100 books like Thirteen Days in September

By Lawrence Wright,

Here are 100 books that Thirteen Days in September fans have personally recommended if you like Thirteen Days in September. 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 An Hour Before Daylight: Memories Of A Rural Boyhood

Craig Fehrman Author Of Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote

From my list on written by American presidents.

Why am I passionate about this?

Craig Fehrman spent ten years writing Author in Chief, his book on presidents and the books they wrote. When readers would learn about his research, they'd always ask -- "Are any of them worth reading?" The answer turned out to be a definitive yes! Presidential books have won elections, redefined careers, and shaped America's place in the world. It's easy to eye-roll at modern political volumes, but for most of American history, books have been our popular culture -- and presidential books have changed our nation. Here are a few of the books that will reward readers today. 

Craig's book list on written by American presidents

Craig Fehrman Why did Craig love this book?

Carter has written a huge number of books, including a historical novel and a volume of poetry, but this one is definitely his best. Like Coolidge's, it’s simple, detail-driven, and always personal, capturing Carter's Georgia childhood and connecting it to bigger issues like the Great Depression and the Jim Crow South. There's a handful of shorter, more intimate books by ex-presidents—not only Carter’s but also Harry Truman’s Mr. Citizen and Dwight Eisenhower’s At Ease—and these books always read better and reveal more than their authors’ official presidential memoirs. I wish more ex-presidents would follow Coolidge in writing that punchy and personal book first, about their White House years. If they tried this approach, they would find that it makes everyone a winner—not just the presidents but also their readers.

By Jimmy Carter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked An Hour Before Daylight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this powerful memoir, former President and bestselling author Jimmy Carter writes about the powerful rhythms of countryside and community in a sharecropping economy. He offers an unforgettable portrait of his father, a brilliant farmer and strict segregationist who treated black workers with his own brand of 'separate' respect and fairness; and his strong-willed and well-read mother, a nurse who cared for all in need. He describes the five other people who shaped his early life, only two of them white; his eccentric relatives; and the boyhood friends with whom he worked the farm and hunted with slingshots and boomerangs,…


Book cover of Always a Reckoning and Other Poems

Jonathan Alter Author Of His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life

From my list on Jimmy Carter.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jonathan Alter is an award-winning author, political analyst, documentary filmmaker, columnist, television producer and radio host. He has interviewed eight of the last nine American presidents and lectures widely about the presidency and public affairs.

Jonathan's book list on Jimmy Carter

Jonathan Alter Why did Jonathan love this book?

During one of my interviews, Carter told me that he had trouble expressing his emotions outside of his poetry. While Carter is not an outstanding poet, he succeeds here in offering glimpses of his inner life and fraught race relations in the American South. And he explores his relationship with his father, wife, son and others.

By Jimmy Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Always a Reckoning and Other Poems as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first collection of poetry by former President Jimmy Carter, who shares here his private memories about his childhood, his family and political life, with illustrations by his granddaughter. Always a Reckoning sets a precedent since no other president has published a book of poetry. Gift packaged with ribbon marker. A portion of the proceeds from sales will be donated to charity.


Book cover of The Great Shark Hunt

Jonathan Alter Author Of His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life

From my list on Jimmy Carter.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jonathan Alter is an award-winning author, political analyst, documentary filmmaker, columnist, television producer and radio host. He has interviewed eight of the last nine American presidents and lectures widely about the presidency and public affairs.

Jonathan's book list on Jimmy Carter

Jonathan Alter Why did Jonathan love this book?

After Carter left office, it was hard to remember what made him so exciting when he first became a national figure in 1976. In his patented “gonzo” style, Thompson’s flattering and entertaining articles on Carter in this collection shed light on what made Carter compelling and cool. Thompson's stature among young journalists was so great at the time that his coverage of Carter helped make him president.

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Well . . .yes, and here we go again' Dr Hunter S. Thompson

Indeed we do. Here, in one chunky volume, is the best of gonzo. From Private Thompson in trouble with the air force, to the devastating portrait of the ageing Muhammad Ali. Taking in the Kentucky Derby, Freak Power in the Rockies, Nixon in '68, McGovern in '72, Fear and Loathing at the Watergate, Jimmy Carter and the Great Leap of Faith - and much more. An indispensable compendium of decadence, depravity and horse-sense.

'Hunter Thompson elicits the same kind of admiration one would feel for a streaker…


Book cover of All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter With Iran

Jonathan Alter Author Of His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life

From my list on Jimmy Carter.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jonathan Alter is an award-winning author, political analyst, documentary filmmaker, columnist, television producer and radio host. He has interviewed eight of the last nine American presidents and lectures widely about the presidency and public affairs.

Jonathan's book list on Jimmy Carter

Jonathan Alter Why did Jonathan love this book?

