100 books like Founding Brothers

By Joseph J. Ellis,

Here are 100 books that Founding Brothers fans have personally recommended if you like Founding Brothers. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

Dennis C. Rasmussen Author Of Fears of a Setting Sun: The Disillusionment of America's Founders

From my list on American founders from a political theorist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a political theorist at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. I spent the first fifteen years or so of my career working on the Scottish and French Enlightenments (Adam Smith, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire), but in recent years I’ve been drawn more and more to the American founding. In addition to Fears of a Setting Sun, I’m also the author of The Constitution’s Penman: Gouverneur Morris and the Creation of America’s Basic Charter, which explores the constitutional vision of the immensely colorful individual who—unbeknownst to most Americans—wrote the US Constitution.

Dennis' book list on American founders from a political theorist

Dennis C. Rasmussen Why did Dennis love this book?

For all the drama of the Philadelphia Convention, it would have been an empty exercise had the American people not ratified the charter that it produced. Pauline Maier’s Ratification tells the surprisingly dramatic story of the state-by-state ratification process, one that encompasses not only the famous figures of the period but also everyday citizens. Maier’s book on the Declaration of Independence, American Scripture, is also excellent.

By Pauline Maier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Dennis C. Rasmussen Author Of Fears of a Setting Sun: The Disillusionment of America's Founders

From my list on American founders from a political theorist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a political theorist at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. I spent the first fifteen years or so of my career working on the Scottish and French Enlightenments (Adam Smith, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire), but in recent years I’ve been drawn more and more to the American founding. In addition to Fears of a Setting Sun, I’m also the author of The Constitution’s Penman: Gouverneur Morris and the Creation of America’s Basic Charter, which explores the constitutional vision of the immensely colorful individual who—unbeknownst to most Americans—wrote the US Constitution.

Dennis' book list on American founders from a political theorist

Dennis C. Rasmussen Why did Dennis love this book?

Gordon Wood is often described as the dean of historians of the American founding, and all of his books are eminently worth reading. I was lucky enough, as a postdoc at Brown University, to sit in on the last course that he taught on the American Revolution before his retirement. Of the many volumes that Wood has written, I picked this dual biography of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson not only because it’s a delightful read, but also because it’s the book that I was reading when the idea for my book struck me.

By Gordon S. Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017

From the great historian of the American Revolution, New York Times-bestselling and Pulitzer-winning Gordon Wood, comes a majestic dual biography of two of America's most enduringly fascinating figures, whose partnership helped birth a nation, and whose subsequent falling out did much to fix its course.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from more different worlds, or been more different in temperament. Jefferson, the optimist with enough faith in the innate goodness of his fellow man to be democracy's champion, was an aristocratic Southern slaveowner, while Adams, the…


Book cover of Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution

Joseph D'Agnese Author Of Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution

From my list on the creation of the U.S. Constitution.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joseph D’Agnese grew up in the Bicentennial-fueled excitement of the 1970s, and spent 1976 fake-playing a fife and sporting a tricorn hat in various school events. Besides teaching him how to get in and out of Revolutionary-period knickers, this experience awakened in him a love for the Founding Era of American history. He has since authored three history titles with his wife, The New York Times bestselling author Denise Kiernan. 

Joseph's book list on the creation of the U.S. Constitution

Joseph D'Agnese Why did Joseph love this book?

What’s fascinating about the making of the Constitution is how every point the framers debated in 1787 rang down through the ensuing years.

Should a state’s power be determined by its land size and resources—or the size of its population? Should we abolish slavery, or pass the buck to another generation? Who should get the right to vote—rich men or all men? Deciding these big three questions consumed much of the squabbles, and led to compromise. State’s rights, for example, led to creation of the bicameral structure of Congress.

The slavery question ultimately led to war in the 19th century, and the stinging legacy of the infamous Three-fifths Compromise. Their decisions on voting rights later resulted in amendments granting African Americans and women the right of suffrage. It’s almost as if you can glimpse America’s future in those 1787 debates.

