100 books like The Square and the Tower

By Niall Ferguson,

Here are 100 books that The Square and the Tower fans have personally recommended if you like The Square and the Tower. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Michel de Montaigne

Nelson Johnson Author Of Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer

From my list on tell a story previously untold.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nelson Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author (Boardwalk Empire) and has been fascinated with history and Clarence Darrow’s career all his life. From having practiced law many years and presided over 200(+) jury trials as a New Jersey Superior Court Judge, Nelson is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Darrow’s and his wife Ruby’s worst two years together. Nelson’s first four books have all prepared him to tell this story. It’s a tale that asks the reader to judge Darrow.

Nelson's book list on tell a story previously untold

Nelson Johnson Why did Nelson love this book?

For me, Montaigne’s thoughts on life and human foibles compare favorably with those of St. Augustine. His insights on the human condition are valuable to anyone inclined to self-reflection on one’s own frailties. Montaigne’s advice on coping with one’s mortality is worth heeding. He counsels that in order to deny death its sting, “…let us deprive death of its strangeness; let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more in our mind than death.” Yet our mortality is only one of many issues he discusses. Montaigne offers up wisdom on everything from fear, prayer and solitude, to the virtues of social intercourse, avoiding unwanted relationships, and educating children.

By Michel de Montaigne, J.M. Cohen (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage paperback


Book cover of A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America

Nelson Johnson Author Of Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer

From my list on tell a story previously untold.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nelson Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author (Boardwalk Empire) and has been fascinated with history and Clarence Darrow’s career all his life. From having practiced law many years and presided over 200(+) jury trials as a New Jersey Superior Court Judge, Nelson is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Darrow’s and his wife Ruby’s worst two years together. Nelson’s first four books have all prepared him to tell this story. It’s a tale that asks the reader to judge Darrow.

Nelson's book list on tell a story previously untold

Nelson Johnson Why did Nelson love this book?

Shipler’s book is as timely today as when written nearly 25 years ago. Slavery is our nation’s founding sin and was responsible for racism being written into America’s DNA. I spent years researching my book The Northside: African Americans and the Creation of Atlantic City. Shipler’s research was an invaluable aid in understanding where we are today regarding race relations. In everything from pay differentials, education and housing, to healthcare, drug addiction, and death at the hands of police, the chasm between whites and many black Americans is virtually intractable. Shipler does a yeoman’s job of putting race and racism into perspective, making sense of a complex and disturbing issue.

By David K. Shipler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Country of Strangers is a magnificent exploration of the psychological landscape where blacks and whites meet. To tell the story in human rather than abstract terms, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David K. Shipler bypasses both extremists and celebrities and takes us among ordinary Americans as they encounter one another across racial lines.

We learn how blacks and whites see each other, how they interpret each other's behavior, and how certain damaging images and assumptions seep into the actions of even the most unbiased. We penetrate into dimensions of stereotyping and discrimination that are usually invisible, and discover the unseen…


Book cover of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Larry Cahoone Author Of The Emergence of Value: Human Norms in a Natural World

From my list on history and science books that tell us who we are now.

Why am I passionate about this?

A philosophy professor, my central interest has always been something historical: what is going on in this strange modern world we live in? Addressing this required forty years of background work in the natural sciences, history, social sciences, and the variety of contemporary philosophical theories that try to put them all together. In the process, I taught philosophy courses on philosophical topics, social theory, and the sciences, wrote books, and produced video courses, mostly focused on that central interest. The books listed are some of my favorites to read and to teach. They are crucial steps on the journey to understand who we are in this unprecedented modern world.

Larry's book list on history and science books that tell us who we are now

Larry Cahoone Why did Larry love this book?

This is the now classic work on why “advanced” civilization developed in some places and not others in human history. It remains a controversial issue.

