The best books about the United States 📚

Browse the best books on the United States as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The American Home Front: 1941-1942

The American Home Front: 1941-1942

By Alistair Cooke

Why this book?

At the end of February 1942, British-born journalist Alistair Cooke set off upon a road trip across wartime America, to “see what the war had done to people.” His observations provide a series of fascinating snapshots of the home front in the early months of the war. Shortages of civilian goods showed up everywhere, from the West Virginia soda fountain with the forlorn sign over an orange-squeezer that read, “Regret. Out of Coca-Cola,” to Houston, where rubber and gas rationing led to overcrowding on city buses that threw whites and Blacks into unwonted jostling proximity.

On the West Coast, Cooke…

From the list:

The best books on what life was like on the American homefront during WW2

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Book cover of One Man's Meat

One Man's Meat

By E.B. White

Why this book?

No one wrote better than E. B. White, and no one captured the essence of daily life on the home front better than White in this collection of essays. “This is my country and my night,” he wrote from his farm in Maine, “this is the blacked-out ending to the day, the way they end a skit in a revue.” Yet White acknowledged that it was nearly impossible for him or anyone else to truly convey all the ways that the war was changing ordinary Americans. “You write something that sounds informative, throwing the words around in the usual manner,…

From the list:

The best books on what life was like on the American homefront during WW2

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Book cover of Watching The World: 1934-1944

Watching The World: 1934-1944

By Raymond Clapper

Why this book?

Largely forgotten today, Ray Clapper was perhaps the most highly respected American newspaper columnist and radio personality of the 1930s and 1940s. Especially adept at sketching the domestic political scene, Clapper restores the nation's wartime leaders to life for modern readers in this collection of excerpts from his columns. President Franklin Roosevelt was "always supremely self-confident, sometimes angry, eager to exchange gossip, quick to make a humorous dig at the expense of some opponent or critic, and especially of a stuffed shirt." By contrast, Governor Thomas Dewey of New York, who ran against Roosevelt in the presidential election of 1944,…

From the list:

The best books on what life was like on the American homefront during WW2

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Book cover of State of the Nation

State of the Nation

By John Dos Passos

Why this book?

Reading Dos Passos’ account of his own travels across wartime America is a valuable corrective to the long-standing myth of a united home front, with civilians cheerfully sacrificing for the boys overseas. Instead, Dos Passos found rising rates of worker absenteeism in defense plants, management executives turning blind eyes to defects in airplanes in the name of profits, and lonely wives of defense workers living in makeshift housing going “trailerwacky” for lack of companionship. And when coal miners walked out on strike in 1943, imperiling war production, one miner explained to Dos Passos that “it’s the tough guys make themselves…

From the list:

The best books on what life was like on the American homefront during WW2

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Book cover of Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

By Liza Mundy

Why this book?

Mundy’s unputdownable book tells the story of the women behind some of the most significant code-breaking triumphs of the war. The work of women like Elizabeth Friedman – who got her start unpicking the codes of Prohibition-era liquor smugglers – was one of the war’s best-kept secrets.

From the list:

The best books about American code-breaking in World War II

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