100 books like War Stuff

By Joan E. Cashin,

Here are 100 books that War Stuff fans have personally recommended if you like War Stuff. 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 The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861

Gary W. Gallagher Author Of The Enduring Civil War: Reflections on the Great American Crisis

From my list on the Civil War era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been captivated by the era of the American Civil War since I was ten years old at the beginning of the conflict’s centennial. I have taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Penn State University, and the University of Virginia. I have written, co-written, or edited more than 40 books on the subject. The compelling personalities, dramatic events, and profoundly important issues at stake compel my continuing attention to the war, its antecedents, and its short- and long-term impact. I recommend five classic titles on the Civil War era (one a trilogy, one a two-volume set, and three single volumes) that will reward readers in the third decade of the 21st Century.

Gary's book list on the Civil War era

Gary W. Gallagher Why did Gary love this book?

David M. Potter’s The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (1976; winner of a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for History) remains, after nearly half-a-century, the best narrative on the coming of the Civil War. It brims with perceptive analysis and very usefully instructs readers about history’s vexing complications. Completed after Potter’s death by his colleague at Stanford Don E. Fehrenbacher, the engaging text forcefully reminds readers to keep in mind the contingent nature of politics and to avoid assuming events had to play out as they did. Part of the period’s complexity lay in the fact that although the crisis of 1860-1861 had everything to do with slavery’s powerful influence over American political affairs, the increasingly heated rhetoric of the secession winter did not focus on whether the nation would keep or jettison the institution. Four years of war answered that fundamental question.

By David M. Potter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David M. Potter's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Impending Crisis is the definitive history of antebellum America. Potter's sweeping epic masterfully charts the chaotic forces that climaxed with the outbreak of the Civil War: westward expansion, the divisive issue of slavery, the Dred Scott decision, John Brown's uprising, the ascension of Abraham Lincoln, and the drama of Southern secession. Now available in a new edition, The Impending Crisis remains one of the most celebrated works of American historical writing.


Book cover of Lincoln

Charles B. Strozier Author Of Lincoln's Quest for Union

From my list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got my first job as a professor of history in 1972 in Springfield, Illinois, at a new university there. What can you do in Springfield except work on Lincoln? The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Lincoln draws you in. His lively mind and always well-written letters, along with his brilliant and memorable speeches, are endlessly fascinating. He also had genuine integrity as a human being and as a leader in our greatest crisis as a country. It is hard not to be inspired by Abraham Lincoln.

Charles' book list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst

Charles B. Strozier Why did Charles love this book?

Donald’s one-volume biography of Lincoln remains the standard in the field. I knew David Donald and found him always generous. From his perch at Harvard, Donald dominated the Lincoln field for many decades. His biography of Lincoln stands head and shoulders above a host of more recent studies. In fact, it surprises me people keep writing biographies of Lincoln that go over the same ground repeatedly. Donald brings Lincoln alive with the authority that comes from a lifetime of reflection and writing on the Civil War and our greatest president.

By David Herbert Donald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A masterful work by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Herbert Donald, Lincoln is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency.

Donald brilliantly depicts Lincoln’s gradual ascent from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the ever-expanding political circles in Illinois, and finally to the presidency of a country divided by civil war. Donald goes beyond biography, illuminating the gradual development of Lincoln’s character, chronicling his tremendous capacity for evolution and growth, thus illustrating what made it possible for a man so inexperienced and so unprepared for the presidency to become a great moral leader. In the most troubled of times,…


Book cover of Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers

Paul D. Escott Author Of Lincoln's Dilemma: Blair, Sumner, and the Republican Struggle over Racism and Equality in the Civil War Era.

From my list on politics and race in the Civil War era.

Why am I passionate about this?

Paul D. Escott is the author of thirteen books focused on the Confederacy or the Union, is co-author of other volumes, and has written many articles and book chapters. He won research fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Whitney M. Young Jr. Foundation and is the Reynolds Professor of History Emeritus from Wake Forest University.

Paul's book list on politics and race in the Civil War era

Paul D. Escott Why did Paul love this book?

The decision to recruit Black soldiers made an enormous difference in the war and in politics. Black recruits to the U.S. Army equaled all the northern men lost in the first two years of fighting and proved themselves on many battlefields. Their sacrifice also made an irrefutable case for Black rights. Joseph Glatthaar’s book admirably tells the story of these soldiers and their white officers.

By Joseph T. Glatthaar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sixteen months after the start of the American Civil War, the Federal government, having vastly underestimated the length and manpower demands of the war, began to recruit black soldiers. This revolutionary policy gave 180,000 free blacks and former slaves the opportunity to prove themselves on the battlefield as part of the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the war, 37,000 in their ranks had given their lives for the cause of freedom.

In Forged in Battle, originally published in 1990, award-winning historian Joseph T. Glatthaar re-creates the events that gave these troops and their 7,000 white officers justifiable…


Book cover of Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From my list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

William Barney Why did William love this book?

A great book for teaching me how much the wartime experiences and political resistance of the soldiers’ wives and the slaves impacted the fate of the Confederacy and pushed it in directions never imagined by the planters who created the Confederacy to serve their interests and not the majority of the population they expected to do their bidding. 

