87 books like A Fool's Errand

By Albion W. Tourgee,

Here are 87 books that A Fool's Errand fans have personally recommended if you like A Fool's Errand. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of News of the World

John Hough Jr. Author Of The Sweetest Days

From my list on love stories that are even better than the movie.

Who am I?

Genre fiction and Robert Louis Stevenson aside, I can’t imagine loving a novel that has no strong thread, or threads, of love running through it. Fiction is written to entertain, it is true, but fiction’s higher aim is to put us in touch with our own humanity—our capacity to love, and to feel loss. We write to make people feel, and a powerful evocation of love will do that. I wouldn’t write a novel with no romantic love at its center, but I work hard too at love between siblings, friends, children, and parents. 

John's book list on love stories that are even better than the movie

John Hough Jr. Why did John love this book?

Another adventure novel that will keep you turning pages. The grizzled Captain Kidd, veteran of the War of 1812, finds himself obligated to take Joanna, an 11-year-old white girl who was captured when a baby and raised by Kiowas from Kansas to her family in Texas. The journey is long and hazardous, and by the time it is over, the old man and the frightened feral girl who spoke no English are devoted to each other. 

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked News of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his…


Book cover of To Die Game: The Story of the Lowry Band, Indian Guerillas of Reconstruction

William A. Blair Author Of The Record of Murders and Outrages: Racial Violence and the Fight over Truth at the Dawn of Reconstruction

From my list on racial violence and more in the post-Civil War South.

Who am I?

Racial violence has been on my mind for decades, ever since I encountered the Freedmen’s Bureau Record of Murders and Outrages as a grad student. I didn’t know what prompted the government to gather such data. Later, as a professor directing a Civil War-era research center at Penn State, I sponsored a teacher-training initiative, “Breaking the Silence,” a UNESCO project on the Atlantic Slave Trade. I became starkly aware that most white Americans, myself included, had a poor sense of the brutality enmeshed in our history. This is not meant as a condemnation: without a fuller recognition of this racial past, we will have problems reconciling such issues in our own polarized times.

William's book list on racial violence and more in the post-Civil War South

William A. Blair Why did William love this book?

I taught this book years ago while an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Written like a novel, although a serious work of history, it is not your usual book on Reconstruction. In compelling prose, Evans details the struggles of the Lowry Band of Lumbee Indians who clashed with Confederate officials in southeastern North Carolina during the Civil War. Henry Berry Lowry managed to escape after killing a rebel official. He took to the swamps, eluding capture with the help of local African Americans and Native Americans. It is a little-known story among people outside of that region and shows the complicated nature of putting the country back together again after a Civil War. I had never heard of this tribe until encountering the book and found the story unlike anything else in Reconstruction literature.

By William McKee Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Die Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The dramatic and exciting story of Indian guerilla warfare against the Confederates during the Civil War. During the Civil War many young Lumbee Indians of North Carolina hid in the swamps to avoid conscription into Confederate labor battalions and carried on a running guerilla war. To Die Game is the story of Henry Berry Lowry, a Lumbee who was arrested for killing a Confederate official. While awaiting trial, he escaped and took to the swamps with a band of supporters. The Lowry band became as notorious as their contemporaries Jesse and Frank James, as they terrorized bush-whacked leaders of possses…


Book cover of After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War

William A. Blair Author Of The Record of Murders and Outrages: Racial Violence and the Fight over Truth at the Dawn of Reconstruction

From my list on racial violence and more in the post-Civil War South.

Who am I?

Racial violence has been on my mind for decades, ever since I encountered the Freedmen’s Bureau Record of Murders and Outrages as a grad student. I didn’t know what prompted the government to gather such data. Later, as a professor directing a Civil War-era research center at Penn State, I sponsored a teacher-training initiative, “Breaking the Silence,” a UNESCO project on the Atlantic Slave Trade. I became starkly aware that most white Americans, myself included, had a poor sense of the brutality enmeshed in our history. This is not meant as a condemnation: without a fuller recognition of this racial past, we will have problems reconciling such issues in our own polarized times.

William's book list on racial violence and more in the post-Civil War South

William A. Blair Why did William love this book?

