top of page

Other books

All are now available in Kindle and other ebook formats.

The Big Roads

Man-made wonders, economic pipelines, agents of sprawl, uniquely American sirens of escape--the interstates are all of these, and after a half-century snake into every aspect of modern life. The Big Roads charts the creation of these landmark highways. From the speed demon who inspired a primitive web of dirt auto trails, to the cadre of largely forgotten technocrats who planned the interstates years before Ike reached the White House, to the thousands of city dwellers who resisted the concrete juggernaut when it bore down on their neighborhoods, The Big Roads follows a winding, fascinating route through twentieth-century America.






Journey on the James

No feature of the American landscape has witnessed so much of the nation’s history as Virginia’s James River: the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, key battles in three wars, early fights between white settlers and Indians, and the country’s first mines, factories, hospitals, farms and forts.       

     Part history, part travelogue, part adventure yarn, Journey on the James sends readers down the 435-mile river in a plastic canoe—and through a past that most of us didn’t read about in school.  


Swift has added texture and nuance, as well as narrative economy, to a story containing volumes, and he makes for an ideal traveling companion.

New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)


Swift makes the story one worth reading in The Big Roads, which manages to bring to life the planners, builders and salesmen responsible for the massive system of highways."

Dallas Morning News

Spins the whole grand yarn of how this country's federal highways came to be. The story could be dry, it could be dull--but Swift seizes on strong characters and the conflicts they encountered to propel his narrative . . . . So skillfully crafted.

(Raleigh) News and Observer




Where They Lay

In March 1971, an American helicopter exploded in the sky over Laos and fell on ground so busy with North Vietnamese troops that its pilots and gunners were left where they lay—four among the 2,583 servicemen whose bodies remained unrecovered at war’s end.  
     Now, thirty years on, a team of soldiers and scientists choppers into the jungle on a search for what remains of Major Jack Barker and his crew. Its mission: dig into ground slick from monsoon rains, among unexploded bombs, vipers and scorpions, to find the four, bring them home and put names—the right names—on their headstones.

     Rereleased in March 2015 with a new postscript.








A book about lost soldiers, bones, memory, ‘science afoot,’ and of course the war that took place in the high weeds of Vietnam . . . . Told so beautifully, so hauntingly, and so unforgettably.
Wil Haygood of the Washington Post


A poignant tale of one war and four lost lives. And the story of all who never came back.
James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers

A hands-on, thought-provoking book . . . . Vivid.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

An intense micro history . . . . Compelling, serious, morally exigent, and well told. 
Finalist citation for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award








Available in hardback, paperback, audio CD, Audible Audio, Kindle, and other ebook formats.

Available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle and other ebook formats.

The Tangierman's Lament

Two decades of covering the commonwealth have seen Swift hike, canoe, even spelunk a singular path through Virginia. This collection of narratives, all but one of them from his long career at Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot, reaffirms Virginia as a land rich in story and Swift as one of its most wide-ranging and tireless chroniclers.

Available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle and other ebook formats.

Perfectly enchanting . . . . Told with wit, intelligence, and a journalist’s sense of integrity, this book is a treasure for anyone who loves the Old Dominion.
Virginia Quarterly Review  

A lively and colorful recap of a journey savored hour by hour. . . . Swift’s superb writing will engage and hold the reader from page one to the end.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Swift pays close attention to the river, not just because he has to navigate it but because it speaks to him.
Washington Post  

One of the most engrossing nature/travel/adventure /history chronicles I’ve read in a long while. . . . Swift is traversing a part of the earth I’ve covered for years, and opening my eyes to things I’ve overlooked along the way.
Roanoke Times






Every week the New York Times Magazine pays pots of money for articles which are neither as bold nor as bracing nor as deeply decent nor as intelligently constructed as Mr. Swift’s . . . . He proves that ordinary people can break your heart. Like the best regional writing, its focus increases its power, humanity, and scope.                          
Donald McCaig, author of Rhett Butler’s People

One of the things that makes the book compelling is [Swift's] sure grasp of history, both natural and cultural, and his knack for giving readers an exhilarating sense of

it . . . .The narratives in this book are laced with . . . comments that elicit a silent wow in the reader’s mind.
Port Folio Weekly
A fascinating cultural document that yearns to be savored unhurriedly, in Sunday afternoon meditations one essay at a time.     
The Virginian-Pilot



Available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle and other ebook formats.

Available in hardback, Kindle and other ebook formats.

One Buck at a Time

For over thirty years, Dollar Tree has succeeded at something the retail industry thought impossible: selling goods of surprising quality for no more than a dollar apiece, and in the process earning profits that defy common sense.
     Written with company cofounder Macon Brock, One Buck at a Time leads readers through the twisty path that saw Dollar Tree mushroom from a humble five-and-dime in Norfolk, Virginia, into one of the fastest-growing businesses in America—one that today operates more than 14,000 stores, provides jobs for 165,000 people, and is fast climbing the Fortune 500.

A 2017 selection to J.P. Morgan Chase's annual summer reading list.

Complete with pictures and Brock’s leisurely Southern wit, One Buck at a Time gives readers a deeper appreciation for something usually taken for granted—the dollar store.                        

A vivid and entertaining portrait of enterprise and business acuity.

Part memoir, part retail history, and part growth management game plan, One Buck at a Time chronicles the roots, founders and development of a true American success story . . . . A candid and entertaining narrative.

Carl Zeithaml, Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia



bottom of page