9 Picks for the History-Loving Dad

Posted on May 27, 2022

by The History Reader

As Father’s Day once again approaches, we’ve rounded up nine books sure to please any history-loving dad. Ranging from detailed accounts from the battlefields of WWII and the more recent history of the global war on terror, to the sights and sounds of rock and roll legends and golf greats, there’s something for every history reader on the list.

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

by Kevin Maurer

If the dad you’re shopping for couldn’t put down No Easy Day, he won’t want to miss co-author Kevin Maurer’s latest book, Damn Lucky, the true story of a World War II bomber pilot who survived twenty-five missions. Drawn from John “Lucky” Luckadoo’s firsthand accounts, this extraordinary tale spans from war to peacetime, uncovering astonishing feats of bravery during the bloodiest military campaign in aviation history, and presenting an incredible portrait of a young man’s coming-of-age during the world’s most devastating war.

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Killing the Killers: The Secret War Against Terrorists

by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard

Killing the Killers marks the eleventh book in the multimillion-selling Killing series, and reveals the startling, dramatic story of the global war against terrorists, which began more than twenty years ago on September 11, 2001. Killing The Killers narrates America’s intense global war against extremists who planned and executed not only the 9/11 attacks, but hundreds of others in America and around the world, and who eventually destroyed entire nations in their relentless quest for power. Moving from Afghanistan to Iraq, Iran to Yemen, Syria, and Libya, and elsewhere, as the United States fought Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as well as individually targeting the most notorious leaders of these groups, O’Reilly and Dugard create an unstoppable account of the most important war of our era.

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Long Train Runnin’: Our Story of The Doobie Brothers

by Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons with Chris Epting

Perfect for a classic rock aficionado, Long Train Runnin’ recounts the longevity, success, and drama of The Doobie Brothers. Born out of late 1960s NorCal, and led by Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston, they stood alongside their contemporaries The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and many others as an iconic American rock band. The train was rolling along, hits were flowing like wine, and arenas were packed with fans who wanted to see them live…then Tom Johnston, the band’s front man and lead guitarist, became ill and had to leave. The Doobies’ train came to a screeching halt. All of a sudden the band started contemplating the end of the road only seven years into their career, just as things were taking off. But Pat Simmons made sure they were far from the end and began the process of keeping the band together through most of the next decade. Never before have Pat and Tom shared their story, in their own words, but in Long Train Runnin’, that all changes.

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Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior

by Ric Prado

If the dad on your list is fascinated by lives lived in the shadowy world of assassins, terrorists, spies and revolutionaries, former CIA officer Ric Prado’s Black Ops is a choice without contest. Enrique Prado found himself in his first firefight at age seven. The son of a middle-class Cuban family caught in the midst of the Castro Revolution, his family fled their war-torn home for the hope of a better life in America. Fifty years later, the Cuban refugee retired from the Central Intelligence Agency as the CIA equivalent of a two-star general. Black Ops is the story of Ric’s legendary career that spanned two eras, the Cold War and the Age of Terrorism. Operating in the shadows, Ric and his fellow CIA officers fought a little-seen and virtually unknown war to keep USA safe from those who would do it harm.

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Tiger & Phil: Golf’s Most Fascinating Rivalry

by Bob Harig

Got a dad who loves the game of golf? Bob Harig’s Tiger & Phil provides an in-depth chronicle of the decades-long rivalry that drove the success of golf’s two biggest stars, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Even with all the ink that has been spilled on Tiger, no one has ever written about his relationship with Phil and how their careers have been inextricably intertwined. Furthermore, very little has been written about Phil Mickelson, who is more than just an adversary. He is a fascinating Hall of Fame golfer in his own right. In the tradition of major bestsellers such as Arnie & Jack, When the Game Was Ours, and Brady vs. Manning, Tiger & Phil will change the way you look at these players and the game itself.

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Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster, and Watergate

by Jefferson Morley

Scorpions’ Dance by intelligence expert and investigative journalist Jefferson Morley reveals the Watergate scandal in a completely new light: as the culmination of a concealed, deadly power struggle between President Richard Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms. Nixon and Helms went back decades; both were 1950s Cold Warriors, and both knew secrets about the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba as well as off-the-books American government and CIA plots to remove Fidel Castro and other leaders in Latin America. Both had enough information on each other to ruin their careers. After the Watergate burglary on June 17, 1972, Nixon was desperate to shut down the FBI’s investigation. He sought Helms’ support and asked that the CIA intervene—knowing that most of the Watergate burglars were retired CIA agents, contractors, or long-term assets with deep knowledge of the Agency’s most sensitive secrets. Rigorously researched and dramatically told, Scorpions’ Dance uses long-neglected evidence to reveal a new perspective on one of America’s most notorious presidential scandals.

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Valor: The Astonishing World War II Saga of One Man’s Defiance and Indomitable Spirit

by Siân Evans

Another great read for dads who can’t get enough WWII history, Valor is the magnificent story of a genuine American hero who survived the fall of the Philippines and brutal captivity under the Japanese. Lieutenant William Frederick “Bill” Harris was 25 years old when captured by Japanese forces during the Battle of Corregidor in May 1942. This son of a decorated Marine general escaped from hell on earth by swimming eight hours through a shark-infested bay; but his harrowing ordeal had just begun. After 29 days of misadventures and violent storms, Harris and his crew limped into a friendly fishing village in the southern Philippines. Evading and fighting for months, he embarked on another agonizing voyage to Australia, but was betrayed by treacherous islanders and handed over to the Japanese. Held for two years in the notorious Ofuna prisoner-of-war camp outside Yokohama, Harris was continuously starved, tortured, and beaten, but he never surrendered. Through military documents, personal photos, and an unpublished memoir provided by Harris’s daughter, Valor is a riveting new look at the Pacific War.

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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. Beyond Ruth. Beyond Clemente. Beyond Aaron. Beyond the heroes of today. True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy 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. Through it all, Robinson remained true to the effort and the mission, true to his convictions and contradictions. Kennedy examines each of these years through details not reported in previous biographies, bringing them to life in vivid prose and through interviews with fans and players who witnessed his impact, as well as with Robinson’s surviving family.

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Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition

by Buddy Levy

Based on the author’s exhaustive research, Labyrinth of Ice offers the incredible true story of the Greely Expedition, one of the most harrowing adventures in the annals of polar exploration—a must-read for any armchair explorer. In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely and his crew of 24 scientists and explorers were bound for the last region unmarked on global maps. Their goal: Farthest North. Greely and his men confronted every possible challenge—vicious wolves, sub-zero temperatures, and months of total darkness—as they set about exploring one of the most remote, unrelenting environments on the planet. In May 1882, they broke the 300-year-old record, and returned to camp to eagerly await the resupply ship scheduled to return at the end of the year. Only nothing came. 250 miles south, a wall of ice prevented any rescue from reaching them. Provisions thinned and a second winter descended. Months passed, and Greely made a drastic choice: he and his men loaded the remaining provisions and tools onto their five small boats, and pushed off into the treacherous waters. After just two weeks, dangerous floes surrounded them. Now new dangers awaited: insanity, threats of mutiny, and cannibalism. As food dwindled and the men weakened, Greely’s expedition clung desperately to life.

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Find even more recommendations for Father’s Day from The History Reader staff here.

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