100 books like The American Revolution

By David K. Allison (editor), Larrie D. Ferreiro (editor),

Here are 100 books that The American Revolution fans have personally recommended if you like The American Revolution. 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 A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin

Ray Raphael Author Of Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

From my list on deepening your view of the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing my first of my ten books on the Founding Era, A People’s History of the American Revolution, I came across an amazing uprising not celebrated in the traditional saga of our nation’s birth: the people of Massachusetts, everywhere outside of Boston, actually cast off British authority in 1774, the year before Lexington and Concord. How could this critical episode have been so neglected? Who’s the gatekeeper here, anyway? That’s when I began to explore how events of those times morphed into stories, and how those stories mask what actually happened—the theme of Founding Myths.  

Ray's book list on deepening your view of the American Revolution

Ray Raphael Why did Ray love this book?

If, perchance, you have yet to encounter Private Joseph Plumb Martin’s classic memoir, stop right now and get hold of a copy. With wit, charm, and telling detail, this common soldier from the Continental Army will take you on a personal journey through the Revolutionary War. Lest we forget, “history” is composed of individual experiences, and JPMs are memorable. “Great men get great praise; little men, nothing,” he wrote. “It always was so and always will be.” No, not always. This “little man” earns praise not only for himself, but for all those men and boys who put their lives on the line in the Revolutionary War.

By Joseph Plumb Martin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a new afterword by William Chad Stanley

Here a private in the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War narrates his adventures in the army of a newborn country.


Book cover of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

Ray Raphael Author Of Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

From my list on deepening your view of the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing my first of my ten books on the Founding Era, A People’s History of the American Revolution, I came across an amazing uprising not celebrated in the traditional saga of our nation’s birth: the people of Massachusetts, everywhere outside of Boston, actually cast off British authority in 1774, the year before Lexington and Concord. How could this critical episode have been so neglected? Who’s the gatekeeper here, anyway? That’s when I began to explore how events of those times morphed into stories, and how those stories mask what actually happened—the theme of Founding Myths.  

Ray's book list on deepening your view of the American Revolution

Ray Raphael Why did Ray love this book?

You might or might not have read about Alexander McGillivray, the controversial Creek diplomat, but how about Payamataha, Oliver Pollack, Petit Jean, Amand Broussard, or James Bruce? They were, respectively: Chickasaw leader who tried to keep his people out of the war; merchant and the Continental Congress’s agent in Louisiana; slave from Mobile who spied for Spain; Cajun militiaman seeking revenge against the British for deporting his people; member of His Majesty’s Council for West Florida. Weaving her narrative around this diverse cast and little-known cross-cultural encounters in the Gulf region, DuVal explores “the changing power dynamics of the entire continent, not just the thirteen British colonies that eventually rebelled.”

By Kathleen DuVal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A rising-star historian offers a significant new global perspective on the Revolutionary War with the story of the conflict as seen through the eyes of the outsiders of colonial society

Winner of the Journal of the American Revolution Book of the Year Award • Winner of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey History Prize • Finalist for the George Washington Book Prize

Over the last decade, award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal has revitalized the study of early America’s marginalized voices. Now, in Independence Lost, she recounts an untold story as rich and significant as that of…


Book cover of A People Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence

Jack N. Rakove Author Of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

From my list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a historian of the American Revolution back in the early 1970s and have been working on that subject ever since. Most of my writings pivot on national politics, the origins of the Constitution, and James Madison. But explaining why the Revolution occurred and why it took the course it did remain subjects that still fascinate me.

Jack's book list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it

Jack N. Rakove Why did Jack love this book?

This is a classic and provocative set of essays by an eminent historian who asked whether and in what ways the War for Independence resembled modern revolutionary wars. It led every serious historian of the Revolution to realize that the war was not simply a conflict between armies but a political struggle to secure the loyalty of the civilian population.

By John Shy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A People Numerous and Armed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Americans like to think of themselves as a peaceful and peace-loving people, and in remembering their own revolutionary past, American historians have long tended to focus on colonial origins and Constitutional aftermath, neglecting the fact that the American Revolution was a long, hard war. In this book, John Shy shifts the focus to the Revolutionary War and explores the ways in which the experience of that war was entangled with both the causes and the consequences of the Revolution itself. This is not a traditional military chronicle of battles and campaigns, but a series of essays that recapture the social,…


Book cover of This Glorious Cause: The Adventures of Two Company Officers in Washington's Army

Ray Raphael Author Of Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

From my list on deepening your view of the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing my first of my ten books on the Founding Era, A People’s History of the American Revolution, I came across an amazing uprising not celebrated in the traditional saga of our nation’s birth: the people of Massachusetts, everywhere outside of Boston, actually cast off British authority in 1774, the year before Lexington and Concord. How could this critical episode have been so neglected? Who’s the gatekeeper here, anyway? That’s when I began to explore how events of those times morphed into stories, and how those stories mask what actually happened—the theme of Founding Myths.  

Ray's book list on deepening your view of the American Revolution

Ray Raphael Why did Ray love this book?

