Top 5 Non-fiction Books With Jason Young

Welcome back another guest Top 5. Returning and joining us this time is Jason Young. Jason is a co-host of the Advance After Combat podcast and facilitates all the Alcoholic Adventure Cabal RPG. Jason is also the designer of Wandering Stars, a rules light space wandering RPG.

Rich and I are big fans of non-fiction, especially historical, and will often pair readings with our featured games on History on the Table. Jason is one of the most voracious readers I know so I figured it would be fun to mix up the Top 5 list and cover something else we both enjoy, books. This list isn’t limited to historical non-fiction and both of our lists are presented in alphabetical order by author.

Jason: I’m in the middle of reading biographies of all of the US Presidents and feel really bad that something like Washington or Lincoln or even Hamilton aren’t here, but they didn’t quite make the cut.

When I first cracked this list I was browsing my Goodreads ratings and kept hitting book after book that would be in top 5 and before long I was at 15+ books for consideration. Surprisingly something like War of the Roses by Dan Jones or This Might Scourge by James McPherson just missed the list and I thought they were absolute locks. I’ll be sure to post a full list in the History on the Table Discord server.

Number 5

Jason:  The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones
Dan Jones is a treasure. His books on the medieval world are all fantastic and The War of the Roses is my favorite. The writing is tight and entertaining, informative without being overwhelming. In my Goodreads review I said, “It’s like Game of Thrones without dragons. And it’s real.” I stand by that sentiment.

Matt: The Second World War by Antony Beevor
For my tastes, you could plug just about any Antony Beevor WWII book in but I chose The Second World War for the breadth of material covered. Beevor is an extremely compelling author and is beyond capable of weaving in fascinating stories into his books. Beevor doesn’t get lost in the weeds but provides ample detail. Beevor’s books are easily my favorite on WW2.

Number 4

Jason: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Devil in the White City is a mash-up of a true crime book about H. H. Holmes and his fabled Murder Castle and a historical delve into the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and everything happening in Chicago at the time. It is a gripping read and has something for everyone.

Matt: Chickenhawk by Robert Mason
One of the best memoirs and books covering Vietnam I’ve read, Chickenhawk is the firsthand account of Robert Mason, a Huey pilot during Vietnam. A fascinating read that I couldn’t quit whether Mason was ripping up tree stumps or flying during Ia Drang.

Number 3

Jason: Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Imagine knowing where everything in the meal you’re about to eat came from. Imagine having a hand in every step of the way. That is what Pollan explores in Omnivore’s Dilemma. Part travel book, part memoir, cookbook adjacent and as a whole an exploration of American consumerism and the business of agriculture.

Matt: The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America by Joe Posnanski
This summer one of the biggest past sins of MLB’s Hall of Fame will be corrected when Buck O’Neil is inducted into the Hall. Buck had a chance to go into the Hall of Fame in 2006 with so many great Negro League players when he was still alive but failed to receive the necessary votes. Posnanski’s biography is in part a case for why Buck deserved to go into the Hall of Fame but is more just a great read about Buck’s career, his stories, the story of the Negro Leagues and baseball. Highly recommended for any fan of baseball.

Number 2

Jason: Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner
This is one of the most upsetting and powerful books I’ve ever read. I learned about it from the Paulo Bacigalupi novel The Water Knife. It deals with water rights, the restructuring of waterways in the US and the Bureau of Land Management and creating cities and farmland where there shouldn’t be. It will make you mad.

Matt: Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor by Clinton Romesha
I found Red Platoon chilling and unsettling at times in the amount of detail poured into the firsthand account of the attack on COP Keating. Riveting is a word that gets tossed around a lot but I have no hesitation using it here. Often times non-fiction isn’t emotional but this certainly elicited more of an emotional response than most non-fiction I read. Can’t recommend it enough.

Number 1

Jason: Phase Line Green by Nicholas Warr
It was hard to pick between Chickenhawk by Robert Mason and Phase Line Green, both of which I have multiple copies of, but Phase Line Green gets the Vietnam nod here slightly. It’s a memoir of a young lieutenant during the second two weeks of the Battle for Hue during the Tet Offensive. Warr’s writing really highlights the confusion of the soldiers on the ground, the terror of house to house fighting and the frustration of dealing with the bureaucracy of war.

Matt: On Desperate Ground: The Marines at The Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides
If these were ranked in numerical order, On Desperate Ground would be ranked Number 1. In other words, this is my favorite piece of non-fiction I’ve read. Chosin Reservoir is already fascinating and heroic but Sides’ story telling is brilliant. Gripping, compelling, entertaining, pick your book review buzzword and slap it on this book.

Please feel free to share your Top 5 non-fiction books below.
If you are interested in submitting a Guest Top 5 list, please contact Matt at and thanks to Jason for dropping by.

