This is a list of many of my favorite books, with a couple unfavorites mixed in, too. A few of the books relate to Genealogy, but more relate to my other interests, such as History.

All the colored text entries are links to items elsewhere on this page. The book images are links to in case you are interested in getting a copy.


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    by David McCullough
    (History, Biography, American Revolution)

    The rise of George Washington and the events--and crises--he faced during 1776.

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    Alexander the Great

    by Robin Lane Fox
    (History, Warfare, Leadership)

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    Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne: From Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest

    by Stephen Ambrose
    (History, Warfare)

    A gripping, horrifying account of E Company, elite paratroopers who had some of the toughest assignments in World War II.

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    Bias: A CMS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News

    by Bernard Goldberg
    (Journalism, Politics)

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    A Brief History of Time

    by Stephen W. Hawking
    (Physics, Cosmology)

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    Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A History

    by James Carroll
    (History, Religion)

    A controversial book that examines anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism by the Roman Catholic church. Agree or disagree, but remember that you do not have to question your faith to question authority.

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    Dawkins vs. Gould

    by Kim Sterelny
    (Evolution, Genetics)

    This book lays out the differences between the theories of Richard Dawkins and Stephen J. Gould. The author appears to side with Dawkins. On the other hand, I understood Gould's position far better after reading this book than by reading his opus The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.

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    The Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775

    by Willaim H. Hallahan
    (History, American Revolution)

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    The Design of Everyday Things

    by Donald A. Norman

    What makes a good door handle, and what doesn't? After you read this book, whenever you struggle with a machine, tool, or device, you'll wish the designer had read it, too.

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    by Michael Herr
    (History, Warfare)

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    Einstein's Mirror

    by Tony Hey, Patrick Walters

    This fascinating book describes Einstein's "thought experiments", ingenius virtual experiments related to his foundational theories.

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    The Elements of Style

    by William H. Strunk, E.B. White

    William H. Strunk was one of E.B. White's college professors. White recovered his "little book" of esential rules for good grammer and revised it. My writing would be a lot worse if it weren't for this book.

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    Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian

    by Elizabeth Shown Mills

    A classic that is a must-read for all family historians.

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    Fatal Voyage: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

    by Dan Kurzman
    (History, Warfare)

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    The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

    by H.W. Brands
    (History, Biography, American Revolution)

    If George Washington was the father of our country, Ben Franklin was the grandfather!

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    The First World War

    by John Keegan
    (History, Warfare)

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    Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

    by Joseph J. Ellis
    (History, Biography, American Revolution)

    The founders come to life and show their awesome gifts.. and some fatal flaws.
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    Getting the Most Out of the Master Genealogist

    by Lee H. Hoffman (editor)

    This is the shameless promotion part of our program; I wrote one of the chapters in LeeĀ“s book. The other authors, all widely recognized as experts in the use of TMG, are Jim Byram, Richard Brogger, Jeff Clenard, Robin Lamacraft, Allen Mellen, Terry Reigel, and Dorothy Turner. Unfortunately, the first printing has sold out. If you have a copy, keep your eye on it!

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    Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Acount of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission

    by Hampton Sides
    (History, Warfare)

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    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

    by Jared Diamond
    (History, Anthropology, Sociology)

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Jared Diamond believes that geographical and environmental factors gave certain early societies developmental advantages that subsequently shaped the course of history. Like Steven Pinker, Jared makes a scientific topic understandable to lay people without oversimplification. Fascinating reading.

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    A History of Warfare

    by John Keegan
    (History, Warfare)

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    How the Mind Works

    by Steven Pinker
    (Evolution, Genetics)

    A friend loaned me The Language Instinct and I loved it. Little did I know that How the Mind Works would be even better!

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    In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death & the World It Made

    by Norma H. Cantor
    (History, Genealogy)

    The Black Plague, also known as the Black Death, killed one-third of Europe's population in the 14th century. Cantor's book covers the topic at the right level, mixing details from daily life with the broad view of how the plague changed the course of history.

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    John Adams

    by David McCullough
    (History, Biography, American Revolution)

    David McCullough has resurrected John Adams.
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    Lance Armstrong's War: One Man's Battle Against Fate, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour De France

    by Daniel Coyle
    (Bicycling, Biography)

    Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor, seven-time Tour de France winner, ex-husband, father, son, and ex-fiance of pop star Sheryl Crow. Above all, though, he's a relentless competitor. Coyle describes the ins and outs of this complex man, and how he is seen by his family, friends, and loved ones, as well as his competitors, ex-friends, and detractors.

    While I was reading this book, a nitwit sports radio announcer said that he (the announcer) could win a stage in the Tour de France. He should read this book. Perhaps then he'll understand how absurd a statement that was.

