100 books like Irresistible Empire

By Victoria de Grazia,

Here are 100 books that Irresistible Empire fans have personally recommended if you like Irresistible Empire. 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 Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America

Michael Barone Author Of Mental Maps of the Founders: How Geographic Imagination Guided America's Revolutionary Leaders

From my list on the struggles of the early America republic.

Why am I passionate about this?

My friend Lou Cannon, the great reporter and Reagan biographer, once told me, “if you want to really learn about a subject, write a book about it.” As a political journalist and author of several books about current and past politics,  wanted to learn more about the Founding Fathers, and as a map buff I tried to understand how they understood a continent most of which was not accurately mapped and how they envisioned the geographic limits and reach of a new republic more extensive in size than most nations in Europe. The book is my attempt to share what I learned with readers, and to invite them to read more about these extraordinary leaders.

Michael's book list on the struggles of the early America republic

Michael Barone Why did Michael love this book?

In recent years we have often heard it said that the United States is, for the first time in history, a diverse society.

David Hackett Fischer’s classic Albion’s Seed illustrates how not only the United States but the British seaboard colonies had enormous cultural diversity, based on the different regional origins in the British Isles of the bulk of their settlers.

The Founders knew this already: John Adams of Massachusetts nominated George Washington of Virginia to be commander of the Continental Army, because he understood that the Revolution needed support beyond New England, and Washington as commander soon learned that leading prickly Yankee New Englanders required different tactics than leading deferential Anglican Virginians. 

By David Hackett Fischer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Albion's Seed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eighty percent of Americans have no British ancestors. According to David Hackett Fischer, however, their day-to-day lives are profoundly influenced by folkways transplanted from Britain to the New World with the first settlers. Residual, yet persistent, aspects of these 17th Century folkways are indentifiable, Fischer argues, in areas as divers as politics, education, and attitudes towards gender, sexuality, age, and child-raising. Making use of both traditional
and revisionist scholarship, this ground-breaking work documents how each successive wave of early emigration-Puritans to the North-East; Royalist aristocrats to the South; the Friends to the Delaware Valley; Irish and North Britons to the…


Book cover of The Colonial Experience

Tristram Riley-Smith Author Of The Cracked Bell: America and the Afflictions of Liberty

From my list on the United States Of America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tristram Riley-Smith was posted to the British Embassy in Washington DC in the aftermath of 9/11. Alongside his day job he applied his skills as a Cultural Anthropologist to understand the greatest nation of the 20th Century as it crossed the threshold of the 21st. His interest is in all forms of invention, from those narratives and performances that give meaning to people’s lives to the material objects that furnish their world. In his book The Cracked Bell, Riley-Smith weaves his observations together in a literary portrait of America, revealing the alchemy of opposites that makes up this extraordinary nation.

Tristram's book list on the United States Of America

Tristram Riley-Smith Why did Tristram love this book?

The joy of this book (and its sister volumes on the “national” and the democratic” experience) comes from the panoramic journey across space and time that the reader is taken on. This work is, above all, a positive, life-enhancing view of the United States with its focus on continuity rather than conflict. There is an idealistic and romantic strain to this vision, as he pictures a young nation sloughing off the rigid carapace of the Old World, with the idea of a calling replaced by an idea of opportunity. Boorstin is an exemplary guide: his canvas is rich and complex, with countless stories brilliantly picked out to illuminate his vision. Examples include: the utopian vision for the State of Georgia known as “The Margravate of Azalia”; the creation of the Minnesota Pioneer as a dynamic editor loaded a press on a steamboat going up the Mississippi to the future state…

By Daniel J. Boorstin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This first volume in "The Americans" trilogy defines the unique qualities of the American nation and rediscovers the American character and way of life as it was shaped in the decisive years between the coming of the Pilgrims and the winning of Independence.


Book cover of Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence

David Ellerman Author Of Neo-Abolitionism: Abolishing Human Rentals in Favor of Workplace Democracy

From my list on a fair and just private property market economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since my graduate student days in philosophy and economics, I have slowly come to understand more and more the case for workplace democracy based on normative principles (i.e., the inalienability, property, and democratic principles), not just the obvious consequentialist or pragmatic arguments based on increased productivity (people working jointly for themselves), less worker alienation, and eliminating the divide down the middle of most enterprises between employers and employees. In addition to two decades of teaching university economics, I have co-founded several consulting companies dedicated to implementing these principles in practice, the Industrial Cooperative Association in Massachusetts (now the ICA Group) and the Institute for Economic Democracy in Slovenia, where I have retired.

