The best books about creating civilization

Why am I passionate about this?

Beardstown is my ancestral home. I grew up, sitting on my grandfather’s knee and listening to stories of great floods, huge winter storms, steamboat trade up and down the river, and even ancient tales of the Iroquois annihilating the Mascouten and the long-forgotten Indian mounds. It has been such a joy to be able to compile all those ancient memories into one pretty good story.


I wrote...

Beardstown

By Sam Foster,

Book cover of Beardstown

What is my book about?

Beardstown is historical fiction covering the period of 1815-1870. The book starts when two young frontiersmen set out to find a suitable place on the Illinois River to build a city. They're not homesteaders. They're dreamers, dreamers who dream big. They wish to bring civilization to the land and create wealth in the process. The book follows them and their dreams as they create, from wilderness, a city. They bring commerce and, with it, culture. They create jobs, then government, schools and churches, libraries, newspapers, and politics (ever politics.). And in the course of bringing they also bring the things that attract not just families but fierce young men out to make their own fortunes. These forces have different wants and needs. The clash of goodness and liberty become palpable. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

McCullough’s last book is about the history of pioneers in the Northwest Territory. It is the same place and period as my novel. The first tool McCullough shows pioneers using is a saw to cut lumber. The first business, my book's main character, Tom Beard knows he needs to attract and does is a lumber mill. When McCullough iterates the goods available from the first trading post the largest supply they have is of whiskey. The second business Beard attracts, and knows he must to build population is a distillery. McCullough and I are telling the same story it’s just that he’s a historian and I’m a novelist. I think the story of people's needs wants and ambitions are more interesting than a simple iteration of facts.

By David McCullough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Pioneers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers…


Book cover of The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

In Accidental Superpower, Zeihan primary thesis is “stuff is hard to move; stuff is easier to move by water than land. And then he explains that the natural wealth, not just in soil, but in the river flow allowing traffic from Pittsburgh to New Orleans and the world enabled farmers coming to the Illinois prairie to get a plow in the ground immediately, without having to spend years clearing a forest, and then get the crops down river to markets within the same year. That nowhere in the history of the world had it been so easy to develop a marketable surplus and get it to market. All very interesting facts. But I think novelizing the frontier, watch men struggle against the wilderness to create wealth with exactly these conditions is far more interesting than a mere recitation. Zeihan and I tell the same story but in very different ways.

By Peter Zeihan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Accidental Superpower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER international strategist Peter Zeihan examines how geography, combined with demography and energy independence, is paving the way for one of the great turning points in history, and one in which America reasserts its global dominance. From a geographic standpoint, no modern country has a greater network of internal waterways, a greater command of deepwater navigation, or a firmer hold on industrialization technologies than America. Such factors have been historically significant in the success of past world powers, from the Ottoman Empire's control of the Danube, to England's mastery of the seas, to Germany's industrial infrastructure. Zeihan…


Book cover of The Source

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

Michener’s fifty-year-old novel focuses on a natural spring that becomes a tell – one civilization stacked on top of another from the beginning of time. It is the spring that makes life. If it is life that creates civilization and then destroys it and then comes back to the water to create yet another. The eternal and lasting thing is the water. Michener makes a beautiful story of the civilizations that come and go and stack on top of one another. 

The town is a new civilization created, the founder believes, from wilderness. But it is not so. The spot he choose was previously occupied by indigenous natives and they took it from the natives there before them. How could I not love Michener’s story? It is the same as mine just 5,000 years earlier.

By James A. Michener,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Source as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his signature style of grand storytelling, James A. Michener transports us back thousands of years to the Holy Land. Through the discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in an ancient city and traces the profound history of the Jewish people—from the persecution of the early Hebrews, the rise of Christianity, and the Crusades to the founding of Israel and the modern conflict in the Middle East. An epic tale of love, strength, and faith, The Source is a richly written saga that encompasses the history of Western civilization and the great…


Book cover of The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

Friedman is perhaps America’s preeminent geopolitical thinker. And like his field of study, it is his position that it is geography that creates the political and cultural decisions that drive any societies choices. Trade required two things – a surplus of product to sell and a means of getting the product to market. So he had to pick a spot on a river with access to markets and it had to be a place with soil rich enough to create agricultural surpluses. The rich prairie of Illinois created the one and the Illinois River traced as far upstream as steady traffic could travel created the other. I think George Friedman, author of The Next Hundred Years would have both admired and agreed with everyone of my hero’s choices. But it’s way more interesting to see those choices played out in a novel format than an academic one.

By George Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Next 100 Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his long-awaited and provocative book, George Friedman turns his eye on the future-offering a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century. He explains where and why future wars will erupt (and how they will be fought), which nations will gain and lose economic and political power, and how new technologies and cultural trends will alter the way we live in the new century.

The Next 100 Years draws on a fascinating exploration of history and geopolitical patterns dating back hundreds of years. Friedman shows that we are now, for…


Book cover of Centennial

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

Michener starts his novel with a vision of the Arapahoe culture along the Platte River in what is now Colorado. His tale unwinds over time and allows his readers to follow the conquest of the land by whites, the development of a rich city based on mineral wealth and river trade, and the decline of that city until wealth has departed. It is the only other book I know that follows precisely the same pattern as my book. How could I not love it?

By James A. Michener,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Centennial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Written to commemorate the Bicentennial in 1976, James A. Michener’s magnificent saga of the Westis an enthralling celebration of the frontier. Brimming with the glory of America’s past, the story of Colorado—the Centennial State—is manifested through its people: Lame Beaver, the Arapaho chieftain and warrior, and his Comanche and Pawnee enemies; Levi Zendt, fleeing with his child bride from the Amish country; the cowboy, Jim Lloyd, who falls in love with a wealthy and cultured Englishwoman, Charlotte Seccombe. In Centennial, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters are brought together in the dramatic conflicts that shape the…


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Book cover of Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

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