92 books like The Pioneers

By David McCullough,

Here are 92 books that The Pioneers fans have personally recommended if you like The Pioneers. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Meditations

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Who am I?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

Leaders should develop a philosophy of life—a north star that will guide them through difficult times. This timeless classic by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius provides a combination of wisdom and practical advice that serves as a reference both for those in a leadership position and for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of their daily lives. Here is a sample: “The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.”

By Marcus Aurelius, Maxwell Staniforth (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Penguin Great Ideas edition of Stoic philosophy in wise and practical aphorisms that have inspired Bill Clinton, Ryan Holiday, Anna Kendrick and many more.

Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161-180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus's insights and advice-on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others-have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen…


Book cover of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

Ron S. Kenett Author Of The Real Work of Data Science: Turning Data into Information, Better Decisions, and Stronger Organizations

From my list on how numbers turn into information.

Who am I?

I was trained as a mathematician but have always been motivated by problem-solving challenges. Statistics and analytics combine mathematical models with statistical thinking. My career has always focused on this combination and, as a statistician, you can apply it in a wide range of domains. The advent of big data and machine learning algorithms has opened up new opportunities for applied statisticians. This perspective complements computer science views on how to address data science. The Real Work of Data Science, covers 18 areas (18 chapters) that need to be pushed forward in order to turning data into information, better decisions, and stronger organizations

Ron's book list on how numbers turn into information

Ron S. Kenett Why did Ron love this book?

In addressing decision makers, an understanding of forces affecting human behavior is essential. The author provides a comprehensive view on the work of Kahneman and Tversky mapping their journey which lead to their highly impactful behavioral economic body of knowledge. The bias they address provides data scientists a widened perspective on their role and how to address organizational challenges. This provides a language to recognise and address bias inherent in human thinking. The book provides a very powerful set of tools for data scientists who want to see behind the numbers and understand forces affecting human behavior.

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Michael Lewis could spin gold out of any topic he chose ... his best work ... vivid, original and hard to forget' Tim Harford, Financial Times

'Gripping ... There is war, heroism, genius, love, loss, discovery, enduring loyalty and friendship. It is epic stuff ... Michael Lewis is one of the best non-fiction writers of our time' Irish Times

From Michael Lewis, No.1 bestselling author of The Big Short and Flash Boys, this is the extraordinary story of the two men whose ideas changed the world.

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky met in war-torn 1960s Israel. Both were gifted young…


Book cover of The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Who am I?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

This is the heartwarming and inspiring story of the journey a great chef took from serving as a lowly apprentice to becoming a leader in establishing new food traditions in America. I especially enjoyed the many funny stories about Pepin and his family. Warning: the book includes many of his favorite recipes that will cause hunger pangs as you read the book. 

By Jacques Pépin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called “the best chef in America” tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Award–winning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation’s tastes in the bargain.

We see young Jacques as a homesick six-year-old boy in war-ravaged France, working on a farm in exchange for food, dodging bombs, and bearing witness as German soldiers capture his father, a fighter in the Resistance. Soon Jacques is caught up in the hurly-burly action of his…


The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

By Alexander Rose,

Book cover of The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

Alexander Rose Author Of Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men's Epic Duel to Rule the World

New book alert!

Who am I?

A long time ago, I was an early-aviation historian, but eventually realized that I knew only half the story—the part about airplanes. But what about airships? Initially, I assumed, like so many others, that they were a flash-in-the-pan, a ridiculous dead-end technology, but then I realized these wondrous giants had roamed and awed the world for nearly four decades. There was a bigger story here of an old rivalry between airplanes and airships, one that had since been forgotten, and Empires of the Sky was the result.

Alexander's book list on Zeppelin airships

What is my book about?

From the author of Washington’s Spies, the thrilling story of two rival secret agents — one Confederate, the other Union — sent to Britain during the Civil War.

