69 books like Son of the Morning Star

By Evan S. Connell,

Here are 69 books that Son of the Morning Star fans have personally recommended if you like Son of the Morning Star. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Grant

Ron McFarland Author Of Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars: Life on the Frontier, 1815-1865

From my list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a retired English prof with a lifelong interest in history. My father fostered my fascination with Civil War battlefields, and growing up in Florida, I studied the Seminole wars in school and later at FSU. While teaching at the University of Idaho (nearly 50 years), I pursued my interest in the Indian wars of the mid-19th century and developed a curiosity about tribes in the inland Northwest, notably the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, and Nez Perce. My critical biography of Blackfeet novelist James Welch occasioned reading and research on the Plains tribes. I recommend his nonfiction book, Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate the Plains Indians.

Ron's book list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West

Ron McFarland Why did Ron love this book?

I’m admittedly self-impressed, having read this volume of nearly a thousand papers, poky reader that I am. The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer strikes me as little short of brilliant with this masterpiece on Ulysses S. Grant, whose military career began with distinguished service in the Mexican War and overlaps with that of Steptoe, subject of my biography. Chernow focuses much of his book on Grant’s Civil War service, but his relevance to my theme is the subject of Grant’s presidency, taken up in later pages. Like many officers who served in the West before and after the Civil War, Grant recognized that white incursions on Indian lands were largely to blame for the violence out West, and he was sympathetic to their plight. Custer’s defeat occurred during Grant’s second administration.

By Ron Chernow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller and New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2017

"Eminently readable but thick with import . . . Grant hits like a Mack truck of knowledge." -Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant.

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't…


Book cover of The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation under Shaka and its fall in the Zulu War of 1879

James Oliver Gump Author Of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

From my list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor emeritus of history at the University of San Diego, and taught courses in African and South African history for over three decades. I have also written a number articles placing African topics in comparative perspective, including “A Spirit of Resistance:  Xhosa, Maori, and Sioux Responses to Western Dominance, 1840-1920” and “Unveiling the Third Force: Toward Transitional Justice in the USA and South Africa, 1973-1994,” as well as three books: The Formation of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa and two editions of The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

James' book list on the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom

James Oliver Gump Why did James love this book?

Morris’s history of the rise and fall of the Zulu kingdom remains a classic. Trained as a journalist, Morris presents a vivid, lively, and compelling narrative, tracing the rise of Shaka’s Zulu kingdom, the outbreak of war in 1879, and the tragic aftermath of civil war and national disintegration. Although more recent scholarship casts doubt on some of Morris’s assertions, his book remains the starting point for understanding the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

By Donald R. Morris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1879, armed only with their spears, their rawhide shields, and their incredible courage, the Zulus challenged the might of Victorian England and, initially, inflicted on the British the worst defeat a modern army has ever suffered at the hands of men without guns. This definitive account of the rise of the Zulu nation under the great ruler Shaka and its fall under Cetshwayo has been acclaimed for its scholarship, its monumental range, and its spellbinding readability. The story is studded with tales of drama and heroism: the Battle of Isandhlwana, where the Zulu army wiped out the major British…


Book cover of Culloden

Stephen Brumwell Author Of White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America

From my list on military disasters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a freelance writer specialising in history, and I’ve picked these works of narrative non-fiction because they stand out among many others that helped to inspire my enduring interest in the past. I first read them decades ago, either as a teenager still at school, or in my twenties, while working as a newspaper reporter. Ultimately, they shaped my decision to study history at university as a mature student, and then to try writing books myself. Originally published between 1953 and 1985, all five of the books that I’ve chosen are still available in paperback editions on both sides of the Atlantic, and with good reason: they combine credible research with powerful story-telling – attributes that I’ve tried hard to emulate through my own writing.

Stephen's book list on military disasters

Stephen Brumwell Why did Stephen love this book?

Before becoming a journalist and author, Prebble served in the ranks of the British Army’s Royal Artillery throughout WW2. This experience gave him sympathy for the ordinary soldier that runs through much of his work, and especially this account of the lop-sided and bloody battle that ended the Jacobite rebellion of 1746. In Culloden, Prebble draws upon eyewitness testimony to reconstruct the brutal reality behind the romantic legends spun around the ‘Young Pretender’ Bonnie Prince Charlie, and chronicles the harsh consequences for the men – many of them Scottish Highlanders - he led into rebellion against King George II. In restrained but evocative prose, Prebble tells the grim story with balance and compassion. Culloden inspired an innovative docudrama by Peter Watkins, while Prebble himself co-wrote the screenplay of the film Zulu.

