100 books like "There Is a North"

By John L. Brooke,

Here are 100 books that "There Is a North" fans have personally recommended if you like "There Is a North". 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 Ordeal of the Union, Vol. 1: Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847-1852

James Traub Author Of What Was Liberalism?: The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

From my list on the run-up to the American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist and NYU professor whose primary field is American foreign policy. As a biographer, however, I am drawn to American history and, increasingly, to the history of liberalism. I am now writing a biography of that arch-liberal, Hubert Humphrey. My actual subject thus appears to be wars of ideas. I began reading in-depth about the 1850s, when the question of slavery divided the nation in half, while writing a short biography of Judah Benjamin, Secretary of State of the Confederacy. (Judah Benjamin: Counselor To The Confederacy will be published in October.) It was the decade in which the tectonic fault upon which the nation was built erupted to the surface. There's a book for me in there somewhere, but I haven't yet found it.

James' book list on the run-up to the American Civil War

James Traub Why did James love this book?

The epic, multi-volume work of one of America's great mid-century historians. An old-fashioned work of immense erudition, vivid narrative, decisive judgment. Never before or since have so many great and consequential speeches been delivered in Congress; Nevins furnishes every one of them with suitable embellishment. Vols. 2-4 (in the 8-volume version) offer wonderful set pieces on the great events of the time--the Kansas-Nebraska debate, the Dred Scott case, the rise and election of Abraham Lincoln.

By Allan Nevins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classic study of how and why the Civil War came about.


Book cover of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

Jerome Slater Author Of Mythologies Without End: The US, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1917-2020

From my list on why it took so long for Lincoln to end slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a life-long admirer of Abe Lincoln, and never more so than today when American democracy is again under severe threat. Yet, like so many other admirers of Lincoln, I am puzzled why it took him so long to end slavery: it was not until January 1, 1963, nearly two years after he became president, that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed only those slaves within the Confederacy. Moreover, it wasn’t until the end of the Civil War that Lincoln was able to enforce emancipation in the South, and it wasn’t until the passage of the 13th Amendment at the end of 1865 that all slavery was ended.

Jerome's book list on why it took so long for Lincoln to end slavery

Jerome Slater Why did Jerome love this book?

If you can read only one book on Lincoln, this is the one I would choose. In my opinion—as well as that of many professional historians—it is the best book ever written to examine why Lincoln waited two years after becoming president to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. In this brilliant and elegantly written book, a Pulitzer Prize historian argues, entirely convincingly, that the need to keep together his pro-union coalition required Lincon to proceed very cautiously.

To be sure, Foner writes that while Lincoln’s long-held anti-slavery convictions were not in doubt, he also initially shared the racist attitudes that black people were not ready for full freedom. However, Foner emphasizes that as Lincoln grew in office, his beliefs increasingly moved towards those of Frederick Douglass—whom Lincoln came to greatly admire—and other full-fledged abolitionists.

By Eric Foner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth.


Book cover of Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era

James Traub Author Of What Was Liberalism?: The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

From my list on the run-up to the American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist and NYU professor whose primary field is American foreign policy. As a biographer, however, I am drawn to American history and, increasingly, to the history of liberalism. I am now writing a biography of that arch-liberal, Hubert Humphrey. My actual subject thus appears to be wars of ideas. I began reading in-depth about the 1850s, when the question of slavery divided the nation in half, while writing a short biography of Judah Benjamin, Secretary of State of the Confederacy. (Judah Benjamin: Counselor To The Confederacy will be published in October.) It was the decade in which the tectonic fault upon which the nation was built erupted to the surface. There's a book for me in there somewhere, but I haven't yet found it.

James' book list on the run-up to the American Civil War

James Traub Why did James love this book?

Americans experienced a kind of practice round of the Civil War when both Southern and  Northern settlers flocked into Kansas--the first determined to make it a slave state, the second, a free one. The savage political and military conflict left both sides convinced that the nation could not, in fact, survive half slave and half free. Bleeding Kansas, though a work of serious scholarship, draws heavily on the letters and diaries of those settlers to depict an irreconcilable clash of rival ideologies, ambitions, characters; you would not want to be caught in a bar with the drunken lowlifes who poured across the border from Missouri to rig elections on behalf of slave-owners.