The South’s James Bulloch, charming and devious, was ordered to acquire a clandestine fleet intended to break Lincoln’s blockade, sink Northern merchant vessels, and drown the U.S. Navy’s mightiest ships at sea. Opposing him was Thomas Dudley, an upright Quaker lawyer determined to stop Bulloch in a spy-versus-spy game of move and countermove, gambit and sacrifice, intrigue and betrayal.

Their battleground was the Dickensian port of Liverpool, whose dockyards built more ships each year than the rest of the world combined and whose merchant princes, said one observer, were “addicted to Southern proclivities, foreign slave trade, and domestic bribery.”

The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

By Alexander Rose,

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Washington's Spies, the thrilling story of the Confederate spy who came to Britain to turn the tide of the Civil War-and the Union agent resolved to stop him.

"Entertaining and deeply researched...with a rich cast of spies, crooks, bent businessmen and drunken sailors...Rose relates the tale with gusto." -The New York Times

In 1861, soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, two secret agents-one a Confederate, the other his Union rival-were dispatched to neutral Britain, each entrusted with a vital mission.

The South's James Bulloch, charming and devious, was to acquire…


Book cover of In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Who am I?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

Fiction is an excellent source of inspiration for leaders. This book is a prime example. The book is part of a series of books on the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” in Botswana. The proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, uses a combination of wisdom, intelligence, and humor to solve crimes. Like leaders and entrepreneurs everywhere, she must handle a variety of challenges using limited resources. A special treat in reading these books is learning about daily life in Botswana. 

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Company of Cheerful Ladies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SIXTH BOOK IN THE BELOVED NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY SERIES

The one where Mma Makutsi finds a dancing partner . . .

Although Mma Ramotswe and Mr J. L. B. Matekoni have finally settled down, at the shared premises of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Speedy Motors the staff are not mixing in a perfectly peaceful manner.

But in the course of investigating her latest case, Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van comes into contact with a man on a bicycle who might be able to restore harmony.

And Mma Makutsi at last seems to have found…


Book cover of Centennial

Matthew O. Jackson Author Of The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors

From my list on fiction driven by rich historical context.

Who am I?

As a lover of both fiction and nonfiction, I find that the ultimate pleasure in reading is when the author combines the two without short-changing either. These are books that provide accurate and deep historical background, but also tell stories shaped by that context. These are also books that have intricate, unusual, and effective narrative structures.   

Matthew's book list on fiction driven by rich historical context

Matthew O. Jackson Why did Matthew love this book?

I almost forgot to include this on the list as I first read it almost fifty years ago but find that it stands up well over time.  

This novel covers an enormous timeline yet is still well-anchored by weaving together rich episodes that all take place around northeastern Colorado. You gain insight into the geology of the Rocky Mountains and the region’s dinosaurs of the Jurassic period.

You learn about the lives of the Arapaho, a beaver trapper, an immigrant family, and the Great Plains’ buffalo herds. You even learn about the sugar beet industry. Michener puts it together as an ancestral tale of twentieth-century Paul Garrett, but it can essentially be read as a collection of separate stories.  

This book is Michener at his best. You will undoubtedly have your own favorite parts, but there are many to enjoy and much to learn as Michener did his research.    

By James A. Michener,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Written to commemorate the Bicentennial in 1976, James A. Michener’s magnificent saga of the Westis an enthralling celebration of the frontier. Brimming with the glory of America’s past, the story of Colorado—the Centennial State—is manifested through its people: Lame Beaver, the Arapaho chieftain and warrior, and his Comanche and Pawnee enemies; Levi Zendt, fleeing with his child bride from the Amish country; the cowboy, Jim Lloyd, who falls in love with a wealthy and cultured Englishwoman, Charlotte Seccombe. In Centennial, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters are brought together in the dramatic conflicts that shape the…


Book cover of The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder

Sam Foster Author Of Beardstown

From my list on creating civilization.

Who am I?

