10 books like Shadow Country

By Peter Matthiessen,

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

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Cadillac Desert

By Marc Reisner,

Book cover of Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

Water, water everywhere—but not in the American West. I first read Reisner’s book soon after its publication in 1986, when it presented a haunting, frightening future for the western United States that is being realized today. The book reveals the inadequacy of the management of water in the western states that began as soon as there was settlement, and it takes an especially hard look at the treaties surrounding the Colorado River, which has all but disappeared in the past few years, causing panic at the Hoover Dam and in Las Vegas, Arizona, and Mexico. Reisner amply demonstrates why major cities should not be built in semi-arid and arid climes—and still, the western states’ populations continue to explode. 

Cadillac Desert

By Marc Reisner,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Cadillac Desert as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The definitive work on the West's water crisis." --Newsweek

The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster. In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau…


The Monkey Wrench Gang

By Edward Abbey,

Book cover of The Monkey Wrench Gang

The three books listed above are very serious, as befits the genre. To lighten the mood a little, albeit with sardonic wit, go back to the 1970s, when this novel was first published. The novel became so well known that it spawned the use of the term ‘monkey wrench’ to mean ecologically-motivated sabotage. The four main characters are misfits, led by Vietnam veteran George Hayduke, who target industrial interests threatening the ecosystems of the southwest USA. They burn billboards, sabotage machinery, and eventually plan the destruction of a dam. The law inevitably closes in. It’s good fun but with a serious message—and may well have influenced the current Extinction Rebellion movement.

The Monkey Wrench Gang

By Edward Abbey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Monkey Wrench Gang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Revolutionary ... An extravagant, finely written tale of ecological sabotage' The New York Times

Audacious, controversial and hilarious, The Monkey Wrench Gang is Edward Abbey's masterpiece - a big, boisterous and unforgettable novel about freedom and commitment that ignited the flames of environmental activism.

Throughout the vast American West, nature is being vicitimized by a Big Government / Big Business conspiracy of bridges, dams and concrete. But a motley gang of individuals has decided that enough is enough. A burnt-out veteran, a mad doctor and a polygamist join forces in a noble cause: to dismantle the machinery of progress through…


One River

By Wade Davis,

Book cover of One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest

This is perhaps the best book on two separate yet related topics: cultural anthropology and ethnobotany. Davis, well-known for The Serpent and the Rainbow, his book (and subsequent movie) about his quest for a Haitian zombie poison, here takes on twin adventure stories: his own research in Columbia and nearby countries in the 1970s, and that of his Harvard mentor and titan of ethnobotany, Richard Evans Schultes, some 30 years earlier. Both are compelling and compulsively readable simply as adventure stories, but Davis also uses them to demonstrate, in a way few other books ever have, the profound and essential connection between human beings and the living world around them.

One River

By Wade Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Imposing Wilderness

By Roderick P. Neumann,

Book cover of Imposing Wilderness: Struggles over Livelihood and Nature Preservation in Africa

National parks have long been the bedrock of nature conservation efforts. For most Westerners, their vision of Africa is built on images from iconic parks like Tanzania’s Serengeti or Kenya’s Masai Mara. Those parks, however, were imposed on the African landscape with lasting and often devastating consequences, among them the pernicious notion that Africans themselves are little more than part of the fauna and are an impediment to conservation efforts that can be swept aside. Roderick Neuman reveals that far from a simple means to protect nature, parks are a complicated intersection of ecological, economic, political, and cultural issues. His analysis of Arusha National Park in Tanzania, not far from Mount Kilimanjaro, melds careful scholarship with passionate and vivid writing and is an essential text for understanding the promise and limitations of long-established conservation practices. 

