100 books like Empire of Liberty

By Gordon S. Wood,

Here are 100 books that Empire of Liberty fans have personally recommended if you like Empire of Liberty. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America

Michael Barone Author Of Mental Maps of the Founders: How Geographic Imagination Guided America's Revolutionary Leaders

From my list on the struggles of the early America republic.

Who am I?

My friend Lou Cannon, the great reporter and Reagan biographer, once told me, “if you want to really learn about a subject, write a book about it.” As a political journalist and author of several books about current and past politics,  wanted to learn more about the Founding Fathers, and as a map buff I tried to understand how they understood a continent most of which was not accurately mapped and how they envisioned the geographic limits and reach of a new republic more extensive in size than most nations in Europe. The book is my attempt to share what I learned with readers, and to invite them to read more about these extraordinary leaders.

Michael's book list on the struggles of the early America republic

Michael Barone Why did Michael love this book?

In recent years we have often heard it said that the United States is, for the first time in history, a diverse society.

David Hackett Fischer’s classic Albion’s Seed illustrates how not only the United States but the British seaboard colonies had enormous cultural diversity, based on the different regional origins in the British Isles of the bulk of their settlers.

The Founders knew this already: John Adams of Massachusetts nominated George Washington of Virginia to be commander of the Continental Army, because he understood that the Revolution needed support beyond New England, and Washington as commander soon learned that leading prickly Yankee New Englanders required different tactics than leading deferential Anglican Virginians. 

By David Hackett Fischer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Albion's Seed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eighty percent of Americans have no British ancestors. According to David Hackett Fischer, however, their day-to-day lives are profoundly influenced by folkways transplanted from Britain to the New World with the first settlers. Residual, yet persistent, aspects of these 17th Century folkways are indentifiable, Fischer argues, in areas as divers as politics, education, and attitudes towards gender, sexuality, age, and child-raising. Making use of both traditional
and revisionist scholarship, this ground-breaking work documents how each successive wave of early emigration-Puritans to the North-East; Royalist aristocrats to the South; the Friends to the Delaware Valley; Irish and North Britons to the…


Book cover of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

Mark R. Cheathem Author Of Andrew Jackson, Southerner

From my list on explaining Andrew Jackson.

Who am I?

I became interested in Andrew Jackson as an undergraduate student who worked at his Nashville plantation, The Hermitage. Nearly thirty years later, I am still fascinated by Old Hickory. We wouldn’t be friends, and I wouldn’t vote for him, but I consider him essential to understanding the United States’ development between his ascension as a national hero during the War of 1812 and his death in 1845. That we still argue about Jackson’s role as a symbol both of patriotism and of genocide speaks to his enduring significance to the national conversation about what the United States has represented and continues to represent.  

Mark's book list on explaining Andrew Jackson

Mark R. Cheathem Why did Mark love this book?

A number of books explain the world in which Jackson came to national recognition, but Howe’s provides a decidedly critical view of Old Hickory and his politics. He is clearly sympathetic to the Whigs, opponents of Jackson and his Democratic party; nevertheless, Howe’s book is a good starting point for a broader perspective on Jacksonian America.

By Daniel Walker Howe,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked What Hath God Wrought as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. In this prize-winning, critically acclaimed addition to the series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the United States expanded to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American continent. Howe's panoramic narrative portrays revolutionary
improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the…


Book cover of Prelude to Civil War

Jeanne and David Heidler Author Of Henry Clay: The Essential American

From my list on the USA in its formative years (1789-1845).

Who are we?

We have been researching and writing about the Early Republic since graduate school and began collaborating on the period with our first co-authored book, Old Hickory’s War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire. Though we have occasionally ventured beyond the enthralling events that occurred during those years, mainly by editing books on the Civil War and other topics, we always return to them with relish. We hope you will find the books on our list entertaining as well as informative, thus to whet your appetite for the sumptuous banquet that awaits!

Jeanne's book list on the USA in its formative years (1789-1845)

Jeanne and David Heidler Why did Jeanne love this book?

