58 books like Lifting the Impenetrable Veil

By Charles H. Calisher,

Here are 58 books that Lifting the Impenetrable Veil fans have personally recommended if you like Lifting the Impenetrable Veil. 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 Plagues and Peoples

Gary Clayton Anderson Author Of Massacre in Minnesota: The Dakota War of 1862, the Most Violent Ethnic Conflict in American History

From my list on stories so engaging you loose track of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the Northern Plains, visiting Indian Reservations where my mother was a social worker. The poverty, hopelessness, and general lack of medical care and schooling made a profound impact on me. It led me to Graduate School and the study of American Indians. Of my twelve books, two have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and several others have won minor prizes. As a historian, I realize that we can turn things around. We can strive to better understand the past, and prepare our children and grandchildren for the future. But this will never happen by banning books. We must face the brave, new world that is upon us.

Gary's book list on stories so engaging you loose track of time

Gary Clayton Anderson Why did Gary love this book?

As a historian, some books just keep coming back to you. McNeill’s Plagues and Peoples is just such a book. 

He is really the first historian to outline the dramatic impact that infectious diseases have had on human history. He outlines the spread of smallpox, diphtheria, Yellow Fever, Malaria, the Plague, and many others, as they originate mostly in Africa and come into the Mediterranean Ocean, to produce cycles of death. 

But the people who lived on the edge of that ocean soon came to develop antibodies, and ultimately, master the impact of such terrible diseases.  

Unfortunately, those diseases were soon transferred to the Americas, where perhaps a hundred million American Indians died from them. They had no immunities!

Had such a calamity not occurred, the two western hemispheric continents might easily be dominated by Natives, who spoke a different language and prayed to a different God.

By William H. McNeill,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Plagues and Peoples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon.…


Book cover of No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses

David Quammen Author Of Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

From my list on rigorously scientific scary viruses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist and an author, I’ve been covering the subject of scary viruses for twenty years—ever since I walked through Ebola habitat in a forest in northeastern Gabon, on assignment for National Geographic. I’ve interviewed many of the eminent experts—from Peter Piot to Marion Koopmans to Tony Fauci—and have spent field time with some of the intrepid younger disease ecologists who look for viruses in bat guano in Chinese caves and in gorilla blood in Central African forests. My book Spillover, published in 2012, drew much of that research together in describing the history and evolutionary ecology of animal infections that spill into humans.

David's book list on rigorously scientific scary viruses

David Quammen Why did David love this book?

Peter Piot was a young microbiologist at a lab in Belgium, in 1976, when he was assigned to analyze specimens in a thermos bottle shipped up from Zaire, where villagers were dying of a horrific and unknown disease. The thermos contained a virus that came to be known as Ebola. This was the event, as his book vividly recounts, that led Piot to a long and distinguished career in infectious viral diseases, from Ebola to AIDS and beyond.

By Peter Piot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Time to Lose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Peter Piot was in medical school, a professor warned, "There's no future in infectious diseases. They've all been solved." Fortunately, Piot ignored him, and the result has been an exceptional, adventure-filled career. In the 1970s, as a young man, Piot was sent to Central Africa as part of a team tasked with identifying a grisly new virus. Crossing into the quarantine zone on the most dangerous missions, he studied local customs to determine how this disease-the Ebola virus-was spreading. Later, Piot found himself in the field again when another mysterious epidemic broke out: AIDS. He traveled throughout Africa, leading…


Book cover of The Origins of AIDS

David Quammen Author Of Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

From my list on rigorously scientific scary viruses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist and an author, I’ve been covering the subject of scary viruses for twenty years—ever since I walked through Ebola habitat in a forest in northeastern Gabon, on assignment for National Geographic. I’ve interviewed many of the eminent experts—from Peter Piot to Marion Koopmans to Tony Fauci—and have spent field time with some of the intrepid younger disease ecologists who look for viruses in bat guano in Chinese caves and in gorilla blood in Central African forests. My book Spillover, published in 2012, drew much of that research together in describing the history and evolutionary ecology of animal infections that spill into humans.