Beardstown is my ancestral home. I grew up, sitting on my grandfather’s knee and listening to stories of great floods, huge winter storms, steamboat trade up and down the river, and even ancient tales of the Iroquois annihilating the Mascouten and the long-forgotten Indian mounds. It has been such a joy to be able to compile all those ancient memories into one pretty good story.

Sam's book list on creating civilization

Sam Foster Why did Sam love this book?

In Accidental Superpower, Zeihan primary thesis is “stuff is hard to move; stuff is easier to move by water than land. And then he explains that the natural wealth, not just in soil, but in the river flow allowing traffic from Pittsburgh to New Orleans and the world enabled farmers coming to the Illinois prairie to get a plow in the ground immediately, without having to spend years clearing a forest, and then get the crops down river to markets within the same year. That nowhere in the history of the world had it been so easy to develop a marketable surplus and get it to market. All very interesting facts. But I think novelizing the frontier, watch men struggle against the wilderness to create wealth with exactly these conditions is far more interesting than a mere recitation. Zeihan and I tell the same story but in very different ways.

By Peter Zeihan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER international strategist Peter Zeihan examines how geography, combined with demography and energy independence, is paving the way for one of the great turning points in history, and one in which America reasserts its global dominance. From a geographic standpoint, no modern country has a greater network of internal waterways, a greater command of deepwater navigation, or a firmer hold on industrialization technologies than America. Such factors have been historically significant in the success of past world powers, from the Ottoman Empire's control of the Danube, to England's mastery of the seas, to Germany's industrial infrastructure. Zeihan…


Book cover of The Source

Sam Foster Author Of Beardstown

From my list on creating civilization.

Who am I?

Beardstown is my ancestral home. I grew up, sitting on my grandfather’s knee and listening to stories of great floods, huge winter storms, steamboat trade up and down the river, and even ancient tales of the Iroquois annihilating the Mascouten and the long-forgotten Indian mounds. It has been such a joy to be able to compile all those ancient memories into one pretty good story.

Sam's book list on creating civilization

Sam Foster Why did Sam love this book?

Michener’s fifty-year-old novel focuses on a natural spring that becomes a tell – one civilization stacked on top of another from the beginning of time. It is the spring that makes life. If it is life that creates civilization and then destroys it and then comes back to the water to create yet another. The eternal and lasting thing is the water. Michener makes a beautiful story of the civilizations that come and go and stack on top of one another. 

The town is a new civilization created, the founder believes, from wilderness. But it is not so. The spot he choose was previously occupied by indigenous natives and they took it from the natives there before them. How could I not love Michener’s story? It is the same as mine just 5,000 years earlier.

By James A. Michener,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his signature style of grand storytelling, James A. Michener transports us back thousands of years to the Holy Land. Through the discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in an ancient city and traces the profound history of the Jewish people—from the persecution of the early Hebrews, the rise of Christianity, and the Crusades to the founding of Israel and the modern conflict in the Middle East. An epic tale of love, strength, and faith, The Source is a richly written saga that encompasses the history of Western civilization and the great…


Book cover of The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

Sam Foster Author Of Beardstown

From my list on creating civilization.

Who am I?

Beardstown is my ancestral home. I grew up, sitting on my grandfather’s knee and listening to stories of great floods, huge winter storms, steamboat trade up and down the river, and even ancient tales of the Iroquois annihilating the Mascouten and the long-forgotten Indian mounds. It has been such a joy to be able to compile all those ancient memories into one pretty good story.

Sam's book list on creating civilization

Sam Foster Why did Sam love this book?

Friedman is perhaps America’s preeminent geopolitical thinker. And like his field of study, it is his position that it is geography that creates the political and cultural decisions that drive any societies choices. Trade required two things – a surplus of product to sell and a means of getting the product to market. So he had to pick a spot on a river with access to markets and it had to be a place with soil rich enough to create agricultural surpluses. The rich prairie of Illinois created the one and the Illinois River traced as far upstream as steady traffic could travel created the other. I think George Friedman, author of The Next Hundred Years would have both admired and agreed with everyone of my hero’s choices. But it’s way more interesting to see those choices played out in a novel format than an academic one.

