mughal Empire
  • The Eighteenth Century

23. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas

Regional States during Gupta Era

Boooks for History optional paper 2 syllabus

  1. European Penetration into India
  • British Expansion in India
  • Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule
  • Social and Cultural Developments
  • Social and Religious Reform movements in Bengal and Other Areas
  • Indian Response to British Rule
  • Factors leading to the birth of Indian Nationalism; Politics of Association; The Foundation of the Indian National Congress; The Safety-valve thesis relating to the birth of the Congress; Program and objectives of Early Congress; the social composition of early Congress leadership; the Moderates and Extremists; The Partition of Bengal (1905); The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal; the economic and political aspects of Swadeshi Movement; The beginning of revolutionary extremism in India.
  • Rise of Gandhi
  • Constitutional Developments in the Colonial India between 1858 and 1935
  1. Other strands in the National Movement the Revolutionaries: Bengal, the Punjab, Maharashtra, U.P, the Madras Presidency and Outside India. The Left; The Left within the Congress: Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Congress Socialist Party; the Communist Party of India, other left parties.
  1. Politics of Separatism; the Muslim League; the Hindu Mahasabha; Communalism and the politics of partition; Transfer of power; Independence.
  1. Consolidation as a Nation; Nehru’s Foreign Policy; India and her neighbours (1947-1964); The linguistic reorganization of States (1935-1947); Regionalism and regional inequality; Integration of Princely States; Princes in electoral politics; the Question of National Language.
  1. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947
  1. Economic development and political change; Land reforms; the politics of planning and rural reconstruction; Ecology and environmental policy in post – colonial India; Progress of science.
  1. Enlightenment and Modern ideas
  1. Origins of Modern Politics
  1. Industrialization
  1. Nation-State System
  1. Imperialism and Colonialism
  • Revolution and Counter-Revolution
  • World Wars: 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars: Societal implications; World War I: Causes and consequences; War II: Causes and consequence
  • The World after World War II: Emergence of two power blocs; Emergence of Third World and non-alignment; UNO and the global disputes.

23. Liberation from Colonial Rule: Latin America-Bolivar; Arab World-Egypt; Africa-Apartheid to Democracy; South-East Asia-Vietnam

24. Decolonization and Underdevelopment: Factors constraining development: Latin America, Africa

25. Unification of Europe: Post War Foundations: NATO and European Community; Consolidation and Expansion of European Community; European Union.

26. Disintegration of Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World: Factors leading to the collapse of Soviet communism and the Soviet Union, 1985-1991; Political Changes in Eastern Europe 1989-2001; End of the cold war and US ascendancy in the World as the lone superpower.


History optional syllabus for UPSC is vast too. There is a lot to study from history optional UPSC books. UPSC History optional subject should be studied in depth if one has selected it for the civil services mains examination by learning this article. If someone has opted for a history optional for UPSC exam, then go through the syllabus well so that you are well familiarized with every aspect of the syllabus. Your preparation requires having a solid grasp of your syllabus. The IAS candidates can combine their preparation for History optional with preparation for General Studies for guaranteed success. So, make ready and pick out a plan for your study.

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