David's book list on rigorously scientific scary viruses

David Quammen Why did David love this book?

Scientists now know that the AIDS virus, HIV-1, entered the human population much earlier than is commonly thought—back around 1908, give or take a margin of error, and via a single spillover from a chimpanzee into a human, probably by blood exposure when a chimp was killed and butchered for food. Pepin’s book illuminates how the virus might then, slowly and quietly at first, have spread from a forest in southeastern Cameroun, down tributaries of the Congo River to major cities such as Brazzaville and Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), and from there to the world. Pepin’s work was vastly helpful to me when I assembled my own account of that story, included in my own books.

By Jacques Pépin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is now forty years since the discovery of AIDS, but its origins continue to puzzle doctors, scientists and patients. Inspired by his own experiences working as a physician in a bush hospital in Zaire, Jacques Pepin looks back to the early twentieth-century events in central Africa that triggered the emergence of HIV/AIDS and traces its subsequent development into the most dramatic and destructive epidemic of modern times. He shows how the disease was first transmitted from chimpanzees to man and then how military campaigns, urbanisation, prostitution and large-scale colonial medical interventions intended to eradicate tropical diseases combined to disastrous…


Book cover of The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses

David Quammen Author Of Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

From my list on rigorously scientific scary viruses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist and an author, I’ve been covering the subject of scary viruses for twenty years—ever since I walked through Ebola habitat in a forest in northeastern Gabon, on assignment for National Geographic. I’ve interviewed many of the eminent experts—from Peter Piot to Marion Koopmans to Tony Fauci—and have spent field time with some of the intrepid younger disease ecologists who look for viruses in bat guano in Chinese caves and in gorilla blood in Central African forests. My book Spillover, published in 2012, drew much of that research together in describing the history and evolutionary ecology of animal infections that spill into humans.

David's book list on rigorously scientific scary viruses

David Quammen Why did David love this book?

Into the deep weeds, for those who dare! Eddie (as he is famously known) Holmes is one of the world’s leading experts on molecular evolutionary virology, particularly regarding the RNA viruses—which are the scariest and most menacing ones, the ones that mutate often, evolve fast, and spill over from animals to cause gruesome new diseases in humans. Ebola. Marburg. Nipah. Hendra. SARS-1. MERS. Zika. The dengues. And of course SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 beast. Eddie Holmes explains, in lucid but authoritative prose, where these creatures come from, how they adapt so well to infecting people, and why RNA virology is a crucial survival tool for the human future.

By Edward C. Holmes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

RNA viruses provide unique insights into the patterns and processes of evolutionary change in real time. The study of viral evolution is especially topical given the growing awareness that emerging and re-emerging diseases (most of which are caused by RNA viruses) represent a major threat to public health. However, while the study of viral evolution has developed rapidly in the last 30 years, relatively little attention has been directed toward linking work on the
mechanisms of viral evolution within cells or individual hosts, to the epidemiological outcomes of these processes. This novel book fills this gap by considering the patterns…


Book cover of The Sugar Baron's Governess

Grace A. Johnson Author Of Held Captive

From my list on romantic swashbuckling adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was twelve years old and scribbling stories in an old notebook, I’ve been in love with pirate romance. The intense adventure, the dramatic romance, the freedom of the sea—and most importantly, the chance to find love and redemption, a theme that’s prominent in my Christian pirate romance series and the novels I read and enjoy! This list curates some of the top pirate/privateer novels I’ve read, all with clean romance and inspiring themes, to keep your TBR filled with swashbuckling high-seas voyages!

Grace's book list on romantic swashbuckling adventure

Grace A. Johnson Why did Grace love this book?

