The best American Revolution books

Who picked these books? Meet our 125 experts.

125 authors created a book list connected to the American Revolution, and here are their favorite American Revolution books.
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The Age of Federalism

By Stanley Elkins, Eric McKitrick,

Book cover of The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788 - 1800

Jeanne and David Heidler Author Of Henry Clay: The Essential American

From the list on the USA in its formative years (1789-1845).

Who are we?

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)

Discover why each book is one of Jeanne's favorite books.

Why did Jeanne love this book?

Exhaustively researched, this books illuminates the brief time in early U.S. history when Federalism dominated American politics. It remains the standard source on the Federalists’ political philosophy, the understanding of which is crucial to comprehending everything political that follows it.

The Age of Federalism

By Stanley Elkins, Eric McKitrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


Daniel Boone

By John Mack Faragher,

Book cover of Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer

Robert Ray Morgan Author Of Boone: A Biography

From the list on the world of Daniel Boone.

Who am I?

I have always had an interest in the American frontier and the Native peoples. But while researching the novel Brave Enemies and Boone: A Biography I spent years studying and visiting places where the stories occur, and using archives and libraries. However, the most important consideration is storytelling, rewarding the reader with a good story.

Robert's book list on the world of Daniel Boone

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

With his expertise about frontier life, Faragher brought Boone's studies to a new level. Making use of the Draper Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society, he created a portrait of Boone in his times that all future biographers will need to refer to.

Daniel Boone

By John Mack Faragher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History for 1993

In the first and most reliable biography of Daniel Boone in more than fifty years, award-winning historian Faragher brilliantly portrays America's famous frontier hero. Drawing from popular narrative, the public record, scraps of documentation from Boone's own hand, and a treasure of reminiscence gathered by nineteenth-century antiquarians, Faragher uses the methods of new social history to create a portrait of the man and the times he helped shape. Blending themes from a much vitalized Western and frontier history with the words and ideas of ordinary people, Faragher has…


Book cover of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Richard Munson Author Of Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

From the list on inventors.

Who am I?

I’ve long been fascinated by innovators. In my day jobs, I’ve helped launch a clean-energy startup as well as helped write legislation to promote environmental entrepreneurs. In addition to Nikola Tesla, I’ve written biographies of Jacques Cousteau (inventor of the Aqua Lung and master of undersea filming) and George Fabyan (pioneer of modern cryptography and acoustics), as well as a history of electricity (From Edison to Enron) and profiles of food and farm modernizers (Tech to Table: 25 Innovators Reimagining Food). I love reading about ingenious and industrious individuals becoming inspired and achieving their dreams. 

Richard's book list on inventors

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

When I think of Benjamin Franklin, I picture the chubby founding father pictured on a hundred-dollar bill or the crazy kite-flyer amid a thunderstorm. Yet this polymath’s witty and engaging memoir surprised me with the breadth of his science, including basic insights into electricity, heat, ocean currents, and molecules. How can you not like this curious and industrious innovator who also protected us from lightning and cold?

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Benjamin Franklin's account of his rise from poverty and obscurity to affluence and fame is a self-portrait of a quintessential American which has charmed every generation of readers since it first appeared in 1791. Begun as a collection of anecdotes for his son, the memoir grew into a history of his remarkable achievements in the literary, scientific and political realms. A printer, inventor, scientist, diplomat and statesman, Franklin was also a brilliant writer whose wit and wisdom shine on every page.
Franklin was a remarkably prolific author, well known in his lifetime for his humorous, philosophical, parodic and satirical writings,…


Book cover of A History of the American Revolution

Joel Richard Paul Author Of Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times

From the list on the American Revolution from an American historian.

Who am I?

I am an American historian and author of Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution and Without Precedent: Chief Justice Marshall and His Times. I teach constitutional law and history at the University of California Hastings Law School, where I am the Albert Abramson Professor. I have a new book on American history from the War of 1812 to the Civil War coming out in 2022.

Joel's book list on the American Revolution from an American historian

Discover why each book is one of Joel's favorite books.

Why did Joel love this book?

If you want to read one comprehensive history of the Revolutionary War from start to finish, this is the book you should read. Alden has packed in all the important events and personalities from the French and Indian War through George Washington’s inauguration. It is the best, most richly detailed source I know for the remarkable story of how thirteen colonies defeated the world’s most powerful military and achieved something unprecedented  – an independent democratic republic.

