Best American History Books
Books about the history of the United States. Non-fiction only, please. Biographies of generals, presidents, activists, etc. are fine, but celebrity bios, even celebrities who lived in turbulent times, will be removed.
1 John Adams
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 122,254 ratings
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2 1776
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 79,069 ratings
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3 Team of Rivals: The Politic...
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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35 avg rating — 60,595 ratings
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4 A People's History of the U...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 77,658 ratings
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5 Battle Cry of Freedom: The ...
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 14,122 ratings
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6 Truman
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 30,979 ratings
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7 Founding Brothers: The Revo...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 21,886 ratings
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8 Undaunted Courage: The Pion...
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 24,886 ratings
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9 Bury My Heart at Wounded Kn...
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 31,608 ratings
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10 The Devil in the White City...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 243,910 ratings
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11 Alexander Hamilton
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 16,663 ratings
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12 Lies My Teacher Told Me
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 35,036 ratings
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13 The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 18,414 ratings
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14 Mayflower: A Story of Coura...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 18,182 ratings
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15 His Excellency: George Wash...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 17,091 ratings
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16 The Worst Hard Time: The Un...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 21,849 ratings
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17 Theodore Rex
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 18,659 ratings
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18 The Civil War: A Narrative
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4.58 of 5 stars 4.58 avg rating — 4,117 ratings
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19 Band of Brothers: E Company...
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4.41 of 5 stars 4.41 avg rating — 44,114 ratings
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20 The Federalist Papers
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 19,699 ratings
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21 The Autobiography of Malcolm X
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 79,921 ratings
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22 1491: New Revelations of th...
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 26,679 ratings
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23 Benjamin Franklin: An Ameri...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 33,688 ratings
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24 Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase f...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 16,982 ratings
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25 Democracy in America
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 12,184 ratings
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26 Citizen Soldiers: The U S A...
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 11,881 ratings
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27 All the President's Men
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 24,471 ratings
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28 Mornings on Horseback
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 11,361 ratings
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29 Narrative of the Life of Fr...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 38,139 ratings
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30 No Ordinary Time: Franklin ...
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4.34 of 5 stars 4.34 avg rating — 13,292 ratings
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31 American Lion: Andrew Jacks...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 20,282 ratings
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32 Washington's Crossing
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 6,902 ratings
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33 The Right Stuff
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 24,374 ratings
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34 American Sphinx: The Charac...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 11,850 ratings
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35 Parting the Waters: Martin ...
by
4.41 of 5 stars 4.41 avg rating — 3,730 ratings
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36 D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Ba...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 14,116 ratings
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37 The Power Broker: Robert Mo...
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4.51 of 5 stars 4.51 avg rating — 4,299 ratings
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38 Washington: A Life
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 13,313 ratings
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39 The Making of the Atomic Bomb
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 9,222 ratings
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40 The Path to Power (The Year...
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4.48 of 5 stars 4.48 avg rating — 5,885 ratings
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41 Master of the Senate (The Y...
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4.48 of 5 stars 4.48 avg rating — 7,076 ratings
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42 Assassination Vacation
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 26,503 ratings
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43 Founding Mothers: The Women...
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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54 avg rating — 3,656 ratings
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44 The Great Bridge: The Epic ...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 5,552 ratings
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45 What Hath God Wrought: The ...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 3,428 ratings
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46 April 1865: The Month That ...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,174 ratings
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47 Blood and Thunder: An Epic ...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 4,921 ratings
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48 A History of the American P...
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,351 ratings
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49 Beads on a String-America's...
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4.8 of 5 stars 4.80 avg rating — 10 ratings
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50 Hiroshima
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 24,904 ratings
