100 books like Tower of Skulls

By Richard B. Frank,

Here are 100 books that Tower of Skulls fans have personally recommended if you like Tower of Skulls. 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 Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945

Ronald Spector Author Of In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia

From my list on the Asia Pacific War from 1937-1945.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Emeritus Professor of History and International Relations at George Washington University. Although I trained at Yale to be a college teacher, I spent most of the first twenty years of my career working in and with the military. I served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam and later as a reservist on active duty during the Grenada –Lebanon Operations in the early 1980s and during the Gulf War.. As a civilian, I worked at the U.S. Army Center of Military History and subsequently as Director of Naval History and of the Naval History and Heritage Command. I  joined George Washington University in 1990. I am the author of six books about military history, two of which, Eagle Against The Sun: The American War With Japan and In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia are directly about the Asia- Pacific War.   

Ronald's book list on the Asia Pacific War from 1937-1945

Ronald Spector Why did Ronald love this book?

For many years, American views of the China’s role in World War II were strongly influenced by Barbara Tuchman’s best-selling, Stilwell and the American Experience in China published in 1971. Tuchman painted China’s war effort as brave but costly and ineffective thanks to the incompetence and corruption of Chiang Kai Shek. Portrayed as a kind of Chinese George Washington in the U.S. media, Tuchman saw Chiang as being in fact, far less interested in defeating the Japanese than in ensuring that his regime survived the war in a position to vanquish its domestic rivals, especially Mao Zedong’s Communists 

In contrast, Mittar’s focus is not on policy squabbles or specific military issues but on the overall impact of the war on China and its people. He highlights that country’s remarkable achievement, not in winning battles but in surviving the Japanese onslaught for eight long years despite the early loss of almost…

By Rana Mitter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Economist Book of the Year
A Financial Times Book of the Year

“A book that has long cried out to be written.” — Observer (UK), Books of the Year

In 1937, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, Chinese troops clashed with Japanese occupiers in the first battle of World War II. Joining with the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, China became the fourth great ally in a devastating struggle for its very survival.

Prizewinning historian Rana Mitter unfurls China’s drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue as never before. Based on groundbreaking research, this gripping…


Book cover of War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career teaching high school. I attended amazing professional development institutes, where scholars showed me how the stories I’d learned and then taught to my own students were so oversimplified that they had become factually incorrect. I was hooked. I kept wondering what else I’d gotten wrong. I earned a Ph.D. in modern US History with specialties in women’s and gender history and war and society, and now I’m an Associate Professor of History at Iowa State University and the Coordinator of ISU’s Social Studies Education Program. I focus on historical complexity and human motivations because they are the key to understanding change.

Amy's book list on books about twenteith-century U.S. History that make you rethink something you thought you already knew

Amy J. Rutenberg Why did Amy love this book?

This book is probably the first scholarly book that blew my mind and pushed me to want to know what else I had always gotten wrong.

Where, like most people I know, I had always thought that the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was just a thing that happened because of “war,” this book made it clear why it happened.

The US and Japan, both diplomats and everyday people, did not choose to understand each other. Different world views, different assumptions, and plain old racism led the US and Japan into a horrific, bloody conflict with long-lasting consequences.

By John W. Dower,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked War Without Mercy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD • AN AMERICAN BOOK AWARD FINALIST • A monumental history that has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the most original and important books to be written about the war between Japan and the United States.”

In this monumental history, Professor John Dower reveals a hidden, explosive dimension of the Pacific War—race—while writing what John Toland has called “a landmark book ... a powerful, moving, and evenhanded history that is sorely needed in both America and Japan.”
 
Drawing on American and Japanese songs, slogans, cartoons, propaganda films, secret…


Book cover of The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway

Barrett Tillman Author Of When the Shooting Stopped: August 1945

From my list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all Boomers, I grew up in the shadow of “The War.” My parents, relatives, and others participated in World War II to various extents; all were affected by it. Therefore, I absorbed the Pacific Theater early on. My father trained as a naval aviator, and among my early TV memories is the 1950s series Victory at Sea. My mother coaxed me early on, and an aunt was an English teacher, so I began learning to read before kindergarten. In retrospect, that gave me extra time to start absorbing the emerging literature. Much later I helped restore and flew WW II aircraft, leading to my first book.