A History of the American Revolution

By John R. Alden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A History of the American Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of the American rebellion against England, written by one of America's preeminent eighteenth-century historians, differs from many views of the Revolution. It is not coloured by excessive worship of the Founding Fathers but, instead, permeated by sympathy for all those involved in the conflict. Alden has taken advantage of recent scholarship that has altered opinions about George III and Lord North. But most of all this is a balanced history,political, military, social, constitutional,of the thirteen colonies from the French and Indian War in 1763 to Washington's inauguration in 1789. Whether dealing with legendary figures like Adams and Jefferson…


The First American Army

By Bruce Chadwick,

Book cover of The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom

Dean Snow Author Of 1777: Tipping Point at Saratoga

From the list on the 1777 Saratoga campaign.

Who am I?

I am an archaeologist and ethnohistorian who has carried out major projects in American Indian and Revolutionary War archaeology and history. I have taught at three universities over the course of more than five decades and have authored or edited 17 books.

Dean's book list on the 1777 Saratoga campaign

Discover why each book is one of Dean's favorite books.

Why did Dean love this book?

The new national Congress of the United States had to invent both a government and a military to defend it on the fly in 1776. Militias had been around for decades, encouraged and supported to varying degrees by colonial, later state, governments. Before and after the creation of a regular “Continental” army, militia units were chartered by the thirteen states. The soon-to-be self-declared fourteenth state of Vermont also had militia regiments, and these also played important roles at Saratoga.

Some members of Congress thought that the creation of a regular army was dangerous and unnecessary, but Washington and his supporters prevailed, and the Continental Army was founded. Chadwick’s book is important not just for the story of the first American army, but for the individual stories of the soldiers who served in it.

The First American Army

By Bruce Chadwick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first book that offers a you-are-there look at the American Revolution through the eyes of the enlisted men. Through searing portraits of individual soldiers, Bruce Chadwick, author of George Washington's War, brings alive what it was like to serve then in the American army.


With interlocking stories of ordinary Americans, he evokes what it meant to face brutal winters, starvation, terrible homesickness and to go into battle against the much-vaunted British regulars and their deadly Hessian mercenaries.


The reader lives through the experiences of those terrible and heroic times when a fifteen-year-old fifer survived the Battle of…


Action Presidents

By Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey (illustrator),

Book cover of Action Presidents: George Washington!

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

From the list on graphic reads for reluctant readers.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Steve's favorite books.

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.

Action Presidents

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.

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...…


My Brother Sam Is Dead

By James Lincoln Collier, Christopher Collier,

Book cover of My Brother Sam Is Dead

Jeffery McKenna Author Of Saving Dr. Warren... "A True Patriot"

From the list on for young adults on the American Revolution.

Who am I?

I have loved American history all my life. I thought I knew the events and key figures in the American Revolution. Then, in 2001, I learned about Dr. Joseph Warren. The more I learned, the more I wanted to tell his story. I travelled to Boston. I walked the Freedom Trail. I followed the red bricks that wind through historic Boston until they end at Bunker Hill. I saw the marble statue of Dr. Warren at Bunker Hill honoring his death. His influence and footprints are on every location along the Freedom Trail. My passion is to tell his story; my hope is that all Americans can remember his sacrifice.

Jeffery's book list on for young adults on the American Revolution

Discover why each book is one of Jeffery's favorite books.

Why did Jeffery love this book?

I’ve included the Colliers’ classic because it was one of the first historical fiction novels that I ever read.  Over forty years later, I can still remember the magic. Upon reading the first page, I was transported instantly from my desert home in Las Vegas to a Tory tavern in Redding, Connecticut. The enchantment in the pages worked a magic over me that I never forgot  In some ways, this led me to write my own historical fiction novel. The title is simple – My Brother Sam is Dead. The meaning, the message, and the Meeker Family’s pain profound. You will not soon forget the Meeker family’s terrible misfortunes and the unimaginable unfairness of war. In the end, you will question all wars... even our very war for independence.  

My Brother Sam Is Dead

By James Lincoln Collier, Christopher Collier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Brother Sam Is Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Sam Meeker leaves his home in Redding, Connecticut, a town loyal to the king, to fight with the rebel army, he places his family in a very difficult position.