The late Richard Beeman, then a professor at the University…

By Richard Beeman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Plain, Honest Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In May 1787, in an atmosphere of crisis, delegates met in Philadelphia to design a radically new form of government. Distinguished historian Richard Beeman captures as never before the dynamic of the debate and the characters of the men who labored that historic summer. Virtually all of the issues in dispute—the extent of presidential power, the nature of federalism, and, most explosive of all, the role of slavery—have continued to provoke conflict throughout our nation's history. This unprecedented book takes readers behind the scenes to show how the world's most enduring constitution was forged through conflict, compromise, and fragile consensus.…


Book cover of Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding

Dennis C. Rasmussen Author Of Fears of a Setting Sun: The Disillusionment of America's Founders

From my list on American founders from a political theorist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a political theorist at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. I spent the first fifteen years or so of my career working on the Scottish and French Enlightenments (Adam Smith, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire), but in recent years I’ve been drawn more and more to the American founding. In addition to Fears of a Setting Sun, I’m also the author of The Constitution’s Penman: Gouverneur Morris and the Creation of America’s Basic Charter, which explores the constitutional vision of the immensely colorful individual who—unbeknownst to most Americans—wrote the US Constitution.

Dennis' book list on American founders from a political theorist

Dennis C. Rasmussen Why did Dennis love this book?

This book is not as acclaimed as the others on this list, but it is a hidden gem. Staloff deftly weaves together the lives and ideas of three of the most notable founders, and the ways in which they were influenced by their Enlightenment forebears. Precisely because the book is relatively little-known, I recommend it all the time to colleagues and students.

By Darren Staloff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where The Ideas for which We Stand came from.

In this incisively drawn book, Darren Staloff forcefully reminds us that America owes its guiding political traditions to three Founding Fathers whose lives embodied the collision of Europe's grand Enlightenment project with the birth of the nation.

Alexander Hamilton, the worldly New Yorker; John Adams, the curmudgeonly Yankee; Thomas Jefferson, the visionary Virginia squire—each governed their public lives by Enlightenment principles, and for each their relationship to the politics of Enlightenment was transformed by the struggle for American independence. Repeated humiliation on America's battlefields banished Hamilton's youthful idealism, leaving him a…


Book cover of Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Graeme Brooker Author Of 50/50 Words for Reuse: A Minifesto

From my list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Graeme Brooker is a Professor and Head of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art London. He has written and published fifteen books on the histories and theories of inside spaces, many of which focus on the reuse of existing artefacts, buildings, and cities. Apart from teaching and writing, when he isn’t cycling, he is often staring intently at the sea in Brighton, where he currently lives.

Graeme's book list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings

Graeme Brooker Why did Graeme love this book?

This is a revelatory, timely book that details the afterlives of the numerous discarded and recycled objects from around the world. It gave me great insights into where stuff goes once we decide that these are things that we no longer need or want and who are the people and the places who find value in what we leave behind. 

By Adam Minter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of Junkyard Planet, "an anthem to decluttering, recycling, making better quality goods and living a simpler life with less stuff." -Associated Press

Downsizing. Decluttering. Discarding. Sooner or later, all of us are faced with things we no longer need or want. But when we drop our old clothes and other items off at a local donation center, where do they go? Sometimes across the country-or even halfway across the world-to people and places who find value in what we leave behind.

In Secondhand, journalist Adam Minter takes us on an unexpected adventure into the often-hidden, multibillion-dollar industry…


Book cover of Food: A Love Story

Elijah Douresseau Author Of The Long Takeout: Short Stories for the Hungry Sojourner

From my list on food fiction to inspire eating and reading.

Why am I passionate about this?

