The best history books for Father’s Day

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by power and how people use it; from the time I was tiny, I’ve loved reading about how people left their fingerprint on history. I now make my career as a presidential historian, and I’m committed to sharing this history with a broad public audience in books, opinion editorials, podcasts, and other media. In my experience, most people find history fascinating if they can learn about it in an interesting way. That’s my goal with all my work and the goal of the books I’ve recommended below!


I wrote...

The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

By Lindsay M. Chervinsky,

Book cover of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

What is my book about?

The US Constitution never established a presidential cabinet―the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries for the first cabinet meeting. Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges―and finding congressional help lacking―Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. Lindsay M. Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice.

The books I picked & why

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Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate

By M. E. Sarotte,

Book cover of Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate

Why this book?

Not One Inch is the perfect book to understand the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Sarotte brilliantly describes the collapse of the Soviet Union, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the origins of the existing tensions between the United States and Russia. Sarotte especially explains the original misunderstanding over the expansion of NATO that has beguiled European relations since 1990. This book is the perfect choice for a father who is interested in learning more about current global affairs.


Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America

By Megan Kate Nelson,

Book cover of Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America

Why this book?

National parks are one of the country’s greatest treasures, but their survival or preservation was not a guarantee. Instead, Saving Yellowstone tells the story of the scientific mission that introduced the region to most white Americans, the congressional machinations that ensured the passage of the legislation, and the political significance of the park for decades to come. Brilliantly written, this book is a great pick for an outdoorsy father who enjoys national parks, hiking, and camping.


To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party

By Heather Cox Richardson,

Book cover of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party

Why this book?

The political parties can be a bit confusing as the names Republican and Democratic have been around for centuries, but hardly resemble the original parties at their formation. To Make Men Free is the best overview of the Grand Old Party, its many evolutions, and its important role in American history. It is also my favorite of the many books written by famed historian Heather Cox Richardson. To Make Men Free would be a great gift for subscribers to Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American, or dads who are interested in politics.


Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

By Mary Sarah Bilder,

Book cover of Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

Why this book?

In Madison’s Hand, Bilder meticulously dissects James Madison’s notes from the Constitutional Convention. Madison’s notes are widely considered to be the authoritative source on the Convention, but Bilder demonstrates that Madison revised, edited, obscured, and added to this record to suit his purposes. Carefully researched and smartly written, Madison’s Hand reveals the true story of the Convention and the creation of the Constitution. Perfect for the dads who are lawyers and Revolutionary and Founding history buffs.


Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic

By Joanne B. Freeman,

Book cover of Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic

Why this book?

Affairs of Honor was instrumental in shaping my understanding of political culture in the Early Republic. Freeman’s book vividly depicts the contentious social world of the Founding era and the logic behind colorful insults, duels, and political battles. Fans of Hamilton: The Musical will especially enjoy this book, as one of the chapters inspired the song “Ten Duel Commandments!” 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in 19th century, explorers, and the Soviet Union?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about 19th century, explorers, and the Soviet Union.

19th Century Explore 327 books about 19th century
Explorers Explore 67 books about explorers
The Soviet Union Explore 209 books about the Soviet Union

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like 1861, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and Mirror of the Soul if you like this list.