10 books like Jackie Robinson

By Arnold Rampersad,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Jackie Robinson. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Unbroken

By Laura Hillenbrand,

Book cover of Unbroken

The book is much more comprehensive than the film. For me this is an exemplary story of finding redemption and forgiveness after the worst of human imposed torture and misery. Like so many veterans, WWII veteran Louis Zamperini kills the war demon with alcohol. His relationship with his wife and family suffer until Billy Graham helps save him. One of the messages is that hatred will lead you down a self-destructive path. Overcoming your demons and finding forgiveness and redemption will set you free. I raced through this book.

Unbroken

By Laura Hillenbrand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the bestselling and much-loved Seabiscuit, an unforgettable story of one man's journey into extremity. On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood,…


Mornings on Horseback

By David McCullough,

Book cover of Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt

It’s inspiring to read how a sickly boy became the larger-than-life figure who dominated turn of the century America. Although born into a famous and wealthy family, the young Theodore’s future seemed hopeless because of his repeated bouts with an illness that almost killed him. But through his own will, and with the inspiration and support of his remarkable family, he managed to overcome his ailment and grow into robust and productive manhood. McCullough’s discovery of a rich cache of family letters allowed him to create a fine-grained and moving narrative about how this exceptional man came to be.

Mornings on Horseback

By David McCullough,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The National Book Award–winning biography that tells the story of how young Teddy Roosevelt transformed himself from a sickly boy into the vigorous man who would become a war hero and ultimately president of the United States, told by master historian David McCullough.

Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as “a masterpiece” (John A. Gable, Newsday), it is the winner of the Los Angeles Times 1981 Book Prize for Biography and the National Book Award for Biography. Written by David McCullough, the author of Truman, this is the story of a remarkable little…


Catherine the Great

By Robert K. Massie,

Book cover of Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

This was a page-turner and a great introduction to Russian history. Massie described her so vividly that years later, I can still visualize Catherine. The most fascinating aspect of the book for me was how a German child named Sophie reinvents herself to become Catherine the Great, the longest-serving Russian empress. 

Catherine the Great

By Robert K. Massie,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Catherine the Great as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fascinating true story behind HBO's Catherine the Great starring Dame Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great.

Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution.

Robert K. Massie brings an eternally fascinating woman together with her family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers and enemies - vividly and triumphantly to life.

History offers…


The Path to Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Book cover of The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I

Great biographers never ignore the warts, and Lyndon Johnson—the subject of Robert Caro’s masterful quartet of biographies—had plenty of them. For starters, LBJ mishandled the war in Vietnam, for which history will never forgive him. But Johnson was also a stunning contradiction—a rural Texas conservative who did more for urban society than anyone in modern history—and an absolute force of nature. I served as a White House Fellow under him in 1966-67. Close to Johnson, you could sense his nobility.

The Path to Power

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Path to Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The greatest biography of our era ... Essential reading for those who want to comprehend power and politics' The Times

Robert A. Caro's legendary, multi-award-winning biography of US President Lyndon Johnson is a uniquely riveting and revelatory account of power, political genius and the shaping of twentieth-century America.

This first instalment tells of the rise to national power of a desperately poor young man from the Texas Hill Country, revealing in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy and ambition that set LBJ apart. It charts his boyhood through the years of the Depression to his debut…


The Boys of Summer

By Roger Kahn,

Book cover of The Boys of Summer

You don’t have to be a Dodgers fan to love this book about the Brooklyn teams and players from the late 1940s through the mid-1950s. Well, it’s mainly about that. It’s also an autobiography as Kahn describes his childhood in the Borough of Churches (Brooklyn), and his years covering the Dodgers for one of the great newspapers of all time, the New York Herald Tribune.

Kahn was a graceful writer who beautifully relates the camaraderie and the turmoil from those years and lovingly shares the true, often touching stories of men like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Carl Erskine, and their teammates in their retirement years. Required reading for every avid baseball fan.

The Boys of Summer

By Roger Kahn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Described by Richard William of The Guardian as 'the best sports book of 2013, and the best sports book of all time', The Boys of Summer is the story of the young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, and went on to play for one of the most exciting major-league ball clubs ever fielded, the Brooklyn Dodgers team that broke the colour barrier with Jackie Robinson.

It is a book by and about a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field, and who had the good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodgers for…


Baseball's Great Experiment

By Jules Tygiel,

Book cover of Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy

Like many academics before me who dared to combine their passion for baseball with their passion for history, I am deeply indebted to Jules Tygiel, whose death a few years ago took from the historical profession one of its ablest practitioners. Unlike many others, I remain inspired not just by his pioneering work on Jackie Robinson, race, and baseball history but by his teaching and mentoring as well. While an undergraduate at San Francisco State University in the mid-1980s, I benefited enormously from several of his stimulating and rigorous classes in American history and from his advice, insight, and encouragement in long conversations in his office. I still think of him not as a baseball historian but as my history professor. This book legitimized baseball history in the world of academia.

