10 books like Westward Expansion

By Ray Allen Billington, Martin Ridge,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Westward Expansion. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The European Discovery of America

By Samuel Eliot Morison,

Book cover of The European Discovery of America: Volume 1: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600

Ben Wiener Author Of Murder at First Principles

From the list on non-business reads that teach business strategy.

Who am I?

I am an experienced entrepreneur and venture capitalist and a voracious reader. My reading, particularly of non-business books, is motivated not just by a natural curiosity, but is also driven by a continuous search for metaphors and lessons from outside the traditional business genre that I can apply to situations and decisions in the business arena. My appreciation of the crossover benefit of non-business narratives to business contexts has motivated me to write my own Business Fiction works to “enlighten and entertain.” 

Ben's book list on non-business reads that teach business strategy

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Why did Ben love this book?

If you read this book about the early cross-Atlantic explorers and substitute today’s technology entrepreneurs, the metaphors fit cleanly.

They sold exuberant, sometimes-fulfilled, and often-failed stories to profit-seeking backers, took inordinate risks, and results were often winner-take-all.

As Mark Twain, another famous explorer, once said, “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.”

By Samuel Eliot Morison,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The European Discovery of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The late Samuel Eliot Morison, a former U.S. Navy admiral, was also one of America's premier historians. Combining a first-hand knowledge of the sea and transatlantic travel with a brilliantly readable narrative style, he produced what has become nothing less than the definitive account of the great age of European exploration. In his riveting and richly illustrated saga, Morison offers a comprehensive account of all the known voyages by Europeans to the New World
from 500 A.D. to the seventeenth century. Together, the two volumes of The European Discovery of America tell the compelling stories of the many intrepid explorers…

The Frontiersmen

By Allan W. Eckert,

Book cover of The Frontiersmen

K. B. Laugheed Author Of The Spirit Keeper

From the list on the destruction of North America.

Who am I?

I love America. I was born here, I live here, and I will die here. Like Walt Whitman, I am mad for this place, and I treasure the soil beneath my feet, the water I drink, and the air I breathe. Unfortunately, the soil I love so much has been marinated in the blood of previous generations, the water I drink is filled with the filthy effluent of a greedy, industry-centered culture, and the air I breathe is bitter, choking me with cancer-causing toxins. Why do I care so much about books that describe the destruction of the North American continent? Because the destruction has not stopped!!!!!!!!

K. B.'s book list on the destruction of North America

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Why did K. B. love this book?

The Frontiersmen by Allan Eckert was a life-changing experience for me. I read it as a youth, and Eckert’s compelling writing and meticulous research opened my eyes to just a few of the horrific events that happened right here in my backyard—events that enabled me to have a backyard in North America. This book is history as it should be written: a vivid description of true events without editorializing or interpretation. Eckert was a master storyteller who let the facts speak for themselves, and he is a personal hero of mine.

By Allan W. Eckert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The frontiersmen were a remarkable breed of men. They were often rough and illiterate, sometimes brutal and vicious, often seeking an escape in the wilderness of mid-America from crimes committed back east. In the beautiful but deadly country which would one day come to be known as West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, more often than not they left their bones to bleach beside forest paths or on the banks of the Ohio River, victims of Indians who claimed the vast virgin territory and strove to turn back the growing tide of whites. These frontiersmen are the subjects…

The Patriot Chiefs

By Alvin M. Josephy Jr.,

Book cover of The Patriot Chiefs: A Chronicle of American Indian Resistance

Mary Stockwell Author Of Unlikely General: Mad Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America

From the list on the history of the American West.

Who am I?

Born and raised in Ohio, the “First West,” I was trained by top historians of the American West at the University of Toledo where I received my doctorate in American History. I’ve worked as a university and research fellow, a writer in the business world, and a professor of history and department chair at Lourdes University. I left my teaching and administrative career to become a full-time writer. Along with Unlikely General, my recent books have included The Other Trail of Tears: The Removal of the Ohio Indians and Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians. Currently, I’m writing a dual biography of William Henry Harrison and Tecumseh.

Mary's book list on the history of the American West

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Why did Mary love this book?