Elva Cobb Martin is a household name in the Christian pirate romance genre, but I’d never read any of her works until I picked up The Sugar Baron’s Governess. My first novel by her certainly won’t be my last! This perfect combination of sweet romance and fast-paced adventure reminded me why I love this genre so much, and I know it’ll inspire a love for pirate romance in all who read it! Even though it’s the fourth novel in a series, don’t be afraid to dive right in and enjoy! 

By Elva Cobb Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sugar Baron's Governess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She needs a new start...He knows a reckoning is coming.

Banished from Charleston for his misdeeds years earlier, Joshua Becket built a new life on both sides of the law in Jamaica. But he guards a secret identity. As a sugar plantation owner and member of the governing British Assembly, he's known and respected on the island. As swashbuckling Captain Jay, he leads daredevil privateering exploits on his ship, the Eagle, when the mood suits him. Currently, he needs a governess for his young daughter.

Widowed gentlewoman Abigail Welch accepted the governess position, leaving behind her disintegrated life in Charleston.…


Book cover of Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Necropolis describes how the yellow fever shaped New Orleans society in the 1800s.

While the fever was killing tens of thousands of people for almost two centuries from the founding of the city in 1718 until the last yellow fever epidemic in 1905, giving its victims horrible deaths in which they cried blood and vomited tar-like bile in the process, the disease helped preserve the city’s Creole culture by killing off a large proportion of immigrants to the city who were more susceptible than native-born New Orleans.

Before reading this book, I had no idea that being “acclimated” to yellow fever by surviving a case of this horrible disease was what made white transplants into bonafide citizens of the city. 

By Kathryn Olivarius,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Disease is thought to be a great leveler of humanity, but in antebellum New Orleans acquiring immunity from the scourge of yellow fever magnified the brutal inequities of slave-powered capitalism.

Antebellum New Orleans sat at the heart of America's slave and cotton kingdoms. It was also where yellow fever epidemics killed as many as 150,000 people during the nineteenth century. With little understanding of mosquito-borne viruses-and meager public health infrastructure-a person's only protection against the scourge was to "get acclimated" by surviving the disease. About half of those who contracted yellow fever died.

Repeated epidemics bolstered New Orleans's strict racial…


Book cover of The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914

Andrew R. Thomas Author Of The Canal of Panama and Globalization: Growth and Challenges in the 21st Century

From my list on the Panama Canal and the Panama Railroad.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twenty-five books have explored topics around global trade, transportation networks, security, and development. Prior to becoming a writer, I had a moderately successful global business career; that came with the opportunity to travel to and conduct business in more than 120 countries on all seven continents. Being American (by birth) and Panamanian (by marriage), the role of Panama and both the Canal and the Railroad in the history of the world always fascinated me. My most recent book on the present and future of the Canal and Panama has been the fulfillment of much passion and interest over many years.

Andrew's book list on the Panama Canal and the Panama Railroad

Andrew R. Thomas Why did Andrew love this book?

The earlier books on my list lay the foundation for McCullough’s masterpiece, which focuses on the French and American efforts at Panama.

While many readers interested in Panama and the Canal often start here, this book is best served at the end: like a great dessert and aperitif following a wonderful meal.

By David McCullough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Path Between the Seas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Describes all the events and personalities involved in the monumental undertaking which precipitated revolution, scandal, economic crisis, and a new Central American republic.


Book cover of The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History

Robert N. Wiedenmann Author Of The Silken Thread: Five Insects and Their Impacts on Human History

From my list on the history we never learned.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am not a historian. I am a retired entomologist with a love for history. My first real experience with history was as a child, reading about Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic adventure on the Endurance—a story I must have re-read 50 times. I have come to recognize that much of the history I learned growing up was either incomplete or was just plain wrong. I am drawn to the arcane aspects of historical events, or that illustrate history from a different angle—which is shown in my list of books. The Silken Thread tells about the history that occurred because of, or was impacted by, just five insects.

Robert's book list on the history we never learned

Robert N. Wiedenmann Why did Robert love this book?