A psychologist, ecologist, and geographer with a background in field study in New Guinea, Diamond makes a strong argument that there are environmental reasons for these differences. Ranging across all the continents and thousands of years of human history, I found it hard to put down and even harder to understand how Diamond can work in so many fields at once!

Some do not like this daring book. But nobody has surpassed it yet. 

By Jared Diamond,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Guns, Germs, and Steel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why did Eurasians conquer, displace, or decimate Native Americans, Australians, and Africans, instead of the reverse? In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, a classic of our time, evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond dismantles racist theories of human history by revealing the environmental factors actually responsible for its broadest patterns.

The story begins 13,000 years ago, when Stone Age hunter-gatherers constituted the entire human population. Around that time, the developmental paths of human societies on different continents began to diverge greatly. Early domestication of wild plants and animals in the Fertile Crescent, China,…


Book cover of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

Louis P. Masur Author Of The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America

From my list on the real history of America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Louis P. Masur is a cultural historian who has written on a range of topics in American history, from Abraham Lincoln to Bruce Springsteen, from the first World Series to a photograph that shocked the nation. An award-winning teacher, Masur lectures frequently on various topics in American history. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and Slate. The Sum of Our Dreams emerged out a course he teaches on the American Dream, which, somehow, he still believes in.

Louis' book list on the real history of America

Louis P. Masur Why did Louis love this book?

Loewen’s book, updated since its original publication, explodes some of the many myths and falsehoods contained in textbooks on American history. Whether stories of the first Thanksgiving or America and the Vietnam War, the book challenges interpretations presented as facts and facts that are contested. The result is an indispensable argument for trying to get the facts right when discussing American history.

By James W. Loewen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lies My Teacher Told Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its first publication in 1995, Lies My Teacher Told Me has become one of the most important - and successful - history books of our time. Having sold over two million copies, the book also won an American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship and was heralded on the front page of the New York Times in the summer of 2006. For this new edition, Loewen has added a new introduction that shows how inadequate history courses in high school help produce adult Americans who think Donald Trump can solve their problems.


Book cover of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives -- How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect

Marianne E. Krasny Author Of In This Together: Connecting with Your Community to Combat the Climate Crisis

From my list on influencing others to do about climate change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor at Cornell University who struggles with the meaning of individual action in the face of looming crises—be they plastics and litter, or climate. The idea of Network Climate Action bubbled up one morning as a way to magnify individual actions, such as eating a plant-rich diet, donating money to a climate organization, or joining in an advocacy group. Network Climate Action helps me achieve my role-ideals as a teacher, volunteer, friend, mom, and grandmother, and it gives meaning and happiness to my life. I live in beautiful Ithaca, NY, with my chosen family, which includes an Afghan artist and a Ukrainian mom and her two kids.

Marianne's book list on influencing others to do about climate change

Marianne E. Krasny Why did Marianne love this book?

If we could just teach about the evils of climate change, people would surely change their behaviors.

I knew this idea was not born up by the facts and was searching for an alternative. This book showed me that if I wanted to get people to eat climate-friendly foods or become a climate advocate, I needed to think about social connections—in particular, what people see their friends and family doing.

Not only do the authors describe how we influence each other’s health, voting, and even happiness—they also argue that social networks provide a middle ground between individual destiny vs structural determinism.

In my work, Network Climate Action is similarly a middle ground between individual behavior change vs government policy in addressing the climate crisis. 

By Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Renowned scientists Christakis and Fowler present compelling evidence for our profound influence on one another's tastes, health, wealth, happiness, beliefs, even weight, as they explain how social networks form and how they operate.


Book cover of Someone To Talk To: How Networks Matter in Practice

Janice M. McCabe Author Of Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success

From my list on complicated friendships and meaningful connections.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been studying friendships for over 20 years. As a sociologist, I use social science research methods, particularly interviewing and network analysis, to better understand who people are friends with and how friendship ties help us. As a professor at Dartmouth College, I’m particularly interested in how friendship ties help college students academically and socially and how they get in the way academically and socially. My first research on friendship was a group project in a Women’s Studies course at Tulane University focused on undergraduate women’s close friendships. The best part of that study was developing close friendships with each other, some of which have lasted more than two decades!