Though venerable, Freehling’s book remains the standard treatment of this early episode in America’s convulsive sectional crisis. Informed by impeccable research, Freehling depicts the growing tension that pitted hardline states’ rights advocates against resolute nationalists, almost to cause a civil war three decades before it finally happened. Vivid portrayals abound with numerous characters, including the volatile Andrew Jackson and the doctrinaire John C. Calhoun, brought to life in a gemstone of the narrative art.

By William W. Freehling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prelude to Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When William Freehling's Prelude to Civil War first appeared in 1965 it was immediately hailed as a brilliant study of the origins of the American Civil War. Three decades later, its importance remains undiminished and is still considered one of the most significant studies in its field. This vivid description of a society on the brink powerfully conveys the combustive social elements of the Old South, as well as the political manoeuvring and combative
personalities that finally ensured secession and war, and insists upon the central importance of the South's `peculiar institution' in understanding the roots of the Civil War.


Book cover of The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War

Jeanne and David Heidler Author Of Henry Clay: The Essential American

From my list on the USA in its formative years (1789-1845).

Who are we?

We have been researching and writing about the Early Republic since graduate school and began collaborating on the period with our first co-authored book, Old Hickory’s War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire. Though we have occasionally ventured beyond the enthralling events that occurred during those years, mainly by editing books on the Civil War and other topics, we always return to them with relish. We hope you will find the books on our list entertaining as well as informative, thus to whet your appetite for the sumptuous banquet that awaits!

Jeanne's book list on the USA in its formative years (1789-1845)

Jeanne and David Heidler Why did Jeanne love this book?

A lifetime of research on and writing about the latter span of America’s formative years yield Michael Holt’s masterpiece, a detailed, lively look at the resurgence of federalist philosophy and its consequences. In a fascinating exposition, Holt fashions something resembling Shakespearean tragedy wherein the most well-intentioned politicians cannot stem the tide of sectionalism.

By Michael F. Holt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The political home of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Horace Greeley, and the young Abraham Lincoln, the American Whig Party was involved at every level of American politics-local, state, and federal-in the years before the Civil War, and controlled the White House for eight of the twenty-two years that it existed. Now, in The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party, Michael F. Holt gives us the only comprehensive history of the Whigs ever written-a
monumental history covering in rich detail the American political landscape from the Age of Jackson to impending disunion.
In Michael Holt's hands, the history of…


Book cover of The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788 - 1800

Michael Barone Author Of Mental Maps of the Founders: How Geographic Imagination Guided America's Revolutionary Leaders

From my list on the struggles of the early America republic.

Who am I?

My friend Lou Cannon, the great reporter and Reagan biographer, once told me, “if you want to really learn about a subject, write a book about it.” As a political journalist and author of several books about current and past politics,  wanted to learn more about the Founding Fathers, and as a map buff I tried to understand how they understood a continent most of which was not accurately mapped and how they envisioned the geographic limits and reach of a new republic more extensive in size than most nations in Europe. The book is my attempt to share what I learned with readers, and to invite them to read more about these extraordinary leaders.

Michael's book list on the struggles of the early America republic

Michael Barone Why did Michael love this book?

This is an extended and intensive history of twelve years in the birth and growth of the Republic established under the Constitution, a period of intense political strive in which the leaders who endorsed the Constitution feared, for plausible reasons, that their new republic might be torn apart.

I have found that American historians, for all their distance from their subjects and marvelous expertise, tend to take partisan sides, and Elkins and McKittrick clearly lean to the Federalists (as did I while reading their account). 

By Stanley Elkins, Eric McKitrick,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Age of Federalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office for the presidency in 1801, America had just passed through twelve critical years, years dominated by some of the towering figures of our history and by the challenge of having to do everything for the first time. Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Adams, and Jefferson himself each had a share in shaping that remarkable era--an era that is brilliantly captured in The Age of Federalism. Written by
esteemed historians Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism gives us a reflective, deeply informed analytical survey of this extraordinary period. Ranging over the widest…


Book cover of The Federalist Papers

Michael Barone Author Of Mental Maps of the Founders: How Geographic Imagination Guided America's Revolutionary Leaders

From my list on the struggles of the early America republic.

Who am I?