The Next American Revolution

By Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige,

Book cover of The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

Drew Philp Author Of A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City

From the list on why Detroit is the most interesting city in the US.

Who am I?

I’ve lived in Detroit for nearly 15 years, where I built my house with my own two hands out of the shell of one I purchased for $500. A longtime journalist, I grew up in a small town in the countryside of Michigan. When I moved to Detroit after college people told me I was throwing my life away, but I looked at it as a moral decision, as “staying home” when it seemed like most other people were leaving. I’m glad I did—it offered me a look into a world more strange and beautiful than I could have imagined, potentially even a vision into a brave new future. I hope this world comes across in A $500 House in Detroit, and I hope we can make it last. 

Drew's book list on why Detroit is the most interesting city in the US

Discover why each book is one of Drew's favorite books.

Why did Drew love this book?

This book looks toward the future. A friend, leader, and hero to many in Detroit including myself, Grace Lee Boggs is one of the most important philosophers of the 20th and 21st centuries. However, this book is far from the stuffy philosophy you might remember from PHYL 101. Rather, it’s a road map to a better, brighter future, and a new way to live.

A resident of Detroit for almost 80 years, Boggs once wrote, “The most radical thing I ever did was to stay put.” Her thinking and activism underlie almost anything truly transformational happening in Detroit today, and this book will leave you with more hope than a dog looking at the thanksgiving dinner table.

The Next American Revolution

By Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis - political, economical, and environmental - and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century's major social movements - for civil rights, women's rights, workers' rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and…


American Honor

By Craig Bruce Smith,

Book cover of American Honor: The Creation of the Nation's Ideals during the Revolutionary Era

David Head Author Of A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution

From the list on what made American Revolution soldiers tick.

Who am I?

I’m a historian who loves watching the Founding Fathers do not-so-Founding-Fatherish things, like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson bonding over how awful Alexander Hamilton was, James Madison reporting how the king of Spain liked to relieve himself daily by the same oak tree, and George Washington losing his temper, asking his cousin to look for the teeth he just knew he’d left in his desk drawer, or spinning out a conspiracy theory. It’s details like this that reveal that even the most revealed figures were real people, like us but often very different. Figuring out how it all makes sense is a challenge I enjoy. 

David's book list on what made American Revolution soldiers tick

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Mention “honor” in an 18th-century context, and most people think of dueling. Honor was about dueling, but it was also about much more. As Smith shows, a sense of honored suffused the 18th-century world. Different understandings of what honor meant helped propel the separation between Britain and its colonies. Smith takes the Founders' ideals seriously. Though they often fell short, knowing what they aimed for provides key insight into the mental universe they inhabited—and the legacy the left the new nation.

American Honor

By Craig Bruce Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The American Revolution was not only a revolution for liberty and freedom, it was also a revolution of ethics, reshaping what colonial Americans understood as "honor" and "virtue." As Craig Bruce Smith demonstrates, these concepts were crucial aspects of Revolutionary Americans' ideological break from Europe and shared by all ranks of society. Focusing his study primarily on prominent Americans who came of age before and during the Revolution - notably John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington - Smith shows how a colonial ethical transformation caused and became inseparable from the American Revolution, creating an ethical ideology that…


The Lost State of Franklin

By Kevin T. Barksdale,

Book cover of The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession

Lori Benton Author Of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

From the list on the Lost State of Franklin.

Who am I?

Lori Benton is an award-winning, multi-published author of historical novels set during 18th century North America. Her literary passion is bringing little-known historical events to life through the eyes of those who lived it, particularly those set along the Appalachian frontier, where European and Native American cultural and world views collided. Her second published historical novel, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, is set against the backdrop of the State of Franklin conflict, in which a young woman and a frontiersman flee across the mountains of North Carolina to keep her free of an unwanted marriage, just as tensions over who is destined to govern the Overmountain settlers erupts into violence.

Lori's book list on the Lost State of Franklin

Discover why each book is one of Lori's favorite books.

Why did Lori love this book?

