Tag Archives: Books

We released our new National Parks coloring book!

Just in time for the holidays—we released our first coloring book available on Amazon.com! It is based on the 50 logos we created for our National Parks guidebook, many of which can be seen on our Shop page. It also includes the overview and wildlife information from the guidebook. It would make a great gift for any age!

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Top 10 Civil War Non-Fiction Books

This past summer, we covered the many National Park Service (NPS) sites dedicated to remembering the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history with the greatest outcome (freedom for the country’s enslaved people).  We previously ranked our Top 10 novels and films about the war, but for the non-fiction list we widened the time frame to include antebellum and postbellum works (click here to see all our Top 10 lists).

10. Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine by Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf (2002)

The discovery of the wreck of the world’s first submarine is a fascinating story.

9. Andrew Johnson by Annette Gordon-Reed (2011)

After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson had impossible shoes to fill.

8. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (1861)

One of many heart-wrenching, first-hand accounts of slavery published by abolitionist groups before the Civil War.

7. West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War by Heather Cox Richardson (2007)

An in-depth look at the history of the country after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

6. Black Reconstruction in America by W.E.B. DuBois (1935)

A seminal work on the period of Reconstruction following the Civil War.

5. Company Aytch by Samuel Watkins (1882)

An interesting autobiography from a soldier in the Confederate Army.

4. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglass (1845)

Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became an impassioned voice for freedom before and after the war.

3. A Diary from Dixie by Mary Chestnut (1905)

A lengthy narrative of one woman’s experiences living in the south during the Civil War.

2. Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1901)

Autobiography of Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute who was born into slavery.

…and finally our #1 non-fiction book about the American Civil War:

1. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2005)

One of the best history books ever written, it tells the story of the competing egos within President Lincoln’s Cabinet.

Honorable Mentions

Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy by Elizabeth R. Varon (2003)

There are so many excellent histories of this period, but this biography is especially interesting.

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton (2004)

Any biography of Harriet Tubman is worth reading.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Top 10 Civil War Novels

This summer, we are covering the many National Park Service (NPS) sites dedicated to remembering the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history with the greatest outcome (freedom for the country’s enslaved people).  We previously listed our Top 10 films about the war and you may recognize some of the same titles in our Top 10 Civil War novels (click here to see all our Top 10 lists).

10. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)

Just try not to picture Jude Law and Nicole Kidman while reading this novel, unless you haven’t seen the movie yet.

9. Civil War Stories by Ambrose Bierce (1891)

Before he went on to become a famous San Francisco newspaperman, Bierce served in the Union army.

8. Shiloh by Shelby Foote (1952)

A novelization of the bloody Tennessee battle by a leading historian featured prominently in Ken Burns’ documentary The Civil War.

7. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor (1955)

Andersonville was an infamous prison camp and is now a National Park Service site.

6. Confederates by Thomas Keneally (1979)

The Battle of Antietam is the setting for the climax of this novel by the author of Schindler’s List.

5. The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara (1998)

Picks up where his father’s (and our #1) novel leaves off after Gettysburg.

4. The March by E.L. Doctorow (2005)

Join Sherman’s march from Georgia to North Carolina alongside a fascinating cast of characters.

3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

The origin of two legendary characters of the silver screen: Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler.

2. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1894)

A classic that you might have been forced to read in grade school, but is worth a reread.

…and finally our #1 novel about the American Civil War:

1. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1975)

This book about Gettysburg also made it to #1 on our Top 10 Novels set in a National Park list.

Honorable Mentions

Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

This story of slavery is not about the Civil War, but it may have helped start it.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1891)

Some of Whitman’s best poems were inspired by his time as a nurse during the war.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

The Civil War provides the backdrop for Louisa May Alcott’s masterpiece.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Update to Our Guidebook: A Park to Yourself

Since White Sands National Monument was upgraded to the 62nd National Park on December 20, 2019, we decided to update our guidebook to the parks.  If you already bought your copy on Amazon, please find the new page 308 posted below.  White Sands is one of our favorite of the many National Park Service units in New Mexico.  You can read more about the park on this blog

White Sands

New Mexico

148,558 acres

Established 2019

603,008 visitors in 2018

Dunes composed of gypsum make a great destination for snow sledding year round, especially when the sand is wet.  Gypsum readily dissolves in water, but here it forms dunes because no river drains the Tularosa Basin.  Follow markers on the five-mile roundtrip Alkali Flat Trail that goes up and down dunes and provides views of the San Andres Mountains.  Most of the wildlife here is nocturnal, but during the day you may spot bleached earless lizards that evolved to camouflage in the gypsum.  The white dunes take on the colors of the sunset if you attend the ranger-guided Sunset Stroll or backpack camp.  There is no campground and only ten backcountry campsites, and their availability is dependent upon whether the military is conducting missile tests overnight, so call ahead or check the schedule online.  Oliver Lee Memorial State Park offers a full service campground in a beautiful setting south of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Top 10 Guidebooks to National Parks

Every major travel publisher (Fodors, Moon, Lonely Planet) has a guidebook to America’s National Parks, which all say the same things about where to go.  We recently published our first book to offer alternatives for those readers seeking to have unique National Park adventures.  You might guess where that one ended up on our Top 10 list, but we also recommend the following guidebooks. 

10. Wildlife Watching in America’s National Parks: A Seasonal Guide by Gary W. Vequist & Daniel S. Licht (2013)

Tips abound in 12 chapters that cover the best spot to see wildlife each month of the year with excellent color photos.

9. 10 Best of Everything: National Parks: 800 Top Picks From Parks Coast to Coast by National Geographic (2011)

Brief descriptions of parks in a variety of categories introduce readers to units in the National Park Service (NPS) system beyond the 62 National Parks.

8. 50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites Across the U.S. by Brent D. Glass (2016)

A historian chooses his top 50 iconic American spots to visit, many of which are in the NPS system.

7. Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into National Parks by Toney Allman, Jahnna Beecham, et al. (2007)

Beyond the funny stories, this book is actually full of interesting tidbits of information on National Parks that you might not learn anywhere else.

6. Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See for Yourself by Kenneth L.  Feder (2016)

Many NPS units focus on archaeology and this succinct guide provides a solid background on many of the best sites spread across the country.

5. The West Less Traveled: The Best and Lesser Known Parks, Monuments, and Natural Areas by Jan Bannan (1996)

Out-of-print guide focused not solely on units in the NPS system that contains good detail on geology and ecology.

4. Guide to the National Park Areas: Eastern States by David L. Scott & Kay W. Scott (2004)

Out-of-print two-volume set includes all NPS units at the time, with great information for RV campers.

3. Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 59 National Parks by Michael Joseph Oswald (2017)

An ambitious and in-depth exploration of the National Parks, including great detail on hiking trails and full-color maps.

2. Complete National Parks of the United States by National Geographic (2016)

Provides a brief description of all 400+ units in the NPS system, plus some of the affiliated sites.

1. A Park To Yourself: Finding Adventure in America’s National Parks by Scott Sink & Tiff Sink (2019)

As far as we know, our guidebook is the first one to include Indiana Dunes National Park, established February 15, 2019.

Honorable Mentions

National Parks: A Kids Guide to America’s Parks, Monuments, and Landmarks by Erin McHugh (2012)

This full-color, graphic-oriented children’s book is perfect for anyone collecting the 56 quarters in the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful collection.

Guide to the National Parks of the USA by National Geographic (2016)

Of the major publishers, National Geographic does the best job of summarizing each park, plus they include color photographs.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.