65 books like Pistols, Politics and the Press

By Ryan Chamberlain,

Here are 65 books that Pistols, Politics and the Press fans have personally recommended if you like Pistols, Politics and the Press. 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 Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic

David S. Parker Author Of The Pen, the Sword, and the Law: Dueling and Democracy in Uruguay

From my list on dueling that explain why people fought duels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social and legal historian of late 19th and early 20th Century Latin America, and the majority of my work is about the emergence of the middle class. I first got interested in researching dueling because I had the idea that the duel probably played a role in creating and enforcing a social dividing line between the upper elite and the middle class. But once I got immersed in the historical documents I realized how wrong my initial hypothesis had been, how little dueling had to do with social class, and how much it was about maintaining—or sometimes gaming for advantage—the norms of decorum in politics and the press.

David's book list on dueling that explain why people fought duels

David S. Parker Why did David love this book?

This is one of the books that inspired and provided source material for the musical Hamilton. Freeman is a Pulitzer prize-winning historian of post-1776 United States. This masterful history of the early American republic shows how dueling needs to be understood as politics by other means, as part of the mad scramble for power and prestige in the context of never-ending “paper wars” in the partisan press. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I’ll never forget how much the cover art captured my imagination, and how brilliantly it reflects what you will find inside.

This book is not just about duels; it also covers political alliances, gossip, insults, and elections.  But that is Freeman’s whole point, that they are all interconnected, and dueling is just one piece of a larger picture.

By Joanne B. Freeman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A major reassessment of American political culture in the days of Jefferson, Hamilton, and Burr

"[A] landmark study of Hamilton and the founders."-Jeff Sharlet, Chronicle of Higher Education

"Demands the attention of everyone with a serious interest in the history of American politics."-Pauline Maier, Washington Post

In this extraordinary book, Joanne Freeman offers a major reassessment of political culture in the early years of the American republic. By exploring both the public actions and private papers of key figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and Alexander Hamilton, Freeman reveals an alien and profoundly unstable political world grounded on the…


Book cover of Politics of the Sword: Dueling, Honor, and Masculinity in Modern Italy

David S. Parker Author Of The Pen, the Sword, and the Law: Dueling and Democracy in Uruguay

From my list on dueling that explain why people fought duels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social and legal historian of late 19th and early 20th Century Latin America, and the majority of my work is about the emergence of the middle class. I first got interested in researching dueling because I had the idea that the duel probably played a role in creating and enforcing a social dividing line between the upper elite and the middle class. But once I got immersed in the historical documents I realized how wrong my initial hypothesis had been, how little dueling had to do with social class, and how much it was about maintaining—or sometimes gaming for advantage—the norms of decorum in politics and the press.

David's book list on dueling that explain why people fought duels

David S. Parker Why did David love this book?

This study of Italian dueling from 1860s unification to 1930s Fascism makes a convincing case that the duel was not some holdover from an aristocratic past, but a modern phenomenon that arose out of liberal politics and a free press. The book covers Italy’s long and active debate about how to curb a practice that clearly violated the law but was rarely ever punished in practice. When I first read this book I was in the middle of my own research, and Hughes was the first writer who seemed to get everything right, or at least to have discovered for Italy the same things that I was finding for South America. A great window into dueling and an even better window into liberal Italy and its politics.

By Steven C. Hughes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Following its creation as a country in 1861, Italy experienced a wave of dueling that led commentators to bemoan a national “duellomania” evidenced by the sad spectacle of a duel a day. Pamphlets with titles like “Down with the Duel” and “The Shame of the Duel” all communicated the passion of those who could not believe that a people supposedly just returned to the path of progress and civilization had wholeheartedly embraced such a “barbaric” custom. Yet these critics were consistently countered by sober-minded men of rank and influence who felt that the duel was necessary for the very health…


Book cover of Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France

David S. Parker Author Of The Pen, the Sword, and the Law: Dueling and Democracy in Uruguay

From my list on dueling that explain why people fought duels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social and legal historian of late 19th and early 20th Century Latin America, and the majority of my work is about the emergence of the middle class. I first got interested in researching dueling because I had the idea that the duel probably played a role in creating and enforcing a social dividing line between the upper elite and the middle class. But once I got immersed in the historical documents I realized how wrong my initial hypothesis had been, how little dueling had to do with social class, and how much it was about maintaining—or sometimes gaming for advantage—the norms of decorum in politics and the press.

