100 books like The Training Ground

By Martin Dugard,

Here are 100 books that The Training Ground fans have personally recommended if you like The Training Ground. 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 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 Civil War Barons: The Tycoons, Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and Visionaries Who Forged Victory and Shaped a Nation

Nick Vulich Author Of 1861

From my list on capturing the essence of the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

What could be cooler to a kid growing up in the 1960s and 1970s than the Civil War? TV spoon-fed us westerns—Bonanza, F-Troop, The Lone Ranger, and The Wild, Wild West. Many of the stories were set during the Civil War or had characters molded by it. And then, somewhere in the mid-1960s, my parents took me to a civil war reenactment. Guns cracked. Cannons boomed, and men fell. I was hooked. I’ve devoured every Civil War book I could get my hands on for the past fifty years and watched every movie remotely connected to the subject. So, it’s only natural I wrote a book about it.

Nick's book list on capturing the essence of the Civil War

Nick Vulich Why did Nick love this book?

We often think about the Civil War in terms of battles, casualties, and fatalities, which isn’t surprising as war is always considered a bloody business sprinkled with death and destruction. However, many historians overlook that it wasn’t just bullets that won the war. Technological innovations changed the battlefield. For example, Samuel M. Pook teamed up with John Eads to design a new style of armored battleship—dubbed Pook’s Turtles. Just weeks after the gunboats were commissioned, they enabled Ulysses S. Grant and Admiral Andrew Hull Foote to take Forts Henry and Donelson. Later, the fleet assisted John Pope in taking Island 10 and again in the Vicksburg campaign.

Christopher Spencer developed a repeating rifle that fired seven balls in quick succession. Abraham Lincoln’s first test determined the gun was a dud. However, the second test went off without a hitch, and the war department ordered 2,000 Spencer Rifles. Many other…

By Jeffry D. Wert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before the Civil War, America had undergone a technological revolution that made large-scale industry possible, yet, except for the expanding reach of railroads and telegraph lines, the country remained largely rural, with only pockets of small manufacturing. Then the war came and woke the sleeping giant. The Civil War created a wave of unprecedented industrial growth and development, producing a revolution in new structures, ideas, and inventions that sustained the struggle and reshaped America.

Energized by the country's dormant potential and wealth of natural resources, individuals of vision, organizational talent, and capital took advantage of the opportunity war provided. Their…


Book cover of Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever

Nick Vulich Author Of 1861

From my list on capturing the essence of the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

What could be cooler to a kid growing up in the 1960s and 1970s than the Civil War? TV spoon-fed us westerns—Bonanza, F-Troop, The Lone Ranger, and The Wild, Wild West. Many of the stories were set during the Civil War or had characters molded by it. And then, somewhere in the mid-1960s, my parents took me to a civil war reenactment. Guns cracked. Cannons boomed, and men fell. I was hooked. I’ve devoured every Civil War book I could get my hands on for the past fifty years and watched every movie remotely connected to the subject. So, it’s only natural I wrote a book about it.

Nick's book list on capturing the essence of the Civil War

Nick Vulich Why did Nick love this book?

If Abraham Lincoln had survived the war, the country might have followed an entirely different track. Rather than send carpetbaggers to rule the southern states, Lincoln planned on working with the existing rebel governments to transition them back into the Union. However, his policy toward the newly freed blacks was uncertain. Lincoln’s hope was that blacks and whites would learn to live together given time. He just hadn’t figured out how to make that happen.

