100 books like Unearthing

By Kyo Maclear,

Here are 100 books that Unearthing fans have personally recommended if you like Unearthing. 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 The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

Paolo Squatriti Author Of Weeds and the Carolingians: Empire, Culture, and Nature in Frankish Europe, AD 750-900

From my list on how plants make human history happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an early medieval European historian who, in the last decades, branched out into environmental history. Having grown up in semi-rustic conditions, I have always been curious about rural things and past agricultural practices. I watch carefully as plows slice through fields, mind how birds and bees weave together their ecosystems, and pay attention to the phases by which trees put on and take off their leaves. Now a professional historian, my job involves reading a lot of rural and environmental history, so I have developed a good sense of books that mix academic rigor and approachability.

Paolo's book list on how plants make human history happen

Paolo Squatriti Why did Paolo love this book?

“The face that launched a thousand ships,” as Homer would say. Pollan’s witty and well-written treatment of how plants think and act to modulate their environments inspired 21st-century “critical plant studies” in the Anglophone world, including mine.

The book starts you thinking about the thousands of ways plants elbow into your world and how much they matter to your existence on earth, in economic but also spiritual senses. You end up agape in wonder.

By Michael Pollan,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Botany of Desire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A farmer cultivates genetically modified potatoes so that a customer at McDonald's half a world away can enjoy a long, golden french fry. A gardener plants tulip bulbs in the autumn and in the spring has a riotous patch of colour to admire. Two simple examples of how humans act on nature to get what we want. Or are they? What if those potatoes and tulips have evolved to gratify certain human desires so that humans will help them multiply? What if, in other words, these plants are using us just as we use them? In blending history, memoir and…


Book cover of Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses

Jessica J. Lee Author Of Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging

From my list on change how you think about plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved plants since I was a child – that’s probably why I grew up to become an environmental historian and nature writer! But I longed for stories about plants and nature that didn’t paint them as passive and ours to dominate. And stories that represented the voices of those on the margins of nature writing. I have written three books of nature writing, as well as a nature-themed picture books, and many more shorter essays on the natural world along the way.   

Jessica's book list on change how you think about plants

Jessica J. Lee Why did Jessica love this book?

While many folks turn to Braiding Sweetgrass first, I read Gathering Moss first and was completely enthralled: this is a book that makes the work of science personal.

I love how Kimmerer brings the tiny worlds of moss to life – it’s completely enchanting! It changed my understanding of these tiny plants.

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Gathering Moss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering Moss is a beautifully written mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses.

In this series of linked personal essays, Robin Kimmerer leads general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings. Kimmerer explains the biology of mosses clearly and artfully, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating…


Book cover of The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

Jessica J. Lee Author Of Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging

From my list on change how you think about plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved plants since I was a child – that’s probably why I grew up to become an environmental historian and nature writer! But I longed for stories about plants and nature that didn’t paint them as passive and ours to dominate. And stories that represented the voices of those on the margins of nature writing. I have written three books of nature writing, as well as a nature-themed picture books, and many more shorter essays on the natural world along the way.   

Jessica's book list on change how you think about plants

Jessica J. Lee Why did Jessica love this book?

I was enthralled with this book from its very premise: a book about looking closely…really closely. Haskell tracks the growth of a square meter of forest over a year, bringing to life the minutiae of life.

It’s a book that made me want to get down on the ground and get to know the unseen details of every patch of land I encountered. 

By David George Haskell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of old-growth forest--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pen/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 

Look out for David Haskell's new book, The Songs of Tree: Stories From Nature's Great Connectors, coming in April of 2017

In this wholly original book, biologist David Haskell uses a one- square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world. Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature's path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life.

Each of…


Book cover of Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants

Paolo Squatriti Author Of Weeds and the Carolingians: Empire, Culture, and Nature in Frankish Europe, AD 750-900

From my list on how plants make human history happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an early medieval European historian who, in the last decades, branched out into environmental history. Having grown up in semi-rustic conditions, I have always been curious about rural things and past agricultural practices. I watch carefully as plows slice through fields, mind how birds and bees weave together their ecosystems, and pay attention to the phases by which trees put on and take off their leaves. Now a professional historian, my job involves reading a lot of rural and environmental history, so I have developed a good sense of books that mix academic rigor and approachability.

Paolo's book list on how plants make human history happen

Paolo Squatriti Why did Paolo love this book?

One-stop shopping on the recent history of unwanted (by people) plants.

Though Mabey does not delve far into the past, his treatment of how colonialism in the past two centuries re-shaped the botanical landscape of the entire planet is comprehensive. He is particularly good on islands, where "invasive" plants arrived and thrived with shocking regularity as European and other ships created denser transcontinental connectivity.

He proves that modernity and its technologies did not fix the ongoing human incapacity to control vegetation, but if anything, left us with a bigger and more hybrid botanical mixture.