What about wives left behind when their husbands marched off to war? This neglected gem showcases the letters between Joseph Hodgkins, a Minuteman who answered the Lexington Alarm, and his wife Sarah, at home with three small children. Joseph reenlists, not once but twice: “If we Due not Exarte our selves in this gloris. Cause our all is gon and we made slaves of for Ever.” But with each succeeding term, Sarah’s letters become more heart-wrenching: “You may think I am too free in expressing my mind. I look for you almost every day but I dont alow myself to depend on anything for I find there is nothing to be depended upon but troble and disapointments. I hope you will Let Some body else take your Place.” Can such a marriage survive? 

By Herbert Treadwell Wade, Robert A. Lively,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"As I am ingaged in this glories Cause I am will to go whare I am Called"-so Joseph Hodgkins, a shoemaker of Ipswich, Massachusetts, declared to his wife the purpose that sustained him through four crucial years of the American Revolution. Hodgkins and his fellow townsman Nathaniel Wade, a carpenter, turned out for the Lexington alarm, fought at Bunker Hill, retreated from Long Island past White Plains, attacked at Trenton and Princeton, and enjoyed triumph at Saratoga. One of them wintered at Valley Forge, and the other was promoted to command at West Point on the night that Benedict Arnold…


Book cover of The Italian Wars 1494-1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe

Sean McFate Author Of The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats

From my list on mercenaries from a former military contractor.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Sean McFate is an expert on international relations and a former military contractor. He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank, and a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Syracuse University's Maxwell School, and the National Defense University. He began his career as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. 

Sean's book list on mercenaries from a former military contractor

Sean McFate Why did Sean love this book?

What would a world awash in mercenaries look like? Like medieval northern Italy, which was the Afghanistan of its day. Back then, mercenaries were how you fought wars, and anyone who could swipe a check could wage war no matter how absurd or petty. Aristocrats, city-states, and popes routinely hired mercenaries. When I wrote The New Rules of War, I spent three months digging through the archives in Florence, Bologna, and other city-states to understand how the dynamics of private warfare worked. For those who want a feel of the times, try this rare book by famed historian Mallett. It was his last book, finished by Shaw after he died.

By Christine Shaw, Michael Mallett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Italian Wars 1494-1559 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Italian Wars 1494-1559 outlines the major impact that these wars had, not just on the history of Italy, but on the history of Europe as a whole. It provides the first detailed account of the entire course of the wars, covering all the campaigns and placing the military conflicts in their political, diplomatic, social and economic contexts.

Throughout the book, new developments in military tactics, the composition of armies, the balance between infantry and cavalry, and the use of firearms are described and analysed. How Italians of all sectors of society reacted to the wars and the inevitable political…


Book cover of The Howe Dynasty: The Untold Story of a Military Family and the Women Behind Britain's Wars for America

Don N. Hagist Author Of The Revolution's Last Men: The Soldiers Behind the Photographs

From my list on people in the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent years studying individual people involved in the American Revolution, especially the British soldiers and their wives. These were the people who did the day-to-day work, and their stories deserve to be told. I troll archival collections to find original documents that allow me to piece together the lives of the thousands of individuals who made up the regiments and battalions, focusing not on what they had in common, but on how they were different from each other, part of a military society but each with their own lives and experiences. They made the history happen.

Don's book list on people in the American Revolution

Don N. Hagist Why did Don love this book?

General William Howe was among the most important figures in the American Revolution, commanding British forces during the critical early years of the war.

Biographers have been challenged in understanding this man, largely because of a dearth of his own personal writings. Here, an author has taken the innovative approach of studying the writings of his sister, which reveal her own influential role in the conflict as well as shedding new light on the general, and on his brother Admiral Richard Howe.

The book is a stunning example of new research that brings an entirely new perspective to a family that played an outsized part in shaping the events of the era.

By Julie Flavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In December 1774, Benjamin Franklin met Caroline Howe, the sister of British Admiral Richard and General William Howe, in a London drawing room for "half a dozen Games of Chess". As Julie Flavell reveals, the games concealed a matter of the utmost diplomatic urgency, a last-ditch attempt to forestall the outbreak of war.

Aware that the Howes, both the men and the women, have seemed impenetrable to historians, Flavell investigated the letters of Caroline Howe, which have been overlooked for centuries. Using these revelatory documents, Flavell provides a compelling reinterpretation of England's famous family across four wars, centring on their…


Book cover of The Victory With No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army

Wayne E. Lee Author Of The Cutting-Off Way: Indigenous Warfare in Eastern North America, 1500-1800

From my list on war beyond the state.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been writing about and teaching military history for many years (I'm a professor at the University of North Carolina), mostly focused on the pre-industrial world, and mostly about the maelstrom of the North Atlantic colonial experience (including warfare in Ireland, England, and in North America). I quickly decided that I needed to do more to understand the Native American perspective, and that also meant understanding the very nature of their societies: Not just how they fought, but how they imagined the function of war. This book is the product of constantly returning to that problem, while also putting it into a world comparative context of other non-state experiences of war. 

Wayne's book list on war beyond the state

Wayne E. Lee Why did Wayne love this book?