It’s been a decade since I wrote my novel that featured as a backdrop the conflict over North Carolina’s western (Overmountain) counties’ attempt to form the controversial State of Franklin, but I remember how helpful Barksdale’s book was in forming my understanding of the era, the place, and the people involved. If I didn’t, the copious highlights and notes I left in my copy of this book would be enough to jog my memory. This book was highly readable and rich in detail.

The Lost State of Franklin

By Kevin T. Barksdale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Amid the economic turmoil, Native American warfare, and political unrest following the Revolutionary War, the leadership of the Tennessee Valley declared their region independent from North Carolina and formed the state of Franklin. In The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession, Kevin T. Barksdale chronicles the rise and fall of the ill-fated Franklin statehood movement. Barksdale describes the dramatic four years in which the Franklinites crafted a backcountry bureaucracy, expanded their regional market economy, and nearly eradicated the southwestern frontier's Native American population, all with the goal of becoming America's fourteenth state. Although the Franklin statehood movement collapsed in…


The Cause

By Joseph J. Ellis,

Book cover of The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents, 1773-1783

Thomas Dresser Author Of Hidden History of Martha's Vineyard

From the list on defining a place both quirky and unique.

Who am I?

I’m a washashore who’s lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 25 years. I’ve worked small businesses, drove school and tour buses, volunteered, toured and given walking tours. I know the Island. In my writing I’ve focused my love of American history on the backstory of Martha’s Vineyard. Hence my books comprise a wealth of research and information on each topic. I love what I do. And I like to think it shows.

Thomas' book list on defining a place both quirky and unique

Discover why each book is one of Thomas' favorite books.

Why did Thomas love this book?

Ellis has done his research for The Cause on both sides of the Atlantic. He presents his perspective on what happened during the Revolution and how close we came to defeat before we even got started.

I’m devoted to accurate research in all my books. The point of non-fiction, as Ellis demonstrates, is to report the facts and assess the results, without emotional or personal perspective.

This tome was a joy to read.  

I learned a great deal from The Cause.

My book on the American Revolution was published prior to The Cause, which made it so intriguing for me to read. 

The Cause

By Joseph J. Ellis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

George Washington claimed that anyone who attempted to provide an accurate account of the war for independence would be accused of writing fiction. At the time, no one called it the "American Revolution": former colonists still regarded themselves as Virginians or Pennsylvanians, not Americans, while John Adams insisted that the British were the real revolutionaries, for attempting to impose radical change without their colonists' consent.

With The Cause, Ellis takes a fresh look at the events between 1773 and 1783, recovering a war more brutal than any in American history save the Civil War and discovering a strange breed of…


King George

By Steve Sheinkin, Tim Robinson (illustrator),

Book cover of King George: What Was His Problem?

Kim Zachman Author Of There's No Ham in Hamburgers: Facts and Folklore about Our Favorite Foods

From the list on children's stories for laughing while learning.

Who am I?

I used to be a freelance writer for magazines, but my secret passion was kids’ lit. When I decided to become a children’s author, I wanted to write nonfiction that was fun to read, not the dull, boring books I remembered from my childhood. When I discovered the first three books on my list, I was inspired to free up my funny bone and write to delight. The second two books also showcase innovative formats and humorous writing styles. Reading nonfiction doesn’t have to be a chore. These books will have children laughing while they learn. 

Kim's book list on children's stories for laughing while learning

Discover why each book is one of Kim's favorite books.

Why did Kim love this book?

Steve Sheinkin has added all the juicy details that textbooks normally leave out. We learn that Sam Adams was a slob, John Adams was a bore, and Benjamin Franklin liked to party with the French. How this bunch of disgruntled Americans was able to pull off one of the greatest revolutions the world has ever seen is almost a miracle. Middle school kids will love the snarky tone that makes this nonfiction book as much fun as a reality tv show. 

King George

By Steve Sheinkin, Tim Robinson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Honor recipient Steve Sheinkin gives young readers an American history lesson they'll never forget in the fun and funny King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution, featuring illustrations by Tim Robinson.

A Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year
A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

What do the most famous traitor in history, hundreds of naked soldiers, and a salmon lunch have in common? They’re all part of the amazing story of the American Revolution.

Entire books have…


Simon Girty

By Phillip W. Hoffman,

Book cover of Simon Girty: Turncoat Hero

Gavin K. Watt Author Of Treaties and Treacheries - The Early Years of the Revolutionary War on America's Western Frontiers, 1775-1778

From the list on Canada’s role in the American Revolution.

