100 books like The Hemingses of Monticello

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Here are 100 books that The Hemingses of Monticello fans have personally recommended if you like The Hemingses of Monticello. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding

Alan Taylor Author Of American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850

From my list on the early United States.

Who am I?

Alan Taylor is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he holds the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair, he has published nine books, including William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic, and The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, both of which won the Pulitzer Prize for American history. In May, Norton will publish his tenth book, American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850.

Alan's book list on the early United States

Alan Taylor Why did Alan love this book?

David Hendrickson recovers the paradoxical origins of our nation in the contentious diversity of citizens who identified with their state rather than as Americans, and who dreaded those of other states as potential enemies. To avoid the bloodbaths of European-style wars in America, the founders framed a union of states meant to provide a framework for mutual peace. But they also generated a recurrent political struggle between those who feared the Union as too strong, as potential tyrannical, and those who wished to perfect that Union as a true nation.

By David C. Hendrickson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

That New England might invade Virginia is inconceivable today. But interstate rivalries and the possibility of intersectional war loomed large in the thinking of the Framers who convened in Philadelphia in 1787 to put on paper the ideas that would bind the federal union together. At the end of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin rejoiced that the document would "astonish our enemies, who are waiting to hear with confidence . . . that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats." Usually dismissed as hyperbole, this and similar…


Book cover of Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory

Alan Taylor Author Of American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850

From my list on the early United States.

Who am I?

Alan Taylor is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he holds the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair, he has published nine books, including William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic, and The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, both of which won the Pulitzer Prize for American history. In May, Norton will publish his tenth book, American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850.

Alan's book list on the early United States

Alan Taylor Why did Alan love this book?

With deep research and moral clarity, Saunt vividly narrates the American efforts to force Native peoples to forsake their homelands and accept reservations beyond the Mississippi River.  He uncovers the eloquence of Native leaders exposing the hypocrisy of Americans who broke the promises of repeated treaties. And Saunt offers a chilling accounting of the thousands of dead produced by violent dislocation from hearth and home. 

By Claudio Saunt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In May 1830, the United States launched an unprecedented campaign to expel 80,000 Native Americans from their eastern homelands to territories west of the Mississippi River. In a firestorm of fraud and violence, thousands of Native Americans lost their lives, and thousands more lost their farms and possessions. The operation soon devolved into an unofficial policy of extermination, enabled by US officials, southern planters, and northern speculators. Hailed for its searing insight, Unworthy Republic transforms our understanding of this pivotal period in American history.


Book cover of The Showman and the Slave: Race, Death, and Memory in Barnum's America

Alan Taylor Author Of American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850

From my list on the early United States.

Who am I?

Alan Taylor is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he holds the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair, he has published nine books, including William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic, and The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, both of which won the Pulitzer Prize for American history. In May, Norton will publish his tenth book, American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850.

Alan's book list on the early United States

Alan Taylor Why did Alan love this book?

Reiss tells the revealing story of Joice Heth, an enslaved woman presented by the showman P. T. Barnum as 161 years old and the childhood nanny of George Washington. Although less than half that age and unknown to Washington, Heth had survived a hard life in Kentucky by reinventing herself with inventive tales allegedly about the greatest American hero. By overtly asserting Heth’s reliability and anonymously casting it in doubt, Barnum appealed to the very American desire by people to test their own credulity by eyeing the controversy. When she died, Barnum reaped his biggest payday by charging admission for thousands to watch an autopsy that revealed that she was in her seventies. 

By Benjamin Reiss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this compelling story about one of the nineteenth century's most famous Americans, Benjamin Reiss uses P. T. Barnum's Joice Heth hoax to examine the contours of race relations in the antebellum North. Barnum's first exhibit as a showman, Heth was an elderly enslaved woman who was said to be the 161-year-old former nurse of the infant George Washington. Seizing upon the novelty, the newly emerging commercial press turned her act--and especially her death--into one of the first media spectacles in American history.

In piecing together the fragmentary and conflicting evidence of the event, Reiss paints a picture of people…


Book cover of A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico

Andrew Lipman Author Of The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast

From my list on the rise and fall of empires in North America.