I know the author personally and had a chance to read portions of the manuscript before it went to press. It is by far the best account of the occupation of the former Confederacy by the U.S. Army during Reconstruction. Meticulously researched, it gives readers a firm sense of where the military was and when, as well as how it was forced to confront insurgent white Southerners determined to obstruct advances in equal rights through whatever means possible, including violence. That intransigence caused increases in military supervision of governments, leading the author to state, “Military Reconstruction therefore exposed the necessary interdependence of democracy and coercion. (180)” There’s the irony—that expanded freedom required military control of governments. The author is a very good writer, having won the Flannery O’Connor Award for a short story collection Spit Baths.

By Gregory P. Downs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On April 8, 1865, after four years of civil war, General Robert E. Lee wrote to General Ulysses S. Grant asking for peace. Peace was beyond his authority to negotiate, Grant replied, but surrender terms he would discuss. As Gregory Downs reveals in this gripping history of post-Civil War America, Grant's distinction proved prophetic, for peace would elude the South for years after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

After Appomattox argues that the war did not end with Confederate capitulation in 1865. Instead, a second phase commenced which lasted until 1871-not the project euphemistically called Reconstruction but a state of genuine…


Book cover of They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I

Fergus M. Bordewich Author Of Klan War: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction

From my list on the bloody history of Reconstruction.

Who am I?

I have written widely on themes related to race, slavery, 19th-century politics, the Civil War, and its aftermath. The Reconstruction era has sometimes been called America’s “Second Founding.” It is imperative for us to understand what its architects hoped to accomplish and to show that their enlightened vision encompassed the better nation that we are still striving to shape today. The great faultline of race still roils our country. Our forerunners of the Reconstruction era struggled to bridge that chasm a century and a half ago. What they fought for still matters.

Fergus' book list on the bloody history of Reconstruction

Fergus M. Bordewich Why did Fergus love this book?

This is a brilliant, harrowing book that should be must-reading for anyone who might still be swayed by the worn-out moonlight-and-magnolias mythology of the “Old South.”

Drawing heavily on a wealth of remarkable first-person testimony, Williams chronicles the systematic brutalization of usually helpless Black women by white men. In particular, she makes all too clear that rape and other forms of sexual abuse were not just incidental but central to the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan in its campaign to assert power over freed people.

Although women couldn’t vote, the abuse of wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers was a way to intimidate the Black men who could. Williams also shows how that abuse continued long after Reconstruction to become part of the repressive fabric of the Jim Crow era that followed.

I found some of the accounts in Williams’s book difficult to read, but I don’t think the full…

By Kidada E. Williams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked They Left Great Marks on Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shares wrenching accounts of the everyday violence experienced by emancipated African Americans
Well after slavery was abolished, its legacy of violence left deep wounds on African Americans' bodies, minds, and lives. For many victims and witnesses of the assaults, rapes, murders, nightrides, lynchings, and other bloody acts that followed, the suffering this violence engendered was at once too painful to put into words yet too horrible to suppress.
In this evocative and deeply moving history Kidada Williams examines African Americans' testimonies about racial violence. By using both oral and print culture to testify about violence, victims and witnesses hoped they…


Book cover of The Scalawags: Southern Dissenters in the Civil War and Reconstruction

Fergus M. Bordewich Author Of Klan War: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction

From my list on the bloody history of Reconstruction.

Who am I?

I have written widely on themes related to race, slavery, 19th-century politics, the Civil War, and its aftermath. The Reconstruction era has sometimes been called America’s “Second Founding.” It is imperative for us to understand what its architects hoped to accomplish and to show that their enlightened vision encompassed the better nation that we are still striving to shape today. The great faultline of race still roils our country. Our forerunners of the Reconstruction era struggled to bridge that chasm a century and a half ago. What they fought for still matters.

Fergus' book list on the bloody history of Reconstruction

Fergus M. Bordewich Why did Fergus love this book?

The term “Scalawag” was pretty close to a curse word in the Reconstruction era South, meant to smear native whites who became Republicans and allied themselves politically with freedmen.

Baggett explodes the tenacious myth that the “scalawags” were no more than a gang of disreputable, self-serving louts who “shamed” the South by working with Blacks. Drawing on a wide range of sources, he shows that far from being sleazy opportunists they were often remarkably brave men the roots of whose political activism lay in clandestine Unionist resistance to the wartime Confederacy.

After the war, most of them embraced the Republican party from patriotic conviction and support for its expansion of democracy, as well as—if less frequentlythe cause of extending civil rights to Blacks. Along with Black activists, they were frequent targets of the Ku Klux Klan; many died for their beliefs.

