The best books showing the measure of a man is the things for which he is willing to die

Who am I?

When I was 22, I joined the USMC for the same reason Socrates drank the hemlock. And since being so directly and harshly confronted with my own mortality at such a young age, I’ve not been able to shake the question, what is worth dying for? I study it in myself and I study it in others. We all die; we all know we will. That is boring in its ubiquity. What is fascinating is any choice that a man or woman may make which will cause him or her to give into it one breath early.   


I wrote...

A Panther Crosses Over

By Sam Foster,

Book cover of A Panther Crosses Over

What is my book about?

Following the French and Indian War, white settlers pour over the Appalachians and down the Ohio River.  But native tribes of the Northwest Territory have long inhabited this land—and they are willing to fight to remain. Leading the Shawnee is Tecumseh—courageous, discerning, and capable of assembling fifty thousand warriors to rise together to chase the white settlers back east when he commands. How will warriors from Florida to Canada know when the command has come? For twenty years his answer has been the same: “I will stomp my foot.”

Against Tecumseh stands an equally talented, implacable, and gifted opponent, William Henry Harrison. The decades-long struggle between cultures, and men, comes to a dramatic head at the Battle of Tippecanoe, with history-shaping consequences. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

“Stranger, go tell the Spartans here we lie, faithful to their command,” is the inscription on the stela that marks the battlefield which is the book’s focus. Pressfield’s is not merely to show that 300 Spartans would stand and die or even why. His interest is in what kind of society produces such men. He shows us that.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Gates of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Sunday Times bestseller Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the breathtaking story of the legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.

'Breathtakingly brilliant . . . this is a work of rare genius. Savour it!' DAVID GEMMELL

'A tale worthy of Homer, a timeless epic of man and war, exquisitely researched and boldy written. Pressfield has created a new classic' STEPHEN COONTS

'A really impressive book - imaginatively framed, historically detailed and a really gripping narrative' ***** Reader review

'Beautifully written and a great joy…


Book cover of The Killer Angels

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

In Shaara’s telling we learn the intellectual and spiritual grounding by which men lead themselves to give “their last full measure.” If a book of brilliant conversations between a New England academic commanding officer and an uneducated Irish immigrant top sergeant does not explain the choice to you then you may never learn it.  

Perhaps it is most simply put in the title which comes from a conversation between the two men. The professor from Bowdoin College says simply, “Man is an angel.” To wit his British-trained top sergeant responds, “Colonel, darlin’, if man is an angel he is a killer angel.”

By Michael Shaara,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Killer Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“My favorite historical novel . . . a superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.”—James M. McPherson
 
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty…


Book cover of The Heart of Everything That Is

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

The Sioux, Red Cloud, is known for his actions rather than his words. But his actions led not just to a draw with the US Cavalry but to the only treaty ever signed between the United States of American and an indigenous nation where America gave up land. Winning it back and living was even better than dying for it.

By Bob Drury, Tom Clavin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Heart of Everything That Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From bestselling authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin comes the epic, untold story one of the most powerful Sioux warriors of all time, Red Cloud—now adapted for a younger audience!

“I have but a small spot of land left. The Great Spirit told me to keep it.” —Red Cloud

This young readers edition of the New York Times bestseller of the same name tells the long forgotten story of the powerful Oglala Lakota chief, Red Cloud. At the height of Red Cloud’s power the Sioux claimed control of vast parts of the west. But as the United States rapidly expanded,…


Book cover of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

Gwynne tells us the Comanche’s only businesses were robbery and slave trading. But he does give them credit for the geography of America. That is holding both the French and Spanish at bay until America was ready to take the land. The measure of their men was not in what they would die for but what they would have others die for.

By S.C. Gwynne,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Empire of the Summer Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moonspans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood…


Book cover of East of Eden

Sam Foster Why did I love this book?

“If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire and thou shalt rule over him.” Genesis 4:7 KJV But is the proper translation into English from an ancient language with few words, (there are less than 9,000 discrete words in the ancient Hebrew version of the Old Testament) shalt or is it perhaps will or may? On the answer to that simple question the condition of our soul henges.  

Only Steinbeck could make a novel of that question.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked East of Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

California's fertile Salinas Valley is home to two families whose destinies are fruitfully, and fatally, intertwined. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons will helplessly replay the fall of Adam and Eve and the murderous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

East of Eden was considered by Steinbeck to be his magnum opus, and its epic scope and memorable characters, exploring universal themes of love and identity, ensure it remains one of America's most enduring novels. This edition features a stunning new cover by renowned…


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A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

Book cover of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

Janet Hulstrand Author Of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Editor Francophile Minnesotan Once and forever Brooklynite

Janet's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This memoir chronicles the lives of three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel. The story begins in 1992 in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn as the author reads a notebook written by her grandmother nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year search to find her grandmother’s journals and uncover the hidden interior lives of her mother and grandmother.

Her adventures take her to a variety of locations, from a small town in Iowa to New York, Washington, London, and Paris—and finally to a little village in France, where she is finally able to write the book that will tell her own story, intertwined with the stories of her mother and grandmother.

A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

What is this book about?

This story, about three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel, begins in 1992, in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn, as a young writer reads journals written by her grandmother as a schoolgirl nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year quest to uncover the hidden lives and unfulfilled dreams of her mother and grandmother. In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, the author comes to realize that the passion for travel and for literature that has fueled her life's journey is a gift that was passed down to her by the very role models she was…


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Interested in sibling rivalry, the Battle of Gettysburg, and Texas?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sibling rivalry, the Battle of Gettysburg, and Texas.

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