The most recommended books about territorial expansion

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14 authors created a book list connected to territorial expansion, and here are their favorite territorial expansion books.
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A Brutal Reckoning

By Peter Cozzens,

Book cover of A Brutal Reckoning: Andrew Jackson, the Creek Indians, and the Epic War for the American South

Fergus M. Bordewich Author Of Klan War: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction

From Fergus' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian World traveler Cat lover

Fergus' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Fergus love this book?

This book was full of surprises for me.

Cozzens took me on a wild ride through the chaotic violence of one of the country’s most significant but least well-known Indian wars, which led to the destruction of a once-powerful native confederacy and the expulsion of the Creeks from their lands in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Cozzens is a fair-minded historian who does not play favorites.

It’s impossible to read this book without coming to a fuller understanding of the raw violence that characterized the southern frontier or for the insurmountable challenges for native people who sought to find an accommodation with the oncoming tide of American settlement.

By Peter Cozzens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Cozzens is a master storyteller' The Times

From the devastating invasion by Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century to the relentless pressure from white settlers 150 years later, A Brutal Reckoning tells the story of encroachment on the vast Native American territory in the Deep South, which gave rise to the Creek War, the bloodiest in American Indian history, and propelled Andrew Jackson into national prominence, as he led the US Army in a ruthless campaign.

It was a war that involved not only white Americans and Native Americans but also the British and the Spanish, and ultimately led to…

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.

Stacey's book list on fiction that writes against narrative convention

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…

Westward Expansion

By Ray Allen Billington, Martin Ridge,

Book cover of Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier

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

Why did Mary love this book?

In Westward Expansion, Ray Allen Billington takes up the story of the American West where Morison left off. This is a sweeping narrative with Billington acting as a travel guide across the successively moving frontiers beyond the Atlantic Coast. He leads us to the crest of the Appalachians, and then over Ohio and down to Tennessee toward the Mississippi. Next, we race to the Pacific and then come back over the Rockies before finally heading onto the Great Plains west of the Mississippi. Yet Westward Expansion is more than a travelogue. In its pages, we travel with everyone who ever lived on these many frontiers: farmers, workers, soldiers, Indians, immigrants, townspeople. The list goes on and on. It’s America’s story with every triumph and tragedy bound up in constant motion. 

By Ray Allen Billington, Martin Ridge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When it appeared in 1949, the first edition of Ray Allen Billington's 'Westward Expansion' set a new standard for scholarship in western American history, and the book's reputation among historians, scholars, and students grew through four subsequent editions. This abridgment and revision of Billington and Martin Ridge's fifth edition, with a new introduction and additional scholarship by Ridge, as well as an updated bibliography, focuses on the Trans-Mississippi frontier. Although the text sets out the remarkable story of the American frontier, which became, almost from the beginning, an archetypal narrative of the new American nation's successful expansion, the authors do…

Book cover of Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire

Robert E. May Author Of Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America

From the list on U.S. filibustering.

Who am I?

I discovered the “filibusters” during my very first weeks in graduate school and have been learning and writing books and articles about them ever since. I think that what initially intrigued me was that they had outsized importance in U.S. politics and diplomacy, and were often front-page news before the Civil War, and yet I had never heard about them growing up. I was also intrigued because these men were so unlike myself. I can’t in my wildest moments even imagine joining a tiny bunch of armed men in an illegal expedition to a foreign land, risking death in the field or jail if I ever made it back home!

Robert's book list on U.S. filibustering

Why did Robert love this book?

Better than any other study on filibustering, Amy Greenberg treats it through the lens of gender, and she is particularly interested in public opinion about filibustering. Mass rallies in support of filibuster invasions of Cuba and Central America occurred in U.S. cities in the 1850s, providing funds, recruits, and moral support for criminal enterprises. What did gender have to do with who approved of filibustering, and who didn’t? What did filibustering have to do with ideas about what constituted proper masculinity? Did women participate in filibustering in any way, and did images of exoticized women in other parts of the world affect the attitudes of male filibusters?

