The most inspiring books about heroism

Hunter Howe Cates Author Of Oklahoma's Atticus: An Innocent Man and the Lawyer Who Fought for Him
By Hunter Howe Cates

Who am I?

While my book Oklahoma’s Atticus is technically true crime, I always viewed it as a story about courage, not unlike the stories of brave heroes that have inspired me for longer than I can remember. But unlike these great figures of history and literature, my book is about a regular man who never saw himself as a hero. I should know, for that man, Elliott Howe, was my grandfather. I can only hope his story inspires others as much as it did me.


I wrote...

Oklahoma's Atticus: An Innocent Man and the Lawyer Who Fought for Him

By Hunter Howe Cates,

Book cover of Oklahoma's Atticus: An Innocent Man and the Lawyer Who Fought for Him

What is my book about?

Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1953: an impoverished Cherokee named Buster Youngwolfe confesses to brutally raping and murdering his eleven-year-old female relative. When Youngwolfe recants his confession, saying he was forced to confess by the authorities, his city condemns him, except for one man—public defender and Creek Indian Elliott Howe. Recognizing in Youngwolfe the life that could've been his if not for a few lucky breaks, Howe risks his career to defend Youngwolfe against the powerful county attorney’s office. Forgotten today, the sensational story of the murder, investigation, and trial made headlines nationwide.

Oklahoma’s Atticus is a tale of two cities—oil-rich downtown Tulsa and the dirt-poor slums of north Tulsa; of two newspapers—each taking different sides; and of two men both born poor Native Americans, but whose lives took drastically different paths.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

By Doris Kearns Goodwin,

Book cover of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Why this book?

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s magnum opus about our 16th Commander In Chief made a powerful impression on me because it showed that before Abraham Lincoln was a remarkable President (and my favorite) he was simply a good man. Most of us won’t ever be President, but all of us can be good people. 

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

By Doris Kearns Goodwin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Team of Rivals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most influential books of the past fifty years, Team of Rivals is Pulitzer Prize–winning author and esteemed presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s modern classic about the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, his unlikely presidency, and his cabinet of former political foes.

Winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inspiration for the Oscar Award winning–film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Tony Kushner.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago.…


The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

By Erik Larson,

Book cover of The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

Why this book?

Erik Larson’s highly readable, page-turning treatment of one of history’s most enigmatic figures—Winston Churchill—during his “Finest Hour” makes us pause and reflect just how consequential one man can be. Yet Larson’s true triumph is how he showcased the people around Churchill, showing the reader how any of us can bravely rise to the occasion.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Splendid and the Vile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz—an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis
 
“One of [Erik Larson’s] best books yet . . . perfectly timed for the moment.”—Time • “A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.”—NPR 
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Time • Vogue • NPR • The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • The Globe &…


To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee,

Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Why this book?

Has American literature, or any literature, ever produced a more towering heroic figure than Atticus Finch? Yet he was not a strong warrior or powerful knight, but a simple man doing what he knew to be right despite the consequences. This character inspires me so that I named my book after him.

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…


The Confessions: Saint Augustine of Hippo

By Augustine of Hippo, Maria Boulding (translator), David Vincent Meconi (editor)

Book cover of The Confessions: Saint Augustine of Hippo

Why this book?

For most of us, the greatest enemy isn’t from without, but from within. This is true today and was just as true nearly two millennia ago when Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote his Confessions, the first autobiography. His struggles with sin and vice should be relatable to us all, especially his difficulty in abandoning his worldly desires. Would most of us be so brave as to abandon our wants for something far greater?

The Confessions: Saint Augustine of Hippo

By Augustine of Hippo, Maria Boulding (translator), David Vincent Meconi (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of a major new Classics series - books that have changed the history of thought, in sumptuous, clothbound hardbacks.

The son of a pagan father and a Christian mother, Saint Augustine spent his early years torn between conflicting faiths and world views. His Confessions, written when he was in his forties, recount how, slowly and painfully, he came to turn away from his youthful ideas and licentious lifestyle, to become instead a staunch advocate of Christianity and one of its most influential thinkers. A remarkably honest and revealing spiritual autobiography, the Confessions also address fundamental issues of Christian doctrine,…


The Return Of The King

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Return Of The King

Why this book?

What more can be said of the classic tale of good versus evil, which was penned less than a hundred years ago, but speaks of a timeless conflict as old as humanity itself? Yet what is most inspiring to me is that in this world of brave knights, powerful wizards, and deadly dragons, the true heroes are the hobbits. People viewed as insignificant by others, but whose courage saved the lives of all.

The Return Of The King

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Begin your journey into Middle-earth.

The inspiration for the upcoming original series on Prime Video, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The Return of the King is the third part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure The Lord of the Rings.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

The Dark Lord has risen, and as he unleashes hordes of Orcs to conquer all Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam struggle deep into his realm in Mordor.

To defeat Sauron, the One Ring must be…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in good and evil, prime ministers, and bildungsroman?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about good and evil, prime ministers, and bildungsroman.

Good And Evil Explore 89 books about good and evil
Prime Ministers Explore 9 books about prime ministers
Bildungsroman Explore 220 books about bildungsroman

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Anne Frank, Sapiens, and The Civil War if you like this list.