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51 Destiny of the Republic: A ...
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 21,435 ratings
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52 Nothing Like it in the Worl...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 5,307 ratings
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53 The First American: The Lif...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 11,433 ratings
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54 Albion's Seed: Four British...
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 1,277 ratings
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55 With Malice Toward None: A ...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 3,776 ratings
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55 Dreams from My Father: A St...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 83,250 ratings
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57 American Caesar: Douglas Ma...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 5,305 ratings
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58 Common Sense
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 14,247 ratings
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59 A Bright Shining Lie: John ...
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 6,401 ratings
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60 The Guns of August
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 20,292 ratings
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61 The Greatest Generation
by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 8,486 ratings
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62 The Forgotten Man: A New Hi...
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 3,039 ratings
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63 An Army at Dawn: The War in...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 7,990 ratings
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64 Paine: Collected Writings: ...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 997 ratings
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65 Under the Banner of Heaven:...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 89,890 ratings
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66 Grant: Memoirs and Selected...
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 1,463 ratings
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67 The Glory and the Dream: A ...
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4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 800 ratings
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68 The Path Between the Seas: ...
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 6,143 ratings
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69 A Patriot's History of the ...
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 1,615 ratings
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70 Cadillac Desert: The Americ...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 4,537 ratings
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71 Adams-Jefferson Letters
by
4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 612 ratings
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72 The Age of Jackson
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 1,177 ratings
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73 Nixonland: America's Second...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 3,709 ratings
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74 The Day Lincoln Was Shot
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 570 ratings
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75 The Warmth of Other Suns: T...
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 19,519 ratings
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76 Black Elk Speaks: Being the...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 8,378 ratings
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77 Unbroken: A World War II St...
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4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 244,781 ratings
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78 The Brethren: Inside the Su...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 2,668 ratings
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79 A Stillness at Appomattox
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 3,496 ratings
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80 The American Plague: The Un...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 2,691 ratings
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81 Miracle at Philadelphia: Th...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 788 ratings
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82 The Life of Andrew Jackson
by
4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 1,109 ratings
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83 The Johnstown Flood
by
4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 8,060 ratings
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84 The American Political Trad...
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 779 ratings
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85 Lincoln's Melancholy: How D...
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 1,947 ratings
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86 The Second World War
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 2,593 ratings
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87 The Frontiersmen
by
4.4 of 5 stars 4.40 avg rating — 1,519 ratings
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88 Profiles in Courage
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 5,558 ratings
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89 Travels with Charley: In Se...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 35,248 ratings
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90 The Metaphysical Club
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 2,502 ratings
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91 Only Yesterday: An Informal...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 690 ratings
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92 The Longest Day
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 10,080 ratings
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93 The Oxford History of the A...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 119 ratings
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94 Patriots
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 805 ratings
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95 The Strange Career of Jim Crow
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,218 ratings
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96 Thomas Paine: Enlightenment...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 676 ratings
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96 Freedom from Fear: The Amer...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 2,636 ratings
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98 The Great Influenza: The St...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 11,123 ratings
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99 The Radicalism of the Ameri...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 2,415 ratings
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100 Overthrow: America's Centur...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 1,590 ratings
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1,020 books · 1,409 voters · list created July 14th, 2008 by Cindy (votes) .
184 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Cindy
Cindy
6349 books
121 friends
Steven
Steven
10330 books
1845 friends
Dave
Dave
332 books
25 friends
Heather
Heather
860 books
133 friends
Don
Don
1254 books
83 friends
Todd
Todd
184 books
0 friends
Lisa
Lisa
143 books
24 friends
R.
R.
944 books
25 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 66) (66 new)