By Stephanie McCurry,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Confederate Reckoning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize Finalist
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Winner of the Merle Curti Award

"McCurry strips the Confederacy of myth and romance to reveal its doomed essence. Dedicated to the proposition that men were not created equal, the Confederacy had to fight a two-front war. Not only against Union armies, but also slaves and poor white women who rose in revolt across the South. Richly detailed and lucidly told, Confederate Reckoning is a fresh, bold take on the Civil War that every student of the conflict should read."
-Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic

"McCurry challenges…


Book cover of Cattle Colonialism: An Environmental History of the Conquest of California and Hawai'i

Christopher Michael Blakley Author Of Empire of Brutality: Enslaved People and Animals in the British Atlantic World

From my list on animal and environmental history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a scholar of environmental history with a focus on human-animal relationships. I’ve also studied the histories of slavery and the African Diaspora, and in my book I’ve fused approaches from these two fields to look at how human-animal relations and networks shaped the expansion of slavery and slave trading from West Africa to the Caribbean in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. My scholarship is also an outgrowth of my teaching, and I regularly teach American environmental and cultural history at California State University, Northridge. I finished my PhD in history at Rutgers University, and my research has recently been funded by the Special Collections Research Center at the College of William & Mary.

Christopher's book list on animal and environmental history

Christopher Michael Blakley Why did Christopher love this book?

Cows are not typically centered in histories of imperialism and colonialism, but John Ryan Fischer presents the case that bovines transformed the societies of California Indians and native Hawaiians in the nineteenth century.

This book helped me think about how to connect histories of livestock and land seizures, and helps us think about animals as malleable creatures of empire that are repurposed by Indigenous nations.   

By John Ryan Fischer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the nineteenth century, the colonial territories of California and Hawai'i underwent important cultural, economic, and ecological transformations influenced by an unlikely factor: cows. The creation of native cattle cultures, represented by the Indian vaquero and the Hawaiian paniolo, demonstrates that California Indians and native Hawaiians adapted in ways that allowed them to harvest the opportunities for wealth that these unfamiliar biological resources presented. But the imposition of new property laws limited these indigenous responses, and Pacific cattle frontiers ultimately became the driving force behind Euro-American political and commercial domination, under which native residents lost land and sovereignty and faced…


Book cover of The Troubled Empire

Laurie Dennis Author Of The Lacquered Talisman

From my list on entering the world of imperial China.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in journalism, and I have traveled widely in China, including visits to Fengyang, Anhui Province, and other sites important to the Ming founding, though I currently reside in Wisconsin. The Lacquered Talisman is the first in a planned series on the Ming founding, one of the most thrilling and dramatic dynastic transitions in China’s long history. I became addicted long ago to this 14th-century tale, in part because it is such a key moment in Chinese history and yet is so unknown in the English-speaking world. Since I write historical fiction, I have curated a list of both history and fiction about imperial China for you to enjoy.

Laurie's book list on entering the world of imperial China

Laurie Dennis Why did Laurie love this book?

Brooks is a Canadian scholar of Chinese history who specializes in the Ming Dynasty. In this work, he offers an overview of the transition from the Mongol Yuan to the Chinese Ming Dynasty, which is the setting for my own writing, and so is a period I consider to be of unrivaled appeal! Brooks studies, among other things, how extreme weather caused political upheaval and why emperors needed to worry when the locals started reporting dragon sightings. He also offers perspective on the autocratic rule of the Ming founder, “the brilliant and ruthless Zhu Yuanzhang,” and how his example impacted the rest of the dynasty.

By Timothy Brook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Mongol takeover in the 1270s changed the course of Chinese history. The Confucian empire-a millennium and a half in the making-was suddenly thrust under foreign occupation. What China had been before its reunification as the Yuan dynasty in 1279 was no longer what it would be in the future. Four centuries later, another wave of steppe invaders would replace the Ming dynasty with yet another foreign occupation. The Troubled Empire explores what happened to China between these two dramatic invasions. If anything defined the complex dynamics of this period, it was changes in the weather. Asia, like Europe, experienced…


Book cover of Ersatz in the Confederacy: Shortages and Substitutes on the Southern Homefront

Dennis L. Peterson Author Of Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies

From my list on little-known aspects of the Confederate era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author, editor, and former history teacher and curriculum writer with a special interest in Southern history, particularly the Confederate era. I have written and published two books on lesser-known aspects of the Confederacy, the civilian government (Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries), and religious work in the Confederate armies (Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies). I taught on various levels, from junior high through college, and have B.S. and M.S. degrees with post-graduate work in Southern history and religion.

Dennis' book list on little-known aspects of the Confederate era

Dennis L. Peterson Why did Dennis love this book?

Economic issues, including shortages of staple consumer goods, plagued the South throughout the war. Wherever a shortage existed, however, so did Southern efforts to find substitutes to meet the needs. Some of those substitutes were quite surprising and innovative.

By Mary Elizabeth Massey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published by the University of South Carolina in 1952, Ersatz in the Confederacy remains the definitive study of the South's desperate struggle to overcome critical shortages of food, medicine, clothing, household goods, farming supplies, and tools during the Civil War.

