70 books like Roaring Camp

By Susan Lee Johnson,

Here are 70 books that Roaring Camp fans have personally recommended if you like Roaring Camp. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America

Sarah Deutsch Author Of Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

From my list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast.

Who am I?

At some point I decided that if I was going to teach US history, I better have a good sense of what the place looked like. So I drove across the country—and then back again—and then again, and then once more, each time at a different latitude. I drove through North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, up and down California, Oregon and Washington, and on and on. I got addicted to seeing the landscape in all its amazing variety and vastness, and seeing the landscape made the histories come alive. 

Sarah's book list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast

Sarah Deutsch Why did Sarah love this book?

I remember driving across a barren southwestern landscape and suddenly, in the distance, miles away, seeing a train snake across the desert. Trains are sort of magical to me. They change the relation of space and time. And they create and destroy fortunes. Richard White lays bare the era of massive railroad building, financial shenanigans, and the players at all levels. With his signature humor, he reveals the absurdity behind the mythology of the railroad barons and how the West got built.

By Richard White,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This original, deeply researched history shows the transcontinentals to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America. But the triumphal myths of the golden spike, robber barons larger than life, and an innovative capitalism all die here. Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted in failure as well as success.


Book cover of I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land

Sarah Deutsch Author Of Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

From my list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast.

Who am I?

At some point I decided that if I was going to teach US history, I better have a good sense of what the place looked like. So I drove across the country—and then back again—and then again, and then once more, each time at a different latitude. I drove through North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, up and down California, Oregon and Washington, and on and on. I got addicted to seeing the landscape in all its amazing variety and vastness, and seeing the landscape made the histories come alive. 

Sarah's book list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast

Sarah Deutsch Why did Sarah love this book?

I had always known that Oklahoma was home to the “Five Civilized Tribes,” but I had not known much about the enslaved people they brought West with them. Alaina Roberts weaves her own family’s history into the history of Indian Territory and the state of Oklahoma, and made me rethink what I knew about African Americans in the West.

By Alaina E. Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I've Been Here All the While as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perhaps no other symbol has more resonance in African American history than that of "40 acres and a mule"-the lost promise of Black reparations for slavery after the Civil War. In I've Been Here All the While, we meet the Black people who actually received this mythic 40 acres, the American settlers who coveted this land, and the Native Americans whose holdings it originated from.
In nineteenth-century Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), a story unfolds that ties African American and Native American history tightly together, revealing a western theatre of Civil War and Reconstruction, in which Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and…


Book cover of Migrant Longing: Letter Writing across the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Sarah Deutsch Author Of Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

From my list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast.

Who am I?

At some point I decided that if I was going to teach US history, I better have a good sense of what the place looked like. So I drove across the country—and then back again—and then again, and then once more, each time at a different latitude. I drove through North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, up and down California, Oregon and Washington, and on and on. I got addicted to seeing the landscape in all its amazing variety and vastness, and seeing the landscape made the histories come alive. 

Sarah's book list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast

Sarah Deutsch Why did Sarah love this book?

Miroslava Chavez Garcia’s parents were tragically killed when she was very young. As an adult, already an accomplished historian, she came across a trunk in her uncle’s closet filled with their letters to each other. Using those letters, she builds a deeply personal history. Her story adds dimensions we usually cannot know about migration and the emotional bonds it strains and sustains.

By Miroslava Chávez-García,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing upon a personal collection of more than 300 letters exchanged between her parents and other family members across the U.S.-Mexico border, Miroslava Chavez-Garcia recreates and gives meaning to the hope, fear, and longing migrants experienced in their everyday lives both ""here"" and ""there"" (aqui y alla). As private sources of communication hidden from public consumption and historical research, the letters provide a rare glimpse into the deeply emotional, personal, and social lives of ordinary Mexican men and women as recorded in their immediate, firsthand accounts. Chavez-Garcia demonstrates not only how migrants struggled to maintain their sense of humanity in…


Book cover of The Apache Diaspora: Four Centuries of Displacement and Survival

Sarah Deutsch Author Of Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

From my list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast.

