What are the best history books about America?

asked by Anonymous
133 contributors
16 solutions
  1. 37

    #1Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

    Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

    Lies My Teacher Told Me is a critique of American high school history textbooks. It shows the falsehoods and misconceptions perpetrated in the education system as part of historical revisionism.

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    Paul Schneider
    Written on April 22, 2018
    "This was a eye opening book to read. All of these things we were taught as children that are just completely fake. These things that our children as being taught to this very day. It opens your eyes to so many thing. If you have ever heard the quote "History is written by the victors", this book really strengthens that assumption. Everyone needs to read this book."
  2. 25

    #2General George Washington: A Military Life

    General George Washington: A Military Life
    General George Washington: A Military Life is a biography written by Edward G. Lengel, an American military historian. It focuses on Washington's years as a soldier and his rise to power as a commander-in-chief of the revolutionary army.
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    Arthur Morris
    Written on April 26, 2018
    "I just completed Edward Lengel’s history, “General Washington: A Military Life” (2005). Previously, I had listened to this audio book. With my never ending fascination of the life of Washington, I decided to read the book as well. For much of the book I found myself becoming frustrated with the negative conclusions drawn from the outcomes of battles. It seemed that Lengel was as interested in “myth busting” as history. I had long ago realized that Washington was not the greatest military strategist. I realized that often he was hampered by incompetent soldiers, political intrigue and lack of resolve of the Congress and by the sabotage of loyalists. But Lengel frequently points out that Washington was woefully unprepared in specific battles. A lack of awareness of local topography was near fatal in the Battle of Brandywine is one example. I nearly set this book down about half way through. I am glad that I pushed on to the end. Ultimately, the character of George Washington is what brought about the victorious end. Certainly, fighting against the most incompetent British Generals helped as well. On a side note, the conduct of the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse was of interest to me. Years ago I read The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara. I think that the depiction of this battle so influenced my thinking that my disgust of General Charles Lee was complete. Later, I read Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence by John Ferling. His conclusions about this battle were so at odds with my preconceived ideas that I found it almost laughable. Lengel trends a middle ground about the conduct of Charles Lee in this battle. Washington does share some blame in Lee’s shameful performance in the field of battle. (I mention this because I find it necessary to get more than one perspective on “history”, even when the subject is my favorite American historical character.) My favorite part of Lengel’s biography was his recounting of the Newburgh Conspiracy. Washington now faced a very hostile group of even officers as they considered marching on Philadelphia and in effect, staging a military coup. The goodness of Washington inspires me to tears every time I read about this event. Lengel did inspire me with his wonderful recounting of this critical event. (By contrast, Joseph Ellis tells this story with a degree of cynicism that is shocking in His Excellency: George Washington. That is one of the reasons I don’t care for Joseph Ellis. He seems to represent the extreme of modern scholars who want to de-mythologize the American founding. His book on Jefferson left me feeling such cold feelings about another of the figures of Mount Rushmore.) Finally, if you want to read a book that is purely adoring and apologetic on Washington, you can do no better than The Real George Washington. Every story is told with the greatest respect and devotion. It is slanted to a degree that makes it more devotional than historical. And if you want to read the best modern biography of Washington, authored by my favorite biographer, read Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. I go back to this book to re-read events of Washington’s life. Chernow is a wordsmith. He is objective and yet highly respectful of America’s greatest man. His account is captivating and inspiring."
  3. 11

    #31491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

    This book is about the Native American condition prior to the arrival of the Europeans in 1492. Charles C. Mann uses science and archaeology to paint a radically different picture of pre-Columbian America from what we know, or what we think we know. 

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    Justin Woods
    Written on April 22, 2018
    "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus is a well researched analysis of the history of America before contact with Europe. I was thoroughly impressed by the new material and stark contrast to the narrative the we grew up with. Important book that all should be familiar with."
  1. 10

    #4Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

    Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
    The Pulitzer-prize winning Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson is a 900-page narrative about the American Civil War. It encapsulates the woes of a divided society within two decades of conflict.

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    Cherry Han
    Written on April 22, 2018
    "freedom is important"
  2. 8

    #5Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

    Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

    Mayflower, a 2006 history book by Nathaniel Philbrick, chronicles the story of the first Pilgrims from England to land in the New World. It tells of their transatlantic voyage and the following decades of colonization. 