I found this an extraordinarily enlightening book…

By James Alex Baggett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Scalawags, James Alex Baggett ambitiously uncovers the genesis of scalawag leaders throughout the former Confederacy. Using a collective biography approach, Baggett profiles 742 white southerners who supported Congressional Reconstruction and the Republican Party. He then compares and contrasts the scalawags with 666 redeemer-Democrats who opposed and eventually replaced them. Significantly, he analyzes this rich data by region -- the Upper South, the Southeast, and the Southwest -- as well as for the South as a whole. Baggett follows the life of each scalawag before, during, and after the war, revealing real personalities and not mere statistics. Examining such…


Book cover of The Racist Mind: Portraits of American Neo-Nazis and Klansmen

Richard Abanes Author Of One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church

From my list on cults, world religions, and extremist faiths.

Who am I?

As a young man, I wanted to do good. And I believed the best way to do that was to increase the commitment I’d made to my faith. So, I joined a church that appeared genuine. But much to my shock, not everything was as it seemed—I’d fallen into a cult. Deception, authoritarianism, and hypocrisy abounded. This led me on a decades-long search for answers: How could leaders do this? Why would members stay loyal? What could be done about it? I eventually found my answers and began doing what I’d always wanted to do—help others. I did it by becoming a journalist/author specializing in religion. 

Richard's book list on cults, world religions, and extremist faiths

Richard Abanes Why did Richard love this book?

One of the most important investigations of America’s far-right White Supremacist movement. This highly informative  volume, which I used while doing my own research of the movement for various projects, is based primarily on the  actual words/views voiced by White supremacists with whom the author lived for many months. Fascinating and  disturbing. 

By Raphael S. Ezekiel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Ezekiel's pointed volume is the best available modern source for grasping the psychological foundations of the Radical Right."-Thomas F Pettigrew, Univ. of Cal., Santa Cruz.


Book cover of The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

From my list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA.

Who am I?

When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I heard about the 1988 murder of an Ethiopian student by skinheads of the White Aryan Resistance. A famous trial subsequently bankrupted that white supremacist organization. When I began writing my trilogy, set in 1923, I learned about the strength of the Oregon KKK during the 1920s. I could see a direct line between the bigotry of that era and contemporary Portland. The more I studied the Klan of the 20s, the more I knew this information had to be part of my novels. Besides these book recommendations, I read numerous articles about Klan history. Everyone should learn this history.

Jeff's book list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA

Jeff Stookey Why did Jeff love this book?

I value this book for its thorough description of the many elements that made the Klan of the 1920s so ascendant: its hostility toward immigrants, big city liberal elites, intellectuals, Jews, Catholics, and fear of the many changes in society. The author says she began writing an article about 20th-century American social movements, but because of the 2016 election, expanded it into this book. Similarly, I felt the same urgency to complete my trilogy and get it out to the public at that time. Just as I tried to portray 1920 parallels with our contentious politics today, Gordon concludes by illuminating correlations between the 1920s KKK and contemporary right-wing beliefs, and their similarities and differences regarding European fascism. Bigotry-fueled fear waxes and wanes in America.

By Linda Gordon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Extraordinary national acclaim accompanied the publication of award-winning historian Linda Gordon's disturbing and markedly timely history of the reassembled Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. Dramatically challenging our preconceptions of the hooded Klansmen responsible for establishing a Jim Crow racial hierarchy in the 1870s South, this "second Klan" spread in states principally above the Mason-Dixon line by courting xenophobic fears surrounding the flood of immigrant "hordes" landing on American shores. "Part cautionary tale, part expose" (Washington Post), The Second Coming of the KKK "illuminates the surprising scope of the movement" (The New Yorker); the Klan attracted four-to-six-million members through secret…


Book cover of A Brief History of Fear and Intolerance in Tillamook County

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

From my list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA.

Who am I?

When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I heard about the 1988 murder of an Ethiopian student by skinheads of the White Aryan Resistance. A famous trial subsequently bankrupted that white supremacist organization. When I began writing my trilogy, set in 1923, I learned about the strength of the Oregon KKK during the 1920s. I could see a direct line between the bigotry of that era and contemporary Portland. The more I studied the Klan of the 20s, the more I knew this information had to be part of my novels. Besides these book recommendations, I read numerous articles about Klan history. Everyone should learn this history.

Jeff's book list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA

Jeff Stookey Why did Jeff love this book?

