100 books like A.D. 1250

By Lawrence W. Cheek,

Here are 100 books that A.D. 1250 fans have personally recommended if you like A.D. 1250. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

William H. Steffen Author Of Anthropocene Theater and the Shakespearean Stage

From my list on invasive species and their impact on human history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an English professor in New England whose research and teaching interests focus on the Shakespearean Stage and the Environmental Humanities. As an educator, I’m always looking for ways to romanticize the impact that literature can have on the world—either politically, ideologically, or physically. The story that Kim Todd shares about the European Starling proliferating in North America because of a Shakespeare-loving member of a New York Acclimatization Society has changed the way that I look at birds, at Shakespeare, and the world. It has encouraged me to find other stories like this one to share with my students—and to tell a few of my own.

William's book list on invasive species and their impact on human history

William H. Steffen Why did William love this book?

I’m grateful to see how the narrative about Columbus, the Pilgrims, and European colonialism has changed since I was in elementary school, but for someone who was taught that Columbus was a kind of hero-genius, this book was a revelation.

One of its most powerful lessons is how efficient pre-capitalist systems of commerce were; the Incan Empire, which was far bigger than the Holy Roman Empire or the Ottoman Empire, never experienced famine because they prioritized life and well-being over gold and profit. This book also shows how flora in the Americas exploded during the sixteenth century, leading to the Orbis Spike, or the beginning of anthropogenic environmental change.

The lessons from the pre-Columbian, pre-capitalist, and pre-Enlightenment world are invaluable for confronting contemporary problems of American democracy and environmentalism today.

By Charles C. Mann,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked 1491 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492—from “a remarkably engaging writer” (The New York Times Book Review).
 
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized…


Book cover of Ancient Cahokia and the Mississippians

Alan Smale Author Of Clash of Eagles

From my list on ancient North America.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twin passions are science and history, and I try to have it both ways by writing a mix of alternate history and hard SF. I grew up in Yorkshire, England, enjoyed lots of family vacations at Hadrian’s Wall and other Roman-rich areas, and acquired degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford, but I’ve lived in the US for over half my life and now work for NASA (studying black holes, neutron stars, and other bizarre celestial objects). My novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, A Clash of Eagles, won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and formed the starting point for my Clash of Eagles trilogy from Del Rey, and Hot Moon, my alternate-Apollo thriller set entirely on and around the Moon, will be published by CAEZIK SF & Fantasy in 2022.

Alan's book list on ancient North America

Alan Smale Why did Alan love this book?

A tough choice, this one. I read so many books about Cahokia. But Ancient Cahokia and the Mississippians goes into sufficiently deep and absorbing detail on the Cahokian site – which you should go see for yourself if you get the chance, at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, Illinois – for you to appreciate the true magnitude of the Mississippian achievement. And it has lots of photos, illustrations, and maps. For a quicker introductory read and perhaps more evocative descriptions, Pauketat’s Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi might be for you. Both books, written by an archeologist of more than usual depth, perceptiveness, and descriptive skill, invoke a bygone North American city of awesome power.

By Timothy Pauketat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ancient Cahokia and the Mississippians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ancient capital of Cahokia and a series of lesser population centers developed in the Mississippi valley in North America between the eighth and fifteenth centuries AD, leaving behind an extraordinarily rich archaeological record. Cahokia's gigantic pyramids, finely crafted artifacts, and dense population mark it as the founding city of the Mississippian civilization, formerly known as the 'mound' builders. As Cahokian ideas and objects were widely sought, a cultural and religious ripple effect spread across the mid-continent and into the South. In its wake, population migrations and social upheavals transformed social life along the ancient Mississippi River. In this important…


Book cover of House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest

Alan Smale Author Of Clash of Eagles

From my list on ancient North America.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twin passions are science and history, and I try to have it both ways by writing a mix of alternate history and hard SF. I grew up in Yorkshire, England, enjoyed lots of family vacations at Hadrian’s Wall and other Roman-rich areas, and acquired degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford, but I’ve lived in the US for over half my life and now work for NASA (studying black holes, neutron stars, and other bizarre celestial objects). My novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, A Clash of Eagles, won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and formed the starting point for my Clash of Eagles trilogy from Del Rey, and Hot Moon, my alternate-Apollo thriller set entirely on and around the Moon, will be published by CAEZIK SF & Fantasy in 2022.

Alan's book list on ancient North America

Alan Smale Why did Alan love this book?

Meanwhile, in the American Southwest we have the Great House civilization of the “Anasazi” -- more correctly, the Ancestral Puebloan people -- renowned for creating Chaco Canyon and many other great cultural centers. (Chaco and its inhabitants figure strongly in my third book, Eagle and Empire.) Craig Childs’ book makes this area, and its peoples, and the sheer extent of their civilization, come alive. It’s a beautiful and evocative work of archeological detective work and exploration.