Imposing Wilderness

By Roderick P. Neumann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Arusha National Park in northern Tanzania embodies all the political-ecological dilemmas facing protected areas throughout Africa. This book presents an analysis of the problems, arguing that the roots of the ongoing struggle between the park and the neighbouring Meru peasant communities go much deeper than the issues of poverty, population growth and ignorance usually cited. The author claims the conflict reflects differences that go back to the beginning of colonial rule. By imposing a European ideal of pristine wilderness, the establishment of national parks and protected areas displaced African meanings as well as material access to the land. The book…


Live and Let Die

By Ian Fleming,

Book cover of Live and Let Die

Drawing on Fleming's experiences in Jamaica, MI6 intelligence officer Bond, James Bond, not only outwits the villain's attempt to turn him into shark and barracuda bait but also deploys a limpet mine to good effect in order to save himself and his female companion from death by coral reef dragging, a device I pay homage to in a later novel.

Fleming's Bond novels introduced the world to a clever hero required to take direct responsibility for stopping great evil. Bond doesn't shy away from brute force when required, but prefers more elegant solutions, inspiring later writers.

Like millions of others, the popular movies introduced his work to me, but Fleming was the early master of the art of an espionage/action thriller novel, inspiring many who followed.

Live and Let Die

By Ian Fleming,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

James Bond is not a superstitious man, but it’s hard not to feel unnerved in the presence of Mr. Big. A ruthless Harlem gangster who uses voodoo to control his criminal empire, he’s also one of SMERSH’s top American operatives. Mr. Big has been smuggling British pirate treasure to New York from a remote Jamaican island―and funneling the proceeds to Moscow. With help from Solitaire, Mr. Big’s beautiful and enigmatic Creole fortune-teller, and his old friend Felix Leiter, 007 must locate the crime lord’s hideout, sabotage his operation, and reclaim the pirate hoard for England.

From the jazz joints of…


The Everglades

By Marjory Stoneman Douglas,

Book cover of The Everglades: River of Grass

Miami Herald columnist and author Marjory Stoneman Douglas can rightfully be described as the woman who saved the Everglades. The Everglades: River of Grass was published in 1947, the same year Everglades National Park opened. For over fifty years Douglas fought tirelessly against human encroachment on the Everglades and devoted nearly all her time to explain how vital it was to the entire state of Florida. In the 1960s (while in her late seventies) she became involved with the Audubon Society of Miami’s efforts to halt the building of an international airport in the Everglades. She also formed the Friends of the Everglades, an organization that is still today one of the most powerful voices for the area’s preservation. Proving that good people do not always die young, Marjory Stoneman Douglas passed away in 1998 at the age of 108.

The Everglades

By Marjory Stoneman Douglas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before 1947, when Marjory Stoneman Douglas named The Everglades a "river of grass," most people considered the area worthless. She brought the world's attention to the need to preserve The Everglades. In the Afterword, Michael Grunwald tells us what has happened to them since then. Grunwald points out that in 1947 the government was in the midst of establishing the Everglades National Park and turning loose the Army Corps of Engineers to control floods--both of which seemed like saviors for the Glades. But neither turned out to be the answer. Working from the research he did for his book, The…


St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

By Karen Russell,

Book cover of St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Russell has written many books that traffic in underworlds, weirdness, and magic, but for me this book—her first—takes the cake. Written when the author was just twenty-five, St. Lucy’s Home is a collection of magical coming-of-age stories—my favorite one features the children of werewolves who are sent to a rigid school with impossible rules. Russell is a poet at the sentence level—her verbs constantly do acrobatics! In these stories, she portrays adolescence as a sort of sieve in which we must leave all our wonderful weirdness behind in order to become adults.

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

By Karen Russell,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charting loss, love, and the difficult art of growing up, these stories unfurl with wicked humour and insight. Two young boys make midnight trips to a boat graveyard in search of their dead sister, who set sail in the exoskeleton of a giant crab; a boy whose dreams foretell implacable tragedies is sent to 'Sleepaway Camp for Disordered Dreamers' (Cabin 1, Narcoleptics; Cabin 2, Insomniacs; Cabin 3, Somnambulists. . . ); a Minotaur leads his family on the trail out West, and finally, in the collection's poignant and hilarious title story, fifteen girls raised by wolves are painstakingly re-civilised by…