Greenberg uses a fascinating variety of sources, including cartoons, poetry, travel accounts, and artwork, to convey the ambience of the filibustering world. Intriguingly, she both links and differentiates what she found about U.S. expansionist initiatives in Latin America before the Civil War to…

By Amy S. Greenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The US-Mexico War (1846-8) brought two centuries of dramatic territorial expansionism to a close, seemingly fulfilling America's Manifest destiny. Or did it? As politicians schemed to annex new lands in Latin America and the Pacific, some Americans took expansionism into their own hands. From 1848-60, an epidemic of unsanctioned attacks by American mercenaries (filibusters) took place. This book documents the potency of Manifest destiny in the antebellum era, and situates imperial lust in the context of social and economic transformations that were changing the meaning of manhood and womanhood in the US. Easy victory over Mexico in 1848 led many…

New Lands, New Men

By William H. Goetzmann,

Book cover of New Lands, New Men: America and the Second Great Age of Discovery

Stephen J. Pyne Author Of The Great Ages of Discovery: How Western Civilization Learned about a Wider World

From the list on the history of exploration.

Who am I?

My 15 seasons at Grand Canyon inspired me to understand its story of revelation, which led to a fascination with the history of exploration overall.  This has resulted in a series of books about explorers, places explored, and a conceptual scaffolding by which to understand it all: a geologist of the American West (Grove Karl Gilbert); Antarctica (The Ice); revisiting the Rim with better conceptual gear, How the Canyon Became Grand; and using its mission as a narrative spine, Voyager: Exploration, Space, and Third Great Age of DiscoveryThe grand sweep deserved a grand summary, so I’ve ended with The Great Ages of Discovery.

Stephen's book list on the history of exploration

Why did Stephen love this book?

A few days out of high school, I found myself on a forest fire crew at the North Rim of Grand Canyon, and returned for 15 seasons. The more I pondered the Canyon, the more I wanted to learn about why this strange landscape was valued, which led me to William Goetzmann, who became my grad school advisor.

New Lands, New Men is the third and final volume of a trilogy Goetzmann wrote on the theme. (His second book, Exploration and Empire, won a Pulitzer.) It’s a bit looser, willing to play with the material, and full of the quirky as well as the renown. Its organizing concept that exploration rekindled in the 18th century (with a significant input from modern science) is a major innovation in a field usually devoted to stirring tales of individual adventure and discovery.

By William H. Goetzmann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In New Lands, New Men, the third volume in his award-winning Exploration Trilogy, one of America’s leading historians tells the dramatic story of three centuries of exploration that witnessed Europeans exploring the Pacific and Northwest, Americans setting out across their own immense continent, and finally, Americans exploring new worlds: the oceans, Japan, the polar regions.

Spanning the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, the Second Great Age of Discovery was marked by the Enlightenment’s ideals of science and progress. Explorers from James Cook to George Catlin, from Charles Wilkes to Matthew Maury, trained as scientists intent on precise observation and gathered…

Reforming the World

By Ian Tyrrell,

Book cover of Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire

Stephen Tuffnell Author Of Made in Britain: Nation and Emigration in Nineteenth-Century America

From the list on the USA and the world in the nineteenth century.

Who am I?

I am a historian of the United States' global pasts. What excites me most in both research and teaching is approaching familiar topics from unconventional angles whether through unfamiliar objects or comparative perspectives. To do so I have approached the US past from the perspective of its emigrants and the global history of gold rushes, and am doing so now in two projects: one on the ice trade and another on the United States’ imperial relationship with Africa between the Diamond Rush of 1867 and the First World War. I currently teach at the University of Oxford where I am a Fellow in History at St Peter’s College.

Stephen's book list on the USA and the world in the nineteenth century

Why did Stephen love this book?