Who am I?

I’m a born-and-bred New Englander and I teach history at Barnard College, Columbia University. I have always loved sailing and the ocean, so I’m fascinated with the early modern Age of Sail. My focus is the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic World, when the histories of the Americas, Europe, and Africa became permanently entangled. My first book, The Saltwater Frontier, won the Bancroft Prize in American History in 2016. My second book, The Life and Times of Squanto, is hitting bookshelves in Fall 2024. 

Andrew's book list on the rise and fall of empires in North America

Andrew Lipman Why did Andrew love this book?

This is a delightful, novelistic read on the U.S.-Mexico War.

When the United States invaded Mexico on thin pretenses in 1846, it resulted in a massive annexation of territory while, at the same, sparking a genuine anti-war protest movement. Amy Greenberg puts Henry Clay, James K. Polk, and Abraham Lincoln at the center of the story. Her book sheds new light on the origins of the Civil War and the evolution of American empire.

By Amy S. Greenberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Our 1846 war with Mexico was a blatant land grab provoked by President James Polk. And while it secured the entire Southwest and California for America, it also exacerbated regional tensions over slavery, created the first significant antiwar movement in America, and helped lead the nation into civil war. A Wicked War is the definitive history of this conflict that turned America into a continental power. Amy Greenberg describes the battles between American and Mexican armies, but also delineates the political battles between Democrats and Whigs—the former led by the ruthless Polk, the latter by the charismatic Henry Clay, and…


Book cover of The Minutemen and Their World

Kathleen DuVal Author Of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

From my list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers.

Who am I?

I’m a professional historian and life-long lover of early American history. My fascination with the American Revolution began during the bicentennial in 1976, when my family traveled across the country for celebrations in Williamsburg and Philadelphia. That history, though, seemed disconnected to the place I grew up—Arkansas—so when I went to graduate school in history, I researched in French and Spanish archives to learn about their eighteenth-century interactions with Arkansas’s Native nations, the Osages and Quapaws. Now I teach early American history and Native American history at UNC-Chapel Hill and have written several books on how Native American, European, and African people interacted across North America.

Kathleen's book list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers

Kathleen DuVal Why did Kathleen love this book?

I first read Minutemen and Their World in graduate school, and it shaped how I see the Revolution and history more generally—history is made by the decisions of ordinary people.

First published in 1976 and recently reissued, it focuses on the battles of Lexington and Concord, where the first shots of the Revolution were fired. Like Zabin’s Boston Massacre, it starts before the well-known events. The people of Concord were ordinary men and women with no intention to revolt against their empire. They were busy arguing about local matters such as whether to fire their preacher.

What I love about this book is how we see them gradually become revolutionaries, really against their will, humanizing the Revolution and helping us understand that it was not inevitable.

By Robert A. Gross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Bancroft Prize! The Minutemen and Their World, first published in 1976, is reissued now in a revised and expanded edition with a new preface and afterword by the author.

On April 19, 1775, the American Revolution began at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. The "shot heard round the world" catapulted this sleepy New England town into the midst of revolutionary fervor, and Concord went on to become the intellectual capital of the new republic. The town--future home to Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne--soon came to symbolize devotion to liberty, intellectual freedom, and the stubborn integrity of…


Book cover of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America

Carolyn Eastman Author Of The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity

From my list on the surprising world of the early American Republic.

Who am I?

I’d love to see more readers explore the surprising world of the early American republic beyond stories about presidents and the Founders—in part because that history can be so illuminating about our own world. Originally from California, I’m now a professor in the History Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the author of the prizewinning A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution. I’m now starting work on a new project on the yellow fever epidemics that struck New York City during the 1790s, a piece of which appeared in Smithsonian Magazine in March 2021 and the Intervals podcast produced by the Organization of American Historians.

Carolyn's book list on the surprising world of the early American Republic

Carolyn Eastman Why did Carolyn love this book?

