The best books on lesser-known figures in the American Revolution and early years

Tom Shachtman Author Of The Founding Fortunes: How the Wealthy Paid for and Profited from America's Revolution
By Tom Shachtman

The Books I Picked & Why

A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin

By Joseph Plumb Martin

A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin

Why this book?

The diary of an ordinary soldier who served from July 1776 through the victory at Yorktown in 1781, this book is a real eye-opener and a counterweight to the thousands of books about George Washington, his generals, and the political thinkers of the era.


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The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire

By Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire

Why this book?

This deeply researched book turns our understanding of the era upside down by showing that King George III, British generals, and British political figures did as much to lose the Revolution as Americans did to win it.


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The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America

By Gary B. Nash

The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America

Why this book?

The story of the mostly urban radicals – the unknowns -- who began the Revolution, and how they and their democratic passions were gradually but inevitably “tamed” to create a Constitution and a governable country.


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The Wealth of Nations

By Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations

Why this book?

The economist’s very readable masterwork, published in 1776, was based in large part on his research into the economics of the British-American relationship. It provides an unparalleled understanding of why America revolted, and why the Revolution was bound to succeed.


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Jefferson's Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt

By Gregory May

Jefferson's Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt

Why this book?

Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and their secretary of the treasury, Albert Gallatin, did as much as Alexander Hamilton to create the unique blend of capitalism and democracy that is the United States of America – a story that more Americans ought to know.


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