Catie asked, and I figured it deserved it's own post.
Unfortunately, I have nothing to recommend. "A History of Hand Knitting" by Richard Rutt is the only big-picture overview of the history of knitting available in the English language, and, well, it sucks. He gives a biased, Christianized view of things that is pretty horribly inaccurate when faced with the archeological record.
Same goes for anything by James Norbury. He's worse than Rutt.
You can get bit-and-piece history lessons from other types of knitting books, though, and they're often really good.
"Folk Socks" by Nancy Bush has a good history of socks in it.
"Victorian Lace Today" by Jane Sowerby has an excellent history of lace-knitting-as-parlor art and the 'patternization' era of knitting.
"The Art of Fair Isle Knitting" by Ann Feitelson has a good history of Fair Isle knitting in it.
"Knitting in the Nordic Tradition" by Vibke Lind is like a history book with patterns in it.
"Poems of Color" by Wendy Keele has an excellent but very specialized history of Bohus Knitting in Sweden in it.
"Knitting in the Old Way" by Gibson-Roberts and Robson is another history book with patterns in it.
Not much help, I guess, but I don't think Rutt's worth the money it would cost to buy.
EDITED TO ADD:
Not to toot my own horn, but my own article on the history of knitting is here.
And a rant about what's wrong with most knitting history is here.