10 books like The Oregon Trail

By Francis Parkman,

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

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Kidnapped

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Book cover of Kidnapped

This is one of my favourite books of all time, not least because my Dad was an extra in the Michael Caine film version and gifted me a copy of the book when I was eight and in hospital. It is set around the true story of the Appin murder and tells the story of David Balfour. On the surface this is a historical adventure story however at its heart is the friendship between David Balfour and Alan Breck Stewart. Despite their obvious differences, such as age and politics, the two men form a loyal and enduring friendship and are not ashamed to show their love for one another. Corstorphine Hill is one of Edinburgh’s hidden treasures and one of my favourite places in the city and is the setting for one of the book’s most beautiful and moving passages.

Kidnapped

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, swashbuckling novel about a young boy who is forced to go to sea and who is then caught up in high drama, daring adventure and political intrigue.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is introduced by Louise Welsh and features black and white illustrations.

Headstrong David Balfour, orphaned at seventeen, sets out from the Scottish Lowlands to seek his fortune in Edinburgh. Betrayed by his wealthy Uncle…


The Great Plains

By Walter Prescott Webb,

Book cover of The Great Plains

Originally published in 1932, this remains one of the most accessible and thought-provoking books ever written about the American West. Webb’s work rises to the level of literature, especially when describing early encounters by white Americans with the landscape and native people they met west of the 98th meridian. Few writers have captured so vividly the expansion of America from the humid and forested east to the arid west of the Great Plains. Some of Webb’s conclusions may feel a little dated, but this remains a very compelling and rewarding book.

The Great Plains

By Walter Prescott Webb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic description of the interaction between the vast central plains of America and the people who lived there has, since its first publication in 1931, been one of the most influential, widely known, and controversial works in western history. Arguing that "the Great Plains environment. . .constitutes a geographic unity whose influences have been so powerful as to put a characteristic mark upon everything that survives within its borders," Webb singles out the revolver, barbed wire, and the windmill as evidence of the new phase of civilization required for settlement of that arid, treeless region. Webb draws on history,…


The Year of Decision 1846

By Bernard DeVoto,

Book cover of The Year of Decision 1846

A thrilling if bumpy ride through 1846, as DeVoto tracks multiple stories of Americans who headed west at the start of the great migration. Like Webb’s Great Plains, this book — published in 1942 — is a little dated in places, but DeVoto’s vivid descriptions and strong opinions make it highly enjoyable. The general subject is the “period when the manifold possibilities of chance were shaped to converge into the inevitable,” writes DeVoto. More plainly, the book is about "some people who went west in 1846." Many of them died on the way. Some found fortune. Altogether, they left behind extraordinary history.

The Year of Decision 1846

By Bernard DeVoto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Year of Decision 1846 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Year of Decision 1846 tells many fascinating stories of the U.S. explorers who began the western march from the Mississippi to the Pacific, from Canada to the annexation of Texas, California, and the southwest lands from Mexico. It is the penultimate book of a trilogy which includes Across the Wide Missouri (for which DeVoto won both the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes) and The Course of Empire. DeVoto's narrative covers the expanding Western frontier, the Mormons, the Donner party, Fremont's exploration, the Army of the West, and takes readers into Native American tribal life.


The Plains Across

By John D. Unruh,

Book cover of The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60

Posthumously published in 1970 by the University of Illinois Press, this is a must-have for anyone interested in the early years of the western migration. Unruh — who died young shortly after completing the manuscript performs the essential task of assembling credible data about emigrants and Native Americans, and — most importantly — about their encounters with each other. Popular myths and Hollywood movies notwithstanding, Unruh makes clear that Native Americans seldom caused emigrants much harm. Indeed, emigrants of the 1840s were more likely to shoot themselves and each other by accident than require a gun for self-defense.

The Plains Across

By John D. Unruh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in History and the winner of seven awards, including the John H. Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association, the Ray A. Billington Book Award of the Organization of American Historians, and the National Historical Society Book Prize.


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

By Dee Brown,

Book cover of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a broad, well-researched tale of the indigenous people of the American West, chronicling the destruction of their way of life and their relocation to reservations amid the gradual encroachment of western civilization across the continental United States in the 19th Century. Describing the tribes and their leaders, Dee Brown captures the hardships and persecution of Native Americans, evoking an appreciation for their legacy and compassion for their plight. This book ignited my passion for painting the visual diversity and unique differences of various native nations.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

By Dee Brown,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The American West, 1860-1890: years of broken promises, disillusionment, war and massacre.

Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos and ending with the massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee, this extraordinary book tells how the American Indians lost their land, lives and liberty to white settlers pushing westward. Woven into a an engrossing saga of cruelty, treachery and violence are the fascinating stories of such legendary figures as Sitting Bull, Cochise, Crazy Horse and Geronimo.

First published in 1970, Dee Brown's brutal and compelling narrative changed the way people thought about the original inhabitants of America, and focused attention…


The Ship That Flew

By Hilda Lewis,

Book cover of The Ship That Flew

Peter is on his way home from school and discovers a crooked laneway. Soon he looks through the bay window of a junk shop and is ‘drawn’ towards one item inside: a little ship. There is a strange conversation between Peter and the owner of the shop who says, "All the money in the world wouldn’t have bought this ship once [...]. It would cost all the money you have in the world and a bit over!" The man in the shop sells it to Peter.