Who am I?

I grew up during the Second World War and had many relatives serving in Canada’s Armed Forces. I developed a deep interest in the military, which my High School history teacher – a veteran himself – encouraged. I made a zillion models of soldiers, aircraft, vessels, and tanks; then, when I reached the proper age, I began collecting military firearms. Long story short, I eventually took up military reenacting, and because the American bicentennial was imminent, I chose to recreate a United Empire Loyalist regiment, which had fought from Canadian bases. Our enthusiastic, very competitive group of men and women grew to be one of the largest and best drilled in the hobby.

Gavin's book list on Canada’s role in the American Revolution

Discover why each book is one of Gavin's favorite books.

Why did Gavin love this book?

This superb book provides deep insights into the relationship between Indigenous peoples and encroaching European settlers and convincingly emphasizes that the striving of land developers, such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Patrick Henry, was a major cause of the American rebellion. He describes in detail the Native societies, their customs, interactions, and political alliances. The early chapters provide accounts of settlers of both sexes who were captured, adopted, nurtured, and trained by the Natives. In the case of the Girty brothers, their seizures led to their wartime careers as accomplished, multi-lingual interpreters and as fighting partisans in the British Indian Department. In addition to an amazing array of Native tribes, two companies of Butler’s Rangers operated out of Detroit assisted by the Girtys. 

Simon Girty

By Phillip W. Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Simon Girty Turncoat Hero: The Most Hated Man on the Early American Frontier by Phillip W. Hoffman

The subject of this panoramic biography is one of the most mysterious, misunderstood icons of early American history. Simon Girty was a sharp-witted, rascally, many-tongued frontiersman whose epic adventures span the French and Indian War, Dunmore's War, the American War for Independence, the Indian Wars, and the War of 1812.

After defecting from the Patriot cause to serve the British in March 1778, Girty achieved instant infamy. To understand his motivation one must discover, as he did, that the real, underlying cause of…


Friends Divided

By Gordon S. Wood,

Book cover of Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

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

From the list on American founders from a political theorist.

Who am I?

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

Dennis' book list on American founders from a political theorist

Discover why each book is one of Dennis' favorite books.

Why did Dennis love this book?

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

Friends Divided

By Gordon S. Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017

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

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


The Sherwood Ring

By Elizabeth Marie Pope,

Book cover of The Sherwood Ring

Frances M. Wood Author Of Daughter of Madrugada

From the list on bringing American history alive for middle graders.

Who am I?

A reader. A librarian. A writer. I majored in History/English in college, partly because I love historical novels. When my editor asked that my second book be set during the California Gold Rush, I knew I wanted to write from the Mexican point of view - I’m a quarter Mexican. I soon found myself deep in research, learning about those years when Mexico owned what is now the American Southwest. Writing Daughter of Madrugada left me wondering: were some of my own ancestors displaced by American encroachment?

Frances' book list on bringing American history alive for middle graders

Discover why each book is one of Frances' favorite books.

Why did Frances love this book?

I loved this book when I was young. It’s an account of the American Revolution, as told to an orphaned young woman by four friendly ghosts. Don’t expect guts, gore, or death - but rather clever captures and near-captures, the solving of a mystery, and a bit of romancing across enemy lines.

The Sherwood Ring

By Elizabeth Marie Pope,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family’s ancestral estate. Her eccentric uncle Enos drives away her only new acquaintance, Pat, a handsome British scholar, then leaves Peggy to fend for herself. But she is not alone. The house is full of mysteries—and ghosts. Soon Peggy becomes involved with the spirits of her own Colonial ancestors and witnesses the unfolding of a centuries-old romance against a backdrop of spies and intrigue and of battles plotted and foiled. History has never been so exciting—especially because the ghosts are leading Peggy to a romance of her…


George Washington

By Kevin J. Hayes,

Book cover of George Washington: A Life in Books

John Koopman III Author Of George Washington at War - 1776

From the list on a fresh look into the past.

Who am I?

I have been interested in history and in particular military history for my entire life. Since 2006 I have been a George Washington interpreter. I portray the great man in first person live presentations and in documentary film. I have devoted a great deal of time in study of him. As a result of my studies of Washington, I felt compelled to write a book about him. I wanted to capture aspects of him not covered in most books or in film. Four of the books I reviewed involve George Washington.