My friend Lou Cannon, the great reporter and Reagan biographer, once told me, “if you want to really learn about a subject, write a book about it.” As a political journalist and author of several books about current and past politics,  wanted to learn more about the Founding Fathers, and as a map buff I tried to understand how they understood a continent most of which was not accurately mapped and how they envisioned the geographic limits and reach of a new republic more extensive in size than most nations in Europe. The book is my attempt to share what I learned with readers, and to invite them to read more about these extraordinary leaders.

Michael's book list on the struggles of the early America republic

Michael Barone Why did Michael love this book?

To understand the political struggles of the 1790s, read the Federalist Papers this way: first read all those attributed to Hamilton, then those attributed to Madison, and finish up with the five attributed to Jay.

You will find Hamilton urging an energetic executive and a prepared military and hinting at the need for a financial system including a unified national debt and a national bank. You will see Madison more concerned with countering the irresponsible actions of state legislatures and cabining in the power of one branch of government by incentivizing other branches to check it.

As for Jay, you may be surprised that this resident of the most ethnically and culturally diverse colony and state, New York, assures readers that Americans all share an identical religion though he himself was the descendant of Calvinist French Huguenots—a persecuted folk in what had been a century of violent religious wars. 

By Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison , Richard Beeman (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Federalist Papers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A selection of nineteen essential essays from The Federalist Papers in their original lengths by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, with notes by Richard Beeman

Penguin presents a series of six portable, accessible, and—above all—essential reads from American political history, selected by leading scholars. Series editor Richard Beeman, author of The Penguin Guide to the U.S. Constitution, draws together the great texts of American civic life to create a timely and informative mini-library of perennially vital issues. Whether readers are encountering these classic writings for the first time, or brushing up in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of…


Book cover of The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy

Michael Barone Author Of Mental Maps of the Founders: How Geographic Imagination Guided America's Revolutionary Leaders

From my list on the struggles of the early America republic.

Who am I?

My friend Lou Cannon, the great reporter and Reagan biographer, once told me, “if you want to really learn about a subject, write a book about it.” As a political journalist and author of several books about current and past politics,  wanted to learn more about the Founding Fathers, and as a map buff I tried to understand how they understood a continent most of which was not accurately mapped and how they envisioned the geographic limits and reach of a new republic more extensive in size than most nations in Europe. The book is my attempt to share what I learned with readers, and to invite them to read more about these extraordinary leaders.

Michael's book list on the struggles of the early America republic

Michael Barone Why did Michael love this book?

It is an interesting fact that Hamilton and Gallatin, who served as Treasury Secretary during most of the republic’s first quarter-century, were immigrants from commercially more active locales, Hamilton from the sugar island of St. Croix, Gallatin from the stony Calvinist banking center of Geneva, Switzerland.

As congressman from the Pennsylvania frontier, Gallatin opposed Hamilton’s national debt and Bank of the United States, that gave the infant republic circulating money and workable finance. But as Jefferson and Madison’s secretary of the Treasury Gallatin maintained the bulk of Hamilton’s system and managed—with help from fellow immigrants John Jacob Astor and Stephen Girard—to finance the War of 1812.

By Thomas K. McCraw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Founders and Finance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1776 the United States government started out on a shoestring and quickly went bankrupt fighting its War of Independence against Britain. At the war's end, the national government owed tremendous sums to foreign creditors and its own citizens. But lacking the power to tax, it had no means to repay them. The Founders and Finance is the first book to tell the story of how foreign-born financial specialists-immigrants-solved the fiscal crisis and set the United States on a path to long-term economic success.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas K. McCraw analyzes the skills and worldliness of Alexander Hamilton (from the…


Book cover of Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture

Dora Apel Author Of Calling Memory Into Place

From my list on the politics of memory.

Who am I?

As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I have always been interested in trauma and memory, racial and ethnic oppression, and gender violence. I want to make visible what has been marginalized, forgotten, or repressed. I am also moved by the way that personal stories connect us to larger collectivities and histories. When I visited the lynching memorial in Montgomery, my parents’ hometown in Poland, or the memorial to Walter Benjamin in Portbou, Spain, I felt compelled to write about the embodied experience of place and the importance of activist memory. I have also written about the imagery of lynching, war and ruins, and artworks by the offspring of Holocaust survivors.

Dora's book list on the politics of memory

Dora Apel Why did Dora love this book?