By Richard Mabey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“[A] witty and beguiling meditation on weeds and their wily ways….You will never look at a weed, or flourish a garden fork, in the same way again.”
—Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder

“In this fascinating, richly detailed book, Richard Mabey gives weeds their full due.”
—Carl Zimmer, author of Evolution

Richard Mabey, Great Britain’s Britain’s “greatest living nature writer” (London Times), has written a stirring and passionate defense of nature’s most unloved plants.  Weeds is a fascinating, eye-opening, and vastly entertaining appreciation of the natural world’s unappreciated wildflowers that will appeal to fans of David Attenborough, Robert…


Book cover of Marble Mountain: A Vietnam Memoir

John Podlaski Author Of Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel

From my list on about the Vietnam War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I served as an infantryman in Vietnam with both the 25th ID and the 101st Airborne. Curiosity about what other units did during the war drove me to read about their exploits and learn about what else took place outside of my little part of the war. I am also the admin of a website dedicated to the Vietnam War and its Warriors. My intent over the last eleven years is to educate the public and continue our legacy.  

John's book list on about the Vietnam War

John Podlaski Why did John love this book?

Bud Willis does a wonderful job with this well-told story and offers the reader an in-depth look at the everyday life of these helicopter flying Marine warriors, which isn’t, by the way, a nine to five job. The book follows “BOO” through training and then during his tour as a chopper pilot in Vietnam; his tour lasting 13 months from March, 1966 through April, 1967. The author also has a fantastic sense of humor and wit that sometimes catches me off-guard, making me laugh out loud. When I thought about the antics and games these officers orchestrated – I had to remind myself that even as officers, many of them were only 19 – 21 years old and still kids themselves. However, war steals that naivety and innocence, leaving in its place deep scars, both physically and mentally.

By Bud Willis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marble Mountain presents a personal account of a young man's 1966 combat tour as a Marine helicopter pilot. Of the many books I have read about Vietnam, Marble Mountain wins hand down for its raw honesty, youthful naiveté, and pure readability. Through riveting imagery, Bud Willis finally opens a window of understanding for readers of any age to experience the conflicting drama of one of the most challenging periods of American history. Gripping, heart-wrenching, and realistic, Bud's poignant memoir lingers with the reader well beyond the conclusion of the book with a powerful message that is as relevant today as…


Book cover of War Crimes 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?

This 1967 collection of essays and speeches by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell fascinates me because it seeks to reveal inconvenient truths while not shying away from a highly partisan intervention.

Russell discusses why he was making a global appeal to protest the US war effort in Vietnam. His book and the subsequent Russell-Sartre War Crimes Tribunal have often been dismissed as biased and uncritical of communist propaganda, but rereading this primary source illuminates an important chapter in the emergence of a global intellectual critique of US imperialism that “millions of Europeans, Asians, Latin Americans” came to share as it was debunking the official position of the Johnson administration and its allies in Vietnam.

By Bertrand Russell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this harsh and unsparing book, Bertrand Russell presents the
unvarnished truth about the war in Vietnam. He argues that "To
understand the war, we must understand America"-and, in doing so, we
must understand that racism in the United States created a climate in
which it was difficult for Americans to understand what they were doing
in Vietnam. According to Russell, it was this same racism that
provoked "a barbarous, chauvinist outcry when American pilots who have
bombed hospitals, schools, dykes, and civilian centres are accused of
committing war crimes." Even today, more than forty years later, this
chauvinist moral…


Book cover of Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth

Elizabeth Raum Author Of A Kidnapping In Kentucky 1776

From my list on middle-grade novels about little known aspects of American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child in New England, I climbed over stone walls wondering about the lives of those who built them. I devoured biographies and historical fiction, but I never imagined that I'd become a writer of such books for kids 8-14. First, I became a social studies teacher and, later, a librarian. I wanted my students to read about honorable characters striving to make the best of difficult but often little-known, historical situations. I demanded reliable details, a challenging conflict, and a resolution filled with hope for a better future. That is now my goal as a writer of children's books – and as a reader. These books meet those high standards. Enjoy! 

Elizabeth's book list on middle-grade novels about little known aspects of American history

Elizabeth Raum Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Reading a novel in letters feels like snooping into someone's private thoughts, and that's exactly how I felt as I read Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth. Reenie, age 11, writes letters that highlight the conflict between those who supported the Vietnam War and those who opposed it. Her letters ultimately reveal the situation faced by her family and by Mr. Marsworth. They are funny and heartfelt. History and family drama mix together in Reenie's letters and Mr. Marsworth's occasional response. O'Connor does a fabulous job of presenting controversial history in an engaging way. 

By Sheila O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth 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?

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft—and gets help from an unlikely source—in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars
 
When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly’s mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents’ Midwestern hometown isn’t easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie’s stumped by just…


Book cover of 13 Cent Killers: The 5th Marine Snipers in Vietnam

Michael Lee Lanning Author Of Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam

From my list on snipers in the Vietnam War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I served as an infantry platoon leader, reconnaissance platoon leader, and rifle company commander in Vietnam and observed the direct results of snipers. I am the author of 30 non-fiction books on the military (six specifically about the Vietnam War), sports, and health that have sold more than 1.1 million copies in 15 countries and 12 languages.

