100 books like The Washingtons

By Flora Fraser,

Here are 100 books that The Washingtons fans have personally recommended if you like The Washingtons. 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 The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Annette Gordon-Reed’s book introduces readers to the enslaved family of a Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.

What I love about this book is that it upends the traditional picture of Jefferson while neither vilifying nor excusing him. It’s a full picture of a complicated man and the fascinating people who were part of his life. After all, the historian’s task is not to make heroes or villains but to show the full complexity of human beings.

At the center of the story is Sally Hemings, the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife and the mother of some of Jefferson’s children. The book also shows how a careful historian can interpret and evaluate different kinds of evidence, including documents, oral history, and DNA.

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Hemingses of Monticello as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This epic work-named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times-tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family's dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826.


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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…


Book cover of Abigail Adams: A Life

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Abigail Adams comes to life here in ways no previous books have captured: her wit, business acumen, and political power are woven together in a compelling story.

As the wife of one president and mother of another, Abigail’s power and influence are on full display, and defied gender norms. It’s hard not to come away from Holton’s book admiring the woman John Adams sometimes called “Presidante.”

By Woody Holton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this new, vivid, nuanced portrait, now in paperback, prize-winning historian Woody Holton uses original sources and letters for the first time in a sweeping reinterpretation of Adams's life story and of women's roles in the creation of the republic.

In this vivid new biography of Abigail Adams, the most illustrious woman of the founding era, Bancroft Award–winning historian Woody Holton offers a sweeping reinterpretation of Adams’s life story and of women’s roles in the creation of the republic.

Using previously overlooked documents from numerous archives, Abigail Adams shows that the wife of the second president of the United States…


Book cover of A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Allgor is an expert on women’s important role in building political society in the founding era, and in this compelling biography, she places Dolley Madison at the center of that story.

Indeed, Madison lived in the nation’s capital until 1849, giving her a decades-long career as a prominent figure in society and political operative. James Madison’s presidency was truly a partnership with his wife, as her charismatic sociability complemented his quiet, reserved demeanor. 

By Catherine Allgor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An extraordinary American comes to life in this vivid, groundbreaking portrait of the early days of the republic--and the birth of modern politics

When the roar of the Revolution had finally died down, a new generation of American politicians was summoned to the Potomac to assemble the nation's newly minted capital. Into that unsteady atmosphere, which would soon enough erupt into another conflict with Britain in 1812, Dolley Madison arrived, alongside her husband, James. Within a few years, she had mastered both the social and political intricacies of the city, and by her death in 1849 was the most celebrated…


Book cover of George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father

Talmage Boston Author Of Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts about Our Presidents

From my list on presidential biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the last eight years, I’ve conducted as many onstage interviews with leading presidential historians as anyone else in the country. To prepare for them, I read presidential biographies thoroughly and constantly. The fact that my work has been strongly endorsed by people in presidential history circles with the stature of Ken Burns, David McCullough, James Baker, Jon Meacham, and Douglas Brinkley should be a strong indication that my opinion about this subject matters.

Talmage's book list on presidential biographies

Talmage Boston Why did Talmage love this book?

This book delivers a full appreciation of Washington’s unique and unappreciated political skills which led to his being the unanimous choice for leading the American military during the Revolution, the Constitutional Convention, and two presidential terms. The author makes the Father of our Country come alive as a human being who was always a cut above his colleagues.