By Craig Childs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The greatest 'unsolved mystery' of the American Southwest relates to the Anasazi, the native peoples who in the 11th century converged on Chaco Canyon (now New Mexico) and built a flourishing cultural center that attracted pilgrims from far and wide, a vital crossroads of the prehistoric world. The Anasazis' accomplishments - in agriculture, in art, in commerce, in architecture and engineering - were astounding, rivaling those of the Mayans in distant Central America. By the 13th century, however, the Anasazi were gone from Chaco. Vanished. What was it - drought? pestilence? war? forced migration? mass murder or suicide? Craig Childs…


Book cover of The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples

Alan Smale Author Of Clash of Eagles

From my list on ancient North America.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twin passions are science and history, and I try to have it both ways by writing a mix of alternate history and hard SF. I grew up in Yorkshire, England, enjoyed lots of family vacations at Hadrian’s Wall and other Roman-rich areas, and acquired degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford, but I’ve lived in the US for over half my life and now work for NASA (studying black holes, neutron stars, and other bizarre celestial objects). My novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, A Clash of Eagles, won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and formed the starting point for my Clash of Eagles trilogy from Del Rey, and Hot Moon, my alternate-Apollo thriller set entirely on and around the Moon, will be published by CAEZIK SF & Fantasy in 2022.

Alan's book list on ancient North America

Alan Smale Why did Alan love this book?

Finally, expanding outward even further in space and time and going far beyond my Clash of Eagles series source material, Tim Flannery’s book covers the entire geological, ecological, and (yes) human history of the North American continent, from its formative years 65 million years ago through to its “discovery” by Europeans, and the effects those colonizing influences had on the peoples, flora, and fauna. I learned so much from this book that I still think about it almost daily, and especially so when I travel around today’s US in all its depth, breadth, and glory.

By Tim Flannery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Eternal Frontier, world-renowned scientist and historian Tim Flannery tells the unforgettable story of the geological and biological evolution of the North American continent, from the time of the asteroid strike that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, to the present day. Flannery describes the development of North America's deciduous forests and other flora, and tracks the immigration and emigration of various animals to and from Europe, Asia, and South America, showing how plant and animal species have either adapted or become extinct. The story takes in the massive changes wrought by the ice ages and…


Book cover of The Hohokam Millennium

Stephen H. Lekson Author Of A History of the Ancient Southwest

From my list on southwestern archaeology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was Curator of Archaeology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder; recently retired.  Before landing at the University of Colorado, I held research, curatorial, or administrative positions with the University of Tennessee, Eastern New Mexico University, National Park Service Chaco Project, Arizona State Museum, Museum of New Mexico, and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.  Over four decades, I directed more than 20 archaeological projects throughout the Southwest. I wrote a dozen books, chapters in many edited volumes, and scores of articles in journals and magazines. While many of these were technical treatises, I also tried to write scholarly books accessible to normal intelligent readers.  

Stephen's book list on southwestern archaeology

Stephen H. Lekson Why did Stephen love this book?

Contemporary with Mesa Verde’s cliff-dwellings and Chaco’s Great Houses, the Hohokam of southern Arizona too often fly under the radar. Their extensive settlements were constructed of mud and thatch – materials of the desert – and consequently Hohokam sites are mostly flat fields littered with potsherds. Ansel Adams never photographed a Hohokam site. There are exceptions: towering berms delimit oval ball courts (a local version of the Mesoamerican ball game) and vast canal systems which moved water many miles to the farm fields that underwrote the civilization. Hohokam was centered in Phoenix, but the civilization stretched from Gila Bend, Arizona on the west to Safford, Arizona on the east, and from Flagstaff on the north to Tucson on the south – the latter, the setting for my brief Hohokam fieldwork in the late 1980s. That fieldwork and my studies of Hohokam collections in museums, opened my eyes: I had no…

By Suzanne K. Fish (editor), Paul R. Fish (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For a thousand years they flourished in the arid lands now part of Arizona. They built extensive waterworks, ballcourts, and platform mounds, made beautiful pottery and jewelry, and engaged in wide-ranging trade networks. Then, slowly, their civilization faded and transmuted into something no longer Hohokam. Are today's Tohono O'odham their heirs or their conquerors? The mystery and the beauty of Hohokam civilization are the subjects of the essays in this volume. Written by archaeologists who have led the effort to excavate, record, and preserve the remnants of this ancient culture, the chapters illuminate the way the Hohokam organized their households…


Book cover of Saguaro Sanction

Margaret Mizushima Author Of Standing Dead

From my list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the mountain wilderness and national parks of my home state, Colorado. In my younger days, I hiked to the mountain lakes of the Sangre de Cristo range near my hometown and then later the high-country trails of northern Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. When I began writing the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, I combined my experience as a veterinarian’s wife with my love of the great outdoors and dogs to create Killing Trail, book one of eight in my series that features Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Together they solve mysteries in the fictional mountain community of Timber Creek, Colorado.