Janice's book list on complicated friendships and meaningful connections

Janice M. McCabe Why did Janice love this book?

While friends are important in many ways, so are “weak ties” within our networks. In this non-fiction book, sociologist Mario Luis Small analyzes interviews with a group of graduate students, investigating who they turn to for support about a range of topics, including love, depression, and finances. Because of the obligations that close friends and family entail, Small finds that people often avoid turning to these close ties and instead rely on the convenience of people in their orbits. I’m drawn to this book because it contradicts what we think we know about who we talk to about important matters and because it’s such a rich investigation of people’s social ties and under what circumstances they actually turn to the people closest to them.

By Mario Luis Small,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the James Coleman Award for Best Book from the Rationality and Society section of the American Sociological Society
Winner of the Outstanding Recent Contribution from the Social Psychology section of the American Sociological Association
Winner of the Best Publication Award from the Mental Health section of the American Sociological Association
Honorable Mention, PROSE Book Award, Cultural Anthropology and Sociology, from the Association of American Publishers

When people are facing difficulties, they often feel the need for a confidant. How do they decide on whom to rely? In Someone To Talk To, Mario Luis Small follows a group of…


Book cover of How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions

Marianne E. Krasny Author Of In This Together: Connecting with Your Community to Combat the Climate Crisis

From my list on influencing others to do about climate change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor at Cornell University who struggles with the meaning of individual action in the face of looming crises—be they plastics and litter, or climate. The idea of Network Climate Action bubbled up one morning as a way to magnify individual actions, such as eating a plant-rich diet, donating money to a climate organization, or joining in an advocacy group. Network Climate Action helps me achieve my role-ideals as a teacher, volunteer, friend, mom, and grandmother, and it gives meaning and happiness to my life. I live in beautiful Ithaca, NY, with my chosen family, which includes an Afghan artist and a Ukrainian mom and her two kids.

Marianne's book list on influencing others to do about climate change

Marianne E. Krasny Why did Marianne love this book?

At first I thought that spreading plant-rich diet or other climate-friendly behaviors would be easy—all my students and I had to do was post photos of enticing meals on Instagram, and hundreds if not thousands would rush to their kitchens.

Then I read Centola’s book and realized that measles spread rapidly with minimal effort, but complex behaviors spread only through repeated exposure in tight networks—through multiple messages from multiple messengers.

Host vegan meals for close friends and family and you might see more plant-rich options when you get invited back. 

By Damon Centola,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new, counterintuitive theory for how social networks influence the spread of behavior

New social movements, technologies, and public-health initiatives often struggle to take off, yet many diseases disperse rapidly without issue. Can the lessons learned from the viral diffusion of diseases improve the spread of beneficial behaviors and innovations? How Behavior Spreads presents over a decade of original research examining how changes in societal behavior-in voting, health, technology, and finance-occur and the ways social networks can be used to influence how they propagate. Damon Centola's startling findings show that the same conditions that accelerate the viral expansion of an…


Book cover of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

Stephen Shedletzky Author Of Speak-Up Culture: When Leaders Truly Listen, People Step Up

From my list on transforming your leadershit into leadership.

Why am I passionate about this?

The first day of my career began with 1,000 people being laid off citing “post-merger efficiencies.” I was the young whippersnapper walking in as many more were walking out, boxes in hand. I saw, firsthand, the impact of uncertainty, lack of clear and transparent communications, and leadership, not just on performance, but also on the health and well-being of the colleagues around me. In that first job I became fascinated and obsessed with how work can be something we enjoy and find meaning in. Since then, I’ve devoted my career to making work more inspiring, engaging, and fulfilling. This became my passion and cause because I felt the very opposite.