David's book list on a fair and just private property market economy

David Ellerman Why did David love this book?

The third leg of the stool supporting workplace democracy (in addition to the democratic and property arguments) is the inalienable rights argument based on the factual inalienability of people’s responsible agency, which the legal employment contract pretends to be alienated in the firm based on employment. The truth comes out when an employee commits a crime at the behest of the employer; then they suddenly become partners in crime. Since the responsible agency is factually inalienable in both criminous and non-criminous actions, the contract that legally alienates all agency to the employer in the non-criminous case should be abolished. Garry Wills traces the history of the inalienable rights clause in the Declaration of Independence back to its roots in the Scottish and European Enlightenment.

By Garry Wills,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From acclaimed historian Garry Wills, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg, a celebrated re-appraisal of the meaning and the source of inspiration of The Declaration of Independence, based on a reading of Jefferson's original draft document.

Inventing America upended decades of thinking about The Declaration of Independence when it was first published in 1978 and remains one of the most influential and important works of scholarship about this founding document. Wills challenged the idea that Jefferson took all his ideas from John Locke. Instead, by focussing on Jefferson's original drafts, he showed Jefferson's debt to Scottish Enlightenment philosophers such as Lord…


Book cover of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Justin Martin Author Of A Fierce Glory: Antietam--The Desperate Battle That Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery

From my list on for experiencing the vivid reality of the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

My specialty is American history, meticulously researched, but delivered in a narrative style that’s akin to fiction. My latest book, A Fierce Glory, is about Antietam, a battle that occupied a single day in 1862, yet remains one of history’s most consequential events. Of course, there are countless military histories of Antietam–or any Civil War battle, for that matter–focusing on troop movements and tactics. I wanted to get at the emotional heart of this epic showdown: the confusion, terror, sadness, along with some startling and selfless acts of heroism. To do so, I drew inspiration from some of my favorite fictional works.

Justin's book list on for experiencing the vivid reality of the Civil War

Justin Martin Why did Justin love this book?

This fifth pick isn’t fiction. But like the best fiction, poetry can pierce through to the very essence. Although shaggy poet Whitman was the furthest thing from a soldier imaginable, he was deeply involved in the war effort nonetheless. After the Battle of Fredericksburg, Whitman traveled to Virginia to find his wounded brother. He then chose to remain in Washington, DC, nursing wounded soldiers. Whitman’s war-time experiences gave rise to some of the finest poems in Leaves of Grass such as “The Wound-Dresser,” “Come Up from the Fields Father,” and “A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim.”

By Walt Whitman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Library of America edition is the biggest and best edition of Walt Whitman's writings ever published. It includes all of his poetry and what he considered his complete prose. It is also the only collection that includes, in exactly the form in which it appeared in 1855, the first edition of Leaves of Grass. This was the book, a commercial failure, which prompted Emerson’s famous message to Whitman: “I greet you at the beginning of a great career.” These twelve poems, including what were later to be entitled “Song of Myself” and “I Sing the Body Electric,” and a…


Book cover of "Don't You Know Who I Am?" How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility

Lena Derhally Author Of The Facebook Narcissist: How to Identify and Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Social Media Narcissism

From my list on narcissism and how to deal with narcissists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a licensed psychotherapist in private practice and an author. My clinical interests and published books are about narcissism. After being in an emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissist (which I suspect may have turned physical if I had stayed), I decided to make it my mission to not only never experience having a cold and calculating narcissist in my life again, but to also help other people avoid or leave any type of relationship with a narcissist. To this day, I am passionate about researching, writing, and educating others on the dangers of narcissism.

Lena's book list on narcissism and how to deal with narcissists

Lena Derhally Why did Lena love this book?

If you feel like the world has become more narcissistic and entitled, then this book is for you. It examines the root of narcissism and how we can and should remove toxic narcissists from our lives. If you have ever witnessed egregious, inappropriate, and downright nasty behavior from others, you will get a deeper understanding of it and how to disengage from it in your own life.