Mary Elizabeth Massey's seminal work carefully documents the ingenuity of the Confederates as they coped with shortages of manufactured goods and essential commodities―including grain, coffee, sugar, and butter―that previously had been imported from the northern states or from England. Creative Southerners substituted sawdust for soap, pigs' tails and ears for Christmas tree ornaments, leaves for mattress stuffing, okra seeds…


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War

Larry Allen Author Of The ABC-Clio World History Companion to Capitalism

From my list on seeing world history thru the lens of economics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up listening to my grandfathers tell stories about the Great Depression (1930s). My cousins would want me to go out and play, but I wanted to stay indoors and listen to the stories. The Depression proved my grandfathers were not the best cotton farmers, but they were good storytellers, and I ended up an economics professor. Along the way, I ran across a thought from renowned British philosopher Francis Bacon: “Histories make men wise, poets, witty, mathematics, subtle;” Modern economics has gone in for subtlety, and maybe is a little too careless of wisdom. This thought sent me delving deeper into economic history, and I ended up writing five books in economics history. 

Larry's book list on seeing world history thru the lens of economics

Larry Allen Why did Larry love this book?

Here is a stimulating and suggestive book, in 18 close-packed chapters, rich in fresh and illuminating insights. The scope, depth, and harmony of this book, strengthened with minute elaboration and carefulness, make it a work of permanent value. Missed here is the dogmatic readiness to force many intricate and diverse things to accommodate themselves to a few simple formulas. The book’s very descriptive title reveals its subject, which is presented with the utmost clearness, thoughtful intelligence, and adequacy of analysis, It is a welcomed reminder that time is the greatest innovator, spawning economic developments missed by the blind mechanisms of theoretical formulas. There is the accuracy of knowledge throughout, thoroughness in setting it forth, and admirable clearness. 

By Robert J. Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise and Fall of American Growth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated. Gordon contends that the nation's productivity growth will be further held back by the…


Book cover of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Thijs ten Raa Author Of Microeconomics: Equilibrium and Efficiency

From my list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected.

Why am I passionate about this?

Microeconomics is a turnoff to most readers. Not without reason. Many books in this field are dull rewrites of other books and opaque.  In particular, it is not clear how the behavior of individual consumers and producers adds to the performance—good or bad—of an economy. The books listed here helped me to sharpen my own mind and to make my writing lucid.

Thijs' book list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected

Thijs ten Raa Why did Thijs love this book?

As a moderate leftist I was attracted by this propagandist of rightist policies. 

Ayn Rand makes a strong case to keep out the state and leave the economy to free markets. It helped me to sharpen my mind. 

What is missing in her analysis? How does that modify a rightist political outlook? She challenged me and thus influenced my own writing.

By Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan , Robert Hessen

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this series of essays, Ayn Rand presents her stand on the persecution of big business, the causes of war, the default of conservatism, and the evils of altruism.

The foundations of capitalism are being battered by a flood of altruism, which is the cause of the modern world's collapse. This is the view of Ayn Rand, a view so radically opposed to prevailing attitudes that it constitutes a major philosophic revolution. Here is a challenging new look at modern society by one of the most provocative intellectuals on the American scene.
 
This edition includes two articles by Ayn Rand…


Book cover of Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History: The Case of Tanganyika, 1850–1950 (Eastern African Studies)

Gufu Oba Author Of African Environmental Crisis: A History of Science for Development

From my list on environmental history, science, and development.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gufu Oba (Professor) has taught Ecology, Pastoralism, and Environmental History at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences for 21 years. He previously worked for UNESCO-MAB on issues of environmental conservation. He has published four books on social and environmental history. His books include Nomads in the shadows of Empires (BRILL, 2013), Climate change adaptations in Africa (Routledge, 2014), Herder Warfare in East Africa: A social and Spatial History (White Horse Press, 2017), and African Environmental Crisis: A History of Science for development (Routledge, 2020).

Gufu's book list on environmental history, science, and development

Gufu Oba Why did Gufu love this book?

This pioneering book was one of the first to place the history of East Africa within the context of the environment. It has been used continuously for student teaching. The book puts people at the centre of events. It thus serves as a modification to nationalist history with its emphasis on leaders. Helge Kjekshus provides evidence to suggest that the nineteenth century was a period of relative prosperity with well-developed trade. He questions the view that warfare was pervasive and that the slave trade led to depopulation. He points to a balance between man and the environment. Helge Kjeskshus’s book has, for a long time, been the sole reference on environmental history in East Africa, with a focus on Tanganyika. 

By Helge Kjekshus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This pioneering book was one of the first to place the history of East Africa within the context of the environment. It has been used continuously for student teaching. It is now reissued with an introduction placing it within the debate that has developed on the subject; there is also an updated bibliography. The book puts people at the centre of events. It thus serves as a modification to nationalist history with its emphasis on leaders. It presents environmental factors that had been underestimated; for instance, it points to the critical importance of the rinderpest outbreak. Helge Kjekshus provides evidence…


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