I love Hill’s passion for elucidating our history in order to combat prejudice. She approaches the origins of fear and intolerance from diverse perspectives, starting with violent clashes between 1700s explorers and indigenous peoples of Oregon’s Pacific coast. She describes the long history of stealing Oregon land from natives, and how the US Civil War contributed to the exclusion of African Americans from Oregon in its state constitution. Later she shows how D. W. Griffith’s movie The Birth of a Nation was instrumental in the re-emergence of the KKK in the 1920s, and WWI propaganda against Germans and fear of Bolshevism contributed to Klan hatred of immigrants. In later chapters Hill brings us up to the present summarizing anti-LGBTQ political initiatives and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Book cover of Ring Shout

K.R. Wilson Author Of Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia

From my list on deeply weird historical novels.

Who am I?

I’m a writer in Toronto, Canada. My novel Call Me Stan is weird historical fiction. Probably not as weird as the books below, but still weird. Its initial inspiration was the stunning cognitive dissonance between composer Richard Wagner’s vile anti-Semitism and his fascination with the Buddha. If I’d stuck with just that idea, I might’ve ended up with a fairly conventional historical novel. But a second idea collided with it and gave it energy: the legend of the cursed immortal referred to as the Wandering Jew. That gave me a present-day narrator who could carry us through a vast sweep of history in a jarringly anachronistic way. Which was exactly weird enough for me. 

K.R.'s book list on deeply weird historical novels

K.R. Wilson Why did K.R. love this book?

Ring Shout is historical fiction on a whole other level of weirdness, in the best possible way. It’s 1922 in Macon, Georgia, and a ragtag group of Black women and their allies are fighting back against the Ku Kluxes. But not all Ku Kluxes are just men in white hoods. Sure, they all start out that way, but a malign supernatural influence spread by the white supremacist film The Birth of a Nation has started transforming them into bone-white, red-eyed, nine-foot-tall demons. Yes, Klansmen as literal demons. It’s a bit on the nose, but it totally works. Ring Shout is both unapologetically political horror writing and a superbly well-crafted novel. 

By P. Djèlí Clark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan's reign of terror

“A fantastical, brutal and thrilling triumph of the imagination...Clark’s combination of historical and political reimagining is cathartic, exhilarating and fresh.” ―The New York Times

A 2021 Nebula Award Winner
A 2021 Locus Award Winner

A New York Times Editor's Choice Pick!
A Booklist Editor's Choice Pick!

A 2021 Hugo Award Finalist
A 2021 World Fantasy Award Finalist
A 2021 Ignyte Award Finalist
A 2021 Shirley Jackson Award Finalist
A 2021…


Book cover of Murder & Scandal in Prohibition Portland: Sex, Vice & Misdeeds in Mayor Baker's Reign

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

From my list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA.

Who am I?

When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I heard about the 1988 murder of an Ethiopian student by skinheads of the White Aryan Resistance. A famous trial subsequently bankrupted that white supremacist organization. When I began writing my trilogy, set in 1923, I learned about the strength of the Oregon KKK during the 1920s. I could see a direct line between the bigotry of that era and contemporary Portland. The more I studied the Klan of the 20s, the more I knew this information had to be part of my novels. Besides these book recommendations, I read numerous articles about Klan history. Everyone should learn this history.

Jeff's book list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA

Jeff Stookey Why did Jeff love this book?

As a fiction writer trying to depict 1920s Portland, Oregon, I found limitless inspiration from this book. Chandler and Kennedy give the background leading up to Prohibition, chronicling the women’s temperance and suffrage movements; the establishment opposition to the International Workers of the World, the Wobblies; the organized crime in the city and police corruption; and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. When George Baker became mayor in 1917, he took advantage of all these elements to control a system of corruption that kept him in power. While the book does not focus on the KKK, it offers important details about its powerful influence on this particular city at this time in history.

By J D Chandler, Theresa Griffin Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder & Scandal in Prohibition Portland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 1917 election of Mayor George Luis Baker ushered a long era of unscrupulous greed into Portland government. While supposedly enforcing prohibition laws, Baker ordered police chief Leon Jenkins to control and profit from the bootlegging market. Baker filled city coffers and his friends' pockets with booze-soaked cash while sensational headlines like the 1929 affair between policeman Bill Breuning and informant Anna Schrader scandalized the city. Maligned in the press, Schrader executed a bitter campaign to recall the mayor. In 1933, a hired gunman murdered special investigator to the governor Frank Aiken a day before he would have filed a…


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