John's book list on a fresh look into the past

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

In Kevin J. Hayes's book, we learn what Washington's reading habits were. For instance, it is known that he read the classic Gulliver’s Travels. How could that be known you might ask? Hayes got access to the original books in Washington’s library. He found a pattern. Looking through the books page by page he found editorial marks and corrections. Washington was a natural editor. Looking through Gulliver’s Travels Hayes found the tell-tale editorial marks, therefor he knew Washington had read it.

It is known from Washington’s writings that he owned many military textbooks. During the Revolution he asked the man managing Mount Vernon to inventory the books in the library. None of the military books were listed, therefor Washington traveled with them in the campaign.

Not surprisingly there are many books on agriculture. But one of the things I found of interest was that his favorite type of leisure…

George Washington

By Kevin J. Hayes,

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?

When it comes to the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton are generally considered the great minds of early America. George Washington, instead, is toasted with accolades regarding his solid common sense and strength in battle. Indeed, John Adams once snobbishly dismissed him as "too illiterate, unlearned, unread for his station and reputation." Yet Adams, as well as the majority of the men who knew Washington in his life,
were unaware of his singular devotion to self-improvement.

Based on a comprehensive amount of research at the Library of Congress, the collections at Mount Vernon, and rare book…


Book cover of The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution: The Journal and Other Writings of Charles Woodmason, Anglican Itinerant

Ida Flowers Author Of Jessie's Passion

From the list on everyday life in the Southern colonies.

Who am I?

Ever since I started reading the Little House series at the age of ten, I’ve been in love with women’s history. In college I had the opportunity to write a paper on the topic of my choice and I chose women of the American colonial period. I found that while our daily life is now very different, our feelings as women are much the same. The more primary sources I discovered, the more I could feel the fears, sorrows, and joys of the determined women who came before us, unwittingly creating records of their experiences in their correspondence and journals as they built homes and businesses from the raw, wild land.

Ida's book list on everyday life in the Southern colonies

Discover why each book is one of Ida's favorite books.

Why did Ida love this book?

Charles Woodmason was an Anglican preacher sent in 1766 by the church to minister to the inhabitants of the South Carolina Backcountry. Through his journal entries I feel “Roads hot and Sandy—and Weather excessive Sultry,” and “Night frozen with the Cold,” and hunger, with nothing to eat but “Indian Corn Bread” and water. I see people who “Live in Logg Cabbins like Hogs” with “Behavior as rude or more so than Savages” and children running half-naked in the cold. Woodmason’s journals, sermons, and letters provide rich and raw details of life in South Carolina before the American Revolution in the way only first-hand accounts can impart. 

The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution

By Charles Woodmason,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In what is probably the fullest and most vivid extant account of the American Colonial frontier, The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution gives shape to the daily life, thoughts, hopes, and fears of the frontier people. It is set forth by one of the most extraordinary men who ever sought out the wilderness--Charles Woodmason, an Anglican minister whose moral earnestness and savage indignation, combined with a vehement style, make him worthy of comparison with Swift. The book consists of his journal, selections from the sermons he preached to his Backcountry congregations, and the letters he wrote to…


My Name Is Resolute

By Nancy E. Turner,

Book cover of My Name Is Resolute

Rose Osterman Kleidon Author Of 1836: Year of Escape

From the list on immigration in the 1800s.

Who am I?

By chance, I was entrusted with rare historical documents about the immigrant generations in our family, which inspired this novel and grounded it in reality. Who wouldn’t wonder why they came? Besides, I have always been fascinated by pre-modern times and how steam power changed everything and dragged us along, kicking and screaming. And, even though they arrived in America in 1836, I grew up on the farm where they lived, so I heard tales of their amazing journey. It may be 186 years on, but it’s time to tell their story, which, it turns out, is a story for us all.  

Rose's book list on immigration in the 1800s

Discover why each book is one of Rose's favorite books.

Why did Rose love this book?

