They are some of the most important and best books about American history.
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
This book is known for its lively, clear writing and scholarly research. It is the only book that tells America’s history from the point of view and in the words of women, factory workers and African-Americans, Native Americans and the working poor.
1776 by David McCullough
There are men of all shapes and sizes, as well as farmers and schoolteachers and no-accounts. There are also boys who became soldiers. And this is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his well-trained redcoats, who looked at their rebel opponents with contempt and fought with a bravery that was unknown.
Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne
“The war with the Comanches lasted for four decades, which slowed down the development of the new American country.” Gwynne’s “exhilarating” account covers Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, the arrival of the railroads, and the amazing story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah. It’s a “historical feast” for anyone who wants to know how the United States came to be.
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
Ellis says that the checks and balances that kept the young American republic going were not primarily legal, constitutional, or institutional, but personal, based on the dynamic interaction of leaders who had very different visions and values.” Founding Brothers revisits the old idea that character is important, and it helps us understand American politics both then and now. It also gives us a new look at the unpredictable forces that shape history.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
“We see the long, horrible battle from the White House, where Lincoln has to deal with incompetent generals, hostile Congressmen, and a raucous cabinet,” says the author. He gets the respect of his former rivals, and in the case of Seward, he finds a loyal and important friend to help him through. This “brilliant multiple biography” focuses on Lincoln’s skill with men and how it led to the most important presidency in the history of the United States.
No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin
In this book, Goodwin tells the story of Eleanor and Franklin’s marriage and how they worked so well together, as well as Eleanor’s life as First Lady, and how FDR’s White House shaped America and the world at war. ” Goodwin is able to combine all of these facts and stories into a portrait of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and the time when a new, modern America was born.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
In this well-researched and quick-moving book, Kendi tells the whole story of anti-Black racist ideas and how powerful they have been over the years in the United States. When you read Stamped from the Beginning, you learn about the lives of five well-known American thinkers. This gives you a glimpse into the debates between people who want to integrate people and people who don’t want to integrate people.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson tells one of the most important stories in American history that hasn’t been told: the long migration of black people from the South to northern and western cities in search of a better life. This book is a masterpiece.” From 1915 to 1970, almost six million people left the country. This changed the look of America.
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
He changed his views on things like slavery expansion in the 1850s, what led to secession and internal dissent, and what led to Union victory. “McPherson’s new views on these issues are especially important.”
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
Brown tells the stories of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes’ great leaders and warriors through council records, autobiographies, and firsthand accounts. He shows how battles, massacres, and broken treaties gradually took away their freedom. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is still talked about today as a powerful and controversial book that changed our understanding of how the American West came to be defined.
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The story is told through the intense friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. This friendship is strong for both men until it breaks apart in 1912, when they fight for the Republican nomination for president. This fight shatters the progressive wing of the Republican Party, causing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to be elected, and changing the country’s history.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
When Douglass wrote this, the first and most popular of his three autobiographies, he wrote about the horrors of being a slave and his dramatic escape to the North and his journey to freedom. The Narrative was written in 1845 to clear up any doubts about his origins, since few slaves of that time could write. Today, it is praised for its extraordinary passion, sensitive and vivid descriptions, and storytelling power.
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
Historian Barbara W. Tuchman tells the story of the first month of World War I: 30 days in the summer of 1914 that changed everything. This is a book that won a Pulitzer Prize. When Tuchman starts with the funeral of Edward VII, he shows how each step led up to the inevitable fight. And it was only a matter of time, with everyone planning their war for years.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
Pre-Columbian Indians were not isolated and isolated in a pristine wilderness, as many Americans learn in school. Instead, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively shaped and changed the land around them. The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was awe-inspiring. It had running water, clean streets, and was bigger than any modern European city. In Mexico, people bred corn in a way that has been called “man’s first feat of genetic engineering.”
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose
He has put together new information about weather, terrain, and medical knowledge at the time in order to make the expedition come alive.” Lewis is surrounded by a lot of interesting people, including Jefferson, who was interested in the American West for 30 years. Lewis and Clark’s love for each other was just as strong as Jefferson’s. Clark is the next person.
John Adams by David McCullough
In this book, you’ll learn a lot about politics and war and social issues, but you’ll also learn a lot about love and religious faith, as well as human nature, love, ambition, virtue, friendship, and betrayal. This is history on a grand scale.” One thing that is very important about John Adams is that it’s a great story about one of the most important and interesting people in American history.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
“James Abram Garfield was one of the best presidents in history.” As a young man born into poverty, he went on to become one of the best scholars, a Civil War hero, an important member of Congress, and a reluctant presidential candidate who took on the country’s corrupt political system.
Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides
Kit Carson, a trapper, scout, and soldier, is at the heart of this epic story. His adventures have made him a legend.” Sides shows us how this illiterate mountain man knew and respected the Western tribes better than anyone else in the United States, but he still obeyed orders that would eventually destroy the Navajo nation. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how the West was really won. It’s full of information and dates back more than three decades.
Truman by David McCullough
“Truman was the last president who lived through both the 19th and 20th centuries.” His story includes the Missouri frontier, World War I, the Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur.
Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War by Nathaniel Philbrick
It took 50 years for the Pilgrims to build Plymouth Colony. It began in danger and ended in war.” There was a bloody fight in New England that almost killed everyone. English colonists and natives almost died in the fight. “These events shaped the people who lived there, as well as the country that would come from them.”