Who am I?

At some point I decided that if I was going to teach US history, I better have a good sense of what the place looked like. So I drove across the country—and then back again—and then again, and then once more, each time at a different latitude. I drove through North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, up and down California, Oregon and Washington, and on and on. I got addicted to seeing the landscape in all its amazing variety and vastness, and seeing the landscape made the histories come alive. 

Sarah's book list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast

Sarah Deutsch Why did Sarah love this book?

When we think of slavery in American History, we mostly think of African Americans enslaved by white settlers. Paul Conrad tells a different story. Focusing on the Apache and through the often poignant stories of particular Apache women and men over the course of four centuries, he details their experience as shifting webs of alliance led to their enslavement by the Spanish and the Mexicans on the North American mainland and Cuba, and imprisoned and held in unfreedom by the United States through the 1880s, and yet still holding onto their identity as a distinct people with a distinct culture.

By Paul Conrad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Across four centuries, Apache (Nde) peoples in the North American West confronted enslavement and forced migration schemes intended to exploit, subjugate, or eliminate them. While many Indigenous groups in the Americas lived through similar histories, Apaches were especially affected owing to their mobility, resistance, and proximity to multiple imperial powers. Spanish, Comanche, Mexican, and American efforts scattered thousands of Apaches across the continent and into the Caribbean and deeply impacted Apache groups that managed to remain in the Southwest.
Based on archival research in Spain, Mexico, and the United States, as well Apache oral histories, The Apache Diaspora brings to…


Book cover of Men to Match My Mountains: The Monumental Saga of the Winning of America's Far West

Arthur G. Sylvester Author Of Roadside Geology of Southern California

From my list on exploration of the American West.

Who am I?

I had never been out of a Los Angeles suburb until my high school biology teacher took our class on a river trip running rapids down the Yampa and Green Rivers in Colorado and Utah. The trip was absolutely exhilarating and opened my eyes to the American West and to a career exploring its geology and landscapes. Fifty years and over 300 field trips later, mostly in southern California, I finally learned enough to write Roadside Geology of Southern California. That book was followed by the second editions of Geology Underfoot in Southern California, and Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Eastern California with co-authors Allen Glazner and Robert Sharp.

Arthur's book list on exploration of the American West

Arthur G. Sylvester Why did Arthur love this book?

If I could return to any place and time in history, it would be to the American West in the years between 1830 to 1880. It was an exciting time of exploration, territorial acquisitions, invention, and discovery of all of the major mineral deposits (Comstock Lode 1859, Butte 1864, Mother Lode 1849), construction of a transcontinental railroad (completed 1869), and establishment of the world’s first national park, Yellowstone (1872). This book opened my eyes to the American West.

By Irving Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Men to Match My Mountains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed author of biographical and historical fiction Irving Stone turns his magnificent talent to telling America's most colorful and exciting story-the opening of the Far West.

Men to Match My Mountains is a true historical masterpiece, an unforgettable pageant of giants-men like John Sutter, whose dream of paradise was shattered by the California Gold Rush; Brigham Young and the Mormons, who tamed the desert with Bible texts; and the silver kings and the miners, who developed Nevada's Comstock Lode and settled the Rockies.

America called for greatness...and got it. There is nothing in history to match the stories of these…


Book cover of Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

From my list on by women about outdoor adventure.

Who am I?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

Marianne C. Bohr Why did Marianne love this book?

I read Almost Somewhere in just two sittings because I couldn’t wait to return to the trail.

I am a life-long hiker in her sixties and I couldn’t believe how much I identified with the self-doubt and misgivings of the twenty-something author on her journey. Roberts writes beautifully, and shares honest, raw reflections on almost every page and I felt every sore muscle, frustration, and joy.

The stunning descriptions of the trail give readers the sense that they’re there beside the author kicking up pebbles with her, but there is so much more to the story. The ups and downs and the surprises remind us that it’s not completing the trek that counts, it’s all that happens and changes us along the way.