By Ramani S. Durvasula,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked "Don't You Know Who I Am?" How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's time to take our lives back from a world of narcissism, entitlement, and toxic relationships.

"Don't You Know Who I Am?" has become the mantra of the famous and infamous, the entitled and the insecure. It's the tagline of the modern narcissist.

Health and wellness campaigns preach avoidance of unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyles, tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, but rarely preach avoidance of unhealthy, difficult or toxic people. Yet the health benefits of removing toxic people from your life may have far greater benefits to both physical and psychological health. We need to learn to be better gatekeepers for our…


Book cover of Shadow Dancing in the USA

Barry Spector Author Of Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence

From my list on American addiction to innocence.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a student of mythology and archetypal psychology, I invite you to interrogate your assumptions about self and society, to consider the narratives that we all take for granted. We live between great polar opposites. One is how our leaders embody old, toxic stories. The other asks who we might become if we imagine new ones. But only by dropping our sense of innocence and acknowledging the depths of our darkness can we open ourselves to the possibilities of real transformation. I invite you inside our mythic walls, to examine what it means to be an American. I hope to facilitate a collective initiation and invite you to think mythologically.

Barry's book list on American addiction to innocence

Barry Spector Why did Barry love this book?

This journalist, screenwriter, and novelist is well-versed in psychology, mythology, history, and musicology. His essay in this book, Hear That Long Snake Moan, is the single best piece of non-fiction I have ever read, and it inspired me to write my book.

Our disease – the Western divorce of consciousness from flesh – appears as consumerism, environmental degradation, fundamentalism, perpetual war, genocide, and racism. Yet, mysteriously, it may be possible that the terrible uprooting and enslavement of some fifty million black people over three centuries actually initiated a great healing process.

For all its sorrows, the twentieth century saw periods when Dionysian madness seized the Apollonian mind in its flight from the body and brought it back to Earth. African-American music fundamentally altered America and began the slow process of cleaning out the festering wounds underlying puritanism, nationalism, and materialism. We have a long way to go, but Ventura has…

By Michael Ventura,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadow Dancing in the USA as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Essays discuss marriage, sexuality and religion, dance, the sixties, conversation, the American Revolution, television, rock music, motion pictures, cities, and modern myths


Book cover of The Crystal Messenger

Hoa Pham Author Of The Other Shore

From my list on slippaging between worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I want to write about the magic of the everyday and often this is seen in the slippages between worlds like the worlds of the living and the dead. Ghosts and spirits feature heavily in my work and fascinate me as a reader too. This is not in the realm of fantasy to me, ghosts are real and actual.

Hoa's book list on slippaging between worlds

Hoa Pham Why did Hoa love this book?

The Crystal Messenger is a delicate melancholy tale about a girl who observes from her window the comings and goings of her family and the community around her.

Her sister is the local beauty who is wooed by many but cannot find the poet that she truly loves and she is courted by a dwarf who is a member of the communist party. The prose of this novella is like candy floss, it can melt on your tongue and I aspire to use language this way.

By Pham Thi Hoai, Ton-That Quynh Du (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This award winning book has been described as the 'renaissance of Vietnamese literature'. Written by a young woman in her twenties at the end of an era when Vietnam closed itself off from the world, it is widely regarded as one of the most important works of fiction ever to come out of that country. Ostensibly, The Crystal Messenger is a magical and moving story of two sisters' journeys to emotional and sexual maturity. But it is also a powerful allegory about the fate of North and South Vietnam, the struggle with reunification after the war, and the effect of…


Book cover of Sarahland

Erin Slaughter Author Of A Manual for How to Love Us

From my list on magical short story collections written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer working in multiple genres (I published two books of poetry before my debut story collection, A Manual for How to Love Us, and also write nonfiction), I’ve always been interested in bridging the ethereal gaps between forms and styles of writing. In college, I loved authors like Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury who portrayed fantastical worlds in a literary way. Later, I discovered great fiction in this same vein written by women, stories exploring the visceral, grotesque, and glorious from a distinctly female perspective. These became some of my favorite books, my favorite writers, and undeniably influenced the stories in A Manual for How to Love Us. 