Historians have written moving accounts of the discovery and settlement of the American West, but Alvin Josephy in The Patriot Chiefs tells the same story from the “other side,” meaning from the point of view of the many Indian chiefs who tried to stop the advance of first, the American colonies, and then, the American nation. One by one, their lives and their struggles light up before the reader. Although I read the book years ago, Josephy’s vivid portraits of Hiawatha, King Philip, Popé, Pontiac, Tecumseh, Osceola, Black Hawk, Crazy Horse, and Chief Joseph stay alive in my imagination to this very day. Their stories, like those of every daring explorer and hardy pioneer who made their way west, must be remembered as part of the great story of America.

By Alvin M. Josephy Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A valuable chronicle of the greatness and majesty of the Indian chiefs."-Christian Science Monitor

Told through the life stories of nine Indian chiefs, this narrative depicts the American Indian effort to preserve a heritage and resist the changes brought by the white man. Hiawatha, King Philip, Pope, Pontiac, Tecumseh, Osceola, Black Hawk, Crazy Horse, and Chief Joseph each represent different tribal backgrounds, different times and places, and different aspects of Indian leadership. Soldiers, philosophers, orators, and statesmen, these leaders were the patriots of their people. Their heroic and tragic stories comprise an integral part of American history.

"Josephy tells his…

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of The Grapes of Wrath

Robert Pagliarini Author Of Badass Retirement: Shatter the Retirement Myth & Live with More Meaning, Money, and Adventure

From the list on retirement to help you create more meaning.

Who am I?

If my early childhood was any indication, I would be the last person you would want to take financial and retirement advice from. Why? Growing up, we never had any money! Every day was a struggle for my single mom of five. At an early age, I knew I didn’t want to be poor and struggle for everything. I knew I wanted to enjoy life and experience it to the fullest. I’d watch adventure movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and dream of going to exotic countries and on adventures like Indiana Jones. From those early years, I’ve been committed to creating and living the best life possible for myself and my clients.

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Why did Robert love this book?

This is probably not a book you consider when you think of retirement, but the reason I've included it in this list is that it is a story of pursuit, hardship, sacrifice, and endurance.

Steinbeck's prose puts you in the center of the drama and action as if you are part of the Joad family.

It's hard to be unhappy and ungrateful in your own life when you read about the constant struggles throughout the book. They are underdogs. You feel for them. You root for them. And in return, you gain a new appreciation for your own life.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Grapes of Wrath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.'

Shocking and controversial when it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath is Steinbeck's Pultizer Prize-winning epic of the Joad family, forced to travel west from Dust Bowl era Oklahoma in search of the promised land of California. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and powerlessness, yet out of their struggle Steinbeck created a drama that is both intensely human and majestic in its scale and moral vision.

Citizen Explorer

By Jared Orsi,

Book cover of Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike

Ron McFarland Author Of Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars: Life on the Frontier, 1815-1865

From the list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West.

Who am I?

I’m a retired English prof with a lifelong interest in history. My father fostered my fascination with Civil War battlefields, and growing up in Florida, I studied the Seminole wars in school and later at FSU. While teaching at the University of Idaho (nearly 50 years), I pursued my interest in the Indian wars of the mid-19th century and developed a curiosity about tribes in the inland Northwest, notably the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, and Nez Perce. My critical biography of Blackfeet novelist James Welch occasioned reading and research on the Plains tribes. I recommend his nonfiction book, Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate the Plains Indians.

Ron's book list on biographies of army officers who wrested the West

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Why did Ron love this book?

Aside from the Colorado landmark, Pike’s Peak, most of us know little of Zebulon Pike. A relative passed along the tee-shirt, but that’s as close as I got before reading Jared Orsi’s account of Lieutenant Pike’s 1805-07 fascinating expeditions to the headwaters of the Mississippi and to the Rockies. Pike strives to establish friendly relations among the Ojibway and Dakotah and later among the Osage and Pawnee while introducing the tribes to their new landlords, the U.S. government under President Jefferson. In attempting to ascend the peak, Pike and his men suffer near starvation and death in bitter cold and waist-deep snow, only to be rescued and arrested by the forces of New Spain. Orsi approaches the expeditions from an environmental perspective.

By Jared Orsi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today Zebulon Pike's name is immortalized at Pikes Peak, the second most visited mountain in the world after Japan's Mount Fuji. It overlooks the town of Colorado Springs, where historian Jared Orsi teaches. Orsi was inspired to take up this biography not just by geography but also because there has been no modern interpretation of the life of this key explorer in American history. His life sheds considerable life on the early national period and on the American

Born during the Revolution Zebulon, Pike came of age with the nation. Trained as a soldier and stationed at various frontier…

Candy Story

By Marie Redonnet, Alexandra Quinn (translator),

Book cover of Candy Story

Stacey Levine Author Of Frances Johnson

From the list on fiction that writes against narrative convention.