By Suzanne Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award in Outdoor Literature

Day One, and already she was lying in her journal. It was 1993, Suzanne Roberts had just finished college, and when her friend suggested they hike California's John Muir Trail, the adventure sounded like the perfect distraction from a difficult home life and thoughts about the future. But she never imagined that the twenty-eight-day hike would change her life. Part memoir, part nature writing, part travelogue, Almost Somewhere is Roberts's account of that hike.

John Muir had written of the Sierra Nevada as a "vast range of light," and…


Book cover of Weathered: Finding Strength on the John Muir Trail

Elizabeth Wenk Author Of John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail

From my list on the High Sierra.

Who am I?

Hiking in the Sierra has been equal parts recreation and profession since I’ve been an adult. I’ve worked for the concessionaire in Yosemite Valley, surveyed lakes for rare amphibians, completed a PhD on alpine plants, and, over the past 15 years, written nine books on the Sierra Nevada. I continue to spend every summer obsessively exploring its trails, peaks, and remote lake basins, always excited to see a new view, find a rare flower, or simply see a favorite place in a new light. The rest of the year is spent writing—and reading what others have written, broadening my knowledge about my favorite place on Earth before I set out on the next summer’s adventures.

Elizabeth's book list on the High Sierra

Elizabeth Wenk Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I’ve read and enjoyed reading nearly every trail narrative on the John Muir Trail (JMT). I find it difficult to pick one to highlight as a favorite and ultimately selected Christy’s because I truly connected to her descriptions of self-discovery as she hiked the JMT. She reflected and learned from each mistake and internally celebrated each success. She describes her trip with humility, happily laughing at her own mistakes, yet simultaneously has a wonderful sense that she knew she would emerge from her trip stronger and she knew what was important to her. I cannot imagine a better book for a newcomer to long distance hiking; you’ll learn how much planning is required, but also how much you can only learn once on the trail.

By Christy Teglo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“You’re hiking how far solo?”  “How are you going to hike the entire John Muir Trail when you’ve never even been backpacking before?”

These were the two most common questions that accompanied baffled looks from Christy’s corporate coworkers when she mentioned her plans. Legitimate questions Christy had pondered herself. Yet, she couldn’t fully express the pull to hike more than 220 miles in the California High Sierra Mountains. She only knew that her whole being told her that she needed to. After six months of research, reading books, watching documentaries, and training hikes, Christy began walking southbound on the world-famous…


Book cover of Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park

Elizabeth Wenk Author Of John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail

From my list on the High Sierra.

Who am I?

Hiking in the Sierra has been equal parts recreation and profession since I’ve been an adult. I’ve worked for the concessionaire in Yosemite Valley, surveyed lakes for rare amphibians, completed a PhD on alpine plants, and, over the past 15 years, written nine books on the Sierra Nevada. I continue to spend every summer obsessively exploring its trails, peaks, and remote lake basins, always excited to see a new view, find a rare flower, or simply see a favorite place in a new light. The rest of the year is spent writing—and reading what others have written, broadening my knowledge about my favorite place on Earth before I set out on the next summer’s adventures.

Elizabeth's book list on the High Sierra

Elizabeth Wenk Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Every step in the Sierra leads you across landscapes shaped by a succession of geologic eventsoverwhelming to comprehend at times. I’ve read and reread this book because it describes not just what you see, but explains, in approachable language, the processes that led to the rocks you see. The book is comprised of as series of vignettes, each focused on a different rock outcrop, formed through a unique process at a particular moment in the Sierra’s geologic history. 

By Allen F. Glazner, Greg M. Stock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few places in the nation rival Yosemite National Park for vertigo-inducing cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and stunning panoramic views of granite peaks. Many of the features that visitors find most tantalizing about Yosemite have unique and compelling geologic stories�tales that continue to unfold today in vivid, often destructive ways. While visiting more than twenty-seven amazing sites, you�ll discover why many of Yosemite�s domes shed rock shells like onion layers, what happens when a volcano erupts under a glacial lake, and why rocks seem to be almost continually tumbling from the region�s cliffs. With a multitude of colorful photos and illustrations, and…


Book cover of Speaking of Bears: The Bear Crisis and a Tale of Rewilding from Yosemite, Sequoia, and Other National Parks

Elizabeth Wenk Author Of John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail

From my list on the High Sierra.