What’s certain is that Andrew Johnson’s ascendancy to power derailed many of Lincoln’s plans and reversed many of the gains African-Americans had won. Johnson favored quick restoration of the southern states. At the same time, he refused to educate the freedmen and work them into society. His hope was that things would go back to the way they were before the war. Blacks would no longer be slaves but still be dependent on their former…

By Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The anchor of "The O'Reilly Factor" recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history - how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfil Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not…


Book cover of Shot All to Hell

Nick Vulich Author Of 1861

From my list on capturing the essence of the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

What could be cooler to a kid growing up in the 1960s and 1970s than the Civil War? TV spoon-fed us westerns—Bonanza, F-Troop, The Lone Ranger, and The Wild, Wild West. Many of the stories were set during the Civil War or had characters molded by it. And then, somewhere in the mid-1960s, my parents took me to a civil war reenactment. Guns cracked. Cannons boomed, and men fell. I was hooked. I’ve devoured every Civil War book I could get my hands on for the past fifty years and watched every movie remotely connected to the subject. So, it’s only natural I wrote a book about it.

Nick's book list on capturing the essence of the Civil War

Nick Vulich Why did Nick love this book?

One of the biggest worries as the Civil War wrapped up was that Confederate troops might disappear into the Appalachian Mountains, where they could conduct guerrilla raids with relative impunity. As a result, the war could have been extended for years, maybe even decades, as the insurgents crept out of their strongholds to conduct hit and run raids. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Confederate leaders like Robert E. Lee and Pete Longstreet reminded Southerners they lost the war. It was time to get on with their lives.

Most southern veterans accepted the situation. However, a few, like Jesse and Frank James and the Younger brothers, couldn’t accept defeat. So they holed up in the backwoods of Missouri and fought a new kind of war using tactics they’d learned under William Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson.

Sound familiar? It’s the same situation that has allowed terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda to…

By Mark Lee Gardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shot All to Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shot All to Hell by Mark Lee Gardner recounts the thrilling life of Jesse James, Frank James, the Younger brothers, and the most famous bank robbery of all time. Follow the Wild West's most celebrated gang of outlaws as they step inside Northfield's First National Bank and back out on the streets to square off with heroic citizens who risked their lives to defend justice in Minnesota. With compelling details that chronicle the two-week chase that followed-the near misses, the fateful mistakes, and the bloody final shootout on the Watonwan River, Shot All to Hell is a galloping true tale…


Book cover of A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War

Dwight Sturtevant Hughes Author Of Unlike Anything That Ever Floated: The Monitor and Virginia and the Battle of Hampton Roads, March 8-9, 1862

From my list on the naval history of the American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lover of the sea, ships, seamen, and their histories, particularly of navies in the Civil War. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy (1967) with a history major, I served twenty years as a surface warfare officer (ship driver) on most oceans in ships ranging from destroyer to aircraft carrier and with river forces in Vietnam. I earned an M.A. in Political Science and an M.S. in Information Systems Management. Now as a historian, author, and speaker, I’m committed to communicating our naval heritage in an educational and entertaining manner for old hands and new generations. Writing about ships is the next best thing to driving them.

Dwight's book list on the naval history of the American Civil War

Dwight Sturtevant Hughes Why did Dwight love this book?

Although the Civil War was principally a land conflict, naval contributions were fundamental, not just peripheral or supporting. This excellent operational and campaign overview examines social, political, and technological revolutions in Western warfare leading to and through the struggle. It deals primarily with terrestrial warfare, but unlike many such works, places waterborne operations in context and gives the navy its due. Steam propulsion and industrial superiority produced massive Union naval power for a strangling blockade, fortress-busting warship squadrons, and an unprecedented riverine fleet. The Confederacy’s coasts and seaports constituted a third major theater while in the west, rivers were avenues of invasion and conquest. Chapter 5 contains a cogent discussion of “The Unfulfilled Promise of Joint [Army-Navy] Operations.” Highly recommended as a well-integrated military-naval history.

By Williamson Murray, Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How the Civil War changed the face of war

The Civil War represented a momentous change in the character of war. It combined the projection of military might across a continent on a scale never before seen with an unprecedented mass mobilization of peoples. Yet despite the revolutionizing aspects of the Civil War, its leaders faced the same uncertainties and vagaries of chance that have vexed combatants since the days of Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. A Savage War sheds critical new light on this defining chapter in military history.