By John Prebble,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the story of ordinary men and women involved in the Rebellion, who were described on the gaol registers and regimental rosters of the time as 'Common Men'. There is little in this book about Bonnie Prince Charlie and other principals of the last Jacobite Rising of 1745. Culloden recalls them by name and action, presenting the battle as it was for them, describing their life as fugitives in the glens or as prisoners in the gaols and hulks, their transportation to the Virginias or their deaths on the gallows at Kennington Common. The book begins in the rain…


Book cover of The Reason Why: The Story of the Fatal Charge of the Light Brigade

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?

No book pulls you in like this one.

It starts with a “kinship” analysis of the British Army at mid-century, 1850. Officers purchased their ranks and most were of the aristocracy. When the Crimean War broke out, two cavalry (Light and Heavy) brigades went into action.

The commander of both brigades despised the commander of the Light Brigade—they were relatives who did not speak to each other. Thus, a fatal written order was misconstrued and the Light Brigade charged into a valley surrounded by Russian artillery.

It was a slaughter to some extent, but the officer in command led the assault, never looking back to see if his troops were following. Thus, a few of the cavalrymen actually reached the Russian emplacements at the end of the valley—and then retreated. An absolutely incredible story!

Readers will not put this book down!

By Cecil Woodham-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This history is a war story of astonishing courage and honor, of stupidity, of blood, death, agony -- and waste.

Nothing in British campaign history has ever equaled the tragic farce that was the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War's Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854. In this fascinating study, Cecil Woodham-Smith shows that responsibility for the fatal mismanagement of the affair rested with the Earls of Cardigan and Lucan, brothers-in-law and sworn enemies for more than thirty years.

In revealing the combination of pride and obstinacy that was to prove so fatal, Woodham-Smith gives us…


Book cover of The Defeat of the Spanish Armada

Stephen Brumwell Author Of White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America

From my list on military disasters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a freelance writer specialising in history, and I’ve picked these works of narrative non-fiction because they stand out among many others that helped to inspire my enduring interest in the past. I first read them decades ago, either as a teenager still at school, or in my twenties, while working as a newspaper reporter. Ultimately, they shaped my decision to study history at university as a mature student, and then to try writing books myself. Originally published between 1953 and 1985, all five of the books that I’ve chosen are still available in paperback editions on both sides of the Atlantic, and with good reason: they combine credible research with powerful story-telling – attributes that I’ve tried hard to emulate through my own writing.

Stephen's book list on military disasters

Stephen Brumwell Why did Stephen love this book?

Winner of a special Pulitzer Prize in 1960, of the five titles selected here, this is the only one to be written by a professional historian. Despite his academic background and meticulous research in Europe’s archives, Mattingly’s book is anything but dry, and remains a classic of accessible historical non-fiction. The opening chapter, describing the execution of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots in 1587, is brilliantly written, and as the narrative moves inexorably towards the sprawling naval battle between England and Spain it fills a wide canvas with equally striking events and personalities. Mattingly’s intimate knowledge of the source material, combined with his writing skills, enables him to tell the exciting story of the Armada’s disastrous fate and to place it in the broader diplomatic context - what he saw as ‘the first great international crisis in modern history’.

By Garrett Mattingly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Garrett Mattingly's thrilling narrative sets out the background of the sixteenth-century European intrigue and religious unrest that gave rise to one of the world's most famous maritime crusades and the naval battles that decided its fate. In putting the naval campaign of 1588 back into the context of the first great international crisis of modern history, Mattingly builds up, like the movements of a symphony, a broad picture of how events of the time affected men's actions, plans and hopes. He brilliantly connects a series of scenes or episodes, shifting the point of focus from England to the continent and…


Book cover of Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier

D'Arcy Jenish Author Of Epic Wanderer: David Thompson and the Mapping of the Canadian West

From my list on the exploraton of the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist, the author of 10 works of popular history, and, latterly, a playwright. For nearly 25 years, I have earned a living on the strength of my own writing. I have written one full-length play that was produced at an outdoor summer theatre in July 2023, and I have written three short plays for the Port Hope, Ontario Arts Festival. I now live in Peterborough, Ontario, about 90 miles northeast of Toronto, but have had a lifelong interest in the history of western North America by dint of having grown up in southeastern Saskatchewan and having worked as a journalist in Alberta in the early 1980s.  