Along the beach on the way home the ship turns into a real ship with sails. The book is not only about the many adventures with his brothers and sisters involving time travel to many lands but has an overarching plot that one day Peter will have to return the ship where he bought it. Only then will he discover about the ship and…

The Ship That Flew

By Hilda Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Peter sees the model ship in the shop window, he wants it more than anything else on Earth. But this is no ordinary model. The ship takes Peter and the other children on magical flights, wherever they ask to go. Time after time the magic ship takes them on different exciting adventures, to different countries, and to different times. And why should magic ever end?


The Adventures of Henry Penn

By Isobel St Vincent,

Book cover of The Adventures of Henry Penn

In being faithful to the ‘first’ books I ever read The Ship That Flew and The Adventures of Henry Penn. Henry Penn is a Penguin and daydreamer. He wants to be a poet. Some of the story involves his creative life writing/reciting from his ‘secret’ little book the “Lays of Ancient Penland.” The close of the story recounts an episode after the Kipper War when there is a celebration concert and Henry performs his first poem!

The town’s people (Penguins) dominate the story. The Kipper War (is a funny episode) against the Pirates to recover the stolen hoard of fish belonging to the Penguins. Important in all of the books chosen are the illustrations, for instance, the illustration of Henry in school at the back of the class ‘caught’ by the teacher staring out the high windows.

The Adventures of Henry Penn

By Isobel St Vincent,

Why should I read it?

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


The Blue Fairy Book

By Andrew Lang,

Book cover of The Blue Fairy Book

Lang’s story telling is compelling opening up for the reader the timeless characters of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, Jack the Giant Killer, Jonathan Swift’s “A Voyage to Lilliput” from Gulliver’s Travels, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstilzkin, Why the Sea is Salt, Goldilocks, Blue Beard, Snow White and many others. 

My sister and brother (older than I) used to read aloud from, not only The Blue Fairy Book but the Red Book and the Green Book. These stories were the first I’d heard, and were so real I believed the characters would be present in my life. Grimm’s Tales ‘told’ by Lang becomes an exciting guidebook for a young person growing up. This aspect was ‘proven’ to me by the co-existence of these characters as archetypes in terms of life events and situations. My conviction is that the storyline, characters, and the progression of events in…

The Blue Fairy Book

By Andrew Lang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The Blue Fairy Book" is Andrew Lang's classic selection of popular fairy tales. Contained in this work you will find the following tales: The Bronze Ring, Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, The Yellow Dwarf, Little Red Riding-Hood, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, Cinderella; or, the Little Glass Slipper, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was, Rumpelstiltzkin, Beauty and the Beast, The Master-Maid, Why the Sea is Salt, The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots, Felicia and the…


Little House on the Prairie

By Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams (illustrator),

Book cover of Little House on the Prairie

What an amazing time to grow up in America as a pioneer settling into life on the prairie. This is the true story of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s resilient and loving family as they built their own home, hunted for their own food, and farmed the land. I read this book and others from the series to my daughters who were mesmerized by the life Laura led and the courage she displayed. The story depicts the challenges and the joys her family found in forging their own path and living life the way they wanted. The fact that the author captured all the ups, downs, and lessons learned and became a writer during that time period is another remarkable pioneering effort.

Little House on the Prairie

By Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Little House on the Prairie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Classic tales by Laura Ingalls Wilder about life on the frontier and America's best-loved pioneer family.

The sun-kissed prairie stretches out around the Ingalls family, smiling its welcome after their long, hard journey across America. But looks can be deceiving and they soon find that they must share the land with wild bears and Indians. Will there be enough land for all of them?

The timeless stories that inspired a TV series can now be read by a new generation of children. Readers who loved Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and Heidi will be swept up by this timeless…


Never Caught Twice

By Matthew S. Luckett,

Book cover of Never Caught Twice: Horse Stealing in Western Nebraska, 1850-1890

Horse stealing was more than theft of valuable and essential property. Matthew Luckett explains that on the Great Plains horse stealing “destabilized communities, institutions, nations, diplomatic relations, and cross-cultural exchange.” Luckett challenges many popular notions about horse thieves (for starters, they were not hung).  There were different kinds of horse theft and horse thieves. Don’t be misled by “Nebraska” in the title—this book shows that horse stealing had regional and national repercussions.   Luckett is an engaging writer, and this book is extremely readable and filled with compelling stories. I particularly recommend the chapter “The Horse Wars” about the role of horses in the war the U.S. Army waged against the Indians. 

Never Caught Twice

By Matthew S. Luckett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Caught Twice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 Nebraska Book Award

Never Caught Twice presents the untold history of horse raiding and stealing on the Great Plains of western Nebraska. By investigating horse stealing by and from four plains groups-American Indians, the U.S. Army, ranchers and cowboys, and farmers-Matthew S. Luckett clarifies a widely misunderstood crime in Western mythology and shows that horse stealing transformed plains culture and settlement in fundamental and surprising ways.

From Lakota and Cheyenne horse raids to rustling gangs in the Sandhills, horse theft was widespread and devastating across the region. The horse's critical importance in both Native and white societies meant that…


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