Reforming the World sees Ian Tyrrell, the master practitioner of transnational approaches to US history, at the peak of his powers. After tackling the world temperance movement, and US-Australian environmental connections, Tyrrell here turns to the “soft power” of Christian missionaries and evangelicals as they proselytized around the world and hoped to remake it in their image. You cannot fail to be gripped by the idiosyncratic personal histories of Tyrrell’s protagonists which he captures with characteristic attention to detail, humanity, and clear-eyed analysis. This is an important story in its own right, but what’s important is the way in which it sets the scene for US power in the twentieth century.

By Ian Tyrrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reforming the World offers a sophisticated account of how and why, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American missionaries and moral reformers undertook work abroad at an unprecedented rate and scale. Looking at various organizations such as the Young Men's Christian Association and the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, Ian Tyrrell describes the influence that the export of American values had back home, and explores the methods and networks used by reformers to fashion a global and nonterritorial empire. He follows the transnational American response to internal pressures, the European colonies, and dynamic changes in global society.…

Patterns of Empire

By Julian Go,

Book cover of Patterns of Empire: The British and American Empires, 1688 to the Present

April Biccum Author Of Global Citizenship and the Legacy of Empire: Marketing Development

From the list on empire as a particular kind of politics.

Who am I?

My interest in empires began as an undergraduate taking a course in International Political Economy. We were asked to view poverty and ‘underdevelopment’ in the historical perspective of European colonization but asked to see development economics as something entirely new. I couldn’t see the difference. I have since become fascinated not just by the world historical recurrence of this particular type of politics, but also why our understanding of it is occluded through repeated framing of global politics via the nation state. Unless we understand this global history we are at risk of misdiagnosing contemporary problems, and repeating historical patterns. Moreover, we can’t build a world that is truly non-imperial without sustained comparative study.

April's book list on empire as a particular kind of politics

Why did April love this book?

World historical and comparative work on empire is on the rise and what they demonstrate is as a particular type of politics, empires exhibit certain patterns. That is the contention of Julian Go’s comparative work on the US and the UK. 

These are cases that have been compared before but instead of comparing them contemporaneously, Go makes a point of comparing them along their ‘hegemonial arc’ of rise and decline. 

Go demonstrates through comparison with Britain that a racial politics of differentiation and incorporation in the Westward expansion of the original 13 colonies is a common imperial pattern. This claim is corroborated by other cases as demonstrated by the works of Kumar and Burbank and Cooper. 

When read in combination with Immewahr and Kumar, Julian Go’s book shows what was typical empire building in American westward expansion (such as the racialized politics of differentiation and tutelary governance) and atypical and…

By Julian Go,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Patterns of Empire comprehensively examines the two most powerful empires in modern history: the United States and Britain. Challenging the popular theory that the American empire is unique, Patterns of Empire shows how the policies, practices, forms and historical dynamics of the American empire repeat those of the British, leading up to the present climate of economic decline, treacherous intervention in the Middle East and overextended imperial confidence. A critical exercise in revisionist history and comparative social science, this book also offers a challenging theory of empire that recognizes the agency of non-Western peoples, the impact of global fields and…

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

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…

Jefferson's Empire

By Peter S. Onuf,

Book cover of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

Francis D. Cogliano Author Of Emperor of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson's Foreign Policy

From the list on Thomas Jefferson from a historian's view.

Who am I?

I've spent three decades teaching the history of the United States, especially the American Revolution, to students in the UK. Invariably some students are attracted by the ideals they identify with the United States while others stress the times that the US has failed to uphold those ideals. Thomas Jefferson helped to articulate those ideals and often came up short when it came to realizing them. This has fascinated me as well as my students. I'm the author or editor of eight books on Jefferson and the American Revolution including, Thomas Jefferson: Reputation and Legacy and The Blackwell Companion to Thomas Jefferson. I'm currently completing a book about the relationship between Jefferson and George Washington.

Francis' book list on Thomas Jefferson from a historian's view

Why did Francis love this book?