Stephen's book list on transforming your leadershit into leadership

Stephen Shedletzky Why did Stephen love this book?

As a budding professional I was told not to be so kind to others, so I wasn’t taken advantage of.

Changing who I was and wanted to be didn’t seem like the right recipe for my success. Grant’s debut book has likely had the most impact on how I show up in my career and in life – that being a giver can be the key to our success and fulfillment. A must read for anyone who wants to do well while doing good.

By Adam Grant,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Give and Take as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking look at why our interactions with others hold the key to success, from the bestselling author of Think Again and Originals

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today's dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. In Give and Take, Adam Grant, an award-winning researcher and Wharton's highest-rated professor, examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom. Praised by social scientists, business theorists, and corporate…


Book cover of Driving Results Through Social Networks: How Top Organizations Leverage Networks for Performance and Growth

Henrich Greve Author Of Network Advantage: How to Unlock Value From Your Alliances and Partnerships

From my list on business alliances and collaboration, and power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, and manager who has spent much time thinking and doing research on why collaboration among firms and people is so valued, yet so hard to make successful. I was born in Bergen, Norway, and have spent my time studying and working worldwide – a PhD from Stanford, then working in Japan and Norway until settling in Singapore, working for INSEAD. Keeping my body and mind fit is important to me, so I train boxing and read anything from short articles to lengthy books, on any topic from business to wine. 

Henrich's book list on business alliances and collaboration, and power

Henrich Greve Why did Henrich love this book?

Before even thinking about collaborations and alliances with other firms, executives should consider whether their firm is collaborative enough. Surprisingly, the answer is often “no” because the structure and processes have not been established with an eye towards building a network that spreads information and facilitates collaboration. This book provides very helpful advice on how to improve firms through internal network building.

By Robert L. Cross, Robert J. Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Driving Results Through Social Networks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Driving Results Through Social Networks shows executives and managers how to obtain substantial performance and innovation impact by better leveraging these traditionally invisible assets. For the past decade, Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas have worked closely with executives from over a hundred top-level companies and government agencies. In this groundbreaking book, they describe in-depth how these leaders are using network thinking to increase revenues, lower costs, and accelerate innovation.


Book cover of Collaborate or Perish!: Reaching Across Boundaries in a Networked World

Wes Denham

From my list on crime and criminal justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write books and newspaper columns on criminal justice and criminal defense. As an investigator for criminal defense attorneys, I spent years in the jails and prisons of Florida and Georgia interviewing felony defendants—murderers, child molesters, con men, robbers, drug dealers, whores, wife beaters, and shooters for hire. Some were insane; most weren’t. My interest is personal as well as professional. I live in Police Zone 1, the most dangerous area of my city. It’s a place where kids and church ladies can distinguish a Chinese AK from a Glock nine by sound alone. It’s a place where I carry an extra-large can of pepper spray and a combat knife, just to walk the dog!

Wes' book list on crime and criminal justice

Wes Denham Why did Wes love this book?

Bill Bratton had the original insight that crime is a city problem, not just a cop problem. In this book, he discusses how collaboration between city, state, and federal agencies is essential to reduce murder and violent felonies. How easy is it to get government agencies to cooperate? Like herding cats, you say? More like herding rabid lions and tigers. You’re dealing with bureaucrats who imbibed the subtleties of the double and triple cross with their mothers’ milk!

By William Bratton, Zachary Tumin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collaborate or Perish! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Collaborate or Perish! former Los Angeles police chief and New York police commissioner William Bratton and Harvard Kennedy School’s Zachary Tumin lay out a field-tested playbook for collaborating across the boundaries of our networked world. Today, when everyone is connected, collaboration is the game changer. Agencies and firms, citizens and groups who can collaborate, Bratton and Tumin argue, will thrive in the networked world; those who can’t are doomed to perish.

No one today is better known around the world for his ability to get citizens, governments, and industries working together to improve the safety of cities than William…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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