By David O. Stewart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating and illuminating account of how George Washington became the dominant force in the creation of the United States of America, from award-winning author David O. Stewart

“An outstanding biography . . . [George Washington] has a narrative drive such a life deserves.”—The Wall Street Journal

Washington's rise constitutes one of the greatest self-reinventions in history. In his mid-twenties, this third son of a modest Virginia planter had ruined his own military career thanks to an outrageous ego. But by his mid-forties, that headstrong, unwise young man had evolved into an unassailable leader chosen as the commander in chief…


Book cover of A Picture Book of John and Abigail Adams (Picture Book Biography)

Natasha Wing Author Of The Story of Eliza Hamilton: A Biography Book for New Readers

From my list on Founding Mothers and Fathers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love relearning history I learned way back in high school and looking at it with wiser eyes. I wanted to pay tribute to both the Founding Fathers and Mothers since it took quite a few brave, smart and determined people to figure out how the new nation of the United States of America would operate. After watching the musical, Hamilton, I was curious to discover more about some of the characters. That’s what’s so great about children’s books – they can be used to extend and deepen the learning process for kids and adults.

Natasha's book list on Founding Mothers and Fathers

Natasha Wing Why did Natasha love this book?

This story shows the relationship between John and Abigail and the role she played while he was serving as a diplomat in Europe for ten years. She managed the home and money, and lobbied for equal education for both men and women. What I enjoyed was learning more about the events that led up to the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre was started by snowballs! This book was published in 2010, back when picture books were wordier. But wordier is not always bad, especially when the reader can learn more versus glossing over historic events for the sake of spare text. 

By David A. Adler, Michael S. Adler, Ronald Himler (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Picture Book of John and Abigail Adams (Picture Book Biography) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

John Adams was an American patriot and Founding Father, and Abigail, his wife, was his most trusted adviser for more than fifty years. While John served in both Continental Congresses, Abigail managed their farm within earshot of cannon fire. She later advised her husband through amusing letters as he served as our first ambassador to Great Britain. And when John was elected America's first vice president and our second president, Abigail vowed to be his "fellow Laborer"--and she steadfastly lived up to her promise.


Book cover of Action Presidents: George Washington!

Steve Metzger Author Of The Bumble Brothers: Crazy for Comics!

From my list on graphic reads for reluctant readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a classroom teacher for 15 years who transitioned to writing children’s books. Starting with picture books, I now write graphic novels. My target audience is 2nd-5th graders and they really get my wacky sense of humor. My passion for silly comedy, from Abbott and Costello to the Marx Brothers, started at an early age and infuses my mission to help reluctant readers become enthusiastic and proficient readers. I feel strongly about this goal because I was once a reluctant reader and I can appreciate what these kids might be going through.

Steve's book list on graphic reads for reluctant readers

Steve Metzger Why did Steve love this book?

Do you remember when learning about American history was mostly dry and boring?

I do…but that’s not the case anymore. This fact-based graphic-novel series of biographies make Washington and other Presidents come alive with wacky, slapstick humor that’s just right for middle-grade kids!

The true events of George Washington’s tumultuous and heroic life – from birth to death – are hilariously presented in jump-off-the-page illustrations and told through irreverent dialogue and silly jokes. All the big battles are here, but there’s no list of endless names and dates.

The father of our country was admirable and flawed, after all he was a slaveholder, but learning about him has never been more interesting.

By Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Action Presidents 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?

"A delightful, educational spin on history-and plenty of jokes," said School Library Journal.

"Sheer joy," praised Booklist in a starred review.

Finalist for the 2019 Excellence in Graphic Literature Award in Middle Grade Nonfiction

U.S. history comes to life like never before in this full-color graphic novel! We all know that George Washington was our first President and a hero of the American Revolution. But did you also know that he didn't want to be president, never thought he would fight in a war, and had teeth so bad that he hated to smile?

Wimpy Kid meets the Who Was...…


Book cover of Valiant Ambition

Alexis Coe Author Of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

From my list on George Washington.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alexis Coe is a presidential historian and the New York Times bestselling author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington, which was also Audible’s best history book of 2020 and Barnes and Nobel's nonfiction Book of the Month. She was a producer and appeared in Doris Kearns Goodwin's Washington series on the History Channel.

Alexis' book list on George Washington

Alexis Coe Why did Alexis love this book?