Onuf, who held the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Chair at the University of Virginia, is the most accomplished student of Jefferson’s thought. In Jefferson’s Empire, Onuf interrogates Jefferson’s thinking about the meaning of the American Revolution. He places Jefferson’s thinking in the context of the Enlightenment showing that his vision of the American future arose from his idealized notions of nationhood and empire. Rather than see the US as the antithesis of empire, Onuf shows that Jefferson believed that Americans should craft a new form of republican empire that he believed would be a model for the rest of the world. Onuf recognizes, as Jefferson didn’t, that this vision depended on enslaved labor and the displacement of Indigenous people and he explores these contradictions. Onuf’s reading of the Declaration of Independence transformed my own thinking about that foundational document.   

By Peter S. Onuf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thomas Jefferson believed that the American revolution was a transformative moment in the history of political civilization. He hoped that his own efforts as a founding statesman and theorist would help construct a progressive and enlightened order for the new American nation that would be a model and inspiration for the world. Peter S. Onuf's new book traces Jefferson's vision of the American future to its roots in his idealized notions of nationhood and empire. Onuf's unsettling recognition that Jefferson's famed egalitarianism was elaborated in an imperial context yields strikingly original interpretations of our national identity and our ideas of…

Unfamiliar Fishes

By Sarah Vowell,

Book cover of Unfamiliar Fishes

Elizabeth Becker Author Of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism

From the list on thoughtful travel.

Who am I?

I’ve traveled the world as a correspondent for the New York Times and the Washington Post but I didn’t understand the importance of travel writing until I spent five years researching the global travel industry. I read countless travel guides and travel books to understand how they shape the way we see the world. That is when I understood that the critical importance of writers who rose above the fray and captured a country, its people, culture, and landscape in travelogues. Those books are transformative, giving depth and insights while popular guides do little more than provide lists of what to do, where to go, and how to follow the crowd. If you truly believe travel gives your life new meaning, then go with these classics.

Elizabeth's book list on thoughtful travel

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Unfamiliar Fishes, is one of my favorite contemporary examples of travel writing because it is funny. Vowell turns her travelogue about Hawaii into a full history told with a quirky sense of humor. Nothing escapes her wit – from the greed of the early Americans who took over the island to the tourists like her trying to discover it under the layers of manufactured culture. She ends up loving the place, of course, like all the best travel writers.

By Sarah Vowell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of Lafayette in the Somewhat United States comes an examination of Hawaii, the place where Manifest Destiny got a sunburn. 


Of all the countries the United States invaded or colonized in 1898, Sarah Vowell considers the story of the Americanization of Hawaii to be the most intriguing. From the arrival of the New England missionaries in 1820, who came to Christianize the local heathens, to the coup d'état led by the missionaries' sons in 1893, overthrowing the Hawaiian queen, the events leading up to American annexation feature a cast of beguiling, if often appalling or tragic, characters.…

Book cover of Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America

Dean Hammer Author Of Rome and America: Communities of Strangers, Spectacles of Belonging

From the list on the connection of ancient Rome to an American identity.

Who am I?

My fascination with the relationship between Rome and America grows out of the work I have done on early American culture, contemporary political thought, and ancient Rome. My most recent work, Rome and America: Communities of Strangers, Spectacles of Belonging, took shape through a lot of conversations over the years with friends and colleagues about the different tensions I saw in Roman politics and culture around questions of national identity, tensions that I saw being played out in the United States. I don’t like tidy histories. I am drawn to explorations of politics and culture that reveal the anxieties and dissonance that derive from our own attempt to resolve our incompleteness. 

Dean's book list on the connection of ancient Rome to an American identity

Why did Dean love this book?

I am an academic writer, but I admire when someone is able to write a thoughtful book that is accessible to a popular audience. Are We Rome? made a big splash and launched a cottage industry of comparisons (and debates about comparisons) of America to Rome. In exploring parallels between Rome and America, Murphy serves up dire warnings about how America’s worldview could portend its own demise. My latest book approaches the question of Rome and America in a different way, but tries to blend scholarship with a more accessible style that everyone might find interesting. 