D'Arcy's book list on the exploraton of the West

D'Arcy Jenish Why did D'Arcy love this book?

There are many reasons to love this book, and the subtitle says it all. This book is A History, A Story, And A Memory Of The Last Plains Frontier.

That last frontier was an arid, desolate corner of southwestern Saskatchewan where his American parents tried homesteading between 1914 and 1920 when Stegner was a child. The family returned to the U.S., but Stegner re-visited this land of his youth in the early 1950s and wrote one of the best accounts of the last frontier in the North American West.   

By Wallace Stegner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Enchanting, heartrending and eminently enviable' Vladimir Nabokov

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner's boyhood was spent on the beautiful and remote frontier of the Cypress Hills in southern Saskatchewan, where his family homesteaded fro 1914 to 1920. In a recollection of his years there, Stegner applies childhood remembrances and adult reflection to the history of the region to create this wise and enduring portrait of pioneer community existing in the verge of a modern world.

'Stegner has summarized the frontier story and interpreted it as only one who was part of it could' The New York Times Book Review


Book cover of Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike

Ron McFarland Author Of Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars: Life on the Frontier, 1815-1865

From my list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a retired English prof with a lifelong interest in history. My father fostered my fascination with Civil War battlefields, and growing up in Florida, I studied the Seminole wars in school and later at FSU. While teaching at the University of Idaho (nearly 50 years), I pursued my interest in the Indian wars of the mid-19th century and developed a curiosity about tribes in the inland Northwest, notably the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, and Nez Perce. My critical biography of Blackfeet novelist James Welch occasioned reading and research on the Plains tribes. I recommend his nonfiction book, Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate the Plains Indians.

Ron's book list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West

Ron McFarland Why did Ron love this book?

Aside from the Colorado landmark, Pike’s Peak, most of us know little of Zebulon Pike. A relative passed along the tee-shirt, but that’s as close as I got before reading Jared Orsi’s account of Lieutenant Pike’s 1805-07 fascinating expeditions to the headwaters of the Mississippi and to the Rockies. Pike strives to establish friendly relations among the Ojibway and Dakotah and later among the Osage and Pawnee while introducing the tribes to their new landlords, the U.S. government under President Jefferson. In attempting to ascend the peak, Pike and his men suffer near starvation and death in bitter cold and waist-deep snow, only to be rescued and arrested by the forces of New Spain. Orsi approaches the expeditions from an environmental perspective.

By Jared Orsi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today Zebulon Pike's name is immortalized at Pikes Peak, the second most visited mountain in the world after Japan's Mount Fuji. It overlooks the town of Colorado Springs, where historian Jared Orsi teaches. Orsi was inspired to take up this biography not just by geography but also because there has been no modern interpretation of the life of this key explorer in American history. His life sheds considerable life on the early national period and on the American
frontier.

Born during the Revolution Zebulon, Pike came of age with the nation. Trained as a soldier and stationed at various frontier…


Book cover of A Newer World: Kit Carson, John C. Fremont and the Claiming of the American West

Ron McFarland Author Of Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars: Life on the Frontier, 1815-1865

From my list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a retired English prof with a lifelong interest in history. My father fostered my fascination with Civil War battlefields, and growing up in Florida, I studied the Seminole wars in school and later at FSU. While teaching at the University of Idaho (nearly 50 years), I pursued my interest in the Indian wars of the mid-19th century and developed a curiosity about tribes in the inland Northwest, notably the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, and Nez Perce. My critical biography of Blackfeet novelist James Welch occasioned reading and research on the Plains tribes. I recommend his nonfiction book, Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate the Plains Indians.

Ron's book list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West

Ron McFarland Why did Ron love this book?

