Books for Dad: The Best History Book for Every Type of Father

Find the perfect read for your dad this Father's Day.

books for dads

Each and every dad is singular. The man who raised you has a constellation of interests–and we’ll do our best to touch upon them all. Whether your dad is a World War II buff, a builder and grower, a griller, or an investigator, one of these books for dads is sure to keep his attention. Read on to find the perfect Father’s Day gift for your pops–maybe you'll even start a book club with your dad this year.

Buy Enemy at the Gates at Amazon

Enemy at the Gates

By William Craig

An iconic recounting of one of World War II’s bloodiest battles, Enemy at the Gates is one of the most thorough and thrilling investigations of a discreet military encounter. Nearly two million became casualties at this conflict; this epic book is based on interviews with hundreds of survivors who witnessed history happen first-hand. Sure to satisfy dad’s need for detail and drama alike, Craig’s opus is perfect for any WWII obsessive.

Buy The Westies at Amazon

The Westies

By T. J. English

If your dad bemoans the sudden surge of true crime ardor (he was into it before it was cool!), The Westies will whet his whistle. T.J. English, a certified mob and organized crime expert, takes on the Irish-American gang known as the Westies. The Westies, who remained the toughest gang on the block for over three decades, primarily prowled the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood–back when it was more like what you see in Daredevil, and less like today’s Time Square extension.

Buy World's End at Amazon

World's End

By Upton Sinclair

Sinclair may be best known for his muckracking novel, The Jungle, but he also wrote a beloved historical fiction series focusing on Europe from the build-up to World War I through the end of WWII. In this first installment of the Lanny Budd series, young Budd is sent to a Swiss boarding school. At first thrilled with his idyllic surroundings, Budd soon realizes that the world is less safe than he was taught to believe–thanks both to his growing consciousness and the growing political tensions.

Buy The Trigger at Amazon

The Trigger

By Tim Butcher

As any dad–and anyone who’s taken a history class–can tell you, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was the match that set Europe aflame in World War I. But what do we know about the teenage boy who killed the archduke? This fascinating book digs into Gavrilo Princip’s history to show how the forces that shaped him also shaped the tensions that allowed one assassination to subsume a continent and the world.

Buy Washington at Amazon


By James Thomas Flexner

The image of George Washington sailing across the Delaware. The stately man on our dollar bills and our quarters. If that’s all conjured up when your dad thinks of our first president, this concise but intimate biography must be your purchase for Father’s Day. Flexner, who has written a myriad of books about the American Revolution and the people who populated it, is the expert on President Washington. Get to know the man, not just the myth.

Buy Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow at Amazon

Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow

By Dee Brown

Any dad with an interest in history is sure to have read Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. This book, one of the author's lesser-known titles, strikes the same enthralling notes as his classic while taking a very different subject to hand. This exploration of how the transcontinental railroad system changed the U.S.–and how, in many ways, its building was emblematic of the country as it was and as it is–will keep any history reader wrapped up for hours.

Buy Citizen Farmers at Amazon

Citizen Farmers

By Daron Joffe

Has your dad gotten super into home-brewing? Farmers’ markets? Maybe even making his own yogurts? Citizen Farmers is the perfect companion for anyone looking to make their lives a bit greener–both environmentally and nutritionally. From teaching readers to compost to sharing recipe ideas for the new fruits and vegetables they’ll soon be growing, this how-to guide is sure to please any gardener with an eye toward the grand.

Buy Maybe We'll Have You Back at Amazon

Maybe We'll Have You Back

By Fred Stoller

If your dad has been known to camp out in front of a Seinfeld marathon, this comedic memoir will tickle his fancy. Stoller, a writer and frequent guest star on shows like Friends, The Nanny, and Everybody Loves Raymond, shares how he made a less-than-lucrative living in the television world. Combining Hollywood gossip with a truly hilarious voice, Maybe We’ll Have You Back keeps its reader in stitches.

Buy The City on the Edge of Forever at Amazon

The City on the Edge of Forever

By Harlan Ellison

Perhaps the most infamous episode of Star Trek, “The City on the Edge of Forever” was written by Harlan Ellison–but the aired version of the episode was heavily revised by creator Gene Roddenberry. Ellison, never a particularly temperate man, pitched a fit, then sent his version of the script to the Writers Guild Awards and won Best Episodic Drama. The two didn’t speak for years afterwards. This release includes the original teleplay and an essay by Ellison about his experience with the show.

Buy Anatomy of a Song at Amazon

Anatomy of a Song

By Marc Myers

Delve into classic rock, punk, pop, country, and grunge songs one at a time in this enthralling collection of musical essays. 45 songs that changed their genre or music as a whole are examined, breaking down their influences and how they influenced future music. Myers, a music historian, includes details that are sure to thrill music snobs while writing accessibly enough for those who have never taken a music theory class.

Buy Georgia O'Keeffe at Amazon

Georgia O'Keeffe

By Roxana Robinson

There are some artists whose mythologies outshine the actual intent of their work–Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh… and most certainly, Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe’s lush flowers have been cast as meditations on womanhood and sexuality–likely in part due to her status as one of few women in the major art scene at her peak. Robinson’s recontextualization will have your father seeing art history in a whole new light.

Buy Born Bad at Amazon

Born Bad

By James Boyce

Boyce, a historian, takes on two millenniums of Western culture to explore how the concept of original sin has built the world we live in today. This fascinating Christian history uses an idiosyncratic premise to uncover a wealth of thought about the Western world. 

Buy Halfway to Crazy at Amazon

Halfway to Crazy

By Mark Thrice

Syndicated humor columnist Mark Thrice takes on the adventure of a lifetime in this memoir. Even with a loving and supportive spouse, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed with your children–thankfully, Thrice understands how to keep it moving with laughs all around. Great for new dads and dads with an empty nest alike, Halfway to Crazy will remind you that you’re anything but.

Buy Soccer Dad at Amazon

Soccer Dad

By W. D. Wetherell

Acclaimed writer W.D. Wetherell had been a fan of soccer for years, long before his son started playing. As it became clear that young Matt had real talent, Wetherell began to grapple with what athletic promise means in our culture. This touching story of a father and a son and their shared love for soccer will appeal to any sports-loving dad.

Buy The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery at Amazon

The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery

By James Beard and Helen Evans Brown

If your dad grills through the coldest winter days, James Beard’s guide to outdoor cookery is the perfect gift. With plenty of unique and high-skill recipes, tips, and tricks, this book will have the whole family eating more deliciously this summer.

This post is sponsored by Open Road Media. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for The Archive to celebrate the history you love.

Published on 6 Jun 2019