Baseball's Great Experiment

By Jules Tygiel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Baseball's Great Experiment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this gripping account of one of the most important steps in the history of American desegregation, Jules Tygiel tells the story of Jackie Robinson's crossing of baseball's color line. Examining the social and historical context of Robinson's introduction into white organized baseball, both on and off the field, Tygiel also tells the often neglected stories of other African-American players-such as Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron-who
helped transform our national pastime into an integrated game. Drawing on dozens of interviews with players and front office executives, contemporary newspaper accounts, and personal papers, Tygiel provides the most…


The Last Hero

By Howard Bryant,

Book cover of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron

Henry Aaron’s career spanned the Negro Leagues, the Civil Rights movement, baseball’s expansion era, the turbulent ’60s, and the freaky ’70s, all while dealing with intractable racism, especially as he neared Babe Ruth’s home run record. Aaron’s autobiography, I Had a Hammer, is certainly worth reading, but author and NPR correspondent Howard Bryant is the right man to put Aaron’s life and career in historical perspective. The Last Hero is an intelligent and incisive social history of the second half of the twentieth century, as well as a stirring account of a heroic baseball life. Incidentally, Bryant’s next book is a biography of Rickey Henderson, which promises more of this goodness. I can’t wait.

The Last Hero

By Howard Bryant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This definitive biography of Henry (Hank) Aaron—one of baseball's immortal figures—is a revelatory portrait of a complicated, private man who through sports became an enduring American icon.
 
“Beautifully written and culturally important.” —The Washington Post
 
“The epic baseball tale of the second half of the 20th century.” —Atlanta Journal Constitution
 
After his retirement in 1976, Aaron’s reputation only grew in magnitude. But his influence extended beyond statistics. Based on meticulous research and extensive interviews The Last Hero reveals how Aaron navigated the upheavals of his time—fighting against racism while at the same time benefiting from racial progress—and how he achieved…


Only the Ball Was White

By Robert Peterson,

Book cover of Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams

Peterson was a magazine writer in the 1960s who became curious about those Black baseball teams he saw play in the Pennsylvania town where he grew up. He set out with his tape recorder to track down and interview many Negro League figures, and dove into library newspaper collections to find the facts to back up their reminiscences. First published in 1970 and still in print, this is the first comprehensive history of Black professional baseball, the history of which was in serious danger of being lost to modern memory when the Negro Leagues were put out of business in the 1950s following Major League integration. Many of us who write about Black ball read this book first.

Only the Ball Was White

By Robert Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Only the Ball Was White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Early in the 1920s, the New York Giants sent a scout to watch a young Cuban play for Foster's American Giants, a baseball club in the Negro Leagues. During one at-bat this talented slugger lined a ball so hard that the rightfielder was able to play it off the top of the fence and throw Christobel Torrienti out at first base. The scout liked what he saw, but was disappointed in the player's appearance. "He was a light brown," recalled one of Torrienti's teammates,
"and would have gone up to the major leagues, but he had real rough hair." Such…


We Are the Ship

By Kadir Nelson,

Book cover of We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Open this oversized book to any page and you’ll be captivated by Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous paintings and the words of the players. This remarkable book gave me a sense of how these players, including Henry Aaron for a short stint in the Negro League, faced challenges with courage, strength, and even a sense of fun. This one really is mostly about baseball, but there was so much else going on during the time of Negro League Baseball and the author manages to help us understand the history as well.

We Are the Ship

By Kadir Nelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Are the Ship as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this New York Times bestselling classic, Caldecott Medal-winning artist Kadir Nelson tells the incredible story of baseball's unsung heroes -- perfect for celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Negro Leagues! Winner of the 2009 Coretta Scott King Author Award * Winner of the 2009 Sibert Medal

Featuring nearly fifty iconic oil paintings and a dramatic double-page fold-out, an award-winning narrative, a gorgeous design and rich backmatter, We Are the Ship is a sumptuous, oversize volume for all ages that no baseball fan should be without. Using an inviting first-person voice, Kadir Nelson shares the engaging story of Negro League…


Negro League Baseball

By Neil Lanctot,

Book cover of Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution

The Negro Leagues, like all organized sports leagues, were showcases for the stars of the game – Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and the like. But, like all the other leagues, they were businesses, too. Sports entrepreneurs, most of them African American, invested in all-Black teams that formed a “shadow” alternative to Major League Baseball where the players, and most of the owners, too, were not welcome due to segregation. Lanctot, a history professor comfortable with deep and extensive research, chronicles the successes and failures of the Black leagues, which were almost always existing on a financial knife’s edge, until the integration of pro ball in 1946 spelled their death.

Negro League Baseball

By Neil Lanctot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of black professional baseball provides a remarkable perspective on several major themes in modern African American history: the initial black response to segregation, the subsequent struggle to establish successful separate enterprises, and the later movement toward integration. Baseball functioned as a critical component in the separate economy catering to black consumers in the urban centers of the North and South. While most black businesses struggled to survive from year to year, professional baseball teams and leagues operated for decades, representing a major achievement in black enterprise and institution building.
Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a…


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Interested in Jackie Robinson, baseball, and World War 2?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Jackie Robinson, baseball, and World War 2.

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