75 books like Prelude to Civil War

By William W. Freehling,

Here are 75 books that Prelude to Civil War fans have personally recommended if you like Prelude to Civil War. 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 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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Gordon Wood is one of the giants of a generation of historians of the Revolution and the early Republic.

This book covers the 1790s and the years of the nineteenth century up through the War of 1812. Both Federalists and Jeffersonians faced the task of navigating the young republic through the turbulent waters of a world war between revolutionary France, America’s Revolutionary War ally, and mercantile Britain, its chief trading partner, that lasted with only short intervals between 1793 and 1815.

Wood leans somewhat to the Jeffersonians, who were more in line (in his view and, as I was reading him, mine) with most Americans who became less deferential and hierarchical during and immediately after the Revolution.

By Gordon S. Wood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Empire of Liberty 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 the USA. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in the newest volume in the series, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the
end of the War of 1812.
As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life-in politics, society,…


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).

Why are we passionate about this?

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner

Suzette Harrison Author Of My Name Is Ona Judge

From my list on portraying African-American historical heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a youthful spirit, but an old soul. Perhaps, that’s why I love African American history and gravitated to Black Studies as my undergraduate degree. My reverence for my ancestors sends me time and again to African-American historical fiction in an effort to connect with our past. Growing up, I was that kid who liked being around my elders and eavesdropping on grown-ups' conversations. Now, I listen to my ancestors as they guide my creativity. I’m an award-winning hybrid author writing contemporary and historical novels, and I value each. Still, it’s those historical characters and tales that snatch me by the hand and passionately urge me to do their bidding. 

Suzette's book list on portraying African-American historical heroines

Suzette Harrison Why did Suzette love this book?

While the minute details of the plot may have faded, I still recall the feelings Sisterhood left me with, its essence. As the middle of three daughters, sisterhood is highly important to me. Although the women in the book weren’t biologically connected, their bond and unification were definite. I consider our protagonist Bonnie Wilder (despite her own personal challenges), her best friend, Thora, and the women of Blackberry Corner heroic in their efforts to rescue abandoned children—thus, touching on another topic important to me: motherhood. If you like small-town stories with lively, colorful characters, historical references, and a touch of drama dive into The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner. The sense of satisfaction I felt when reading it remains with me still. 

By Andrea Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Filled with compassion, humor, and tenacity in the face of almost insurmountable odds, here is a rich, inspiring tale of friendship and family, sisterhood and mother love . . . and of finding grace where you least expect it. 

Canaan Creek, South Carolina, in the 1950s is a tiny town where the close-knit African-American community is united by long-term friendships and church ties. Bonnie Wilder has lived here, on Blackberry Corner, all her life, and would be content but for her deep desire to have a child. She and her husband Naz cannot conceive, and he refuses to adopt. Even…


Book cover of Chasing Freedom

E.M. Spencer Author Of Freedom Reins

From my list on Canadian historical fiction with strong females.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Canadian who enjoys travelling and reading historical fiction from around the world. Having had the privilege of living in a variety of areas in Canada from coast to coast since childhood, I can recall listening to the stories of past generations and exploring the locations where some of these events took place. With a passion for Canada’s beauty and the history of its people, I like to research, explore, and incorporate these passions into my own stories.

E.M.'s book list on Canadian historical fiction with strong females

E.M. Spencer Why did E.M. love this book?

After the American Civil War, the British promised freedom and land to the slaves in the British Colonies in exchange for their loyalty. Sadly, their new home turned out to be anything but a place of refuge when they found just as much hate and cruelty on this side of the border. Can Sarah and her family persevere and truly find freedom against the odds? The book is an easy read and an interesting lesson on this part of Canadian history.

By Gloria Ann Wesley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Young Adult Historical Fiction

A story of the struggle of Black Loyalists and their arrival in Nova Scotia.

NEW: Teaching Guide Available Here

Shortlisted for The Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature.

The American Revolutionary War is being waged, and the fate of slaves in the colonies is on the line. Sarah Redmond, a slave on a South Carolina plantation, watches with a heavy heart as her father steals away in the dead of the night to join the British army, enticed by promises of freedom, land and provisions for his whole family. But before her father can return,…


Book cover of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature

Jack E. Davis Author Of The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea

From my list on placed-based nature writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and professor of environmental history who divides his time between two “villes,” Gainesville, Florida, and Harrisville, New Hampshire. On April 16, 2018, while in my campus office excoriating a graduate student for his sloppy writing, I learned that my book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in History. The chastened student subsequently revised his work and turned in a perfect paper, and I’ve been trying to live up to the distinction of the prize ever since. My first effort to do so will appear in the form of my latest book, The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird.

Jack's book list on placed-based nature writing

Jack E. Davis Why did Jack love this book?