I really appreciate Alison Landsberg’s focus on the fact that all of us, regardless, of race, gender, or ethnicity, are able to experience empathy for people whose experience is historically different than our own. I find this argument especially important in an era of alarming race essentialism, such as the protest against a painting of Emmett Till because the artist was White.

By Alison Landsberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prosthetic Memory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Instead of compartmentalizing American experience, the technologies of mass culture make it possible for anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender to share collective memories-to assimilate as personal experience historical events through which they themselves did not live. That's the provocative argument of this book, which examines the formation and potential of privately felt public memories. Alison Landsberg argues that mass cultural forms such as cinema and television in fact contain the still-unrealized potential for a progressive politics based on empathy for the historical experiences of others. The result is a new form of public cultural memory-"prosthetic" memory-that awakens the…


Book cover of The Savage Freud and Other Essays on Possible and Retrievable Selves

Mark Juergensmeyer Author Of Terror in the Mind of God

From my list on religious violence.

Who am I?

Though religious violence is an odd obsession for a nice guy like me, the topic was forced on me. Having lived for years in the Indian Punjab, I was struck by the uprising of Sikhs in the 1980s. I wanted to know why, and what religion had to do with it. These could have been my own students. It is easy to understand why bad people do bad things, but why do good people—often with religious visions of peace—employ such savage acts of violence? This is the question that has propelled me through a half-dozen books, including the recent When God Stops Fighting: How Religious Violence Ends. 

Mark's book list on religious violence

Mark Juergensmeyer Why did Mark love this book?

Those who know the field of religious violence may find my choice of Ashis Nandy’s book of essays to be a peculiar one since it deals with a variety of issues besides religious violence. But one of his essays, “The Discrete Charms of Indian Terrorists,” is worth the price of the book. In it, Nandy describes the remarkably civil behavior of young Sikh activists who hijacked an Indian plane in the 1980s. He then goes on to disagree with Gandhi that terrorism necessarily absolutizes a conflict, and he rejects the common perspective, especially in the West, that terrorism is always evil. Though Nandy’s analysis does not fit all, or perhaps most, instances of religion-related terrorism it makes us reconsider our assumptions about the use of violence in certain situations.

By Ashis Nandy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Savage Freud and Other Essays on Possible and Retrievable Selves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of India's leading public intellectuals, Ashis Nandy is a highly influential critic of modernity, science, nationalism, and secularism. In this, his most important collection of essays so far, he seeks to locate cultural forms and languages of being and thinking that defy the logic and hegemony of the modern West. The core of the volume consists of two ambitious, deeply probing essays, one on the early success of psychoanalysis in India, the other on the justice meted out by the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal to the defeated Japanese. Both issues are viewed in the context of the psychology of…


Book cover of Pyongyang

Conrad Wesselhoeft Author Of Adios, Nirvana

From my list on memoir-based graphic novels.

Who am I?

I’ve worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia. I’ve served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, from a small-town daily in New Mexico to The New York Times. I’m also the author of contemporary novels for young adults. Like the writers of these five great graphic novels, I choose themes that are important to me. Foremost are hope, healing, family, and friendship. These are themes I’d like my own children to embrace. Life can be hard, so as a writer I choose to send out that “ripple of hope” on the chance it may be heard or felt, and so make a difference.

Conrad's book list on memoir-based graphic novels

Conrad Wesselhoeft Why did Conrad love this book?

The Canadian animator offers a revealing account of his two-month trip to North Korea to oversee a cartooning project. In deceptively simple words and drawings, Delisle gives us a front-row view of this complex, enigmatic totalitarian society. Everyday life in Pyongyang is rich fodder for this hilariously grumpy author. What’s it really like living in North Korea? Read this book and weep—and laugh. 

By Guy Delisle, Helge Dascher (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pyongyang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Famously referred to as an "Axis-of-Evil" country, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. A series of manmade and natural catastrophes have also left it one of the poorest. When the fortress-like country recently opened the door a crack to foreign investment, cartoonist Guy Delisle found himself in its capital of Pyongyang on a work visa for a French film animation company, becoming one of the few Westerners to witness current conditions in the surreal showcase city. Armed with a smuggled radio and a copy of 1984, Delisle could only explore Pyongyang…


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