Barrett's book list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific

Barrett Tillman Why did Barrett love this book?

Published ten years apart (1984 and 1994), John Lundstrom’s two-volume set was well worth the wait. 

His first installment set an exceptionally high bar with minutely detailed analysisoften including cockpit-to-cockpit matchups—of U.S. and Japanese aerial encounters. Volume One rightly peaks with the vital Battle of Midway in June 1942, while the second covers land and carrier-based operations at Guadalcanal from August to November.

Both volumes place the combatants in the context of time and place including their institutional backgrounds. With numerous veteran contributions dating from the 1970s, neither book could be written today.

By John B. Lundstrom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hailed as one of the finest examples of aviation research, this comprehensive 1984 study presents a detailed and scrupulously accurate operational history of carrier-based air warfare. From the earliest operations in the Pacific through the decisive Battle of Midway, it offers a narrative account of how ace fighter pilots like Jimmy Thach and Butch O'Hare and their skilled VF squadron mates-called the `first team'--amassed a remarkable combat record in the face of desperate odds.

Tapping both American and Japanese sources, historian John B. Lundstrom reconstructs every significant action and places these extraordinary fighters within the context of overall carrier operations.…


Book cover of Crossing the Line: A Bluejacket's Odyssey in World War II

Ronald Spector Author Of In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia

From my list on the Asia Pacific War from 1937-1945.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Emeritus Professor of History and International Relations at George Washington University. Although I trained at Yale to be a college teacher, I spent most of the first twenty years of my career working in and with the military. I served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam and later as a reservist on active duty during the Grenada –Lebanon Operations in the early 1980s and during the Gulf War.. As a civilian, I worked at the U.S. Army Center of Military History and subsequently as Director of Naval History and of the Naval History and Heritage Command. I  joined George Washington University in 1990. I am the author of six books about military history, two of which, Eagle Against The Sun: The American War With Japan and In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia are directly about the Asia- Pacific War.   

Ronald's book list on the Asia Pacific War from 1937-1945

Ronald Spector Why did Ronald love this book?

Though less well known than Eugene Sledge’s With the Old Breed or Richard Tregaskis’ Guadalcanal Diary, this is one of the finest memoirs of World War II and one of the few by an enlisted sailor. At his death at 94, Alvin Kernan was a recognized expert on Shakespeare with long years on the faculties of Yale and Princeton but in 1940 he was a seventeen-year-old boy from the mountains of Wyoming who enlisted in the Navy because he was unable to meet a small cash fee connected to his college scholarship. 

Kernan was aboard the carrier Hornet when it carried Doolittle's Raiders to Tokyo,  during tthe Battle of Midway and when it was lost during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942. He served aboard two other aircraft carriers and advanced from ordnance-man to aerial gunner and chief petty officer. His descriptions of the dramatic…

By Alvin Kernan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this memoir of life aboard aircraft carriers during World War II, Alvin Kernan combines vivid recollections of his experience as a young enlisted sailor with a rich historical account of the Pacific war.

"One of the most arresting naval autobiographies yet published."-Sir John Keegan

"An honest story of collective courage, evocative, well-written, and fixed before the colors fade."-Kirkus Reviews

"[Kernan] recounts a wonderful and exciting American story about a poor farm boy from Wyoming who enlisted in the Navy. . . .[He] has written eight other books. I will go back and read them all."-John Lehman, Air & Space…


Book cover of On the Horizon

Constance Hays Matsumoto Author Of Of White Ashes

From my list on beyond Oppenheimer: the truth, reality, and horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write stories and poetry intended to influence positive change in our world. Since marrying Kent 25 years ago and then growing to know and love his parents, something stirred in me to learn more and to write Of White Ashes. In our research, we relied on over 50 primary Hiroshima sources, visited the family home in Hiroshima, saw the bomb shelter my father-in-law dug into the side of a hillside, visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the few buildings that still stand, and walked where my father-in-law walked. Researching and writing Of White Ashes changed me—forever. My article, "How the History of Nuclear Violence Shapes Our Present", was published in CrimeReads.

Constance's book list on beyond Oppenheimer: the truth, reality, and horror

Constance Hays Matsumoto Why did Constance love this book?

On the Horizon is unique, as it brings Lois Lowry’s personal experiences to the page.