By Nicole Etcheson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few people would have expected bloodshed in Kansas Territory. After all, it had few slaves and showed few signs that slavery would even flourish. But civil war tore this territory apart in the 1850s and 60s, and "Bleeding Kansas" became a forbidding symbol for the nationwide clash over slavery that followed.

Many free-state Kansans seemed to care little about slaves, and many proslavery Kansans owned not a single slave. But the failed promise of the Kansas-Nebraska Act-when fraud in local elections subverted the settlers' right to choose whether Kansas would be a slave or free state-fanned the flames of war.…


Book cover of The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War

James Traub Author Of What Was Liberalism?: The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

From my list on the run-up to the American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist and NYU professor whose primary field is American foreign policy. As a biographer, however, I am drawn to American history and, increasingly, to the history of liberalism. I am now writing a biography of that arch-liberal, Hubert Humphrey. My actual subject thus appears to be wars of ideas. I began reading in-depth about the 1850s, when the question of slavery divided the nation in half, while writing a short biography of Judah Benjamin, Secretary of State of the Confederacy. (Judah Benjamin: Counselor To The Confederacy will be published in October.) It was the decade in which the tectonic fault upon which the nation was built erupted to the surface. There's a book for me in there somewhere, but I haven't yet found it.

James' book list on the run-up to the American Civil War

James Traub Why did James love this book?

Even now we can't quite help thinking that America could have ended slavery without fighting a monstrous war. Delbanco argues that war was not only unavoidable--hardly, in fact, a controversial proposition--but that what made it so was not Kansas-Nebraska or Dred Scott but the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Once Congress agreed that slave-owners could pursue escaped slaves into free territory, and mobilize the federal government to track them down, Northerners got to see first-hand just what it meant to treat humans as chattel. Those sickening scenes helped bring the Republican Party into existence and made its cause that of the North.

By Andrew Delbanco,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book Selection

Winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize

Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

Winner of the Lionel Trilling Book Award

A New York Times Critics' Best Book

"Excellent... stunning."-Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book tells the story of America's original sin-slavery-through politics, law, literature, and above all, through the eyes of enslavedblack people who risked their lives to flee from bondage, thereby forcing the nation to confront the truth about itself. The struggle over slavery divided not only the American nation but also the hearts and minds of individual citizens faced with the timeless problem…


Book cover of Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos

Van Gosse Author Of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War and the Making of a New Left

From my list on Cuba and the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

Van Gosse, Professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College, is the author of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left, published in 1993 and still in print, a classic account of how "Yankees" engaged with the Cuban Revolution in its early years. Since then he has published widely on solidarity with Latin America and the New Left; for the past ten years he has also taught a popular course, "Cuba and the United States: The Closest of Strangers."

Van's book list on Cuba and the United States

Van Gosse Why did Van love this book?

Perez is a commanding figure in this scholarship, deeply learned. I like teaching this concise book of his, full of powerful illustrations (cartoons over many decades), because it really gets at how North Americans have projected their racialized and sexualized fantasies and obsessions onto this island, unable to perceive Cubans as real people, let alone historical actors.

By Louis A. Pérez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cuba in the American Imagination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This title presents the images of beneficence, acts of aggression.For more than two hundred often turbulent years, Americans have imagined and described Cuba and its relationship to the United States by conjuring up a variety of striking images - Cuba as a woman, a neighbor, a ripe fruit, a child learning to ride a bicycle. One of the foremost historians of Cuba, Louis A. Perez Jr. offers a revealing history of these metaphorical and depictive motifs and uncovers the powerful motives behind such characterizations of the island.Perez analyzes the dominant images and their political effectiveness as they have persisted and…


Book cover of Rock Me on the Water: 1974-The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong Author Of So Fetch: The Making of Mean Girls (And Why We're Still So Obsessed with It)

From my list on understanding how movies are made.

Why am I passionate about this?

My writing takes readers behind the scenes of major moments in pop culture history and examines the lasting impact that our favorite TV shows, music, and movies have on our society and psyches. I investigate why pop culture matters. I have written eight books, including the New York Times bestseller Seinfeldia, When Women Invented Television, Sex and the City and Us, and my latest, So Fetch. I’ve chosen books here that share my mission not only by going behind the scenes of major films but also by chronicling their effects on people’s real lives as well as culture and society at large.