David's book list on dueling that explain why people fought duels

David S. Parker Why did David love this book?

A recognized classic, and one of the first books to bring gender theory, masculinity studies, and the new cultural history to the academic study of dueling. Nye looks at French dueling in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a manifestation of evolving ideals and norms of masculine honor, at a time when France was becoming less aristocratic and more bourgeois. This is the book that first convinced me that dueling could be a legitimate topic for serious historical research, and not just some quirky random sideshow.

By Robert A. Nye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After a decade of works on women's history, historians are becoming aware of the dearth of literature on men's history. Professor Nye addresses this gap in a study of evolving definitions of masculinity in France since the eighteenth century. He examines specifically the aristocratic ethos of male honour, rooted in a society of landlords, hunters, and warriors, adapted to a society motivated by utilitarian values, urban life, and rational law. He focuses on the
cultural practices and mentality of middle and upper class men and the appeal of their codes to men throughout French society.


Book cover of Dueling: The Cult of Honor in Fin-de-Siècle Germany

David S. Parker Author Of The Pen, the Sword, and the Law: Dueling and Democracy in Uruguay

From my list on dueling that explain why people fought duels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social and legal historian of late 19th and early 20th Century Latin America, and the majority of my work is about the emergence of the middle class. I first got interested in researching dueling because I had the idea that the duel probably played a role in creating and enforcing a social dividing line between the upper elite and the middle class. But once I got immersed in the historical documents I realized how wrong my initial hypothesis had been, how little dueling had to do with social class, and how much it was about maintaining—or sometimes gaming for advantage—the norms of decorum in politics and the press.

David's book list on dueling that explain why people fought duels

David S. Parker Why did David love this book?

I was hesitant to include this title because I’m not fully convinced by McAleer’s argument that the persistence into the 20th Century of violent pistol dueling in Germany signals a uniquely German mentality, an intensely caste-conscious and militaristic cult of violence “divergent from that of other Western nations” and “innately antithetical to classical liberalism,” or in other words, the exact opposite of what Steven Hughes describes for Italy. But the book is a brilliantly compelling read, and people have a right to make up their own minds.

By Kevin McAleer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The question of what it takes "to be a man" comes under scrutiny in this sharp, often playful, cultural critique of the German duel--the deadliest type of one-on-one combat in fin-de-siecle Europe. At a time when dueling was generally restricted to swords or had been abolished altogether in other nations, the custom of fighting to the death with pistols flourished among Germany's upper-class males, who took perverse comfort in defying their country's weakly enforced laws. From initial provocation to final death agony, Kevin McAleer describes with ironic humor the complex protocol of the German duel, inviting his reader into the…


Book cover of The Newspaper Axis: Six Press Barons Who Enabled Hitler

Brooke L. Blower Author Of Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper

From my list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Boston University, where I teach and write about modern American popular thought, political culture, trade, travel, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts. I enjoy histories that are based on deep and creative bodies of research and that push past timeworn myths and clichés about the American past.

Brooke's book list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII

Brooke L. Blower Why did Brooke love this book?

The efforts of antifascist foreign correspondents to bring the United States into the war on the side of the Allies are well known. 

Olmsted shines a light on the less-recognized but equally consequential collaboration between American and British rightwing journalists who did not want their nations to war against Hitler. Olmsted’s account brims with hilarious passages about the eccentric lifestyles of media moguls such as William Randolph Hearst and Lord Beaverbrook, as well as jaw-dropping quotes from the editorial pages of their newspapers.