Food has always been my existential retreat from the world. Whether eating solo or with people, countless meals have been the best hyperbolic time chambers for strengthening relationships with others and with myself. And I’ve always wanted to write, to participate in ageless forums of subject and technique in this great literary tradition of ours. I guess these two art forms and obsessions were bound to lock horns in my aesthetic makeup. In my world, good reading is good eating. It’s that simple. No other qualifications are needed. I inhaled the following books and was made full every time – to eventually take a stab at a couple of recipes also.

Elijah's book list on food fiction to inspire eating and reading

Elijah Douresseau Why did Elijah love this book?

If Cooking Gene is the rallying cry, Food: A Love Story is the marching time music.

Gaffigan expands the food observations and shenanigans from his standup routines and this memoir is just as funny as watching the family man on stage. Gaffigan’s food writing maintains a golden dynamic of being approachable and personal at the same time.

It was full of personality and gave me valuable insight into how to shape my character’s food habits as the focal point of literary scrutiny.

By Jim Gaffigan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“What are my qualifications to write this book? None really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.”
 
Bacon. McDonalds. Cinnabon. Hot Pockets. Kale. Stand-up comedian and author Jim Gaffigan has made his career rhapsodizing over the most treasured dishes of the American diet (“choking on bacon is like getting murdered by your lover”) and decrying the worst offenders (“kale is the early morning of foods”). Fans flocked to his New York…


Book cover of The Inner Life of Animals

Ginjer L. Clarke Author Of Animal Allies: Creatures Working Together

From my list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m secretly eight years old inside. I love fascinating animal and science stuff, especially cool, weird, and gross facts. Readers of my children’s books see this passion in action. My best-selling and award-winning nonfiction animal books have sold more than 3 million copies worldwide since 2000. I focus particularly on reaching reluctant, struggling, and English-language-learning readers by packing my books with lots of action and high-interest topics to keep them turning pages. I’m recommending these top-five narrative nonfiction animal books for adults because these authors have influenced my research and thinking—and because they’re terrific stories!

Ginjer's book list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior

Ginjer L. Clarke Why did Ginjer love this book?

Are you ready to change the way you see the world forever? Reading Peter Wohlleben’s three-book Mysteries of Nature series will do just that.

This second volume focuses on animal emotions and making connections with human behavior. Until fairly recently, most serious scientists focused only on observable behavior and didn’t try to imagine or determine what animals’ actions tell us about their feelings.

However, all animal lovers can benefit, as I did, from questioning our assumptions, better understanding our similarities, and becoming more aware of how much there is to learn about the inner life of animals. Get ready for some surprises!

By Peter Wohlleben, Jane Billinghurst (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Can horses feel shame? Do deer grieve? Why do roosters deceive hens?

We tend to assume that we are the only living things able to experience feelings but have you ever wondered what's going on in an animal's head? From the leafy forest floor to the inside of a bee hive, The Inner Life of Animals opens up the animal kingdom like never before. We hear the stories of a grateful humpback whale, of a hedgehog who has nightmares, and of a magpie who commits adultery; we meet bees that plan for the future, pigs who learn their own names…


Book cover of Why Peacocks?: An Unlikely Search for Meaning in the World's Most Magnificent Bird

Elizabeth Gehrman Author Of Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction

From my list on birds and life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never had a particular interest in birds until I heard about David Wingate and the cahow; I’m just a reporter who was smitten by a compelling story. I often write about science and the environment, as well as travel and other topics, for publications including the Boston Globe, Archaeology, and Harvard Medicine, and while working on Rare Birds I got hooked on these extraordinary creatures and the iconoclastic obsessives who have become their stewards in the Anthropocene era. You don’t have to care about birds to love their stories — but in the end, you will.

Elizabeth's book list on birds and life

Elizabeth Gehrman Why did Elizabeth love this book?

GQ writer Flynn and his wife and two kids are minding their own business on their surburban Durham “faux farm” when a friend calls to ask if they want to add a peacock to the two chickens that wander their yard. They end up with three of the kaleidoscopic birds, and Flynn’s chronicle of the family’s first year with Carl, Ethel, and Mr. Pickle takes readers on an implausibly relatable journey from the bird’s place in history, culture, and myth through its evolutionary biology and breeding habits to its endangered status in the wild, offering sardonically hilarious and harrowingly poignant life lessons along the way.