Jennifer's book list on understanding how movies are made

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong Why did Jennifer love this book?

This book looks at the ways the pop culture of 1974 reverberated throughout history. I must admit that one of the reasons I love it is that I was born in 1974. Another is that I am enamored of the culture of the ‘70s, which might be evidenced by this list.

Brownstein, a political reporter for The Atlantic and a commentator for CNN, takes pop culture seriously here, and I cannot help but be excited by that. In this book, he looks at the ways that movies, music, TV, and politics interacted in this critical year, and my favorite thing about it is the way he brings them all together.

Brownstein makes the case that this was the year when conservatives lost the culture war and have been playing catch-up ever since.

By Ronald Brownstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rock Me on the Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller

Editors' Choice -New York Times Book Review

In this exceptional cultural history, Atlantic Senior Editor Ronald Brownstein-"one of America's best political journalists" (The Economist)-tells the kaleidoscopic story of one monumental year that marked the city of Los Angeles' creative peak, a glittering moment when popular culture was ahead of politics in predicting what America would become.


Los Angeles in 1974 exerted more influence over popular culture than any other city in America. Los Angeles that year, in fact, dominated popular culture more than it ever had before, or would again. Working in film, recording, and television…


Book cover of Don't Need No Thought Control: Western Culture in East Germany and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Sean Eedy Author Of Four-Color Communism: Comic Books and Contested Power in the German Democratic Republic

From my list on everyday life and politics in the Soviet Bloc.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of modern European history. But before that, my first loves were Star Wars, heavy metal, and comic books. When I started my degree, it only made sense to combine my love of popular culture with my academic interest in the Soviet Bloc states. Cultural history and the history of everyday life, examining the world through cars, comics, film, food, music, or whatever, provide us with a lens through which to see how people understood themselves and came to terms with the society around them, and for my work, to understand how those living under dictatorship resisted and carved out their own niche within a police state.

Sean's book list on everyday life and politics in the Soviet Bloc

Sean Eedy Why did Sean love this book?

Weaving together the influence of film, television, sport, and punk rock, Horten’s book describes how Western media or, specifically, how the East German population’s desire for Western media and consumer culture and the regime’s efforts to satisfy those desires contributed to the peaceful revolution in 1989.

Despite assumptions that the socialist dictatorship in East Germany was omnipresent, this book, like many others about everyday life under communism, undermines that notion. Horten shows the regime locked in a downward spiral. Faced with economic crises and increasingly unable to afford domestic television and film production, the regime turned to Western imports.

This fed the people’s desire for Western media while increasing that appetite and exposing the regime’s weaknesses in the process.

By Gerd Horten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Need No Thought Control as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fall of the Berlin Wall is typically understood as the culmination of political-economic trends that fatally weakened the East German state. Meanwhile, comparatively little attention has been paid to the cultural dimension of these dramatic events, particularly the role played by Western mass media and consumer culture. With a focus on the 1970s and 1980s, Don't Need No Thought Control explores the dynamic interplay of popular unrest, intensifying economic crises, and cultural policies under Erich Honecker. It shows how the widespread influence of (and public demands for) Western cultural products forced GDR leaders into a series of grudging accommodations…


Book cover of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

Stephan Lewandowsky Author Of The Debunking Handbook 2020

From my list on the perils facing democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a lifelong interest in history and in particular the history of democracy. When I became a cognitive scientist, I initially studied basic memory processes using a mix of computer simulations and experimentation. I became interested in misinformation during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the purported “Weapons of Mass Destruction” never materialized but large segments of the American public continued to believe in their existence. Some 20 years later, misinformation has taken center stage in public life and has metastasized into a danger to democracy in many countries around the world. The books on this list should present a warning and inspiration to all of us.

Stephan's book list on the perils facing democracy

Stephan Lewandowsky Why did Stephan love this book?

This is a page-turner that I read in one go from front to finish. It reads like a thriller and keeps you hooked, although it is also a very serious analysis of contemporary Russia by one of the UK’s most skilled journalists and authors. It is as thrilling as it is frightening because there are so many signs that western countries are heading in a similar direction—a country that “is a dictatorship in the morning, a democracy at lunch, an oligarchy by suppertime, while, backstage, oil companies are expropriated, journalists killed, billions siphoned away”, as Peter put it in one of his memorable phrases.