As a boy, I encountered Kit Carson via the Landmark Books, and I could not resist rediscovering him in juxtaposition with his friend but non-kindred spirit, John C. Frémont, who nearly became president in 1856. Although Roberts mercifully spares us from exposing Frémont’s Civil War blunders, his account of the disastrous 1848-49 expedition renders the “Pathfinder” in his grandiosity a less sympathetic figure than the laconic scout. As Roberts notes in his epilogue concerning the feats of his two flawed subjects, “pure heroes or villains do not exist outside the pages of bad literature.” He likens the evolution of Carson as “thoughtless killer of Apaches and Blackfeet” to “defender and champion of the Utes” to a similar reversal in the case of General George Crook.

By David Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In A Newer World, David Roberts serves as a guide through John C. Frémont's and Kit Carson's adventures through unknown American territory to achieve manifest destiny.

Between 1842 and 1854 John C. Frémont, renowned as the nineteenth century's greatest explorer, and Kit Carson, the legendary scout and Indian fighter, boldly ventured into untamed territory to fulfill America's "manifest destiny." Drawing on little-known primary sources, as well as his own travels through the lands Frémont and Carson explored, David Roberts recreates their expeditions, second in significance only to those of Lewis and Clark. A Newer World is a harrowing narrative of…


Book cover of General Crook and the Western Frontier

Ron McFarland Author Of Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars: Life on the Frontier, 1815-1865

From my list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a retired English prof with a lifelong interest in history. My father fostered my fascination with Civil War battlefields, and growing up in Florida, I studied the Seminole wars in school and later at FSU. While teaching at the University of Idaho (nearly 50 years), I pursued my interest in the Indian wars of the mid-19th century and developed a curiosity about tribes in the inland Northwest, notably the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, and Nez Perce. My critical biography of Blackfeet novelist James Welch occasioned reading and research on the Plains tribes. I recommend his nonfiction book, Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate the Plains Indians.

Ron's book list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West

Ron McFarland Why did Ron love this book?

Because Crook (not Custer!) was probably the most successful and thoughtful general officer to lead troops in the West. Robinson traces Crook’s career from the 1850s Rogue River War in the Oregon Territory, through the Great Sioux War of the 1870s, concluding with the pursuit of Geronimo in the 1880s, where he achieved his greatest fame. And because, as indicated in an epigraph, quoting Oglala Chief Red Cloud, “He, at least, never lied to us.” I found comments on Crook’s employment of tribal scouts especially informative. Robinson concludes, “In war, he could be as cruel as they, but he always respected them as human beings.” He doesn’t apotheosize Crook, who reflected the views of his era in advocating assimilation to make Indians useful and productive citizens “by white standards.”

By Charles M. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked General Crook and the Western Frontier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

General George Crook was one of the most prominent soldiers in the frontier West. General William T. Sherman called him the greatest Indian fighter and manager the army ever had. And yet, on hearing of Crook's death, the Sioux chief Red Cloud lamented, "He, at least, never lied to us." As a young officer in the Pacific Northwest, Crook emphasized training and marksmanship--innovative ideas in the antebellum army.

Crook's career in the West began with successful campaigns against the Apaches that resulted in his promotion to brigadier general. His campaign against the Lakota and Cheyennes was less successful, however, as…


Book cover of The Great Lone Land: A Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the North-West of America

D'Arcy Jenish Author Of Epic Wanderer: David Thompson and the Mapping of the Canadian West

From my list on the exploraton of the West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist, the author of 10 works of popular history, and, latterly, a playwright. For nearly 25 years, I have earned a living on the strength of my own writing. I have written one full-length play that was produced at an outdoor summer theatre in July 2023, and I have written three short plays for the Port Hope, Ontario Arts Festival. I now live in Peterborough, Ontario, about 90 miles northeast of Toronto, but have had a lifelong interest in the history of western North America by dint of having grown up in southeastern Saskatchewan and having worked as a journalist in Alberta in the early 1980s.  

D'Arcy's book list on the exploraton of the West

D'Arcy Jenish Why did D'Arcy love this book?

Butler was a captain in the military force sent west by the Canadian government to put down the 1869-70 Red River rebellion by discontented Metis. Afterward, he embarked on a 700-mile journey from the Red River settlement at present-day Winnipeg, Manitoba, to present-day Edmonton, Alberta.

He depicts in poetic prose the desolation caused by the near extermination of the once innumerable herds of bison and the devastating impact on the Indigenous people of the Canadian prairies.   

By William Francis Butler,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in military officers, American Indians, and the American Civil War?

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