This book tells an incredible story—not just of a same-sex marriage in the early 19th century, which would be remarkable enough, but also of the extent to which this couple was accepted by their community and family. Cleves found a motherlode of diaries and letters that document their lives together, their ability to earn a living during an era when most women relied on male breadwinners, their mutual love of reading and writing poetry, and the ways they sought to reconcile their love with their religious faith. I can’t emphasize enough how many times I paused to marvel at what Cleves had found in her research, and the care with which she reconstructed the lives of these two women who loved one another.

By R. A. Sinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Charity and Sylvia is the intimate history of two ordinary women who lived in an extraordinary same-sex marriage during the early nineteenth century. Based on diaries, letters, and poetry, among other original documents, the research traces the women's lives in sharp detail. Charity Bryant was born in 1777 to a consumptive mother who died a month later. Raised in Massachusetts, Charity developed into a brilliant and strong-willed woman with a passion for her
own sex. After being banished from her family home by her father at age twenty, she traveled throughout Massachusetts, working as a teacher, making intimate female friends,…


Book cover of The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862

Carolyn Eastman Author Of The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity

From my list on the surprising world of the early American Republic.

Who am I?

I’d love to see more readers explore the surprising world of the early American republic beyond stories about presidents and the Founders—in part because that history can be so illuminating about our own world. Originally from California, I’m now a professor in the History Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the author of the prizewinning A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution. I’m now starting work on a new project on the yellow fever epidemics that struck New York City during the 1790s, a piece of which appeared in Smithsonian Magazine in March 2021 and the Intervals podcast produced by the Organization of American Historians.

Carolyn's book list on the surprising world of the early American Republic

Carolyn Eastman Why did Carolyn love this book?

The Artificial River is so well-written, and features so many surprising and illuminating insights about early America, that I have assigned it many times in undergraduate classes. Sheriff speaks trenchantly about the concept of progress that inspired—and continues to inspire—so many of us. Yet by looking at how that concept played out over the course of the building of the Erie Canal, one of the most massive public works projects of the early Republic, she also shows the ways that Americans’ views of the common good were transformed. In a series of brilliantly executed chapters, Sheriff demonstrates the extent to which Americans’ embrace of market capitalism undermined their commitments to the good of all, and their willingness to accept that some of their fellow citizens would live in permanent poverty. It is a book that speaks as much to contemporary ideas about progress and self-determination as to those ideas in…

By Carol Sheriff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of the Eric Canal is the story of industrial and economic progress between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The Artificial River reveals the human dimension of the story of the Erie Canal. Carol Sheriff's extensive, innovative archival research shows the varied responses of ordinary people-farmers, businessmen, government officials, tourists, workers-to this major environmental, social, and cultural transformation in the early life of the Republic.

Winner of Best Manuscript Award from the New York State Historical Association

“The Artificial River is deeply researched, its arguments are both subtle and clear, and it is written with grace…


Book cover of The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Ninetenth-Century New York

Rebecca Frost Author Of Words of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

From my list on crimes you've never heard of.

Who am I?

I picked up my first book about Jack the Ripper the summer after college and never looked back. Since then my collection of true crime has grown to overflow my office bookshelves and I’ve written a PhD dissertation and multiple books about true crime, focusing on serial killers. The genre is so much more than Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer and I love talking with people about the less mainstream cases that interest them, and the newer victim-centered approaches that—fingers crossed—mark a change in how we talk about criminals and victims.

Rebecca's book list on crimes you've never heard of

Rebecca Frost Why did Rebecca love this book?

Helen Jewett was a sex worker living in New York in the 1830s. She worked in a brothel under a matron, which should have been a safe enough situation—she wasn’t out on the street, at least, and others knew when she had clients. Early one morning, however, others in the house wake up to realize there’s a fire in Helen’s room, and that she’s dead. Was it a murder committed by her last client, a man quickly identified as Richard Robinson, or was it a suicide? If she hadn’t died so brutally, we wouldn’t know Helen Jewett’s name, so she’s become another victim only known for her murder. Cohen reminds us that she’s more than just her death.

By Patricia Cline Cohen,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Murder of Helen Jewett as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1836, the murder of a young prostitute made headlines in New York City and around the country, inaugurating a sex-and-death sensationalism in news reporting that haunts us today. Patricia Cline Cohen goes behind these first lurid accounts to reconstruct the story of the mysterious victim, Helen Jewett.