In a masterful narrative that propels readers from the first…


Book cover of The Last Full Measure

Philip Duke Author Of The Village: A Novel of Wartime Crete

From my list on wartime historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired professor of anthropology. I was first drawn to archaeology after a high-school presentation by a Classics master on the ruins of Paestum. I have enjoyed exploring the past but have a special passion for Greece. Because of my working-class origin in Liverpool, England, class struggle and the fight for human dignity has been a leitmotif of first my academic and now my fiction writing. My books explore how war inevitably changes the lives of the characters. I have bachelors and graduate degrees from Cambridge University and the University of Calgary. I'm a Fellow of the Society of Antiquities. I hope you enjoy the books on my list!

Philip's book list on wartime historical fiction

Philip Duke Why did Philip love this book?

I actually think that Shaara has outdone his father. Both, of course, weave the story around actual historical events, although Shaara Junior’s introduction of fictional characters livens the narrative up. I’ve enjoyed all of Shaara’s books, regardless of their historical setting, but I chose this one because it was a good way for me to learn more about the Civil War post-Gettysburg and also have a really good read.

By Jeff Shaara,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the Pulitzer prize–winning classic The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara created the finest Civil War novel of our time. In the bestselling Gods and Generals, Shaara’s son, Jeff, brilliantly sustained his father’s vision, telling the epic story of the events culminating in the Battle of Gettysburg. Now, Jeff Shaara brings this legendary father-son trilogy to its stunning conclusion in a novel that brings to life the final two years of the Civil War.
 
As The Last Full Measure opens, Gettysburg is past and the war advances to its third brutal year. On the Union side, the gulf between the politicians…


Book cover of Grant Moves South

Donald L. Miller Author Of Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy

From my list on the life of Ulysses S. Grant.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written ten books, four of them prize-winning best sellers, but this is my first book on the Civil War. Fortunately, it’s been generously received. The Wall Street Journal declared it “an epic story” and “rattling good history,” while Pulitzer Prize-winning James M. McPherson declared it “the fullest and best history of the Vicksburg campaign.“ Another Pulitzer receipient, David Blight, praised it for its “sizzling and persuasive prose. Miller has found the way,” he said, “to write both military and emancipation history in one profound package.”

Donald's book list on the life of Ulysses S. Grant

Donald L. Miller Why did Donald love this book?

The war’s greatest military historian takes on its greatest military figure in Bruce Catton’s spirited two-volume classic: Grant Moves South and Grant Takes Command. Written decades ago, these paired volumes remain the finest historical account of Grant’s triumphant Civil War career. In the opening volume, we meet the recently minted brigadier in September 1861 as he prepares to join his army at desolate Cairo, Illinois, having just recovered from a succession of crushing personal failures. In the concluding volume, we leave him at Petersburg Virginia in April 1865, after he demolishes R. E. Lee’s army in the climactic battle of the war. Wannabe revisionists think Catton is outdated. Don’t believe them.

By Bruce Catton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first part of the military biography of Ulysses S. Grant and follows Grant from the summer of 1861 when he takes on his first Civil War command through battles at Belmont, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg to the summer of 1863. The author has used letters, diaries and despatches in order to provide a rounded picture of this general's personality. "Grant Takes Command" forms the second part of this biography.


Book cover of Traveller

Warren Gill Author Of Princess of Horses

From my list on featuring animals for readers who are love animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been passionate about animals all my life. I was raised on and currently help operate the family farm near Petersburg, Tennessee. I have a doctorate in animal science and joined Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) as a Professor of Animal Science and Department Chair on August 1, 2007, after retiring from a 25-year career with the Extension Service (University of Tennessee and University of Kentucky). I enjoy participating in community activities such as the Petersburg Community Cultural Coalition, Petersburg Lion’s Club, and serving as President of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Retiree’s Association. I have written two books, Cane Creek Days and Princess of Horses.

Warren's book list on featuring animals for readers who are love animals

Warren Gill Why did Warren love this book?

