9 Hampton Sides Books for History Lovers

Best-selling author Hampton Sides has written 9 books, including the history bestsellers Blood and Thunder and In the Kingdom of Ice. His work has been praised by critics for its engaging storytelling and vivid historical detail.

His works include stories from the Old West, World War II, and the Korean War. 

This list of 9 includes all of his current works.

Hampton Sides Books

1. Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission

Ghost Soldiers

Published: 2001

Pages: 342

In his book Ghost Soldiers, Hampton Sides tells the story of one of World War II's most daring rescue missions. On January 28, 1945, 121 specially selected U.S. soldiers silently moved through the jungle in the Philippines to rescue captured members of the military.

Most people don't realize that over five hundred American prisoners of war are in this camp. Some of them included ones who had survived the horrible Bataan Death march and were starving, ill, and near death.

Through interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, Sides brings this little-known story to light in an unforgettable account of courage and determination.

>> More books about WWII

2. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette

In the Kingdom of Ice

Published: 2014

Pages: 454

In 1879, the United States sent an expedition to the North Pole in a ship called the U.S.S. Jeannette captained by George DeLong. The voyage was plagued with misfortune from the start, and after two years stuck in ice, the ship was finally crushed and sunk.

The crew survived by abandoning the ship and trekking hundreds of miles through treacherous conditions before being rescued. However, not everyone was so lucky, and numerous team members perished along the way.

The book is based on previously unexamined diaries, notebooks, letters written by members of the ill-fated expedition, and interviews with their descendants. It offers a fascinating glimpse into these explorers' physical and emotional challenges as they battled against insurmountable odds.

3. Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West

Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West

Published: 2006

Pages: 460

This is ostensibly a biography of Kit Carson, who in reality was a simple family man, an officer, and stood only 5 feet 4 inches tall. However, it is so much more. This book goes into the history of the U.S.A., manifest destiny, and how the Native People were slaughtered so white settlers could take their land.

 It examines many different characters, from President James to the Navajo chief Narbona, among others. If you are a war buff, you'll be thrilled with it since it documents battles including the Mexican American War, the Civil War skirmishes in New Mexico, and clashes between the settlers and tribe members and between tribes.

The incredible detail could make it almost like a textbook, but Sides' exceptional writing skills bring each and every moment to life.

>> More books about Native American history

4. Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin

Hellhound on His Trail

Published: 2010

Pages: 397

Most people know the name, James Earl Ray. However, they don't know about his life. He was a career criminal, a racist, and a despicable person without any redeeming qualities. He has escaped prison and decided to kill Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the other hand, M.L.K. Jr. was working to help everyone by bringing together people of all colors, genders, and creeds battling for civil rights on his “Poor People’s Campaign.” He was a hero and a person of dignity and elegance.

As expected, Sides takes you to the time and place of the assassination. But just as importantly, you'll learn more about both people, the circumstances, what was happening in the U.S. during this challenging time, both before and after the event.

>> More books about Martin Luther King Jr.

5. On Desperate Ground: The Marines at The Reservoir, the Korean War's Greatest Battle

On Desperate Ground

Published: 2018

Pages: 394

This is probably one of the least known battles of the Korean War. The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir was where the vain and self-centered General Douglas McArthur decided, after liberating Seoul, to continue to the Yalu River, which separates North Korea and China.

Mao Zedong had good reason to feel threatened and move his People’s Volunteer Army, with over 300,000 soldiers, moved towards this valley. However, these troops were underequipped and unready for this type of warfare.

As the battle raged, the U.S. military decided to retreat. However, the damage had been done as estimates show that as many as 10,000 US military members were killed and over 50,000 Chinese military members in the minus 25-degree weather. Using the firsthand account and official documents, this shows how the battle was doomed from the start.

6. Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier

Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier

Published: 2004

Pages: 450

Unlike his other books, this is a collection of essays about Sides' travels around the U.S. There are 30 essays, each with its particular reason for inclusion. These include the Sturgis motorcycle festival, visiting Biosphere 2 in Arizona, and hanging out with the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk.

Some of the others include running an ultramarathon in the Sahara Desert and one about his home city of Santa Fe, NM. If you've never been there, you will feel like you have and want to visit it.

There is also a somber side to this collection. The most powerful and emotional one is 9/11 and when the planes hit the Twin Towers. If you want to understand how an artist sees America, for better and worse, this is must-read.

7. The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim

The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim

Written by: Hampton Sides, photography by Kevin Fedarko, and contributions by The Grand Canyon Association

Published: 2018

Pages: 236

The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders on Earth, and it's no wonder that so many people want to visit it every year. But what is it like to see the canyon? Hampton Sides and the incredible photographer Pete McBride offers readers a unique look at this iconic destination.

They take us on a journey from the riverbanks to the rim of the canyon through stories and photographs, providing an in-depth exploration of all that makes this place so unique.

Since the trip was over 750 miles, you know you will be immersed in the landscape and why these lands need to be kept protected from development and destruction. It is the perfect coffee table book for anyone who loves nature and beauty.

8. The Exotic

The Exotic

Published: 2021

Pages: 96

Coming in at under 100 pages, this quick read is about a Polynesian man named Mai and is set in the 1770s. When Captain Cook meets Mai, Mai asks to be taken to England as a part of the crew. After arriving, he is seen as “The Exotic” since he is the first Polynesian to set foot in England. In fact, even King George III met with him.

Mai's main reason for going to England was not to be seen as someone special and different but to be able to arm himself to take revenge on the rival islanders who killed his family. King George III helped him and gave him a ship loaded with weapons.

As fortune would have it, he returned but had difficulty fitting in as he had become somewhat "English" during his two years stay there. It brings up the question of heritage and culture and how we lose ourselves in different ones.

9. Why Moths Hate Thomas Edison: And Other Urgent Inquiries into the Odd Nature of Nature

Why Moths Hate Thomas Edison

Published: 2001

Pages: 224

Suffice to state; this is one of the stranger books written by this amazing author. In it, Sides looks at nature and all the strange factoids about it.

Some of these questions include the intriguing idea of whether beavers have been crushed by trees falling on them. A strange one is why llamas spit (yes, llamas do spit!). And, of course, why moths hate Thomas Edison.

All these questions are answered in zany and goofy ways that will make you laugh and wonder what else insanity is going on in everyday life. There are also sixty black and white illustrations to make this book more silly.