From her beginnings as a servant girl in Maine, Helen Jewett refashioned herself, using four successive aliases, into a highly paid courtesan. She invented life stories for herself that helped her build a sympathetic clientele among New York City's elite, and she further captivated her customers through her seductive letters, which mixed…


Book cover of Doomsayers: Anglo-American Prophecy in the Age of Revolution

Carolyn Eastman Author Of The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity

From my list on the surprising world of the early American Republic.

Who am I?

I’d love to see more readers explore the surprising world of the early American republic beyond stories about presidents and the Founders—in part because that history can be so illuminating about our own world. Originally from California, I’m now a professor in the History Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the author of the prizewinning A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution. I’m now starting work on a new project on the yellow fever epidemics that struck New York City during the 1790s, a piece of which appeared in Smithsonian Magazine in March 2021 and the Intervals podcast produced by the Organization of American Historians.

Carolyn's book list on the surprising world of the early American Republic

Carolyn Eastman Why did Carolyn love this book?

We often think of the Age of Revolutions as linked to the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason and science. But as Juster demonstrates in this fascinating book, it was also an age of prophecy. If they were sometimes dismissed as crazy, hundreds of male and female prophets found significant followers during the 1790s and early 1800s—followers who saw in those prophetic visions inspired ways to live in and face the challenges of a growing democratic society. Even those of us who knew about some of the ecstatic religious practices of the Second Great Awakening found ourselves marveling at Juster’s recapturing of a world of visionaries during an Age of Reason. Ultimately, she inspires us to connect the emerging democratization of the early nineteenth century to the profusion of charismatic and sometimes unsettling religious leaders. A wonderful piece of scholarship that is also a dream to read.

By Susan Juster,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The age of revolution, in which kings were dethroned, radical ideals of human equality embraced, and new constitutions written, was also the age of prophecy. Neither an archaic remnant nor a novel practice, prophecy in the eighteenth century was rooted both in the primitive worldview of the Old Testament and in the vibrant intellectual environment of the philosophers and their political allies, the republicans. In Doomsayers: Anglo-American Prophecy in the Age of Revolution, Susan Juster examines the culture of prophecy in Great Britain and the United States from 1765 to 1815 side by side with the intellectual and political transformations…


Book cover of Jefferson's Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America

Cassandra Good Author Of First Family: George Washington's Heirs and the Making of America

From my list on the fascinating families of America’s founders.

Who am I?

As a child, I loved reading books about time travel, and now as a historian, I do a sort of time travel for my job. I have always been especially drawn to reading women’s correspondence, particularly when the women involved were pushing against gender roles and finding ways to access political power. I approach doing history as if it’s an ethnography of a group of people with entirely different beliefs, norms, and even emotions from us today; after all, the past is a foreign country. I’m especially intrigued by uncovering how personal relationships worked in the past and how relationships with political figures allowed family and friends to access power.

Cassandra's book list on the fascinating families of America’s founders

Cassandra Good Why did Cassandra love this book?

Kerrison brings careful scholarly research and even detective work to this fluidly-written story of Jefferson’s two white daughters, Martha and Maria Jefferson, and one Black daughter, Harriet Hemings. The book offers a more detailed chronicle of Martha and Maria, but Kerrison reveals for the reader her search for what happened to Harriet after she left Monticello and why that story ultimately remains a mystery.

By Catherine Kerrison,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jefferson's Daughters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The remarkable untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters—two white and free, one black and enslaved—and the divergent paths they forged in a newly independent America
 
FINALIST FOR THE GEORGE WASHINGTON PRIZE • “Beautifully written . . . To a nuanced study of Jefferson’s two white daughters, Martha and Maria, [Kerrison] innovatively adds a discussion of his only enslaved daughter, Harriet Hemings.”—The New York Times Book Review

Thomas Jefferson had three daughters: Martha and Maria by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson, and Harriet by his slave Sally Hemings. Although the three women shared a father, the similarities end there. Martha…


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