Nathaniel Philbrick [Photo by Ellen Warner] Whether his subject is the real-life sea tragedy that inspired Moby-Dick or the settlers of Plymouth Colony, best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick is an expert at entertaining and enlightening readers with his thoroughly researched accounts of key events in early American history.

His latest, Bunker Hill—which our reviewer calls "a marvelous book that recaps the highlights of the birth of our nation, while adding new insights into our history"—turns the spotlight onto some of the lesser-known heroes of the Revolutionary War. 

We were wondering what types of books Philbrick likes to read, so we asked him for three recommendations. Here they are, in his own words:

Last Lion

The Last Lion
By William Manchester

For some reason, I’d never gotten to this book, and with all the publicity surrounding the third volume of the trilogy finished after Manchester’s death by Paul Reid, I thought I’d check it out. All I can say is Volume One is absolutely masterful. The way Manchester sets up the reader with his wonderfully compressed account of how Churchill came to be the right man at the right time at the outbreak of World War II is mesmerizing.



Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas
By David Mitchell

This is another book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and when I came across a signed paperback copy at a bookstore in Brooklyn, I decided to go for it. Having written about whaling and the South Seas in both In the Heart of the Sea and Sea of Glory, I was fascinated by Mitchell’s use of 19th century New Zealand and Hawaii as a framing device. The way he examines issues of liberty, freedom, technology, so-called primitive versus Western cultures, etc., was exciting and very Melville like.



Live by NightLive by Night
By Dennis Lehane

I was briefly in Florida this winter visiting friends, and this novel was just the thing for a New Englander to read on a chilly, sun-drenched beach in Sarasota. It’s an ingeniously plotted thriller that takes you from Prohibition-era Boston to Tampa to Cuba and back to the Gulf Coast.





What do you think, readers? Plan to add any of these to your to-be-read list?
Be sure to check back tomorrow for What they're reading: Gail Godwin.

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