Who am I?

I’m a novelist and admire writing that pushes against the conventions of mainstream fiction, that goes around and beyond the formulaic, commercial concept of plot. In the Western world, we’re especially stuck on what film director Raul Ruiz calls “conflict theory”—the masculinist idea that only conflict can create narrative. Of course conflict is part of life, but hello—there’s more. Conventional plot’s well-worn heroes, helpers, villians, saviours, and conflict-based climax, so closely tied to Hollywood USA, are predictable and unfulfilling. Many people seek something more innovative, like the literary versions of Philip Glass or Fernando Botero.

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Why did Stacey love this book?

A mysterious, melancholy narrative translated from French is rendered in stripped-down sentences, following a novelist, Mia, after a death in the family. The subsequent plot of subterfuge and corporate crime is so full and busy with knotty, overly complex occurrences that it begins to seem a deliberate distortion and exaggeration of the convention of plot itself. Through the character of Mia, the gifted Redonnet reports tragic and powerful occurrences in flat, clear prose that packs emotion just under the surface of the affectless sentences. The word “Candy” recurs hauntingly through the novel: as a song title, as the name of a character in a show, and as the name that Mia’s lovers call her. This slight novel leaves searing traces of emotional impact long after you read it.

By Marie Redonnet, Alexandra Quinn (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Candy Story recounts a turbulent year in the life of Mia, a young woman whose apparent calm is perpetually threatened by inner doubts and outer catastrophe. Her modest dreams of happiness are dashed by the deaths of her mother, old friends, and her lover. Mia is a talented writer, the author of an autobiographical novel. Now, assailed by calamity and misfortune, she struggles with writer's block, confounded-at least for the moment-by the senseless world around her. Candy Story is the fourth novel by Marie Redonnet. Translations of the first three-Hotel Splendid, Forever Valley, and Rose Mellie Rose-are also available from…

Fire and Brimstone

By Michael Punke,

Book cover of Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917

Laurie Marr Wasmund Author Of My Heart Lies Here

From the list on why the American West always will be the "Wild West”.

Who am I?

Raised in the American West, I have watched the explosive growth in Colorado with dismay. In my lifetime, metro Denver has grown from a population of about 500,000 people to more than 5.5 million. The Colorado of large ranches and wide, open spaces is disappearing. I have named my publishing company “lost ranch books,” in honor of the ranch where I grew up, which was sold and developed with cookie-cutter houses. I’ve now set out to recapture historic Colorado by writing about it. My award-winning books center on Colorado’s and the American West’s history, for not only is it fascinating and, often, troubling, but it still resonates today.

Laurie's book list on why the American West always will be the "Wild West”

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Why did Laurie love this book?

Punke’s book chronicles a story of heroism and company greed that isn’t that far in the past of America’s labor battles. It tells of a fire that spread through the underground tunnels of the copper mines belonging to J.D. Rockefeller’s Anaconda company and others. The book centers on the men trapped underground who exhaust every possible option in a dire bid to survive, including some ingenious methods and some which hasten their demise. Punke touches as well on political, labor, and business wranglings that put the workers at risk. He also follows Butte’s history to present day, demonstrating that the Montana city has never quite recovered from its past as a copper city.

By Michael Punke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Revenant -- basis for the award-winning motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio -- tells the remarkable story of the worst hard-rock mining disaster in American history.

A half-hour before midnight on June 8, 1917, a fire broke out in the North Butte Mining Company's Granite Mountain shaft. Sparked more than two thousand feet below ground, the fire spewed flames, smoke, and poisonous gas through a labyrinth of underground tunnels. Within an hour, more than four hundred men would be locked in a battle to survive. Within three days, one hundred and…

Book cover of The Hanging Tree and Other Stories

Steve Hockensmith Author Of Holmes on the Range

From the list on Westerns that will take you to the frontier.

Who am I?

Although I grew up with a fondness for Western movies thanks to my John Wayne-loving dad, I never seriously explored the genre until I began writing my Holmes on the Range mystery series. What I discovered when I began regularly reading books about the West took me a bit by surprise: I loved them! Since then I’ve read dozens of history books, novels, and short story collections that bring the Old West to life.

Steve's book list on Westerns that will take you to the frontier

Discover why each book is one of Steve's favorite books.

