Best Historical Books to Read for a Solid Foundation?

What are the some good history books about the Victorian era (1840-1900)that people recommend?  In particular, historical books about Black people during that era would be great; a general overview of the era, or something that goes into fine detail about a particular subject or event would be very helpful.


I've been dragging through a few books at the local library but I haven't found anything I'd recommend.  Most of those books have been a lot of sugar coating. 





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