By Cullen Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What went wrong in imperial Rome, and how we can avoid it: “If you want to understand where America stands in the world today, read this.”—Thomas E. Ricks

The rise and fall of ancient Rome has been on American minds since the beginning of our republic. Depending on who’s doing the talking, the history of Rome serves as either a triumphal call to action—or a dire warning of imminent collapse.

In this “provocative and lively” book, Cullen Murphy points out that today we focus less on the Roman Republic than on the empire that took its place, and reveals a…

We Shall Be Masters

By Chris Miller,

Book cover of We Shall Be Masters: Russian Pivots to East Asia from Peter the Great to Putin

Sören Urbansky Author Of Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border

From the list on Russia in Asia.

Who am I?

Sören Urbansky was born and raised in East Germany next to the Iron Curtain. Since embarking on an overland journey from Berlin to Beijing after high school, he became hooked by peoples’ lifeways in Northeast Asia. In college, Sören began studying history in earnest and grew intrigued by Russia and China, the world’s largest and most populous countries. He has published widely on this pivotal yet forgotten region. Sören is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute Washington and is currently embarking on a new project that examines anti-Chinese sentiments from a global perspective.

Sören's book list on Russia in Asia

Why did Sören love this book?

Chris Miller has written a well-argued account of Russia’s various attempts to gain great power status in the Asia-Pacific over the five centuries – and its repeated setbacks. Russia’s imperial expansion to Alaska, Hawaii, and California reminds us that Russia’s expansionist dreams often amounted to little. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is another example that Putin’s ambitions in the East are restrained by the country’s firm rooting in Europe.

By Chris Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Shall Be Masters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An illuminating account of Russia's attempts-and failures-to achieve great power status in Asia.

Since Peter the Great, Russian leaders have been lured by opportunity to the East. Under the tsars, Russians colonized Alaska, California, and Hawaii. The Trans-Siberian Railway linked Moscow to Vladivostok. And Stalin looked to Asia as a sphere of influence, hospitable to the spread of Soviet Communism. In Asia and the Pacific lay territory, markets, security, and glory.

But all these expansionist dreams amounted to little. In We Shall Be Masters, Chris Miller explores why, arguing that Russia's ambitions have repeatedly outstripped its capacity. With the core…

Jackson's Sword

By Samuel J. Watson,

Book cover of Jackson's Sword: The Army Officer Corps on the American Frontier, 1810-1821

Brian McAllister Linn Author Of Elvis's Army: Cold War GIs and the Atomic Battlefield

From the list on the peacetime US Army.

Who am I?

I am a historian of modern (post-1898) American military history who has been fortunate enough to be at a university that supports my research. I have always been fascinated by the “black holes” in military history, the topics that are not glamorous like the big wars, charismatic generals, or Washington-level civil-military relations. This has led me to study such obscure topics as the conquest and pacification of the Philippines, the forty-year plans for Pacific defense prior to World War II, and how military officers have envisioned future war. The peacetime US Army is a terrific “black hole” because so many people, civilians, and military, assume that they already know that history.

Brian's book list on the peacetime US Army

Why did Brian love this book?

Sam Watson’s two volumes fully integrate the US Army into the history of the Jacksonian Era. These works demonstrate the Army’s vital role in issues as diverse as populism, professionalism, federalism, military policy, and the controversial suppression, dispossession, and forced relocation of Native Americans. His extensively-researched work not only shows the Army’s diplomatic-police role, but why, despite the Jacksonian’s ideological opposition to a standing army, they made it so central to national policy on the frontier.