In My Name Is Resolute, the main character, Resolute Talbot, is not an immigrant, but she is on the move, captured in Jamaica as a child in 1729 and taken by ship to New England to be sold into slavery. Resolute’s story takes the reader to fascinating places, including the American colonies as they begin to boil with pre-Revolutionary fervor. The era and events are challenging enough and made even more interesting as the narrator’s voice changes to reflect the change from child to woman. Highly recommended. 

My Name Is Resolute

By Nancy E. Turner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Name Is Resolute as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nancy Turner burst onto the literary scene with her hugely popular novels These Is My Words, Sarah's Quilt, and The Star Garden. Now, Turner has written the novel she was born to write, this exciting and heartfelt story of a woman struggling to find herself during the tumultuous years preceding the American Revolution. The year is 1729, and Resolute Talbot and her siblings are captured by pirates, taken from their family in Jamaica, and brought to the New World. Resolute and her sister are sold into slavery in New England and taught the trade of spinning and weaving. When Resolute…


Resisting Independence

By Brad A. Jones,

Book cover of Resisting Independence

Wim Klooster Author Of Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

From the list on the Age of Revolutions.

Who am I?

To an Atlantic historian like me, the era of revolutions is one of the most dramatic historical periods, which erased many of the structures on which the Atlantic world had been built for centuries. It raised many hopes, which were often defeated, but lasting advances were made nonetheless.  

Wim's book list on the Age of Revolutions

Discover why each book is one of Wim's favorite books.

Why did Wim love this book?

This is probably the most comprehensive discussion of Loyalism to date. By detailing the Loyalist perspective on the growing crisis in the British empire and the ensuing American Revolution in four cities (Glasgow, Halifax, New York, and Kingston), Jones reveals the Loyalism shared in these places and shows how local issues led to new relationships with the Crown. One element integral to Loyalism was the notion of rights and liberties that British subjects enjoyed.    

Resisting Independence

By Brad A. Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Resisting Independence, Brad A. Jones maps the loyal British Atlantic's reaction to the American Revolution. Through close study of four important British Atlantic port cities-New York City; Kingston, Jamaica; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Glasgow, Scotland-Jones argues that the revolution helped trigger a new understanding of loyalty to the Crown and empire. This compelling account reimagines Loyalism as a shared transatlantic ideology, no less committed to ideas of liberty and freedom than the American cause and not limited to the inhabitants of the thirteen American colonies.

Jones reminds readers that the American Revolution was as much a story of loyalty…


Book cover of Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity

Edward G. Gray Author Of Tom Paine's Iron Bridge: Building a United States

From the list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution.

Who am I?

My interest in the American Revolution began with a college course on the French Revolution. I was enthralled by the drama of it all. Being the impressionable late adolescent that I was, I naturally explained to my professor, a famous French historian of the French Revolution, that I wanted to dedicate my life to the study of this fascinating historical period. My professor urged me to reconsider. He suggested I look at a less well-known Revolution, the one British colonists undertook a decade earlier. I started reading books about the American Revolution. Now, forty years on, I’m still enthralled by the astonishing creative energy of this period in American history. 

Edward's book list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution

Discover why each book is one of Edward's favorite books.

Why did Edward love this book?

No single American better embodies the ideals of ingenuity and innovation than the great polymath Benjamin Franklin. Practically everything a man could do in the eighteenth century Franklin did—and he did them with an aptitude matched by few and exceeded by even fewer. Franklin made a fortune in the printing trade—rare enough in the publishing and printing capitals of Europe, but all but unheard of in the colonies. His scientific discoveries were unparalleled and earned him the accolades of the greatest scientific minds of the age.

He was also responsible for countless inventions—including the lightning rod, bifocals, a smokeless stove, and the glass armonica, an instrument for which both Mozart and Beethoven composed music. He was a master of the byzantine politics of European royal courts—this despite being of ordinary birth and coming of age in a place with none of the pomp and majesty of Europe’s great imperial capitals.…

Young Benjamin Franklin

By Nick Bunker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this new account of Franklin's early life, Pulitzer finalist Nick Bunker portrays him as a complex, driven young man who elbows his way to success.

From his early career as a printer and journalist to his scientific work and his role as a founder of a new republic, Benjamin Franklin has always seemed the inevitable embodiment of American ingenuity. But in his youth he had to make his way through a harsh colonial world, where he fought many battles with his rivals, but also with his wayward emotions. Taking Franklin to the age of forty-one, when he made his…