By Kathryn S. Olmsted,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How six conservative media moguls hindered America and Britain from entering World War II

"A damning indictment. . . . The parallels with today's right-wing media, on both sides of the Atlantic, are unavoidable."-Matthew Pressman, Washington Post

"A first-rate work of history."-Ben Yagoda, Wall Street Journal

As World War II approached, the six most powerful media moguls in America and Britain tried to pressure their countries to ignore the fascist threat. The media empires of Robert McCormick, Joseph and Eleanor Patterson, and William Randolph Hearst spanned the United States, reaching tens of millions of Americans in print and over the…


Book cover of All Four Stars

Leila Sales Author Of The Museum of Lost and Found

From my list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of a number of books for kids and teens, many of which imagine young characters having more influence than you might expect. My book The Museum of Lost and Found is about an 11-year-old girl who secretly curates a museum. The Campaign is about a 12-year-old who runs her babysitter’s campaign to become mayor of their town. And This Song Will Save Your Life is about a 16-year-old who secretly becomes an underground DJ. These characters have realistic and relatable kid problems, emotions, and relationships—but they also get to have responsibilities and power well beyond their years. 

Leila's book list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do

Leila Sales Why did Leila love this book?

One of the things I like about this type of book is that the main characters often have a secret identity.

To their classmates or teachers or parents, they’re just an ordinary kid—but when they’re not being watched, they’re doing something important and impactful. I love the tension of worrying that their secret identity might get found out. In this series, the main character’s secret identity is that she’s an accomplished and influential restaurant critic and no one knows, not even her parents. 

By Tara Dairman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Four Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince
 
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
 
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for…


Book cover of Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took On a World at War

Susan Blumberg-Kason Author Of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

From my list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Susan Blumberg-Kason and I write books about strong women who have a strong sense of place. I think we are all partly defined by where we live and I enjoy examining how our environment informs our choices. My first book centers around someone I know very well—me! My memoir, Good Chinese Wife, takes place in my favorite city—Hong Kong—the place where I came of age and married for the first time, as well as China and a few cities in the US. I’m also a sucker for a good cover and I absolutely love my Good Chinese Wife cover!

Susan's book list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers

Susan Blumberg-Kason Why did Susan love this book?

This cover completely drew me in because the typewriter, cityscape, and WWII airplanes all show an urgency and a story just waiting to be told. Cohen writes about prominent WWII foreign correspondents, including Dorothy Thompson and Frances Fineman, who travel the world in search of the latest war update. It was certainly not as easy to get from country to country back then—especially across vast oceans—so I really appreciated their determination to travel. 

By Deborah Cohen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Last Call at the Hotel Imperial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A prize-winning historian’s “effervescent” (The New Yorker) account of a close-knit band of wildly famous American reporters who, in the run-up to World War II, took on dictators and rewrote the rules of modern journalism

“High-speed, four-lane storytelling . . . Cohen’s all-action narrative bursts with colour and incident.”—Financial Times

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, NPR, BookPage

They were an astonishing group: glamorous, gutsy, and irreverent to the bone. As cub reporters in the 1920s, they roamed across a war-ravaged world, sometimes perched atop mules on wooden saddles,…


Book cover of The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks

Amy B. Scher Author Of How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can: A Total Self-Healing Approach for Mind, Body, and Spirit

From my list on to break your reading lull.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the award-winning and bestselling author of four books about human-ing and healing. I’ve been featured in Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, GMA. CNN, CBS, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, and more. My books have been translated into sixteen languages and endorsed by notable authors such as Elizabeth Gilbert; Vikas Swarup; and Sanjiv Chopra, MD, Harvard Medical School. As a writing mentor, I work closely with authors to help them get their own words into books. I live with my beautiful wife and bad cat in New York City, where we all spend most of our time planning our next meals and next adventures.

Amy's book list on to break your reading lull

Amy B. Scher Why did Amy love this book?

For creatives, this book is the move. Many writers who find themselves in reading lulls, also find themselves in writing lulls. Over the last two decades, writing professor Susan Shapiro has taught more than 25,000 students of all ages and backgrounds at NYU, Columbia, Temple, The New School, and Harvard University. And now the content from her wildly popular course “Instant Gratification Takes Too Long” is in this book for everyone who wants to get published fast, and with all the best secrets of the trade.