By George Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Next 100 Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his long-awaited and provocative book, George Friedman turns his eye on the future-offering a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century. He explains where and why future wars will erupt (and how they will be fought), which nations will gain and lose economic and political power, and how new technologies and cultural trends will alter the way we live in the new century.

The Next 100 Years draws on a fascinating exploration of history and geopolitical patterns dating back hundreds of years. Friedman shows that we are now, for…


Book cover of Hearts Beating for Liberty: Women Abolitionists in the Old Northwest

Joan E. Cashin Author Of War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War

From my list on gender and race in 18th and 19th Century America.

Who am I?

I am a history professor at Ohio State, where I have taught for most of my career. I have always been fascinated by how people in different regions define their own identities, how other Americans perceive them, and how these ideas change over time. Having lived through several wars (as a civilian), I have observed that social and political conflicts on the homefront can be intense in their own right and that non-military events and military events are often connected. In my work, I have published on gender, race, slavery, family, material culture, legal history, and environmental history, from the Revolution through the Civil War. 

Joan's book list on gender and race in 18th and 19th Century America

Joan E. Cashin Why did Joan love this book?

Robertson focuses on dedicated female abolitionists in the Midwest, whom scholars have neglected. 

They threw themselves into their activism, supporting boycotts, aiding runaway slaves, and supporting reform parties. She highlights their flexibility and pragmatism, including their willingness to work with abolitionists of all backgrounds.

I found this title uplifting.

By Stacey M. Robertson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hearts Beating for Liberty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Challenging traditional histories of abolition, this book shifts the focus away from the East to show how the women of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin helped build a vibrant antislavery movement in the Old Northwest.

Stacey Robertson argues that the environment of the Old Northwest--with its own complicated history of slavery and racism--created a uniquely collaborative and flexible approach to abolitionism. Western women helped build this local focus through their unusual and occasionally transgressive activities. They plunged into Liberty Party politics, vociferously supported a Quaker-led boycott of slave goods, and tirelessly aided fugitives and free blacks in their communities.…


Book cover of The Ohio Frontier, Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830

Lori Benton Author Of Many Sparrows

From my list on Dunmore’s War (1774 Ohio frontier).

Who am I?

Lori Benton is an award-winning, multi-published author of historical novels set during the 18th century North America. Her literary passion is bringing little known historical events to life through the eyes of those who lived it, particularly those set along the Appalachian frontier, where European and Native American cultural and world views collided. Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore’s campaign against the Shawnee nation on the eve of the Revolutionary war, culminating in the Battle of Point Pleasant, is a fascinating, complex, and poignant example of the armies and individuals that planned, fought, and resisted the campaign.

Lori's book list on Dunmore’s War (1774 Ohio frontier)

Lori Benton Why did Lori love this book?

Part of the “History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier” series, this book presents readers with many entertaining and informative accounts of Ohio life throughout the frontier era. The period covered in this book is just over 100 years, so Dunmore’s War, while given attention, is not explored in detail. Still, I found this book a valued and comprehensive survey that helped me to understand the political and cultural factors that led to the conflict in 1774, as well as what followed after.

By R. Douglas Hurt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ohio Frontier, Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ohio Frontier
Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830

R. Douglas Hurt

"This exhaustively researched and well-written book provides a comprehensive history of Ohio from 1720 to 1830."
-Journal of the Early Republic

Nowhere on the American frontier was the clash of cultures more violent than in the Ohio country. There, Shawnees, Wyandots, Delawares, and other native peoples fought to preserve their land claims against an army that was incompetent at the beginning but highly trained and disciplined in the end.

Sales territory is worldwide
A History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier
1996; 440 pages, 23 b&w photos, 7 maps, bibl.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in pioneers, the American West, and American Indians?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about pioneers, the American West, and American Indians.

Pioneers Explore 76 books about pioneers
The American West Explore 121 books about the American West
American Indians Explore 213 books about American Indians