Erin's book list on magical short story collections written by women

Erin Slaughter Why did Erin love this book?

I read an excerpt of Sarahland’s titular story online, and immediately knew I needed this book; I’ve never clicked an “order” button so fast, and when it arrived in my mailbox, it exceeded expectations.

The most obvious element that connects these stories are girls and women named Sarah (or Sara, or Sari), and each Sarah is struggling through an intense hunger and desperation to understand herself in relation to others and her strange, strange world.

These stories are delightfully queer, and bend gender as well as genre. 

By Sam Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In SARAHLAND, Sam Cohen brilliantly and often hilariously explores the ways in which traditional stories have failed us, both demanding and thrillingly providing for its cast of Sarahs new origin stories, new ways to love the planet and those inhabiting it, and new possibilities for life itself. In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure-and a new set of problems-by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction…


Book cover of Fight Club

PJ Caldas Author Of The Girl from Wudang: A Novel About Artificial Intelligence, Martial Arts and Immortality

From my list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nerd who fights. Started my professional life as a programmer, then switched to telling stories in advertising and entertainment. But my passion for technology and martial arts have always played a role in my life. Influenced by my father’s stories about judo, I studied a lot of styles of fighting, including kung fu, karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and also dabbled with boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, taichi, bagua, Silat, and judo. Along that journey, one of my favorite ways to learn was by watching my female training partners, and how they had to develop a much more nuanced and sophisticated technique. An experience that would later inspire the birth of The Girl from Wudang.

PJ's book list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence

PJ Caldas Why did PJ love this book?

A little confession: fighting awakens a beast inside of me.

Sometimes when I’m in a crowded place, I walk by someone, usually a bigger person, and wonder: “Can I take him down?” Other times, especially in situations of conflict and mostly in the business world, I catch myself looking at my opposition and think “I can totally crush you if I want.” 

I’m not sure Palahniuk has ever traded punches with another human being. But one thing he got right: learning to fight, especially at a place that makes you spar at every session, often creates this maddening sense of power, that can be dangerous, but is a little fun too.

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Fight Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation's most visionary satirist in this, his first book. Fight Club's estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basements of bars. There, two men fight "as long as they have to." This is a gloriously original work that exposes the darkness at the core of our modern world.


Book cover of Populuxe

John Wall Author Of Streamliner: Raymond Loewy and Image-making in the Age of American Industrial Design

From my list on explore American consumer culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author and former journalist with a fascination with design and consumer culture. I’ve been writing about design and pop culture since completing an assignment on Jack Telnack’s Ford Taurus and Thunderbird designs for a national news magazine. My interest deepened when I moved to daily journalism and wrote about Raymond Loewy’s design for the S-1 Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive. When the newspaper industry began cratering in a blizzard of mergers, buyouts, and bad management, I spent 25 years working in media relations at Penn State and Juniata College. I looked for an involving side project as a respite from writing professorial profiles and found safe haven with the life and legacy of Raymond Loewy. 

John's book list on explore American consumer culture

John Wall Why did John love this book?

Populuxe was the first book I read that connected art, consumerism, and industrial design in clear, pointed, and witty language. Hine, an author as well as a critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, covers what he calls “America’s spending spree” decade (1954-1964), by showing the connections revealed by shoppers’ choice of cars, homes, furniture, and appliances. Populuxe resonated for me because Hine wielded the tools of the critic and the historian and explained the art and design influences to be found in dishwashers, tailfins, and Naughyde. My curiosity about why people buy certain products was piqued by Hine’s analysis and showed readers that not all essays on art and design need to drip with impenetrable prose or obtuse insights.

By Thomas Hine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The decade from 1954 to 1964 was one of America's great shopping sprees. Never before were there so many people able to acquire so many things, and never before was there such a choice. Thomas Hine calls it Populuxe--populism and popularity and luxury, plus a totally unnecessary "e" to give it a little class; the word itself is as synthetic as the world it denotes. With the help of more than 250 amazing and amusing pictures in black and white and color (and what colors!), Thomas Hine explores, recaptures and explains this glorious, vanished world of hopes and dreams and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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