Margaret's book list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors

Margaret Mizushima Why did Margaret love this book?

Saguaro Sanction is the eighth book in Scott Graham’s National Park Mystery series.

I have read every one of Graham’s books, because I love being swept into the backcountry of one of the nation’s national parks and learning about issues that affect that particular location. I also love characters Chuck Bender, an archeologist, his wife Janelle Ortega, and her two daughters Carmelita and Rosie.

Graham is a master storyteller and provides a perfect balance as he weaves in details about this engaging family, the vivid descriptions of park landscapes, and educational elements to deliver an entertaining mystery.

Saguaro Sanction focuses on the cultural and historic aspects of Saguaro National Park and its mystery stands alone, but for the full scope of the characters’ stories, start with book one, Canyon Sacrifice.

By Scott Graham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Janelle Ortega and Chuck Bender are drawn deep into a threatening web of hostility and deceit in Saguaro National Park in this page-turner of a mystery.

"A winning blend of archaeology and intrigue, Graham's series turns our national parks into places of equal parts beauty, mystery, and danger.”
—EMILY LITTLEJOHN, author of Lost Lake

When Janelle Ortega’s cousin from Mexico is found brutally murdered at a remote petroglyph site in Saguaro National Park, she and her husband, archaeologist Chuck Bender, are drawn deep into a threatening web of hostility and deceit stretching south across the US-Mexico border and back in…


Book cover of Mimbres Lives and Landscapes

Stephen H. Lekson Author Of A History of the Ancient Southwest

From my list on southwestern archaeology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was Curator of Archaeology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder; recently retired.  Before landing at the University of Colorado, I held research, curatorial, or administrative positions with the University of Tennessee, Eastern New Mexico University, National Park Service Chaco Project, Arizona State Museum, Museum of New Mexico, and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.  Over four decades, I directed more than 20 archaeological projects throughout the Southwest. I wrote a dozen books, chapters in many edited volumes, and scores of articles in journals and magazines. While many of these were technical treatises, I also tried to write scholarly books accessible to normal intelligent readers.  

Stephen's book list on southwestern archaeology

Stephen H. Lekson Why did Stephen love this book?

My archaeological career began in 1971 in the Mimbres region of Southwestern New Mexico. I continued to work in the area, on and off, until 2013. Along the way, I wrote four books and many chapters/articles about Mimbres, and I formed some strong opinions on ancient Mimbres history.

Centered in the Mimbres River valley, the Mimbres built about twenty sizable stone villages at the same time as Chaco Canyon, from 1000 to 1125. Their towns were notably large for the time, fueled by sophisticated canal irrigation (probably adopted from the Hohokam, see above). But Mimbres is most famous for its remarkable black-on-white pottery: artfully-painted bowl interiors show bugs, fish, antelopes, birds, and people – people doing things, tableaus of daily life, esoteric rituals, mythical events. These images appeal strongly to us, today. In ancient times, however, Mimbres bowls and Mimbres art seems to have been limited to the Mimbres region…

By Margaret C. Nelson (editor), Michelle Hegmon (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mimbres Lives and Landscapes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People have called the mountains, rolling hills, wide valleys, and broad desert plains of southwestern New Mexico home for at least ten thousand years. When they began to farm a little over two thousand years ago, they settled near the rich soils in the river floodplains. Then, around 900, the people of this region burned all of their kivas and started gathering in large villages with small ritual spaces and open plazas. Between 900 and about 1100, they also made the intricately painted geometric and figurative bowls today called Mimbres, their best-known legacy. Then, in the 1130s, they stopped making…


Book cover of The Comanche Empire

Mark Dizon Author Of Reciprocal Mobilities: Indigeneity and Imperialism in an Eighteenth-Century Philippine Borderland

From my list on borderland mobility.

Why am I passionate about this?

The past fascinates me because it is strange and different to the world we live in today. That is why I prefer looking at earlier centuries than contemporary times because the distant past requires an extra effort on our part to unlock how people back then made sense of their world. When I read an old chronicle on how Indigenous people spent days traveling to meet acquaintances and even strangers, it piqued my interest. Did they really need to meet face-to-face? What did traveling mean to them? The books on the list below are attempts by historians to understand the travelers of the past.

Mark's book list on borderland mobility

Mark Dizon Why did Mark love this book?

The Comanche Empire turns imperial history on its head. I like how Hämäläinen puts the spotlight on Comanche Indians instead of European colonizers. Indigenous people were powerful empire builders too.

