Best known for hosting the popular game shows Truth or Consequences and The Price is Right, Bob Barker was a mainstay of American television for more than half a century. Born in Washington in 1923, he embarked on his broadcasting career in the ’50s, hosting several local and regional TV shows before landing The Price is Right in 1972. Barker would helm the hit show for 35 years, making him one of the longest-serving game show hosts in television history.

During his time on The Price is Right, Barker became known for his signature sign-off, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” An outspoken animal rights activist, he often used his platform to raise awareness about animal welfare issues, and has worked with PETA, the United Activists for Animal Rights, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society over the years.

In celebration of his 50-year career on television – for which he won 14 Emmys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award – Barker retired from his hosting duties in 2007. He released the autobiography Priceless Memories in 2009, continues to make occasional appearances on television, and remains a beloved icon of American nostalgia.

Sharing a list of favorite books on U.S. history with The Week, Barker’s picks delve into the forces and figures that shaped American identity, culture, and experience from independence to the present day. Spanning stories of the Revolution, the life of Ulysses S. Grant, the Korean War, and the Roaring ’20s, explore his recommendations below.

Bob Barker’s Reading List

New Age Now Begins by Page Smith

“This is a two-volume history of the American Revolution, beginning with the first settlements on the East Coast, but concentrating on the years between 1765 and York Town. It’s a stirring account of our forebears’ bitter struggle for independence.” -BB

Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis

“The ‘brothers’ about whom Joseph Ellis chose to write are certainly among the most intriguing figures of their time. I felt as if I were a spectator at the Hamilton-Burr duel, and eavesdropping at the politically charged dinner where the guests included Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton.” -BB

The Battle of New Orleans by Robert V. Remini

“This battle was far more significant than most of us realize. When the Americans destroyed the elite British troops who had defeated Napoleon, they earned for our country a worldwide respect that we had not previously enjoyed. The battle of New Orleans made Andrew Jackson a national hero, and launched him on the path to the White House.” -BB

Ulysses S. Grant by Brooks D. Simpson

“This account of Grant’s life, from the time of his birth to the end of the Civil War, is a riveting portrait of a remarkable man who, in less than three years, went from being a hapless store clerk to commander of the Union Army. Though not a great strategist like Napoleon, Grant correctly assessed and leveraged the Union’s advantages in manpower and manufacturing to bring the war to an end.” -BB

The Coldest War by James Brady

“This memoir of the author’s years as a Marine in Korea makes for unforgettable reading. More than 54,246 Americans died in this undeclared war in only 37 months. I liked the book so much that I went out and bought his novel, The Marines of Autumn.” -BB

A Flame of Pure Fire by Roger Kahn

“This is Jack Dempsey’s story from childhood to the end of his life. It focuses particularly on his greatest years in the ring, during the Roaring 20s, and paints a vivid picture of this exciting and colorful decade.” -BB

The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity by Jill Lepore

“King Philip was the leader of the Wampanoag Indians at a time when tensions between colonialists and Native Americans erupted into conflict in 17th-century New England. Lepore tells the story in gruesome detail and makes some thought-provoking comments on war in general.” -BB

(via The Week)

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