Who am I?

Hiking in the Sierra has been equal parts recreation and profession since I’ve been an adult. I’ve worked for the concessionaire in Yosemite Valley, surveyed lakes for rare amphibians, completed a PhD on alpine plants, and, over the past 15 years, written nine books on the Sierra Nevada. I continue to spend every summer obsessively exploring its trails, peaks, and remote lake basins, always excited to see a new view, find a rare flower, or simply see a favorite place in a new light. The rest of the year is spent writing—and reading what others have written, broadening my knowledge about my favorite place on Earth before I set out on the next summer’s adventures.

Elizabeth's book list on the High Sierra

Elizabeth Wenk Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Rachel Mazur was a wildlife biologist in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks for many years. A core component of her job was “solving the bear problem”—generation upon generation of bears dependent on human food and ever more aggressive and crafty as they endeavored to satisfy this desire. Her story artfully weaves together the history of bear-human interactions in the Sierra, scientific research on bear habits and diets, and importantly sociology, especially people’s changing perception of acceptable wildlife management and visitors changing expectations of the attractions on offer in a national park. The book is skillfully written and thought-provoking, but also heartening as it ends with evidence that changing wildlife management and visitor actions mean bears are slowly becoming wilder again.

By Rachel Mazur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As majestic as they are powerful, and as timeless as they are current, bears continue to captivate. Speaking of Bears is not your average collection of stories. Rather, it is the history, compiled from interviews with more than 100 individuals, of how Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, all in California's Sierra Nevada, created a human-bear problem so bad that there were eventually over 2,000 incidents in a single year. It then describes the pivotal moments during which park employees used trial and error, conducted research, invented devices, collaborated with other parks, and found funding to get the crisis…


Book cover of Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

Sam L. Pfiester Author Of Solomon's Temple: Musjid-i-Suleiman

From my list on earth history.

Who am I?

For most of my career as an oil explorationist I have worked with geologists, an exceptional group of men and women who, from observing earth’s surface as it is configured today, can decipher earth’s history. By understanding how rocks were originally formed and how in subsequent millennia rocks have been buried, transported warped, eroded, re-deposited, and altered by high pressures, high temperatures, hot water, and all the tectonic forces of nature that have formed the surface as we see it today, they believe, really believe, that they can visualize the subsurface.  It’s a fascinating four-dimensional detective story. 

Sam's book list on earth history

Sam L. Pfiester Why did Sam love this book?

Meldahl’s book describes more than 100 million years of North America’s history. For laymen, it is the best geologic field guide to understanding the tectonic forces and subsequent erosion which formed the western United States. The photos, maps, and illustrations depict how the rivers, mountains, and plains are where they are and why. Anyone who drives from California to the Great Plains, or in reverse, should carry this book in your car. Even though millions of people love history, few understand earth’s history, which stares in the face of all of us and, for those who are curious, reveals “the hidden poetry of our mutable earth” (Richard Fortey).

By Keith Heyer Meldahl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rough-Hewn Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Unfold a map of North America," Keith Heyer Meldahl writes, "and the first thing to grab your eye is the bold shift between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains." In this absorbing book, Meldahl takes readers on a 1000-mile-long field trip back through more than 100 million years of deep time to explore America's most spectacular and scientifically intriguing landscapes. He places us on the outcrops, rock hammer in hand, to examine the evidence for how these rough-hewn lands came to be. We see California and its gold assembled from pieces of old ocean floor and the relentless movements…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in California, the California Gold Rush, and Sierra Nevada?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about California, the California Gold Rush, and Sierra Nevada.

California Explore 348 books about California
The California Gold Rush Explore 7 books about the California Gold Rush
Sierra Nevada Explore 14 books about Sierra Nevada