Byline Bible is full of advice for writers on how to break into publishing, but also includes tons of essays and pieces published by Susan Shapiro’s students, which make for great reading in and of themselves. 

By Susan Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Newspaper, magazine, and web editors are desperate for new voices and anyone, in any field, can break in. So why not you?

Over the last two decades, writing professor Susan Shapiro has taught more than 25,000 students of all ages and backgrounds at NYU, Columbia, Temple, The New School, and Harvard University. Now in The Byline Bible she reveals the wildly popular "Instant Gratification Takes Too Long" technique she's perfected, sharing how to land impressive clips to start or re-launch your career.

In frank and funny prose, the bestselling author of 12 books walks you through every stage of crafting…


Book cover of Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism

Robert W. Merry Author Of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

From my list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my early teens I aspired to a career in journalism and publishing, manifest in my being editor of my junior high newspaper, my high school paper, and my college paper. After the army and grad school, I pursued my dream, covering Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal for a dozen years and becoming an executive at Congressional Quarterly for 22 years, including 12 years as CEO. The great triumphs and struggles of the news business as it grew and evolved have stirred my consciousness throughout my life, and these five books provide some of the best narrative treatments on the topic that I have encountered throughout a lifetime in the publishing business.

Robert's book list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

Robert W. Merry Why did Robert love this book?

Burns brilliantly tells the story of those first potent American journalists, the pamphleteers, who brought to their craft lively, probing, acerbic, and often angry commentary and reporting. Some ripped into George Washington and the Federalists, thus establishing a tradition of journalism that extends to our own time. Others went after Jefferson and the fledgling Democratic-Republicans. And one, James Callender, broke the story of the now-famous Jefferson dalliance with his slave Sally Hemmings. 

By Ric Burns,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Infamous Scribblers is a perceptive and witty exploration of the most volatile period in the history of the American press. News correspondent and renonwned media historian Eric Burns tells of Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Sam Adams,the leading journalists among the Founding Fathers of George Washington and John Adams, the leading disdainers of journalists and Thomas Jefferson, the leading manipulator of journalists. These men and the writers who abused and praised them in print (there was, at the time, no job description of "journalist") included the incendiary James Franklin, Ben's brother and one of the first muckrakers the high minded…


Book cover of The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune

Robert W. Merry Author Of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

From my list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my early teens I aspired to a career in journalism and publishing, manifest in my being editor of my junior high newspaper, my high school paper, and my college paper. After the army and grad school, I pursued my dream, covering Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal for a dozen years and becoming an executive at Congressional Quarterly for 22 years, including 12 years as CEO. The great triumphs and struggles of the news business as it grew and evolved have stirred my consciousness throughout my life, and these five books provide some of the best narrative treatments on the topic that I have encountered throughout a lifetime in the publishing business.

Robert's book list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

Robert W. Merry Why did Robert love this book?

This is primarily the story of three newspapers--James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald, Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, and the merged paper under the ownership of diplomat and politician Whitelaw Reid and his heirs, including his daughter-in-law, Helen Rogers Reid, a firecracker of an executive and woman about town. But it is also a comprehensive story of New York newspapering from the 1830s to the 1960s and about the city and country that served as the focus for news coverage during those decades. It is a poignant tale of soaring triumphs and ultimate decline as new challenges beset the newspaper business and even large cities could no longer support multiple papers.

By Richard Kluger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why did the newspaper with better writing and graphics than any other American daily go to an early grave?

Few American newspapers - and perhapsnone at all in the view of somestudents of the craft - have matched the many excellences of the New York Herald Tribune. In the crispness of its writing and editing, the bite of its criticsand commentators, the range of its coverage, and the clarity ofitstypography, the "Trib" (as media people and many of itsreadersaffectionately called it) raised newspapering to an art form. Ithad aninfluence and importance out of all proportion to itscirculation.Abraham Lincoln valued its…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in journalism, duels, and freedom of speech?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about journalism, duels, and freedom of speech.

Journalism Explore 36 books about journalism
Duels Explore 10 books about duels
Freedom Of Speech Explore 24 books about freedom of speech