Michael's book list on snipers in the Vietnam War

Michael Lee Lanning Why did Michael love this book?

Titled after the cost of a single sniper round, this book details the performance and accomplishment of scout snipers in the 5th Marine Regiment. Culberson and his fellow Marine snipers exhibited patience, stealth, marksmanship, and pure courage to make their sniper platoon the most decorated in the Corps. Uncommon valor was a common virtue among these one-shot killers.

By John J. Culbertson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 13 Cent Killers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“It’s not easy to stay alive with a $1,000 bounty on your head.”

In 1967, a bullet cost thirteen cents, and no one gave Uncle Sam a bigger bang for his buck than the 5th Marine Regiment Sniper Platoon. So feared were these lethal marksmen that the Viet Cong offered huge rewards for killing them. Now noted Vietnam author John J. Culbertson, a former 5th Marine sniper himself, presents the riveting true stories of young Americans who fought with bolt rifles and bounties on their heads during the fiercest combat of the war,from 1967 through the desperate Tet battle for…


Book cover of The Vietnam War Reexamined

James McLeroy Author Of Bait: The Battle of Kham Duc

From my list on the Vietnam War from a commando who served there.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1965, I voluntarily enlisted in the Army as a draft exempt, 26-year-old high school teacher. After completing the infantry officer, airborne, ranger, jumpmaster, special forces, and jungle warfare courses, in 1967 I was assigned to a Special Forces A-team in I Corps, Vietnam. In 1968, I volunteered for SOG, a top-secret recon-commando unit at a small, remote SF jungle camp that was later attacked by 3,000 to 4,000 North Vietnamese Army troops. With a master’s degree in history, I have since studied all aspects of the Vietnam War. Gregory Sanders, also a Vietnam veteran, and I researched, wrote, and in 2019 published a unique tactical, operational, and strategic narrative and analysis of that battle titled BAIT: the Battle of Kham Duc

James' book list on the Vietnam War from a commando who served there

James McLeroy Why did James love this book?

The Vietnam War cannot be understood without understanding two opposing groups of historians of it: the orthodox and the revisionist. This is the most concise, balanced, and objective analysis of those contradictory versions of the war. The leftist version is an anti-war, anti-U.S. military, anti-South Vietnamese government interpretation that sees the war as unwinnable and morally shameful U.S. imperialism. It rejects all revisionist arguments to the contrary, such as the difference between the U.S. political failure in America and the U.S. military success in Vietnam, as "conservative counterfactual speculation".

By Michael G. Kort,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Going beyond the dominant orthodox narrative to incorporate insight from revisionist scholarship on the Vietnam War, Michael G. Kort presents the case that the United States should have been able to win the war, and at a much lower cost than it suffered in defeat. Presenting a study that is both historiographic and a narrative history, Kort analyzes important factors such as the strong nationalist credentials and leadership qualities of South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem; the flawed military strategy of 'graduated response' developed by Robert McNamara; and the real reasons South Vietnam collapsed in the face of a massive North…


Book cover of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram

Wendell Affield Author Of Muddy Jungle Rivers: A river assault boat cox'n's memory journey of his war in Vietnam

From my list on the Vietnam war that explore waste and loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

As I write this, I massage aching bits of shrapnel still embedded beneath silvered scars. I’ve read many Vietnam War stories—praising the war, glorifying combat, condemning the war. My stories are 1st person limited POV, voice of a twenty-year-old sailor. My title is a spin-off of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. By the time I wrote my memoir, I realized that our national goals in Vietnam had been Muddy from the beginning. I too, traveled Jungle Rivers. During my time on the riverboat, I witnessed Rivers of blood—rivers of life, trickle across our deck. And yes, Jungle is a fitting metaphor for our life at that time.

Wendell's book list on the Vietnam war that explore waste and loss

Wendell Affield Why did Wendell love this book?

As a child, I lived in abject poverty on a little farm in northern Minnesota. By ten years old I was trapping raccoons and shooting squirrels to help put food on our table. When I was in Vietnam, I felt a deep empathy for the Vietnamese fishermen and farmers who lived in poverty complicated by the vicious war. Years later when I began reading Dang Thuy Tram’s diary, I couldn’t put it down. The loss and waste and love for her comrades struck close to home and made me feel guilty for my participation in the war. In her writing, Dang brings to life so many of her Vietnamese comrades who were killed—making one stop to consider the cost of war. In a way the book reminds me of All Quiet on the Western Front written by a German soldier—the loss and waste.

By Dang Thuy Tram,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Night I Dreamed of Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE VIETNAMESE ANNE FRANK'

Last Night I Dreamed of Peace is the moving diary kept by a 27-year-old Vietnamese doctor who was killed by the Americans during the Vietnam War, while trying to defend her patients. Not only is it an important slice of history, from the opposite side of Dispatches and Apocalypse Now, but it shows the diarist - Dang Thuy Tram - as a vibrant human being, full of youthful idealism, a poetic longing for love, trying hard to be worthy of the Communist Party and doing her best to look after her patients under appalling conditions.

She…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Vietnam War, DNA, and presidential biography?

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