The Best Books On The American Revolution

Joel Richard Paul Author Of Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times
By Joel Richard Paul

The Books I Picked & Why

Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787

By Gordon S. Wood

Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787

Why this book?

This was my favorite book in college and remains a treasured part of my library. It’s a classic that reinterpreted the American Revolution. Gordon Wood examines how the vices of the British parliamentary system led the founding generation to a revolutionary new theory of government and to the formation of the American Constitution. It’s a magisterial work about the character of America.


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The Minutemen and Their World

By Robert A. Gross

The Minutemen and Their World

Why this book?

This is a delightfully engaging book about Concord, Massachusetts, on the eve of the American Revolution. Robert Gross’ writing is a joy to read. It brings to life the ordinary townspeople who became revolutionaries. Gross shows how shifting demographics and social structures shaped the movement towards Independence. When the book first appeared it represented a fresh new approach to writing social history, and it justifiably won the Bancroft Prize.


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The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

By Bernard Bailyn

The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

Why this book?

Bernard Bailyn studied the political pamphlets that persuaded people that the Revolutionary War was worth fighting. Bailyn explains why a relatively minor British tax fanned the flames of revolution, and how profound political philosophy was translated into common language. This is an important book that reveals the origins of our revolution. There’s a good reason it won the Pulitzer Prize.


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Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America

By Jack N. Rakove

Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America

Why this book?

Stanford history professor Jack Rakove is one of the most original thinkers on American history, and this book is a richly textured dramatic portrait of the lives and contributions of the Founding Fathers. It’s fast-paced, colorful, and novelistic. It’s hard to set it aside.


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A History of the American Revolution

By John R. Alden

A History of the American Revolution

Why this book?

If you want to read one comprehensive history of the Revolutionary War from start to finish, this is the book you should read. Alden has packed in all the important events and personalities from the French and Indian War through George Washington’s inauguration. It is the best, most richly detailed source I know for the remarkable story of how thirteen colonies defeated the world’s most powerful military and achieved something unprecedented  – an independent democratic republic.


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