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    The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

    by Steven Pinker
    (Evolution, Genetics)

    A great book. I loved it. To my great surprise, How the Mind Works was even better.

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    Letters of E.B. White

    by E.B. White, Dorothy Lobrano Guth (editor)

    I am not quite sure why I liked this book so much. White wrote about the little events that made up his daily life, but made it interesting.

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    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales

    by Oliver Sacks

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    The Mask of Command

    by John Keegan
    (History, Warfare, Leadership)

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    Mutiny on the Globe: The Fatal Voyage of Samuel Comstock

    by Thomas Farel Heffernan

    A good, fast recounting of the saga of the Globe, but according to many sources there are better accounts of this mutiny and the people involved. I've only read this one so far.

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    The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity

    by Jill Lepore
    (History, Warfare)

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    The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd

    by Richard Zacks

    Kidd was no ordinary pirate... Was he a pirate at all?

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    Planting Your Family Tree Online: How to Create Your Own Family History Web Site

    by Cyndi Howells

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    Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper: Case Closed

    by Patricia Cornwell
    (History, Crime)

    Patricia Cornwell is convinced artist Walter Richard Sickert was Jack the Ripper, so much so that she confidently puts "Case Closed" in the title. Unfortunately, the evidence is circumstantial and she built her case on a house of cards: she continually makes suppositions without adequate evidence and then builds on them. The book is also poorly written and organized. The biographical details of Sickert's life are spread throughout the book, mixed in with the facts (and guesses) of the Ripper murder cases. All in all, I thought this book was awful and I only finished it because I was on a long flight!

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    Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians

    by Elizabeth Shown Mills (editor)

    A manual for all serious family historians.

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    The Selfish Gene

    by Richard Dawkins
    (Evolution, Genetics)

    A classic, must-read for anyone even remotely interested in Evolution or Genetics.

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    The Seven Daughters of Eve

    by Bryan Sykes
    (Evolution, Genetics, Genealogy)

    I saw a presentation by Bryan Sikes at a conference and was impressed by his work. I read The Seven Daughters of Eve as soon as I could get my hands on a copy and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in genetics, genealogy, anthropology, or history.

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    The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers

    by Daniel L. Schacter
    (Memory, Psychology)

    I think I learned a lot from this book, but I forget what now.

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    The Structure of Evolutionary Theory

    by Stephen J. Gould
    (Evolution, Genetics)

    I am very interested in evolution, and after reading books by Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins and others, I took the plunge and read Gould's Structure of Evolutionary Theory. I wish I hadn't wasted my time. I hate his writing style, and his arguments don't convince me. If the book was 300 or 400 pages rather than 1400+ it would have been much better. Did he write a long book because he didn't have time to write a short one?1

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    Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    (History, Biography)

    A fascinating story. I knew what everyone else knows about Lincoln's life before reading this book. The more complete story of his rise to power, and dexterity using it, is even more impressive than what we were taught in grade school. My only complaint is that Ms. Goodwin moves back and forth between the subjects as she presents biographical details of Lincoln and his key cabinet members and I found myself mixing up some of the details.

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    Who Wrote the Bible?

    by Richard Elliott Friendman
    (History, Religion)

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    William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England

    by David C. Douglas
    (History, Warfare)

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    Writings from The New Yorker 1925-1976

    by E.B. White

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    The Zimmerman Telegram

    by Barbara W. Tuchman
    (History, Warfare)

    The story of the telegram that changed the course of World War I.


Stephen Ambrose
H.W. Brands
Norma H. Cantor
James Carroll
Patricia Cornwell
Daniel Coyle
Richard Dawkins
Jared Diamond
David C. Douglas
Joseph J. Ellis
Robin Lane Fox
Richard Elliott Friendman
Bernard Goldberg
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Stephen J. Gould
Dorothy Lobrano Guth
Willaim H. Hallahan
Stephen W. Hawking
Thomas Farel Heffernan
Michael Herr
Tony Hey
Lee H. Hoffman
Cyndi Howells
John Keegan
Dan Kurzman
Jill Lepore
David McCullough
Elizabeth Shown Mills
Donald A. Norman
Steven Pinker
One of my favorite authors. He explains complex concepts in clear and concise language and makes a very convincing case for his point of view.
Oliver Sacks
Daniel L. Schacter
Hampton Sides
Kim Sterelny
William H. Strunk
Bryan Sykes
Barbara W. Tuchman
Patrick Walters
E.B. White
Richard Zacks


CategoryBook and Author
American Revolution


  1. The quote, "I didn't have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one" has been credited to Blaise Pascal, among others, and it may go back as far as Cicero.