By Sean Flynn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Peacocks? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An acclaimed journalist seeks to understand the mysterious allure of peacocks-and in the process discovers unexpected and valuable life lessons.

When Sean Flynn's neighbor in North Carolina texted "Any chance you guys want a peacock? No kidding!" he stared bewilderedly at his phone. He had never considered whether he wanted a peacock. But as an award-winning magazine writer, this kind of mystery intrigued him. So he, his wife, and their two young sons became the owners of not one but three charming yet fickle birds: Carl, Ethel, and Mr. Pickle.

In Why Peacocks?, Flynn chronicles his hilarious and heartwarming first…


Book cover of Bad Days in History: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year

John S. Croucher Author Of A Concise History of New South Wales

From my list on history books for those who like quirky statistics and facts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by statistics (I’m a statistician by profession), and anything that tells a story of actual people and events has always captured my imagination. I have a particular affection for the quirky and offbeat, something that illustrates catastrophic failure, lack of common sense, a misplaced sense of entitlement and people who repeatedly tried but always fell short. I have a passion for black humour as it helps me to realise that, no matter how dark things look in my own life, there are others who have it much worse.

John's book list on history books for those who like quirky statistics and facts

John S. Croucher Why did John love this book?

Far from being depressing, I found great perverse enjoyment in reading about the disasters that befell others. It is a treasure trove of well-written tales that I found hard to put down. I found the contents to be an absolute treasure-chest of absorbing, beautifully written stories.

If ever I was feeling down, this volume always lifted my spirits, knowing that my day could be a lot worse.

By Michael Farquhar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad Days in History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Caligula's blood-soaked end to hotelier Steve Wynn's unfortunate run-in with a priceless Picasso, Bad Days in History delves into the past to present 365 delightfully told tales of historically bad days.


Book cover of American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020

Luis Martínez-Fernández Author Of When the World Turned Upside Down: Politics, Culture, and the Unimaginable Events of 2019-2022

From my list on today's biggest domestic and global challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

By ten years old, I had lived in four countries and endured the repercussions of revolution, exile, military coup d’état, and emigration. That explains my life-long passion for history. I pursued a Ph.D. in Latin American history to make sense of the forces that shaped my and my family’s lives. My seven previous books explored diverse topics in Caribbean history within its broader Atlantic context. Momentous domestic and global events, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic and an explosion of racial and political violence in the U.S. pushed me to broaden my scholarly attention and become a Creators Syndicate’s weekly columnist, and publish a collection of columns with the title When the World Turned Upside Down. 

Luis' book list on today's biggest domestic and global challenges

Luis Martínez-Fernández Why did Luis love this book?

American readers and news watchers are deeply segregated: those on the left reading and watching news produced by liberals, and those on the right consuming words and images from conservative authors and broadcasts. And then there is Washington Post columnist George Will, a conservative, who reads voraciously across the political spectrum and offers commentary that reasonable Americans must recognize as honest and insightful. American Happiness and Its Discontents is a collection of thoroughly researched, thought-provoking, exquisitely-written columns written by Will from 2008 to 2020. He offers insightful commentary on a wide range of political, social, and cultural topics and tackles subjects deemed taboo by the left such as the wave of nonsense that has flooded higher education. 

By George F. Will,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Happiness and Discontents as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

George F. Will has been one of this country's leading columnists since 1974. He won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1977. The Wall Street Journal once called him "perhaps the most powerful journalist in America." In this new collection, he examines a remarkably unsettling thirteen years in our nation's experience, from 2008 to 2020. Included are a number of columns about court cases, mostly from the Supreme Court, that illuminate why the composition of the federal judiciary has become such a contentious subject.

Other topics addressed include the American Revolutionary War, historical figures from Frederick Douglass to JFK, as…


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