Nathaniel Philbrick produces what we call “Dad History,” but despite that, I find this book on George Washington and Benedict Arnold’s relationship to be the most exciting out there. You’ll be surprised at how much they had in common, but their differences matter most.

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the George Washington Prize

A surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold, from the New York Times bestselling author of In The Heart of the Sea, Mayflower, and In the Hurricane's Eye.

"May be one of the greatest what-if books of the age-a volume that turns one of America's best-known narratives on its head."-Boston Globe

"Clear and insightful, [Valiant Ambition] consolidates Philbrick's reputation as one of America's foremost practitioners of narrative nonfiction."-Wall Street Journal

In the second book of his…


Book cover of Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution

Beth Anderson Author Of Cloaked in Courage: Uncovering Deborah Sampson, Patriot Soldier

From my list on children’s stories on the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an educator, I’ve experienced the power of true stories to engage readers, widen their world, spur thinking, and support content areas. I’ve learned plenty from these books, too! As an author, I’m fascinated with many aspects of the American Revolution that I never learned about as a student. Researching this time period has revealed much more than men at war. The revolution affected every aspect of life—a “world turned upside-down.” Today, we’re fortunate to have a range of stories that help kids understand that history is about people much like them facing the challenges of their time and place. 

Beth's book list on children’s stories on the American Revolution

Beth Anderson Why did Beth love this book?

A gingerbread baker had a role in the American Revolution? I had to know more!

I love stories of people behind the scenes, everyday people like us, so often overlooked. These stories let us know that we’re all a part of history. In this book, a German immigrant uses his baking talents to support George Washington’s troops.

Recently, I’ve learned with my research for an upcoming book about how difficult it was to supply the Continental Army with food. Starving soldiers had to go out and forage for food—one of the many everyday struggles of the time that brings history home. I also love that it’s a story of generosity. Rockliff’s lively books never fail to engage me as a reader. 

By Mara Rockliff, Vincent X Kirsch (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gingerbread for Liberty! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christopher Ludwick was a German-born American patriot with a big heart and a talent for baking. When cries of “Revolution!” began, Christopher was determined to help General George Washington and his hungry troops. Not with muskets or cannons, but with gingerbread!     Cheerfully told by Mara Rockliff and brought to life by Vincent Kirsch’s inventive cut-paper illustrations, Gingerbread for Liberty is the story of an unsung hero of the Revolutionary War who changed the course of history one loaf at a time.


Book cover of Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution

Clark Rich Burbidge Author Of StarPassage: Book One: The Relic

From my list on allowing characters to find their greatness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an unextraordinary individual with an ordinary skill set including strengths and weaknesses. Yet, my life experiences have caused me to reach deep inside and find my own greatness to face seemingly impossible obstacles in my path. My writing reflects this hopeful overcoming and undaunted spirit. I have learned that heroes only exist because they must face daunting villains. Such villains can arise from other individuals, outside forces, life circumstances, and even from within ourselves. Yet, I have learned that villains are not a threat to destroy us, they are in fact the vehicles by which we become heroes in our own story. There are no heroes without villains.

Clark's book list on allowing characters to find their greatness

Clark Rich Burbidge Why did Clark love this book?

George Washington was given the opportunity to become King of America as it struggled mightily following the Revolution.

I am inspired by his selflessness after giving every ounce of his spiritual, emotional, and physical might to the cause. He turned it down in perhaps the single most powerful speech in America’s history. His power and influence over this young nation was set aside in an example that resonates still today.

I love how his story of courage against impossible odds and his steadfast confidence in the support of providence allowed the birth of something unique and wonderful. Thomas Jefferson attributed the “…moderation and virtue of a single individual…” to the survival of the cause of freedom in America. 

By Benson Bobrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Angel in the Whirlwind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Grounded in the latest research, this comprehensive volume explores the frequently overlooked fact that, despite charismatic leadership and eventual success, the revolutionary movement never garnered the support of more than half the American colonists. 30,000 first printing.


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