Sick, Carter’s White House adviser on Iran, offers a cogent, deeply insightful account of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the seizure of American hostages in Tehran, and the Carter Administration’s inadequate response to the unfolding crisis. In a later book, The October Surprise, Sick falls just short of proving that the Reagan campaign conspired with the Iranian government to delay the release of the hostages until after the 1980 election. But he is convincing in his claim that the truth in this sordid affair has never fully come to light.

By Gary Sick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A former naval intelligence officer and National Security Council staff member provides a day-to-day account of the Iranian revolution, the hostage crisis, and America's failure to deal effectively with both


Book cover of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By: How One Woman Confronted the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time

From my list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Conflict resolution and intergroup relations are my passions. Perhaps because I’m a child of the Holocaust. My parents and I arrived in the U.S. as stateless refugees. The Holocaust primed me to explore why religion inspires so much hate. My career as a criminologist got me interested in the link between religion and violence. My refugee roots led me to an International Rescue Committee report on the Syrian crisis. That report hit me hard and felt very personal because it echoed my own family’s suffering in the Holocaust. I saw an opportunity to build bridges between enemies—Israel and Syria, Jews and Muslims—while also saving lives.  

Georgette's book list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Why did Georgette love this book?

A veritable tome documenting the entire history of Middle East peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, including Syria, by Dennis Ross, the envoy who was on the inside throughout. Important revelations and insights emerge from the pages of this in-depth narrative of these torturous negotiations. It debunks the myth that no solutions had been or can be found. But despite agreements on all sides, one party or the other usually walked away. Because of my work in Israel, Jordan, Oman, Syria, and the Emirates, I found this book to be particularly valuable. And, now that I’ve come to know Dennis Ross personally, I value his contributions even more. 

By Dennis Ross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The respected ambassador and chief Middle East negotiator in both the Clinton and Bush administrations offers an assessment of the peace process from 1988 to the present.


Book cover of Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam

Alexander Sedlmaier Author Of Protest in the Vietnam War Era

From my list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian and someone who grew up in Cold War Berlin, I am constantly inspired by efforts to curb the devastating effects of industrialised warfare. I love learning about people who had the courage to speak up, and how their historical understanding of the military abuse of power enables us to think differently about present-day warfare. So much of my research has been inspired by social movements and their difficult efforts to improve the world. While I am no expert on Vietnamese history, I have been fortunate to have learned a lot about how ingenious the Vietnamese revolutionaries were in actively pedalling the global emergence of Vietnam War protest. 

Alexander's book list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War

Alexander Sedlmaier Why did Alexander love this book?

In January 1966, Ho Chi Minh said in an eye-opening discussion with Polish diplomat Jerzy Michałowski: “We don’t want to become the victors; we just want the Americans to piss off!”

This was in the run-up to the Polish-Italian peace initiative codenamed “Marigold”. Exploring the latter in great detail, James Hershberg in 2012 brought forth the straightforward argument that it could have succeeded in ending the war before 1968. Using new evidence from Polish, Italian, and Vietnamese sources, he penned an enormous (almost 900 pages), yet accessible book exposing how the Johnson administration sabotaged this genuine peace effort with an eye to winning on the battlefield.

The result is Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam, a most impressive addition to the international history of the Vietnam War.

By James Hershberg,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon

Beatrice de Graaf Author Of Fighting Terror After Napoleon: How Europe Became Secure After 1815

From my list on how Europe waged peace after Napoleon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was struck by the memoirs of Louisa Adams who travelled through Europe during the last Napoleonic battles. She was a young mother, and had to take her 7-year old son with her. Having children myself, I started wondering: how did people "on the ground" experience the last stages of the Napoleonic wars and the transition towards peace? I am a professor in the History of International Relations at Utrecht University. I write about terrorism and security in the 20th and 21st centuries. Yet, over the past decade, I felt the need to go further back in time, to that seminal period of the Age of Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, because that period truly saw the birth of a new security culture in Europe and beyond.

Beatrice's book list on how Europe waged peace after Napoleon

Beatrice de Graaf Why did Beatrice love this book?

Where my book, Fighting Terror, zooms in on the Allied Council, and its encompassing security culture, Christine Haynes’ rich and detailed book reconstructs the interactions between occupying soldiers and the occupied in Paris and across the French countryside. She meticulously details how these interactions involved violence, but also promoted cultural exchange (vernacular, songs, dances, fashion, food) and reconciliation between the French and their former enemies. Her book reads as a narrative on how to transform former enemies into allies, a unique blueprint for fraternizing-through-occupying on the ground.

By Christine Haynes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Napoleonic wars did not end with Waterloo. That famous battle was just the beginning of a long, complex transition to peace. After a massive invasion of France by more than a million soldiers from across Europe, the Allied powers insisted on a long-term occupation of the country to guarantee that the defeated nation rebuild itself and pay substantial reparations to its conquerors. Our Friends the Enemies provides the first comprehensive history of the post-Napoleonic occupation of France and its innovative approach to peacemaking.