The Swamp

By Michael Grunwald,

Book cover of The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise

During research for my book, I visited manmade wetlands in south Florida, built to filter farm runoff from the water before it flows into Everglades National Park. These constructed wetlands are thick with alligators, spoonbills, storks, hawks, and other wildlife—but they’re just an echo of the surviving Glades. Now among the most cherished natural areas on Earth, in the settlement era the Everglades was written off as wasted space. Early in the 20th century the northern half of the Everglades was drained and turned into sugar fields. Today polluted runoff from those farms threatens the surviving remnants of the Everglades ecosystem. 

Grunwald’s book shows the human quirks and greed that drove the Everglades’ destruction, and that sometimes get in the way of its restoration.

The Swamp

By Michael Grunwald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Brilliant.” —The Washington Post Book World * “Magnificent.” —The Palm Beach Post * “Rich in history yet urgently relevant to current events.” —The New Republic

The Everglades in southern Florida were once reviled as a liquid wasteland, and Americans dreamed of draining it. Now it is revered as a national treasure, and Americans have launched the largest environmental project in history to try to save it.

The Swamp is the stunning story of the destruction and possible resurrection of the Everglades, the saga of man's abuse of nature in southern Florida and his unprecedented efforts to make amends. Michael Grunwald,…


Birds

By Robert Bateman, Kathryn Dean,

Book cover of Birds

Bob Bateman is a great wildlife observer and a consummate artist, passionate about conservation. This beautifully illustrated book carries the message of care for the environment, its inhabitants, the world! And it carries it in gentle words and striking artistic paintings of nature. His paintings are accurate and realistic, made with superb artistic skill, I love to just flick open the book and stare. It makes you realise the beauty of the natural world. I have met Bob a couple of times, he is a thoughtful, measured, and highly knowledgeable man. His artistic skill is extraordinary.

Birds

By Robert Bateman, Kathryn Dean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A stunning collection of 200 bird species painted by the world-renowned wildlife painter.

"Robert Bateman's paintings and drawings... reveal a vision of the beautiful and stark possibilities of the natural world. They are compelling and haunting."
-- The Washington Post

At a time when bird species are disappearing rapidly, the poignant beauty of Robert Bateman's paintings is more urgent than ever. It reminds us why Bateman was compelled to study and paint his subjects and why we must work to secure their futures.

Bateman has sketched and painted bird life in every corner of the globe. His special relationship with…


Bright Orange for the Shroud

By John D. MacDonald,

Book cover of Bright Orange for the Shroud

John D. MacDonald is the father of modern fictional detectives—especially Robert Parker—who, like MacDonald, is a writer of sparse dialogue. John D. MacDonald’s main character is the unforgettable Travis McGee. Travis McGee lives on his houseboat, The Busted Flush, which he won in a poker game. McGee has no steady job. Instead, he takes on salvage jobs as he can find them and is paid 50% of the value of the recovered items he returns to the owner.  

Bright Orange for the Shroud—interestingly, is typical for John D. MacDonald as each of his books is connected to a color—The Deep Blue Goodbye, A Purple Place for Dying, and The Empty Copper Sea. 

While enjoying another short “retirement” Travis McGee is visited by Arthur Wilkinson, a friend from days gone by. In terrible health, McGee nurses him back to health only to find that Wilkinson has been bankrupted in…

Bright Orange for the Shroud

By John D. MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bright Orange for the Shroud as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From a beloved master of crime fiction, Bright Orange for the Shroud is one of many classic novels featuring Travis McGee, the hard-boiled detective who lives on a houseboat.
 
Travis McGee is looking forward to a “slob summer,” spending his days as far away from danger as possible. But trouble has a way of finding him, no matter where he hides. An old friend, conned out of his life savings by his ex-wife, has tracked him down and is desperate for help. To get the money back and earn his usual fee, McGee will have to penetrate the Everglades—and the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Everglades, murderers, and pioneers?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Everglades, murderers, and pioneers.

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