2022 Resolutions

As Rich and I prepare for our ‘Most Anticipated of 2022’ episode of History on the Table, I’ve been chewing over my goals for the wargaming hobby, the podcast, the website and our cobweb ridden YouTube channel. But as I parse through an ever-increasing pile of wargame shame it’s hard not to peer over to the mounds of unpainted Necromunda: Dark Uprising figures or the Call of Cthulhu tomes.

While doing so, I thought it may be fun to make some 2022 resolutions and pledges for all the non-wargame stuff that we like to talk about on History on the Table. Below you’ll find my 2022 pledges for non-wargame gaming, RPGs and reading. If you’d like, feel free to drop your own 2022 hobby pledges and resolutions below.

Miniatures and Board Games
Resolution: Play More (Any) Games!

2021 marked the year I took the plunge into the deep world of miniature gaming, sort of. Although Kill Team, Warcry, Warhammer Quest: Cursed City, and Chain of Command all sound like outstanding games, I have yet to actually play any of them. A large part of that reason is I have lots of squads, kill teams and bands that sit half painted or only primed.

Kill Team should resolve itself soon as I’ve made a trade for some painting services, and I am very much looking forward to fielding a Sisters of Battle team in 2022. For the rest of the miniatures, here is what I am pledging for 2022, in an effort to play more (read as any) miniature games in 2022:

  • Finish Untamed Beasts for Warcry
  • Finish basic squad of Finns for Chain of Command
  • Finish Ylthari’s Guardians warband for Warhammer: Underworlds
  • Build, prep and paint a basic spread of WW2 terrain
  • Prep, paint, and play Oak and Iron

It would be far too easy to run wild here and say I want to paint and play Cursed City, Necromunda, Fear God & Dreadnought, Warhammer 40k and Age of Sigmar, but that’s just won’t happen with my capabilities. It is far more realistic to pick off a few nearly finished products and start to enjoy some of these games that sound so promising.

Here are a few other games that I am making an effort to get to the table in 2022 that won’t require hours of prep and painting:

Role Playing Games
Resolution: Focused Play

My 2022 RPG resolution is the converse goal to miniature gaming’s and that is less and more focused GM’ing and playing. Here again, sure I’d love to run several different campaigns with sporadically occurring one-shots when the mood strikes but as a relatively new role player, I have found that more focused and selective gaming makes for more enjoyable and meaningful game play.

Image from Hellboy: The Role Playing Game Kickstarter

With that in mind, I’d like to tidy up a few ongoing games, bring them to a close and focus on the following in 2022:

  • Prep and run Call of Cthulhu: ‘Have You Seen the Yellow Sign?’ as part of ongoing Call of Cthulhu 7th edition campaign.
    ‘Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign’ (“Yellow Sign”) will be the first up in the hopper in 2022 as we just closed out ‘The Iron Ghost’ bringing the players to New Orleans (barely). I’d like to wrap up an ongoing Outer Banks mystery game nearing its end before firing this one up though.
    Yellow Sign has been on my to-do list for some time as it comes highly recommended as a must play classic Call of Cthulhu scenario.
  • Prep (after receiving soon, fingers crossed) Hellboy: The Roleplaying Game
    A Hellboy based RPG is a bucket list item for me and I was ecstatic when the recent Kickstarter campaign was launched. I have some small concerns, but overall, I’m optimistic that the additions the team have made to the 5e system will deliver the experience I’m looking for in a Hellboy game. I plan on prepping this by supplementing in extra material from Hellboy Roleplaying Game and Sourcebook (GURPS) before I kick an ongoing campaign off.
  • Play in a character and role play heavy Call of Cthulhu game.
    I’ve really enjoyed my brief time with Call of Cthulhu 7th edition so far, especially as a GM. Unfortunately, my only experience as a player was a very enjoyable one-shot that left me craving more. As I listen to Call of Cthulhu actual plays, I’m left wanting a player experience involving heavy role play and character involvement (which I think really bolsters the Cthulhu experience). Rich mentioned he had something in the works, we’ll see!

Resolution: Explore New Stuff and Revisit Some Favorites

Like many, I’m sure, I always set some sort of ‘read more’ goal. For 2022 I’d like to branch out in what I read, hitting on some new authors and topics. At the same time there are some personal favorites that I plan on revisiting next year. So, without much more of a preface, here are my 2022 reading resolutions and goals:

  • Read 52 books
    My goal for 2021 was 45 and I made it just in time wrapping up my 45th book on December 29th. Let’s go for more! I don’t beat myself if I fall short of reading challenge goals like this but I think it’s fun to keep count and to try and move that number up each year
  • Read books by new authors
    I have three authors in mind. Both Gordon C. Rhea and James Holland have been mentioned on History on the Table in the past and both will be new to me in 2022. Dan Jones is another author that has crossed my radar recently and I intend to check out some of his Middles Ages books next year.
  • Read about new topics
    Napoleon is not only a topic that has escaped the game table but something that remains unread by me. The Campaigns of Napoleon by David G. Chandler seems to be one of the most recommended for Napoleonic reading, so why not dive into the best?
    Maybe most surprisingly is Finnish history. As much as I like to talk about Finnish wargames, Finnish history is a topic I haven’t really read much about and I intend to fix that. I plan on focusing on both the Northern Crusades into Finland as well as Finnish WW2 history with the following books:
    • The Northern Crusades by Eric Christiansen
    • A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 by William R. Trotter
    • Finland at War: the Winter War 1939-40 and Finland at War: the Continuation and Lapland Wars 1941–45 by Vesa Nenye, Peter Munter, Toni Wirtanen
  • The Great Hellboy Re-Read
    With the RPG approaching I intend to revisit one of my all-time favorite comic book series Hellboy by Mike Mignola following this guide with the gorgeous Library Editions. I started to last year or the year before but pumped the brakes when the 5e RPG was announced. I plan on doing some type of coverage on the website, so keep an eye out and feel free to read along.

Finally and briefly, a large amount of work remains to be done, but in 2022 I want to finish all work on and print Scar and Scarf. Although I’d like to be further along in the formatting and layout process, I’m happy where things sit at the end of 2021 and I’m optimistic Scar and Scarf will be a 2022 reality. More details to come.

With that, I want to wish each of you a happy New Year from History on the Table. Here’s to 2022!

Best of 2021 Episode Spoiler List

The following is a list of the selections from History on the Table’s ‘Best of 2021’ episode. If you don’t want to be spoiled, check out Episode 33 of the Podcast first. Games that were published in 2021 or played new to us in 2021 were eligible for ‘Best of’ consideration.

Wargames: Ancients Era to Pre-American Revolution

Matt’s Selections

  • Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Collision 1240-1242
  • Bayonets & Tomahawks
  • Sword of Rome

Rich’s Selections

  • Prague: The Empty Triumph
  • Empire in Arms
  • Sword of Rome

Wargames: American Revolution to Pre-WWII

Matt’s Selections

  • Imperial Struggle
  • The Civil War 1861-1865
  • Hood Strikes North: The Tennessee Campaign, Fall 1864

Rich’s Selection

  • Washington’s Crossing

Wargames: WWII

Matt’s Selections

  • Buffalo Wings
  • Atlantic Chase

Rich’s Selections

  • Flat Top
  • Panzers Last Stand: Battles for Budapest, 1945

Wargames: Post WW2

Matt’s Selections

  • Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?
  • Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble

Rich’s Selections

  • Korea: The Forgotten War
  • Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?
  • Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble

Sci-Fi Fantasy

Matt’s Selection

  • High Frontier 4 All

Rich’s Selection

  • Divine Right

Wargames: Magazine and Small

Matt’s Selection

  • Buffalo Wings

Rich’s Selections

  • Table Battles
  • Battle for Galicia, 1914

Wargames Best Game of 2021

Matt’s Selection

  • Atlantic Chase

Rich’s Selection

  • Panzers Last Stand: Battles for Budapest, 1945

Wargames: Expansions/ Modules

Matt’s Selections

  • Last Hundred Yards Volume 2: Airborne Over Europe
  • Forgotten War: Korea 1950-1953

Board and Card Games

Matt’s Selections

  • Magic the Gathering – Commander/EDH Play
  • Pax Pamir
  • Innovation

Rich’s Selections

  • Pandemic: Fall of Rome
  • Innovation

18xx and Train games

Rich’s Selection

  • Irish Gauge


Matt’s Selections

  • Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944 by Antony Beevor
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  • Valley of the Shadow: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Kevin Boylan

Rich’s Selections

  • Normandy ‘44 by James Holland
  • Washington’s Immortals by Patrick O’Donnell
  • Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides


Matt’s Selections

  • Strugatsky Brothers Science Fiction: Roadside Picnic, The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn, Definitely Maybe
  • The Ocean at the End of the lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Rich’s Selections

  • Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove
  • The Elementals by Michael McDowell


Matt’s Selection

  • The Godfather

Rich’s Selections

  • The Godfather
  • Jefferson’s Ocean


Matt’s Selection

  • Call of Cthulhu

Rich’s Selection

  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay


Matt’s Selection

  • Fear Street Parts 1 and 2

Rich’s Selection

  • Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Matt’s Selection

  • Midnight Mass

Rich’s Selections

  • The Expanse
  • The Haunting of Hill House


Matt’s Selections

  • Old Gods of Appalachia
  • Voluminous

Rich’s Selection

  • Old Gods of Appalachia


Matt’s Selections

  • Phoebe Bridgers
  • The Lowest Plan – The Perfect Pair

Rich’s Selection

  • Fleet Street – Dressed in Red

Let us know your best of 2021 in the comments below!