I love how the book is also a story of horses, bison and how Indigenous people harnessed the resources of their environment. Horse riding and bison hunting, as much as Indigenous adaptability, were the foundation of the Comanche Empire.

By Pekka Hamalainen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, at the high tide of imperial struggles in North America, an indigenous empire rose to dominate the fiercely contested lands of the American Southwest, the southern Great Plains, and northern Mexico. This powerful empire, built by the Comanche Indians, eclipsed its various European rivals in military prowess, political prestige, economic power, commercial reach, and cultural influence. Yet, until now, the Comanche empire has gone unrecognized in historical accounts.This compelling and original book uncovers the lost story of the Comanches. It is a story that challenges the idea of indigenous peoples as victims of…


Book cover of Thunderhead

Mark Terry Author Of Crystal Storm

From my list on science is trying to kill us all.

Why am I passionate about this?

Currently, the world seems concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) will destroy the world or at least put many of us out of jobs. Only a few years ago, a significant part of the population believed that COVID-19 was made in a Chinese laboratory and intentionally or accidentally leashed on the world, killing millions. This isn’t just a theme in tech thrillers; it’s a theme in life. Whether it’s nuclear weapons, genetic engineering, AI, or some other type of technology, there’s always a fear that it’ll do more damage than good and, at its worst, bring an end to the world. 

Mark's book list on science is trying to kill us all

Mark Terry Why did Mark love this book?

I’ve long been fascinated by the mysteries of the Anasazi, or the Pueblo Dwellers of southwestern Utah. How and why did a thriving culture of literally thousands of people who had built stone buildings into cliff faces suddenly and inexplicably disappear? Having read numerous books by archaeologists on the subject, I was really no closer to an answer. But when Preston and Child wrote a novel, a combination of adventure, tech thriller, and mythology, I was completely on board.

Archaeologist Nora Kelly’s father disappeared without a trace 16 years earlier in the remote desert, searching for the legendary Quivira, a city of gold and wonder, the lost city of the Anasazi Indians. Pulling together a team, using some NASA satellite research to find a starting place, Nora leads a team into the desolate canyonlands in search of the city—only to find extraordinary mythology, life-threatening natural events, and a deadly, dangerous…

By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On a visit to her family's abandoned Santa Fe ranch, archaeologist Nora Kelly discovers an old letter, written from her father to her mother, now both dead. What perplexes Nora is the fact that the faded envelope was mailed and postmarked only a few weeks earlier.
Her father had vanished into the remote canyon country of Utah 16 years before, searching for Quivira, the fabled Lost City of Gold, whose legend has captivated explorers since the days of Coronado. Upon reading the letter, Nora learns that her father believed he had, in fact, located the lost city. But what happened…


Book cover of The Mesa Verde World: Explorations in Ancestral Pueblo Archaeology

Stephen H. Lekson Author Of A History of the Ancient Southwest

From my list on southwestern archaeology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was Curator of Archaeology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder; recently retired.  Before landing at the University of Colorado, I held research, curatorial, or administrative positions with the University of Tennessee, Eastern New Mexico University, National Park Service Chaco Project, Arizona State Museum, Museum of New Mexico, and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.  Over four decades, I directed more than 20 archaeological projects throughout the Southwest. I wrote a dozen books, chapters in many edited volumes, and scores of articles in journals and magazines. While many of these were technical treatises, I also tried to write scholarly books accessible to normal intelligent readers.  

Stephen's book list on southwestern archaeology

Stephen H. Lekson Why did Stephen love this book?

The cliff-dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park are the most famous ruins in the Southwest. Mesa Verde was the USA’s first archaeological site to make UNESCO’s World Heritage list (later joined by Chaco Canyon, Cahokia, and Poverty Point). But there was much more to the story than the cliff-dwellings – defensive settlements, the last-gasp before the entire “Four Corners” region was completely depopulated, with towns moving out to modern descendant communities from the Hopi Pueblos on the west through the Pueblos of Zuni and Acoma, and to the many Rio Grande Pueblos on the east. More than cliff-dwellings: the largest “Mesa Verde” sites are not in the National Park, but instead villages and towns found across a 100-mile stretch from northwest New Mexico to southeast Utah. The organization doing the most important research in that larger Mesa Verde area is Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, in Cortez, Colorado – an organization…

By David Grant Noble (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mesa Verde, with its stunning landscapes and cliff dwellings, evokes all the romance of American archaeology. It has intrigued researchers and visitors for more than a century. But "Mesa Verde" represents more than cliff dwellings--its peoples created a culture that thrived for a thousand years in Southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Archaeologists have discovered dozens of long-buried hamlets and villages spread for miles across the Great Sage Plain west and north of Mesa Verde. Only lately have these sites begun to reveal their secrets.

In recent decades, archaeologists have been working intensively in the Mesa Verde region to build the…


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