Lowry was born in Honolulu, where the U.S./Japan war began during WWII with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was eleven years old when she moved to Tokyo where her father was stationed during the Occupation.

On the Horizon conveys great meaning over the course of its 72 pages, is creatively illustrated, and is appropriate for young and older readers alike. It delivers substance in verse—about those who died or whose lives were forever changed at Pearl Harbor and in Hiroshima. Names of the deceased and ordinary items—tricycles, paper cranes, and dolls—tell extraordinary stories of hate, shame, guilt, fear, loss, grief, and hope.

By Lois Lowry, Kenard Pak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Horizon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII's most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak. Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this stunning work in verse for young readers. On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl…


Book cover of Island Encounters: Black and White Memories of the Pacific War

Lin Poyer Author Of The Typhoon of War: Micronesian Experiences of the Pacific War

From my list on the indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are three anthropologists who have focused decades of research on the cultures and histories of the beautiful part of the world known as Micronesia. We wrote this book when we realized that the many volumes of history on War in the Pacific focused on the combatants, and told us little of the experiences of the Islanders across whose lands, seas, and airspace the war was fought. Kwajalein, Enewetak, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Peleliu, Saipan, Guam, Tinian—these were not just battlegrounds, but also precious homelands. Our goal was to combine documentary history with interviews of more than 300 elders to tell the story of the war in Micronesia as it was experienced by Islanders who lived through it.

Lin's book list on the indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands

Lin Poyer Why did Lin love this book?

Anyone interested in the War in the Pacific will find this collection of 175 photographs showing the variety of interactions of Islanders and foreign servicemen interesting. It goes beyond official military photos (though there are plenty of those) to include photos from Japanese sources and veterans’ personal photographs. The text gives insight into the conditions of war and how Islanders and foreign fighters perceived and dealt with each other. A beautifully produced book.

By Geoffrey M. White, Lamont Lindstrom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explores the massive and sudden contact between powerful military forces and Pacific islanders, blending oral histories recorded in the islands after WWII with some 175 photographs gleaned from Japanese newspaper morgues, the private albums of US veterans, and Allied military archives. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.


Book cover of MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific

Gerhard Weinberg Author Of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

From my list on World War 2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gerhard Weinberg fled Germany at the end of 1938 and experienced the first year of World War II – including the beginning of the Blitz – in England. He completed his PhD after serving in the US Army of Occupation in Japan, researched the captured German documents, established the program for microfilming them, and after writing an analysis of the origins of World War II decided to prepare a book covering the war as a whole.

Gerhard's book list on World War 2

Gerhard Weinberg Why did Gerhard love this book?

In view of the numerous controversies and varied views of General MacArthur’s actions and policies in the Pacific War, it is great to have a balanced and very carefully researched and presented account of a commander who was in it from Japan’s attack on the United States to Japan’s surrender. While dealing fairly with some of the criticisms of the general, Borneman does note his repeated announcements of battles being ended when they were not as well as the hopeless incompetence of his intelligence chief.

By Walter R. Borneman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

World War II changed the course of history. Douglas MacArthur changed the course of World War II. MACARTHUR AT WAR will go deeper into this transformative period of his life than previous biographies, drilling into the military strategy that Walter R. Borneman is so skilled at conveying, and exploring how personality and ego translate into military successes and failures.

Architect of stunning triumphs and inexplicable defeats, General MacArthur is the most intriguing military leader of the twentieth century. There was never any middle ground with MacArthur. This in-depth study of the most critical period of his career shows how MacArthur's…


Book cover of Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945

Richard Overy Author Of Blood and Ruins: The Great Imperial War 1931-1945

From my list on key moments in World War II and the soldiers who fought in them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professional historian who has been writing books for more than forty years. Most of the books have been about war and dictatorship in the first half of the twentieth century. My last book, The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945, developed my long interest in air war history, which goes back to my first major book written in 1980 on air warfare in World War II.

Richard's book list on key moments in World War II and the soldiers who fought in them

Richard Overy Why did Richard love this book?

This is simply one of the finest books to be written on the final critical two years of the Pacific War, with extensive detail on the Japanese side of the conflict and plenty of new insights into the better-known American story. It is a big book, but this was a large conflict both in terms of space, time, and the resources deployed. It was also chiefly a story of amphibious naval warfare, an original and significant development in modern warfare that too often gets understated. By the end of the conflict, the American armed forces had created the shape that they were to employ for the next half-century in projecting power overseas.

