9 Books for the History Buff in Your Life

Posted on November 29, 2022

by The History Reader

Another year has come and gone and with it, more books on some of the most fascinating battles, leaders, and adventures in human history. From Buddy Levy’s epic account of the last great voyage of The Heroic Age of Discovery to Bob Drury and Tom Clavin’s incredible true story of the most elite and experienced attack unit in the United States Army during WWII, we’ve got something for every history reader this holiday season. Check out our top history picks of 2022 below!

Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk

by Buddy Levy

In the summer of 1913, the wooden-hulled brigantine Karluk departed Canada for the Arctic Ocean. Little did the crew know, they were in store for one of the most disastrous expeditions in polar history. Just six weeks after the Karluk departed, giant ice floes closed in around it, trapping it and the shipwrecked survivors. In this gripping account, Buddy Levy tells a story of tragedy, selflessness, and heroism during the last great voyage of The Heroic Age of Discovery.

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Damn Lucky: One Man’s Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

by Kevin Maurer

When the Japanese attacked an American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, John “Lucky” Luckadoo answered his nation’s call to action. What followed was an incredible career in the United States Air Force, including twenty-five missions over France and Germany on bombing runs devised to destroy the Nazi war machine. Drawn from Luckadoo’s firsthand accounts, acclaimed war correspondent Kevin Maurer shares his extraordinary tale from war to peacetime, uncovering astonishing feats of bravery during the bloodiest military campaign in aviation history.

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Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier

by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin

It’s the middle of the 18th century and anxious colonists are desperate to conquer and settle North America’s “First Frontier.” What follows is a series of violent conflicts, waged against the Native American tribes and the French. Enter America’s first and arguably greatest pathfinder, Daniel Boone. Boone’s explorations into the forested frontier beyond the great mountains during this time have become the stuff of legend. In this fast-paced and fiery narrative, Drury and Clavin have produced a masterfully researched chronicle of the conflict over America’s “First Frontier” and the incredible adventures of Daniel Boone.

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Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire

by Jonathan M. Katz

Who was Smedley Butler? Besides having a great name, Smedley Butler was the most celebrated warfighter of his time. Wherever the flag went, Butler went—serving in nearly every major overseas conflict from the Spanish War of 1898 until the eve of World War II. Through the lens of Butler’s extraordinary life, Gangster of Capitalism takes readers on a groundbreaking journey tracing America’s forgotten path to global power—and how its legacies shape our world today.

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The Women of Rothschild: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Famous Dynasty

by Natalie Livingstone

Much has been written about the famed Rothschild family, a banking dynasty that once held the largest private fortune in the world. However, very little has been written about the remarkable Rothschild women, who played a significant role in shaping history. From the East End of London to the Eastern seaboard of the United States, from Spitalfields to Scottish castles, from Bletchley Park to Buchenwald, and from the Vatican to Palestine, Natalie Livingstone follows the extraordinary lives of the Rothschild women from the dawn of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twenty-first.

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The Last Hill: The Epic Story of a Ranger Battalion and the Battle That Defined WWII

by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Do you know the story of the most elite and experienced attack unit in the United States Army during WWII? They were known as “Rudder’s Rangers.” In December 1944, Lt. Col. James Rudder’s 2nd Battalion would form the spearhead into Germany, taking the war into Hitler’s homeland at last. In the process, Rudder was given two objectives: Take Hill 400 . . . and hold the hill by any means possible. Covering one of the most crucial battles of WWII, The Last Hill is a compelling and incredible true story of heroism and courage in the face of incredible adversity.

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True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson

by Kostya Kennedy

For players, fans, managers, and executives, Jackie Robinson remains baseball’s singular figure, the person who most profoundly extended, and continues to extend, the reach of the game. True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson is an unconventional biography, focusing on four transformative years in Robinson’s athletic and public life: 1946, his first year playing in the essentially all-white minor leagues for the Montreal Royals; 1949, when he won the Most Valuable Player Award in his third season as a Brooklyn Dodger; 1956, his final season in major league baseball, when he played valiantly despite his increasing health struggles; and 1972, the year of his untimely death. Well-written and richly detailed, True is the perfect gift for any sports fan.

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Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies

by Laura Thompson

Heiresses. Some would kill to be them. Literally. However, as Laura Thompson will be the first to tell you, the lives of Heiresses are not always what they seem. Throughout history, heiresses to incredible fortunes have been vulnerable to kidnapping, forced marriages, and even confinement in an asylum. In this fascinating dive into the lives of these women, Thompson examines the often tragic truth beneath the gilded surface. 

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The Jeffersonians: The Visionary Presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe

By Kevin R. C. Gutzman

Love presidential history? The Jeffersonians is a riveting history, exploring the foreign policy, domestic initiatives, and constitutional agenda of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. While not everything the three presidents undertook was a success, their achievements were many, including the founding of the opposition Republican Party in the 1790s; the Louisiana Purchase; and the call upon Congress in 1806 to use its constitutional power to ban slave imports. Don’t miss Kevin R. C. Gutzman’s complete chronicle of the men known as The Virginia Dynasty.

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