Good books about American history: Your History Guide
These top-notch books highlighting the most significant events in American history are as fascinating as they are educational. these books cover many aspects of American history. From civil war to revolution, these books are best to understand American history.
The history of America is replete with coincidences and unlikely events, lofty goals and horrible tragedies, abrupt transformations and the passage of time slowly. Or, the stuff that makes for great literature. From the entrance of European explorers to the Vietnam War, these crucial volumes chronicle American history at its most crucial junctures. Each book on American history is instructive, enjoyable, and, above all, a memorable read.
Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer: history books
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The December 1776 assault on Hessian troops stationed in Trenton, New Jersey, commemorated in Emanuel Leutze’s famous—but historically incorrect—painting, was a critical victory for George Washington and the Continental Army after a succession of disastrous defeats in New York. The Delaware River was traversed by several types of boats, which Fischer’s dramatic, painstakingly researched account clarifies. Fischer also shows how perilously near the Americans were to losing the war before it had even begun.
Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis: history books
The decades that followed the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention were anything but peaceful, as Ellis makes clear. The young republic was in danger of failing due to disagreements between Federalists and Republicans, the possibility of war with France, and the third-rail of slavery. Ellis explains that the success of the American experiment depends not just on the foresight of its Founding Fathers but also on a great deal of luck and happenstance in this enlightening episodic history.
A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton
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Author Catton, who won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, vividly recounts the historic battles that helped the North win the Civil War, such as the Wilderness, the Bloody Angle, and the Crater. Few historians have done a better job of evoking the perspective of a soldier in battle, or of understanding how each tactical choice fits into the overall picture.
This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust: history books
Approximate 620,000 soldiers, or 2% of the American population, lost their lives in the Civil War. The number of deaths at such pace today would be 6.5 million. However, statistics alone cannot capture the entire impact of such immense suffering on the American mind. Faust’s somber, elegiac work serves as a potent reminder that armed combat has a terrible cost by cutting through the gauzy sentimentalism that surrounds so many popular portrayals of the war.
Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne
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The Great Plains were previously governed by the Comanche Indians, who used their superior riding and fighting prowess to subjugate other tribes and slowed the advance of Manifest Destiny. However, the Comanche were doomed by the repeating rifle and railroads by the late 1860s. The Comanche are given their due recognition in American history thanks to Gwynne’s eloquent and captivating depiction of the tribe and their last and greatest chief, Quanah Parker, which vividly portrays the blood and ferocity of westward advance.
Hard Times by Studs Terkel: history books
Terkel evokes the painful memories of Americans whose lives were forever changed by the Great Depression, from well-known figures like Pauline Kael, Cesar Chavez, and Dorothy Day to the hobos who crisscrossed the country looking for work and the mothers who faced each day not knowing what their children would eat. This crucial oral history practically drips with the humor, tenacity, and bravery of these survivors.
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan: history books
The terrible confluence of drought, wind, and overworked fields that caused the Dust Bowl couldn’t have occurred at a worse time than the stock market fall of 1929. With foresight and more consideration for the environment, the calamity could have been avoided, as Egan explains in this intriguing and colorful history. It’s important to keep in mind how the nation once overcame a natural calamity of its own making at a time when catastrophic storms and record heat waves are occurring more frequently.
An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson
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This Pulitzer Prize-winning chronicle of the Allied invasion of North Africa features the storytelling talent of a war correspondent, Atkinson, who also writes novels. The first large American military operation outside of the Pacific Theatre, Operation Torch served as both a crucial proving ground for American troops and a significant turning point in the liberation of Europe. The boring facts of history are transformed into an exhilarating thrill trip by Atkinson’s perceptive character portraits and captivating action scenes.
With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge: history books
To ensure he wouldn’t miss the conflict, Sledge dropped out of an officer training program and enlisted in the U.S. Marines. At Peleliu and Okinawa, where he immediately encountered some of the worst fighting of World War II, he quietly wrote his experiences in a small New Testament. He eventually converted those notes into this harrowing, thrilling, and extraordinarily poignant narrative of the Pacific War more than 30 years later.
Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch: history books
Branch skillfully traces a period of profound upheaval in American history, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s organizing of the Montgomery Bus Boycott through his involvement in the crucial Birmingham campaign. Branch provides crucial pictures of fellow activists including John Lewis, Wyatt Tee Walker, Ella Baker, and Stanley Levison in addition to portraying the characteristics that made King such an inspirational leader.
Fire in the Lake by Frances FitzGerald
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FitzGerald referred to her account of America’s involvement in Vietnam when it was originally published in 1972 as “a first draught of history.” But Fire in the Lake has stood the test of time better than most. Following a succinct account of Vietnam’s resistance to foreign invasion for a millennium, FitzGerald delivers the sobering, persuasive, and deadly conclusion that almost every element of American policy in Indochina was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the people and their culture.
The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam: history books
The authoritative story of how the U.S. government crossed a line in Vietnam is included in this #1 New York Times book. It is chock full of vivid character profiles and eye-opening stories, including Gen. William Westmoreland’s custom of eating breakfast in his trousers “in order to keep his fatigues pressed.”
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