By Marc Gallicchio, Waldo Heinrichs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

May 8, 1945, Victory in Europe Day-shortened to "V.E. Day"-brought with it the demise of Nazi Germany. But for the Allies, the war was only half-won. Exhausted but exuberant American soldiers, ready to return home, were sent to join the fighting in the Pacific, which by the spring and summer of 1945 had turned into a grueling campaign of bloody attrition against an enemy determined to fight to the last man. Germany had surrendered unconditionally. The Japanese
would clearly make the conditions of victory extraordinarily high.

Following V-E Day, American citizens understandably clamored for their young men to be shipped…


Book cover of Twilight of the Gods

Daniel Hammel Author Of Two Flags Over Iwo Jima: Solving the Mystery of the U.S. Marine Corps' Proudest Moment

From my list on the war in the Pacific 1941-1945.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Daniel Hammel and my father Eric Hammel was a prolific author and military historian. He specialized in the Marine Corps and specifically World War II. Though he has passed, several of these books, especially Day of Infamy, inspired him to become an author, where he wrote over 40 books. This list is an ode to my father, Eric, and to his many accomplishments.

Daniel's book list on the war in the Pacific 1941-1945

Daniel Hammel Why did Daniel love this book?

The third and final book of the epic Pacific War Trilogy, Twilight of the Gods is the story of the crushing of the once venerable Japanese Empire. At just under 800 pages the book describes in the great detail the coming apocalypse for the Japanese war machine. While 1943 was pivotal with the war in the Pacific having essentially been won by the Allies, it was 1944 and 1945 where the real murder of empire happened. In these two years of horrendous fighting, hundreds of thousands died for what was clearly a lost cause. The Japanese tried one last time at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but were massacred by the incredible might of the U.S. Navy and combined forces. Toll brings the reader into the little details of the war, and how they affected everything.

By Ian W. Toll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In June 1944, the United States launched a crushing assault on the Japanese navy in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The capture of the Mariana Islands and the accompanying ruin of Japanese carrier airpower marked a pivotal moment in the Pacific War. No tactical masterstroke or blunder could reverse the increasingly lopsided balance of power between the two combatants. The War in the Pacific had entered its endgame.

Beginning with the Honolulu Conference, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with his Pacific theater commanders to plan the last phase of the campaign against Japan, Twilight of the Gods brings…


Book cover of The Widow of the South

Carolyn P. Schriber Author Of Damned Yankee

From my list on what historians don’t tell you on the American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve experimented with many careers during my adult life. I’ve been a nanny, high school Latin teacher, noontime talk-show hostess, computer instructor, college history professor, and president of a four-state charitable organization. But nothing has so occupied my passion as exploring and writing stories about America’s Civil War. Becoming an author was a career choice I made after I retired at the age of 65. I began with a small collection of letters written by my great uncle shortly before his death on a Civil War battlefield. My continuing inspiration comes from the enthusiasm of my readers who want to learn more than their history books offer. 

Carolyn's book list on what historians don’t tell you on the American Civil War

Carolyn P. Schriber Why did Carolyn love this book?

Beyond the usual five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—a sixth stage of heavy responsibility may develop when someone dies in the service of a great cause. As the Battle of Franklin played out in the yard of her Carnton Plantation, Carrie MccGavock felt that sense of obligation to the 9000 soldiers who died in that battle. It is in that sense that Carrie called herself the “Widow of the South.” She disinterred over 1000 anonymous bodies, identified them, reburied them in her own cemetery, and sought to give their families a sense of closure. This moving novel, based on a true story, reminds us that the Civil War was more than maps and casualty statistics. It is a story of heartbreak and devotion.

By Robert Hicks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tennessee, 1864. On a late autumn day, near a little town called Franklin, 10,000 men will soon lie dead or dying in a battle that will change many lives for ever. None will be more changed than Carrie McGavock, who finds her home taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a field hospital. Taking charge, she finds the courage to face up to the horrors around her and, in doing so, finds a cause.

Out on the battlefield, a tired young Southern soldier drops his guns and charges forward into Yankee territory, holding only the flag of his…


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