Like Rachel Carson, Lanham is a scientist who avoids the stilted style of his profession. His book was also a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal, and like Janisse Ray, he published with Milkweed Editions, a powerhouse publisher in environmental literature. As a black man and lover of nature, Lanham describes himself as an “unusually colored fish out of water.” Growing up in rural South Carolina, he was surrounded by woods and wetlands that beckoned his curiosity on solitary wanderings. Everything captivated him: insects, reptiles, rocks, plants, and, especially, birds. When baptized in his grandmother’s authoritarian religious faith, he questioned the ritual but not the algae and “little black commas of tadpoles” in the devotional waters. Sometime after, he came to believe in Nature’s worthiness for worship, a faith that forms the heart of this elegant book. 

By J. Drew Lanham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored." From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham.

Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina-a place "easy to pass by on the way somewhere else"-has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course…


Book cover of The Parker Inheritance

Katherine Marsh Author Of The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine

From my list on historical fiction to read with middle schoolers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only have I written six critically acclaimed novels for middle-grade readers, including three historical fictions, I am the parent of a tween and teen who is always looking for great read-alouds and read-alongs for my own family. I am a firm believer that this is a valuable way to encourage literacy and love of story as I wrote in a recent, much-discussed essay in The Atlantic. Having lived abroad, including as an exchange student and camper in the Soviet Union and for three years in Belgium, I am also a huge believer in expanding our own as well as our kids’ knowledge of history beyond our own borders, cultures, identities, and perspectives. 

Katherine's book list on historical fiction to read with middle schoolers

Katherine Marsh Why did Katherine love this book?

Varian Johnson’s story alternates between modern and historical timelines to create a mystery that is explored from different eras and perspectives.

In the current day, Candice and her friend Brandon play detective, trying to solve the puzzle of a fortune alluded to in a note they find in Candice’s grandma’s attic. We also get flashes from the 1950s of the small Southern town where the story is set.

This a great family read that allows readers to test their detective-solving savvy while exploring meatier issues such as racism and prejudice.

By Varian Johnson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Parker Inheritance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina,
she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother,
who left the town in shame. But the letter describes
a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery
enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who
solves the puzzle.

So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she
begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep
into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and
one great love; and deeper into…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Bees

Jude Berman Author Of The Die

From my list on metaphysical and visionary stories with a call for social justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I realized years ago that the universe isn’t merely a concrete reality, I turned to metaphysical/visionary books to understand my experience. There weren’t that many books, but the ones I found became dear friends. Now, after decades as a freelance editor, I am writing fiction in this genre because I believe stories can be as powerful as expository writing for awakening consciousness. However, I’ve noticed many metaphysical writers discourage the engagement and commitment needed to make this world a better place. For this reason, I seek to gather—and contribute to—writing that is visionary and also advocates for democracy and social justice.

Jude's book list on metaphysical and visionary stories with a call for social justice

Jude Berman Why did Jude love this book?

This book is one of my all-time favorite books because it is so deeply spiritual, yet its spirituality is fully and unapologetically wedded to the everyday world, its trials and traumas, and its crying need for social justice.

I love how the spiritual nourishment of a sisterhood of strong women holds the potential to save a young girl’s life. Sue Monk Kidd’s writing grabbed me so powerfully that I have often picked up this book and read a few pages to inspire me before I began my own writing session.

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Secret Life of Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings and The Book of Longings

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted Black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina-a town that holds the secret to her mother's…


Book cover of Gal: A True Life

Jamilla Counts Author Of A Counts Duty: Assembling the Pieces of Me

From my list on finding peace from family history, secrets, and abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jamilla Counts born in Chicago during 1973 and raised in Memphis, Tennessee where she currently resides now. Graduated from Pulaski Technical college in Arkansas. Moving on to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock presuing a Bachelor's Degree in Social work. I'm featured in a book released by Tiffany Ludwig in the Rutgers University Press; Fifth or Later Edition (November 30, 2007) called Trappings: Stories of Women, Power, and Clothing, I'm a single parent of two daughters and one grandchild.

Jamilla's book list on finding peace from family history, secrets, and abuse

Jamilla Counts Why did Jamilla love this book?

A true story of a young Black woman who chooses to protect the privacy of her family and friends in her writing. Born in 1961, and raised in the South. Facing years of brutal abuse from the man she knew as "Daddy," she seemed to be headed along a long and bumpy path.

Gal managed to complete high school. After further difficulties with drugs, alcohol, and men, she was finally able to turn her life around.  An inspiring story of inner strength and the healing effects of love.

By Ruthie Bolton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born in 1961 to a thirteen-year-old mother in South Carolina, Ruthie Bolton endured abandonment, abuse, and loss-and grew into a hardened, troubled young woman. Then she met a man who offered her something she'd never known, something she thought was a dirty word: love. The only challenge left was to accept it.

"A gift to readers...The storyteller's memory, eye for detail, and ear for dialogue are so compelling that in private conversation one would be leaning toward her so as to catch every word." (Washington Post Book World)

"Vivid...inspiring...impossible to forget." (Newsweek)

"It's a book about being human, and as…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in South Carolina, politics, and Andrew Jackson?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about South Carolina, politics, and Andrew Jackson.

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