By Peter Pomerantsev,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the new Russia, even dictatorship is a reality show. Professional killers with the souls of artists, would-be theater directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, suicidal supermodels, Hell's Angels who hallucinate themselves as holy warriors, and oligarch revolutionaries: welcome to the glittering, surreal heart of twenty-first-century Russia. It is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, home to a form of dictatorship--far subtler than twentieth-century strains--that is rapidly rising to challenge the West. When British producer Peter Pomerantsev plunges into the booming Russian TV industry, he gains access to every nook…


Book cover of The Moe Manifesto: An Insider's Look at the Worlds of Manga, Anime, and Gaming

Gianni Simone Author Of Otaku Japan: The Fascinating World of Japanese Manga, Anime, Gaming, Cosplay, Toys, Idols and More!

From my list on otaku Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in Japan for the last 30 years but my love for manga, anime, and games is much older and dates back to when UFO Robot Grendizer was first shown on Italian TV a fateful summer evening in 1978. Many years later, I was able to turn my passion for all things Japanese into a job and now I regularly write about politics, society, sports, travel, and culture in all its forms. However, I often go back to my first love and combine walking, urban exploration, and my otaku cravings into looking for new stores and visiting manga and anime locations in and around Tokyo.

Gianni's book list on otaku Japan

Gianni Simone Why did Gianni love this book?

Patrick Galbraith is arguably one of the leading experts on all things otaku. He has written dozens of article and essays and a few books on the subject, and choosing one to showcase here was not easy. The Moe Manifesto is not an entry-level work; it’s for hardcore fans who want to dive headfirst into the otaku rabbit hole. Even I often consult it for inspiration when I write about Japanese subcultures. 

The book’s main selling point – especially if you can’t read Japanese – is that Galbraith has assembled a unique lineup of experts (university professors, social and cultural critics, writers, illustrators and other assorted creatives) that he has extensively interviewed about different aspects of otaku culture. There’s a lot of serious food for thought here.

By Patrick W. Galbraith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Moe is a huge cultural phenomenon and one of the driving forces behind the enormous success of Japanese anime and manga--not just in Japan but now throughout the world.

In Japan, avid fans of manga comics, anime films and video games use the term Moe to refer to the strong sense of emotional attachment they feel for their favorite characters. These fans have a powerful desire to protect and nurture the youthful, beautiful and innocent characters they adore--like Sagisawa Moe in Dinosaur Planet and Tomoe Hotaru in Sailor Moon. They create their own websites, characters, stories, discussion groups, toys and…


Book cover of The Mummy's Curse: The True History of a Dark Fantasy

Catherine Butzen Author Of Painter of the Dead

From my list on explaining why people think mummies are cursed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Egypt – a remote era of history, but so well preserved! I love reading the old documents and finding out what they ate or why the worker Tilamentu was absent from the building site one day. (Turns out he had a fight with his wife). Pop culture likes to focus on the mummies, especially the cursed kind, and I couldn’t help wondering why. Where did those ideas come from? Did the Egyptians actually believe in curses? And what would someone like Tilamentu Q. Public think of it all? I hope you enjoy learning about it as much as I did!

Catherine's book list on explaining why people think mummies are cursed

Catherine Butzen Why did Catherine love this book?

The Victorians loved mummies and mummy stories... and before I read The Mummy’s Curse, I’d never heard of any of them! The nineteenth century’s obsession with Egypt and curses doesn’t get talked about much today. This book opened me up to a whole new world of stories, including some strange curse tales that never got quite as big as King Tut. (Which is a shame, because some of them are wonderfully creepy!)

By Roger Luckhurst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the winter of 1922-23 archaeologist Howard Carter and his wealthy patron George Herbert, the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, sensationally opened the tomb of Tutenkhamen. Six weeks later Herbert, the sponsor of the expedition, died in Egypt. The popular press went wild with rumours of a curse on those who disturbed the Pharaoh's rest and for years followed every twist and turn of the fate of the men who had been involved in the historic discovery. Long dismissed by
Egyptologists, the mummy's curse remains a part of popular supernatural belief. Roger Luckhurst explores why the myth has captured the British…


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