Yellow fever, like many feared diseases, conjures up an image of faraway, steamy rain forests. At one time, yellow fever really was found there. But the disease—and the mosquito that carries it—didn't stay there. I was surprised to learn how prominent and feared yellow fever was in early Colonial America and that it persisted in the United States through the early 20th Century. Crosby provides background on the disease from Africa, its path to the Americas, and routine epidemics in New Orleans, but the book's primary focus is the account of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 that decimated Memphis, Tennessee, and other towns along the Mississippi River.  I liked this book for filling in the blanks in my awareness and understanding of this American plague. 

By Molly Caldwell Crosby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this account, a journalist traces the course of the infectious disease known as yellow fever, “vividly [evoking] the Faulkner-meets-Dawn of the Dead horrors” (The New York Times Book Review) of this killer virus.

Over the course of history, yellow fever has paralyzed governments, halted commerce, quarantined cities, moved the U.S. capital, and altered the outcome of wars. During a single summer in Memphis alone, it cost more lives than the Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Johnstown flood combined.

In 1900, the U.S. sent three doctors to Cuba to discover how yellow fever was spread. There, they…


Book cover of Fever 1793

Elizabeth Langston Author Of Whisper Falls

From my list on fish out of water” historical novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved learning about the past. Whenever we travel for vacation, my family has become resigned to making a stop at a historical site, especially for Colonial America. It was no surprise to them that I set parts of my first published novel (and series) in 18th century North Carolina. Each novel on my book list is set in a different century and features ordinary people who, when thrown into extraordinary circumstances, respond with strength, courage, and grace. These historical “fish-out-of-water” stories remind us how much people have changed across time—and how they’ve stayed the same. 

Elizabeth's book list on fish out of water” historical novels

Elizabeth Langston Why did Elizabeth love this book?

When I first read Fever 1793—set in Philadelphia during a yellow fever epidemic—I thought it was a well-written and thought-provoking glimpse into how people would respond in a crisis. After re-reading it post-pandemic, I would now add “prophetic.” Mattie is a typical grumpy teen who would rather have fun than work in her family’s coffee house. But there is a deadly fever rapidly spreading through the city. Desperation unleashes her inner strength, allowing her to prevail over disease, fear, food shortages, unscrupulous thieves, and well-intentioned but poorly-managed medical science.

By Laurie Halse Anderson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fever 1793 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Galveston and the Civil War: An Island City in the Maelstrom

Ed Cotham Author Of Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

From my list on Civil War Texas.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ed Cotham, is the prize-winning author of numerous books and articles on Texas Civil War history. A frequent lecturer, with appearances on television and radio, Ed has probably given more tours of Texas Civil War battlefields than anyone. Ed has written the texts for many historic markers and has served as project historian for several important shipwrecks in Texas waters.

Ed's book list on Civil War Texas

Ed Cotham Why did Ed love this book?

Galveston was the largest city in Texas at the time of the Civil War and it had the distinction of being blockaded, occupied by both sides, and was the subject of many battles and skirmishes. This book explores some of the battles, but it is particularly valuable because of the stories it explores relating to the way that the war affected the citizens of an important Texas city. It explores topics like Unionists in Galveston, yellow fever epidemics, and the liberation of enslaved African Americans. By focusing on one city and its citizens’ experiences throughout the war this book tells an important and interesting story.

By James M. Schmidt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Galveston and the Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the oldest cities in Texas, Galveston has witnessed more than its share of tragedies. Devastating hurricanes, yellow fever epidemics, fires, a major Civil War battle and more cast a dark shroud on the city's legacy. Ghostly tales creep throughout the history of famous tourist attractions and historical homes. The altruistic spirit of a schoolteacher who heroically pulled victims from the floodwaters during the great hurricane of 1900 roams the Strand. The ghosts of Civil War soldiers march up and down the stairs at night and pace in front of the antebellum Rogers Building. The spirit of an unlucky…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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