Many years ago, I fell in love with Watership Down, Richard Adams’ iconic book about the trials and triumphs of rabbits, from the rabbit’s point of view.

With my doctorate in animal science, I know that neither rabbits nor horses can act, react or think like humans. Giving animals human-only abilities is called anthropomorphism and is not considered scientifically acceptable. That doesn’t matter when Richard Adams fuses his writing skills with a delightful concept of how animals face amazing challenges.

Traveller, Robert E. Lee’s famous war horse, narrates his view of a tragic general fighting in an epic failure of the human spirit. 

By Richard Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This ironic, revisionist view of the Civil War is seen through the eyes of Robert E. Lee's horse, Traveller. Told in a series of monologues directed at a tomcat, his story depicts battles, retreats and casualties. But Traveller's idealization of his rider does not allow him to recognize or even understand defeat. Richard Adams has written "Watership Down", "Shardik", "The Plague Dogs", "The Girl in a Swing" and "Maia".


Book cover of Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters

John Reeves Author Of A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

From my list on understanding Robert E. Lee.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee and A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. I’ve been a teacher, editor, and writer for over twenty-five years. The Civil War, in particular, has been my passion since I first read Bruce Catton’s The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War as an elementary school student in the 1960s. My articles on Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant have been featured in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and on the History News Network.

John's book list on understanding Robert E. Lee

John Reeves Why did John love this book?

Pryor’s work has become essential for scholars of Robert E. Lee. She had access to numerous unpublished documents from Lee’s descendants, and used this invaluable material to provide a more complete and realistic portrait of the man. In one chapter, she explores Lee’s complex attitudes toward slavery. She writes, “He embraced the legal and economic aspects of the master-slave system without really grasping its complex underlying relationships.” The Lost Cause notion that Lee opposed slavery is not supported by the evidence. Pryor provides new insights on his decision to resign from the army in 1861, and offers a detailed account of the creation of Arlington National Cemetery at Lee’s former estate.

By Elizabeth Brown Pryor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Pryor's biography helps part with a lot of stupid out there about Lee - chiefly, that he was, somehow, 'anti-slavery.'" - Ta-Nehisi Coates, theatlantic.com

An "unorthodox, critical, and engaging biography" (Boston Globe) - Winner of The Lincoln Prize

Robert E. Lee is remembered by history as a tragic figure, stoic and brave but distant and enigmatic. Using dozens of previously unpublished letters as departure points, Pryor produces a stunning personal account of Lee's military ability, shedding new light on every aspect of the complex and contradictory general's life story. Explained for the first time in the context of the young…


Book cover of Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee

John Reeves Author Of A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

From my list on understanding Robert E. Lee.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee and A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. I’ve been a teacher, editor, and writer for over twenty-five years. The Civil War, in particular, has been my passion since I first read Bruce Catton’s The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War as an elementary school student in the 1960s. My articles on Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant have been featured in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and on the History News Network.

John's book list on understanding Robert E. Lee

John Reeves Why did John love this book?

The documents for this important collection, first published in 1874, were originally intended for an official biography of Lee. When that book was abandoned, Jones published all of the documents along with accompanying observations and anecdotes. Lee’s wife approved of the project. One historian said this collection “became a source book for all future Lee biographers.” The hagiography here in some of Jones’s anecdotes actually exceeds that of Douglas Southall Freeman, but it’s still an essential book for serious students of Robert E. Lee. Jones knew Lee personally and had access to all of his private papers.

By John William Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert E. Lee lived only five years after the end of the War Between the States. Dedicated to his work in directing the education of young men at Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, where he served as president, he did not have time or opportunity to write his memoirs. One of his chaplains with whom he was quite close in Christian fellowship ─ his familial friend, J. William Jones, set about to prepare a near approximation of Lee’s memoirs, which was endorsed both by the Lee family and Washington (and Lee) College. Lee’s story is told topically as Jones looks…


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