Of all the books on my list, this is the one closest in subject to mine. 

Calloway tells the story of the first war fought by the United States after the American Revolution, but he tells it from the perspective of the Native coalition that fought it. It is a powerfully told story about how Native Americans understood the international politics in which they lived and then how they mustered the force to try to change those politics.

Unlike most writers on Native American warfare, Calloway understands logistics and how they shaped that war from both sides. This issue is also central to my book. 

Book cover of Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It

Jack N. Rakove Author Of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

From my list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a historian of the American Revolution back in the early 1970s and have been working on that subject ever since. Most of my writings pivot on national politics, the origins of the Constitution, and James Madison. But explaining why the Revolution occurred and why it took the course it did remain subjects that still fascinate me.

Jack's book list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it

Jack N. Rakove Why did Jack love this book?

Americans think of the Revolutionary War as a struggle for national liberation. But by 1778 it had become a broader conflict involving the three empires of western Europe. In this Pulitzer Prize Finalist book, Ferreiro restores the international dimensions of the conflict, deftly explaining how a conflict that began as a constitutional struggle within the British Empire escalated into a global war whose last battles would be fought in India.

By Larrie D. Ferreiro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize Finalist in History

Winner of the Journal of the American Revolution 2016 Book of the Year Award

The remarkable untold story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military assistance provided by France and Spain, and places the Revolution in the context of the global strategic interests of those nations in their fight against England. 
 
In this groundbreaking, revisionist history, Larrie Ferreiro shows that at the time the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord the colonists had little chance, if any, of militarily defeating the British. The nascent American nation had no navy, little…


Book cover of Oil, the State, and War: The Foreign Policies of Petrostates

Amy Myers Jaffe Author Of Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold

From my list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a business journalist writing about Arab finance and oil at a time when few women were in that industry. Rather improbably, perhaps, I became well-known for correctly predicting trends – geopolitical and geo-economical. In my thirties, I shifted to the academy, becoming a director of energy research at Rice University in Houston and subsequently a sought-after advisor to government, corporations, and financial institutions. I wrote my first paper on oil crises while in high school (winning third prize in a state term paper contest) and have never left the subject. Now more than ever, the public needs to understand the real facts behind oil and financial crises. 

Amy's book list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did Amy love this book?

There are many books that attempt to demonstrate a link between oil and war, and anyone who watches the news knows intuitively that such a link likely exists.

Ashford’s book lays out in brilliant detail how oil wealth is in some cases largely spent on military equipment (p. 74 to 81 covers Russia’s military modernization) and rightly asks the question if all this purchasing of armaments creates a “lubricant” to war. But she keeps open the option that the oil wealth-war connection is not destiny.

In closing chapters, she offers a few cases where oil states have chosen to use “soft power” and muses in the end that as oil’s days eclipse with the energy transition, the oil-war connection might similarly fade.  

By Emma Ashford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oil, the State, and War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive challenge to prevailing understanding of international implications of oil wealth that shows why it can create bad actors

In a world where oil-rich states are more likely to start war than their oil-dependent counterparts, it's surprising how little attention is still paid to these so-called petrostates. These states' wealth props up the global arms trade, provides diplomatic leverage, and allows them to support violent and nonviolent proxies. In Oil, the State, and War, Emma Ashford explores the many potential links between domestic oil production and foreign policy behavior and how oil production influences global politics.

Not all petrostates…


Book cover of Globalization and War

Gregory A. Daddis Author Of Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men's Adventure Magazines

From my list on war and society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the USS Midway Chair in Modern US Military History at San Diego State University. I’ve been teaching courses on the relationships between war and society for years and am fascinated not just by the causes and conduct of war, but, more importantly, by the costs of war. To me, Americans have a rather peculiar connection with war. In many ways, war has become an integral part of American conduct overseas—and our very identity. And yet we often don’t study it to question some of our basic assumptions about what war can do, what it means, and what the consequences are for wielding armed force so readily overseas.

Gregory's book list on war and society

Gregory A. Daddis Why did Gregory love this book?

Barkawi speaks of war as a form of “interconnection” among peoples and wisely reasons that we have to talk about war from a global perspective if we are truly to understand it. War may be an extension of politics, to quote a certain Prussian, but it’s also a social activity. And that activity has been globalized for far longer than many of us might think.

I really enjoy the way Barkawi weaves together a global story of war, culture, and identity. His case study on the Indian Army—he argues it was at “once a tool and an object of imperial control”—is superbly fascinating and highlights how localities can be affected by martial activities from faraway, distant places.

By Tarak Barkawi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

War doesn't just tear nations apart-it brings peoples and places closer together, providing a new lens on globalization. This book offers a fresh perspective on globalization and war, topics rarely considered together. It conceives war as a form of interconnection between home and abroad, and as an occasion for circulation and interchange. It identifies the political and military work required to create and maintain a free-trading world, while critiquing liberal and neoliberal conceptions of the pacific benefits of economic globalization. Speaking from the heart of old and new imperial orders, Tarak Barkawi exposes the Eurocentric limitations of military history and…


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