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    Gerald Nelson
    Written on April 30, 2018
    "Inspiring, a must read. Good review from The New York Times"
  3. 8

    #6Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
    Bury My Heart in Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West unflinchingly narrates the plight of the Native American Indians during the development of American expansionism in the Western frontier.
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    Victoria Morgan
    Written on May 12, 2018
    "Classic book. I really enjoyed it."
  4. 6

    #7Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

    Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
    Founding Brothers follows the lives of six men—Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and Adams—through ideological struggle and their staunch fight for democracy 
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    Frances Williams
    Written on May 2, 2018
    "I just love Joseph Ellis and certainly do recommend this book. It's more than just history (though it is absolutely history!), it includes all kinds of interesting anecdotes about the founding fathers. Honestly, this is well worth the time and effort to read it. I took it along on vacation, and read it slowly - savoring every chapter and every detail. Enjoy!"
  5. 5

    #8John Adams

    John Adams
    As told by the multi-awarded historian David McCullough, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book is the story of John Adams, founding father and second president of the United States. 

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    Jean Nguyen
    Written on April 26, 2018
    "As the 2nd President of the United States John Adams is somewhat known, but before this book, I would have thought George Washington was more important. Little did I know... This book has an excellent pace and it extremely readable for a history book. "
  6. 4

    #9The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

    The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
    The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is the Pulitzer Prize-winning first volume of a three-part biography by Edmund Morris. It recounts Roosevelt's life before becoming the youngest president of the United States.
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    Bryan Alvarado
    Written on April 26, 2018
    "Teddy Roosevelt is considered one of the best presidents of all time in the USA. This three part series really goes in depth on his life and presidency. I would probably find it boring to read, but maybe someday."
  7. 2

    #10Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest

    Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    Band of Brothers tells the tale of the Easy Company, a rifle company in the US Army during World War II. From the moment their training began until Victory Day and beyond, the men of Easy Company suffered but always persevered.
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    Louis Fuller
    Written on April 23, 2018
    "This history book is very interesting. This book is based on real story and its described so vividly, and it has a very unique style of writing. I can say that this is a book that is worthy reading it, and knowing this story, problems and challenges of that time. "
  8. 1

    #11The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

    The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
    The Worst Hard Time tells the stories of families who stayed and survived the series of severe dust storms that wreaked havoc in America's High Plains during the 30's.
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    Beverly Jones
    Written on April 21, 2018
    "This book is so amazingly timely, not just for the aspect of the man-made contributions to natural disaster happening at a time of economic hardship, but also for a lot of the political aspects of it, and of course for the human aspects. People don't change so much. I did watch the Dust Bowl miniseries first, and they do cover some of the same ground, though with different focuses, but I feel like you get more details from this book. To be fair, it is rough. There are a few main people that you follow and they are constantly defeated by the land, dying broke, or physically broken, and any chances for renewal and success have to wait for the next generation. Even as things get better, there are indications that we are on the same path, not just in other places, but even right there with the demands on the Oglalla."
  9. 0

    #12In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

    In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

    In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement is a nonfiction American history book by Peter Matthiessen and Martin Garbus. This book was originally published in 1983.

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    Lisa Rodriguez
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse is a very powerful book. It is essential you read this if you care about your country and its history. I learned a lot from this book and recommend it to all ages!"
  10. 0

    #13Empire of the Summer Moon

    Empire of the Summer Moon

    Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne was originally published in 2010. It highlights the story of the Indian tribe in America.

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    Roger Williamson
    Written on May 3, 2018
    "This is a wonderful, compelling read of American Indian history. Fighting to retain their land and heritage, the book captures their struggles against the white man who wants to take everything from them. I was very engrossed in this book and enjoyed it immensely. "
  11. 0

    #14Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce

    Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce

    Chief Joseph the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy is a nonfiction history book written by Kent Nerburn. This was originally published in 2005. It narrates the story of Chief Joseph and his journey.

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    Megan Keller
    Written on May 4, 2018
    "I would def love to read this as it traces back to American tragedy and history. This nonfiction book gives you insight to the 1800 mile journey through the homelands of Oregon drudging through Montanta. Many families of men, women and children facing adversity and hostile environments. I will be adding this to my reads.. Love that it is inexpensive and offers a kindle version."
  12. 0

    #15Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital

    Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital

    Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital is a historical non-fiction book by Lorie Conway. It was first published in 2007 by Smithsonian under ISBN 0061241962 and focuses on the history of Ellis Island.

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    Sai Sharma
    Written on May 1, 2018
    "I love reading about our countrys past. I found Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital to really hit the nail on the head as far as an in-depth story went. This track featured many wholesale changes that America needed to get conveyed. I endeared this book as an important piece of historical fiction."
  13. 0

    #16Nixonland

    Nixonland

    Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America is a non-fiction American history book written by Rick Perlstein. It is published in 2008 by Scribner. 

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    Julie Hill
    Written on May 3, 2018
    "This is a great solution for the topic, there is a lot of people interested in history too"
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