By Samuel J. Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jackson's Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jackson's Sword is the initial volume in a monumental study that provides a sweeping panoramic view of the U.S. Army and its officer corps from the War of 1812 to the War with Mexico, the first such study in more than forty years. Watson's chronicle shows how the officer corps played a crucial role in stabilising the frontiers of a rapidly expanding nation, while gradually moving away from military adventurism toward a professionalism subordinate to civilian authority.

Jackson's Swordexplores problems of institutional instability, multiple loyalties, and insubordination as it demonstrates how the officer corps often undermined-and sometimes supplanted-civilian authority with…

The Life of Andrew Jackson

By Robert V. Remini,

Book cover of The Life of Andrew Jackson

Donald R. Hickey Author Of Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans

From the list on understanding the Battle of New Orleans.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author and professor of history at Wayne State College in Nebraska. Called “the dean of 1812 scholarship” by the New Yorker, I’ve written eleven books and more than a hundred articles, mostly on the War of 1812 and its causes. I didn’t become interested in this battle until well into my academic career, when I decided to turn the series of articles on the War of 1812 that I had written into my first book. I quickly became fascinated by the cast of characters, headed by tough-as-nails Andrew Jackson; Baratarian pirate Jean Laffite; and the British commander, Sir Edward Pakenham, who was the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law. No less intriguing was the magnitude of the U.S. victory and the British defeat, the profound and lasting legacy of the battle, and the many popular misconceptions about what actually happened in the battle or what might have happened had the British won.

Donald's book list on understanding the Battle of New Orleans

Why did Donald love this book?

A good place to start for understanding the Battle of New Orleans is a biography of the central character. A life-long student of Jackson, Robert Remini in this work provides a distillation of his 3-volume study on Old Hickory. Readers will learn about Jackson’s contentious early life and rise on the Tennessee frontier, his remarkable success as a general in both the Creek War and the War of 1812, and his postwar career, culminating in his presidency.

By Robert V. Remini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Superb professional history that moves boldly beyond the scholar’s monograph to make the American past alive and exciting for the general reader.” —Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

[Remini] has produced a wonderful portrait, rich in detail, of a fascinating and important man and an authoritative . . . . account of his role in American History.” —New York Times Book Review

The classic one-volume abridgement of the definitive, three-volume, National Book Award-winning biography of Andrew Jackson from esteemed historian Robert V. Remini.

Out of the East

By Paul Freedman,

Book cover of Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination

Andrew Jotischky Author Of A Hermit's Cookbook: Monks, Food and Fasting in the Middle Ages

From the list on food and drink in the Middle Ages.

Who am I?

My interest in medieval food and cookery combines two of my great passions in life, but I first started to become seriously interested in the combination when researching religious dietary ideas and practices. I am fascinated by the symbolic role played by food and drink in religious life, and by fasting and self-denial as part of a religious tradition, but also in the ways in which medieval communities feasted and how tastes in food and drink developed through trade and cultural exchange. I teach an undergraduate course on Feast, Fast, and Famine in the Middle Ages because questions about production, consumption, and sustainability are crucially important for us all.  

Andrew's book list on food and drink in the Middle Ages

Why did Andrew love this book?

This is one of the books I wish I had written! Although it is a scholarly book based on the author’s research, it reads like a compellingly told story. It’s full of imaginative and vivid detail. Paul Freedman asks why there was such a high demand for spices in medieval Europe, examines the practicalities of trade and travel that enabled Europeans to acquire them, the ways they used them as commodities and the cultural meanings of taste and what changes in taste tell us about societal development. 

By Paul Freedman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How medieval Europe's infatuation with expensive, fragrant, and exotic spices led to an era of colonial expansion and the discovery of new worlds

The demand for spices in medieval Europe was extravagant and was reflected in the pursuit of fashion, the formation of taste, and the growth of luxury trade. It inspired geographical and commercial exploration ,as traders pursued such common spices as pepper and cinnamon and rarer aromatic products, including ambergris and musk. Ultimately, the spice quest led to imperial missions that were to change world history.

This engaging book explores the demand for spices: why were they so…