Why did Steve love this book?

Once upon a time, writers could make a good living selling short stories to American magazines. Those days are almost as long gone now as the Wild West. But the stories live on…provided you find the right used book store. First published in 1957, The Hanging Tree and Other Stories collects some of the best work by a prolific specialist in short fiction about the frontier: Dorothy M. Johnson. Years before Little Big Man, she was writing sympathetically and convincingly about Native Americans. Her stories could also be funny, thrilling, and surprising. It’s no wonder Hollywood turned to her for inspiration so often: The classic Westerns The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and A Man Called Horse are based on Johnson stories.

By Dorothy M. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hanging Tree and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The title story, The Hanging Tree, is based on a true episode in Montana's gold-mining past. Three amazing characters meet: the cynical Doc Frail; the boy robber named Rune, whom Doc saves and enslaves; and Elizabeth, the young easterner who survives an Indian assault and comes under the care of Doc and Rune. In the gold-mining camp of Skull Creek Elizabeth becomes the mysterious Lucky Lady. A vigorous, psychological western, The Hanging Tree was made into a movie starring Gary Cooper. The stories in this book consolidate Dorothy M. Johnson's reputation for authenticity and artistic integrity. "Lost Sister" is based…

Book cover of The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard

Thomas Leo Ogren Author Of Cowboys Don't Shoot Magpies

From the list on that are packed with action.

Who am I?

I am best known for my books on allergies and horticulture. But my first love was always writing fiction, and the first two books I ever sold, were both novels. I know a lot about exciting historical novels because I’ve read so many of them. I read; I don’t watch TV. I love history, and historical fiction that has good, strong characters that I can give a hoot about. And I love books that are full of action, where something exciting is always happening or just about to. A plug: I believe I’ve now written some books myself that fit that bill.

Thomas' book list on that are packed with action

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Why did Thomas love this book?

Elmore Leonard wrote a ton of books, and almost all of them were darn good. He’s most famous for his more modern books, Get Shorty, etc. His stories are raw, edgy, and exciting. Toward the very end of his career, he did crank out some novels that were, I thought, junk. But for the most part, his writing is terrific, easy to read, page-turning books. What many don’t know is that when he was young, he was writing Westerns. And wow, what fabulous Westerns, too! If you’re lucky enough to get a copy of this collection, you’ll both love it, and feel kind of bad when you get to the end. One of the very best Western writers of them all.

By Elmore Leonard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bull's-eye of a short fiction collection that spans the master's career.

In 1950, fresh out of college and keen to make his name as a writer, Elmore Leonard decided he needed to pick a market, a big one, which would give him a better chance to be published while he learned to write. In choosing between crime and Westerns, the latter had an irresistible pull - Leonard loved movies set in the West. As he researched deeper into settings, Arizona in the 1880s captured his imagination: the Spanish influence, the stand-offs and shoot-outs between Apache Indians and the US…

Roughing It

By Mark Twain,

Book cover of Roughing It

Fedora Amis Author Of Have Your Ticket Punched by Frank James

From the list on that bring a touch of humor to the Old West.

Who am I?

I love history and I love to laugh. That’s why I brand myself as a writer of Victorian Whodunits with a touch of humor. I’ve spent decades learning about 1800s America. I began sharing that knowledge by performing in costume as real women of history. But I couldn’t be on stage all the time so I began writing the books I want to read, books that entertain while sticking to the basic facts of history and giving the flavor of an earlier time. I seek that great marriage of words that brings readers to a new understanding. As Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” 

Fedora's book list on that bring a touch of humor to the Old West

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Why did Fedora love this book?

Mark Twain is my writing idol. Before Roughing it, I’d never read a book written during the Civil War era which didn’t take sides and grind axes. From it, I learned detachment, that personal adventures can live side-by-side with even the most earth-shattering events. And that hilarious stories like “Bemis and the Buffalo” are the best antidote for the chaos and pain of war.

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The celebrated author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn mixes fact and fiction in a rousing travelogue that serves as “a portrait of the artist as a young adventurer.”*
In 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a newcomer in the Wild West, working as a civil servant, silver prospector, mill worker, and finally a reporter and traveling lecturer. Roughing It is the hilarious record of those early years traveling from Nevada to California to Hawaii, as Twain tried his luck at anything and everything—and usually failed. Twain’s encounters with tarantulas and donkeys, vigilantes…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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