The most recommended books on the American Indian Wars

Who picked these books? Meet our 5 experts.

5 authors created a book list connected to the American Indian Wars, and here are their favorite American Indian Wars books.
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Book cover of Northwest Passage

Norman Gilliland Author Of Sand Mansions

From my list on dropping you into another time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Gainesville, Florida, and read every history of the area I could get my hands on, all the while imagining who lived there and what their lives were like. I got three degrees from the University of Florida and applied the skills learned there to Sand Mansions. The novel covers the years 1876 to 1905, a time in which a get-rich-quick frontier mentality slowly gave way to a more stable approach to community building. Sand Mansions won a prize for Best Adult Fiction from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.

Norman's book list on dropping you into another time and place

Norman Gilliland Why did Norman love this book?

When I was 11 years old, there was a TV show called Northwest Passage, which was an eye-opener for me because it took place at a time when the American frontier was somewhere in New York State. At the end of each episode the image of a book appeared, and I pestered my parents to get me a copy. A few days before my birthday, I caught sight of the book in a bag on my dad’s dresser. I was thrilled. I loved the adventures of Rogers’ Rangers as they fought their way through an endless forest during the French and Indian War and searched for the fabled shortcut to the Orient. In school, my book report on Northwest Passage was so long and enthusiastic that the teacher called time on me.

By Kenneth Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic novel follows the career of Major Rogers, whose incredible exploits during the French and Indian Wars are told through Langdon Towne, an artist and Harvard student who flees trouble to join the army.


Book cover of On the Border with Crook

Peter Cozzens Author Of Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation

From my list on the American Indian Wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired Foreign Service Officer with the U. S. Department of State and, more to the point for the purpose of the topic at hand, the author or editor of eighteen books on the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Among them is the bestselling, multiple award-winning The Earth is Weeping: The Indian Wars for the American West.

Peter's book list on the American Indian Wars

Peter Cozzens Why did Peter love this book?

Drawn from a 128-volume diary that Capt. John G. Bourke during his long service in the American West, On the Border with Crook is the finest first-person account of the Indian Wars for the American West written by an army participant. A highly literate and dispassionate observer, Bourke served as aide to General George Crook, himself a towering figure in the conflicts. Like his commander, Bourke was sympathetic to the native peoples and their plight. Bourke’s service took him from the desert Southwest to the Northern Plains, giving his recollections an inclusiveness that no other offers.

By John G. Bourke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Border with Crook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1870 until 1886 Captain John O. Bourke served on the staff of General George Crook, who Sherman described as the greatest Indian fighter the army ever had, a man whose prowess was demon-strated "from British America to Mexico, from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean." But On the Border with Crook is far more than a first-hand account of Crook's campaigns during the Plains Indian wars and in the Southwest. Alert, curious, and perceptive, Bourke brings to life the whole frontier scene. In crisp descriptions and telling anecdotes he recreates the events and landscapes through which he moved;…


Book cover of Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence

Peter Boag Author Of Pioneering Death: The Violence of Boyhood in Turn-Of-The-Century Oregon

From my list on death and violence of late-19th-century America.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a student, the Gilded Age bored me to no end. Since then, I have come to understand that the era’s paradoxes, contingencies, and uncertainties are what has created modern America; they have preoccupied my research and writing since. I undertook Pioneering Death as a meditation on how one of the darkest and most intensely personal events—parricide—is both an expected and unexpected outcome of the interconnectedness between place, region, and nation during the Gilded Age. I hope my very select booklist about death, violence, and brutal killings assists you to recognize how these are central to the human condition and how they are foundational to modern America. 

Peter's book list on death and violence of late-19th-century America

Peter Boag Why did Peter love this book?

Cothran’s beautifully written chronicle tells a sad and all-too-common story from the 19th century, the effects of which continue to haunt America today. While he focuses on the Modoc people of southern Oregon and Northern California and one of the most famous “Indian Wars” that is largely forgotten today, this tale is relevant to any place in the world where indigenous people have suffered the brutalities of colonization, are blamed for the very brutalities that they have suffered, and then become further victimized in histories that paint the colonizers and their murderous acts as innocent. 

By Boyd Cothran,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On October 3, 1873, the U.S. Army hanged four Modoc headmen at Oregon's Fort Klamath. The condemned had supposedly murdered the only U.S. Army general to die during the Indian wars of the nineteenth century. Their much-anticipated execution marked the end of the Modoc War of 1872-73. But as Boyd Cothran demonstrates, the conflict's close marked the beginning of a new struggle over the memory of the war. Examining representations of the Modoc War in the context of rapidly expanding cultural and commercial marketplaces, Cothran shows how settlers created and sold narratives of the conflict that blamed the Modocs. These…


Book cover of Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay: The Enlisted Soldier Fighting the Indian Wars

Sarah Bird Author Of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

From my list on Buffalo Soldiers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I dreamed of being Margaret Mead. When I realized that Margaret already had that job, I turned my anthropologist’s eye for the defining details of language, dress, and customs to fiction. I love to tell the untold tales--especially about women--who are thrust into difficult, sometimes impossible, circumstances and triumph with the help of humor, friends, perseverance, and their own inspiring ingenuity. In my eleven bestselling novels, I have been able to do this well enough that I was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Prize and in 2021 was honored with the Paul Re Peace Award for Cultural Advocacy for promoting empathy through my work.

Sarah's book list on Buffalo Soldiers

Sarah Bird Why did Sarah love this book?

I was delighted to discover this compilation of personal accounts by enlisted men who’d served in the U.S. Army during the settling of the American West. Though the educated class of officers left extensive documentation of their lives on the frontier, the mostly illiterate rank and file were unable to chronicle their experiences. Rickey filled this void in the early sixties by interviewing over three hundred troopers, both black and white, who were still alive at that time.

The wealth of detail they supplied was invaluable to me in creating both Cathy’s voice and the world she passed as a man in.

By Don Rickey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The enlisted men in the United States Army during the Indian Wars (1866-91) need no longer be mere shadows behind their historically well-documented commanding officers.

As member of the regular army, these men formed an important segment of our usually slighted national military continuum and, through their labors, combats, and endurance, created the framework of law and order within which settlement and development become possible. We should know more about the common soldier in our military past, and here he is.

The rank and file regular, then as now, was psychologically as well as physically isolated from most of his…


Book cover of The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

Peter Cozzens Author Of Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation

From my list on the American Indian Wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired Foreign Service Officer with the U. S. Department of State and, more to the point for the purpose of the topic at hand, the author or editor of eighteen books on the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Among them is the bestselling, multiple award-winning The Earth is Weeping: The Indian Wars for the American West.

Peter's book list on the American Indian Wars

Peter Cozzens Why did Peter love this book?

The Lance and the Shield is a model biography of a native leader; in this case, one of the most storied figures in American Indian history. Utley immerses the reader in Lakota (Sioux) culture and evokes all the pathos of the enigmatic Sitting Bull’s struggle to preserve the Plains Indian way of life. Utley is the dean of Western Historians, and all his books are well worth reading.

By Robert M. Utley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chronicles the life of the famous warrior, Sitting Bull, correcting many common misconceptions about the legendary native American. By the author of The Last Days of the Sioux. 35,000 first printing. $35,000 ad/promo. History Bk Club Main. BOMC. QPB.