From 1815 to 1818, a multinational force of 150,000 men under the command of the Duke…


Book cover of The International Relations of the Persian Gulf

Birol Baskan Author Of Turkey and Qatar in the Tangled Geopolitics of the Middle East

From my list on the Persian/Arabian Gulf international politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

The events/developments that unsettle international politics of the Gulf are two kinds: internal and external to the region. Yet, no matter whether it is internal or external, its consequences concern us all, no matter where we live in. What happens in the Gulf does not stay in the Gulf. It unleashes ripple effects that reach directly or indirectly into our pockets and hence our lives. I am one of them and a non-resident scholar in the Middle East Institute, broadly speaking, writing on Turkey, the Persian/Arab Gulf, and the Middle East. 

Birol's book list on the Persian/Arabian Gulf international politics

Birol Baskan Why did Birol love this book?

The US is indisputably the hegemonic power in and the gendarmerie of the Persian/Arabian Gulf. And the Arab states on that Gulf’s southern littoral are perfectly content with that and even concerned that the US might no longer serve in that role. This book provides a comprehensive and in-depth historical account of how that happened, weaving together a complex set of factors, regional and international events and developments, into one coherent narrative. As such it is the first to be picked and consumed by any inquirer into the topic.

By F. Gregory Gause III,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The International Relations of the Persian Gulf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gregory Gause's masterful book is the first to offer a comprehensive account of the international politics in the Persian Gulf across nearly four decades. The story begins in 1971 when Great Britain ended its protectorate relations with the smaller states of the lower Gulf. It traces developments in the region from the oil 'revolution' of 1973-4 through the Iranian revolution, the Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf war of 1990-1 to the toppling of Saddam Hussein in the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, bringing the story of Gulf regional politics up to 2008. The book highlights transnational identity issues, regime…


Book cover of Vietnam: A History in Documents

Mandaley Perkins Author Of Hanoi, Adieu - A Bitterweet Memoir Of French Indochina

From my list on the French in Vietnam.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the crucial period after the end of WW2 the stage became set for thirty years of war in Vietnam, yet there’s very little written of it. My stepfather was there, and Hanoi, Adieu is a memoir of his experiences and his sentiments about what happened in the country he’d grown to love. I have a fascination for Southeast Asian history and he was keen for me to tell his story such that readers could absorb the history through his book. I have recommended here those I enjoyed and found useful from a historical or atmospheric perspective in the larger context of French Indochina. I hope you will too.

Mandaley's book list on the French in Vietnam

Mandaley Perkins Why did Mandaley love this book?

If you are a serious student of history then you will be fascinated by this book because it tells a story in letters and official documents of how events in Vietnam unfolded the way they did. The book is a history of communications and policy documents between all the key decision-makers from the end of the 2nd World War in 1945 through two more wars, one with the French and another with the United States, ending in 1975. It reminds us how easily things could have swung a different way and, for me, raises many questions. Could thirty years of war have been avoided had there not been a power vacuum in North Vietnam at the end of WW2 when the French military was left in incarceration by the small anti-colonial US occupation force, leading to the outbreak of violence and chaos between Nationalist Vietnamese, Communists posing as Nationalists,…

By Gareth Porter (editor),

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq

Luke Peterson Author Of The U.S. Military in the Print News Media: Service and Sacrifice in Contemporary Discourse

From my list on a critical perspective on U.S. foreign policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a teacher, writer, scholar, and, above all, a critic of social injustice for my entire professional life. My experience living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank informed my critical voice around issues of language, knowledge, history, and policy in and about the Middle East, leading to the publication of my two scholarly monographs: Palestine in the American Mind: The Discourse on Palestine in the Contemporary United States and Palestine-Israel in the Print News Media: Contending Discourses. The titles I introduce here have been vital to my ongoing education on these issues and in my continuing advocacy for peace and justice in Palestine, the Middle East, and around the world. 

Luke's book list on a critical perspective on U.S. foreign policy

Luke Peterson Why did Luke love this book?

I would not be the historian or social critic I am today without the guidance of the scholarship of Stephen Kinzer. From his prolific histories about Iran or the Middle East more broadly to his courageous dissection of the international crimes of the CIA, Kinzer’s views on American foreign policy are as relevant as they are important for the development of a complete worldview of contemporary international politics.

In this book, Kinzer brings all of these tools to bear in demonstrating how, time and again, the United States pursued selfish interests to the detriment of millions around the globe, usually with power and riches subsequently being shifted into the hands of American political elites.

Kinzer’s book is informative, provocative, and engaging and, therefore, makes for a necessary companion to my own work in this field. 

By Stephen Kinzer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow provides a fast-paced narrative history of the coups, revolutions, and invasions by which the United States has toppled fourteen foreign governments -- not always to its own benefit

"Regime change" did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush, but has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy for more than one hundred years. Starting with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and continuing through the Spanish-American War and the Cold War and into our own time, the United States has not hesitated to overthrow governments that stood in the way of its…


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