message 1: by Mackay (new)

Mackay Cincinnatus: by Garry Wills.

That's the best American History book.


message 2: by Travis (new)

Travis So why isn't it up there? I mean, if you think it's the best then it should have at least one vote right?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads How is The Rape of Nanking about American history?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Who on earth selected these books? These are supposed to be the BEST of American History Books? Where is Shelby Foote or Bruce Catton? Where is a decent history of the American Revolution? Where is there a history of Political Parties in the US?
Some of these authors are inferior in writing on the subject matter. It is not only important to learn about our history, but to learn about it from leaders in the field of the subject matter. Where is the Viet Nam War?


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

How are books by Mc Cain, Hillary & Bill Clinton insightful into our American History?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads It's pretty easy to add books, over at the right side of the page.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads A Bright Shining Lie is about Vietnam, as is Dispatches.

Shelby Foote is on the list, on page two.

There are plenty of books on the list that are either about the American Revolution, or are biographies of the people involved in it.

And the books were selected by the people who have chosen to vote on this list.


message 8: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I love this list! I have found some great reads from it. Thanks to everyone who chose the books. My latest read was Indian Givers and it was amazing.


message 9: by Reader (new)

Reader I've read:
"John Adams" (Excellent)
and
"Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation" (Good).

Currently reading:
"1776". Has been Excellent.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I have yet to read a McCullough I haven't liked.


message 11: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Jones Urfer "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" is by far and away the best historical non-fiction book I have ever read....glad to see it's high on this list!!


message 12: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker I love The Killer Angels and you can learn a lot from it, but it's a novel. Isn't this a non-fiction list?


message 13: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker Johnny Tremain is a wonderful novel that brings pre-Revolutionary Boston to life, but it's not a history.


message 14: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker All of Jeff Shaara's books are novels.


message 15: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker I haven't read them (and it's unlikely that I will), butI don't think Ron Paul's books are history.


message 16: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker Gore Vidal's Lincoln, Burr, etc. are all novels.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Cindy, you're the creator of this list - you want me to remove the non-fiction?


message 18: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I really had non-fiction in mind, but I admit that I voted for Killer Angels. I really don't want this to turn into a historical romance list, but there's a difference between Gone With the Wind and Killer Angels. What does everyone else think?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Y'all tell me what to delete, and I'll be happy to delete it.


message 20: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Should The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich be on the list?


message 21: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Deleted The Man in the High Castle - speculative/alternative history (fiction).


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I don't see any reason why Rise and Fall of the Third Reich should be on, no.


message 23: by ☯Bettie☯ (last edited Jul 05, 2011 02:24AM) (new)

☯Bettie☯ Susanna wrote: "I don't see any reason why Rise and Fall of the Third Reich should be on, no."

Someone 'muxing this ip' with a Philip Roth story that they think is :Teh:Real:?


message 24: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Go ahead and delete all the fiction. Rise to Rebellion, The Killer Angels, The Witch of Blackbird Pond.


message 25: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Also Leaves of Grass, What Ifs?


message 26: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Aug 30, 2011 05:23PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads What about Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

I think I have found and removed the non-fiction.


message 27: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Yes, that one too!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads OK, I shall remove it, then.


message 29: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Am I Not a Man? is fiction also.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Alright, I'll remove it.


message 31: by John (new)

John Hunt Although I'm reluctant to be critical of anyone who undertakes the kind of effort on display here, I can't resist commenting that any list of books on American History that includes Jesse Ventura's book and excludes those of Bernard Bailyn -- not to mention Barrington Moore and David Hackett Fischer -- cannot be taken seriously.


message 32: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Apr 08, 2012 11:30AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You can, of course, add them. Adding books to lists is easy; at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes." You will then have the option of adding books from your own shelves, or of performing a search of GR's database.

Also, David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, at least, is on the list, because I voted for it. (It is, in fact, currently #55. Washington's Crossing is #25.)

ETA: Bernard Bailyn's Ideological Origins of the American Revolution is currently at #107.


message 33: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Loved Albion's Seed. I read it because of this list. Great book.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I certainly think so.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Cindy, do you want me to remove Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto? I'm dubious about this one.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed:

Weezer and the Painted Frog (fiction)


message 37: by John (new)

John Hunt Susanna wrote: "You can, of course, add them. Adding books to lists is easy; at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes." You will then have the option of adding books from your own shelves, or of per..."

My oversight -- it's a great list! I hope it inspires many readers to acquire many of these titles. Participatory democracy works better when more voters know more about the country's history. In 25 years of casual history reading, I have found myself becoming more interested in intellectually challenging history books. I suspect most history 'consumers' have a similar experience. The nation was founded by a group of 'intellectuals'. What would they think about the intellectual quality of contemporary politicians?


message 38: by Karen (new)

Karen Schwind I've read a number of books on this list and especially like McCullough's 1776 and John Adams. I also like Founding Brothers a great deal. I downloaded the audio to Shelby Foote's 1st Volume and plan to listen to it as soon as I finish War & Peace, which is not American history or non-fiction, but which is teaching me a great deal about Russian history. While fiction might not be good for this list, another list of works of fiction that are historically accurate might be helpful. Often, I find straight history books to be so packed with details that they bog down and lose any sense of narrative.


message 39: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Tyson Susanna wrote: "How is The Rape of Nanking about American history?"
It's about Japan and China. Other than that, it's a great book about American history.


message 40: by Kimberlyn (new)

Kimberlyn History has never been a strong point for me. I need to select a book relevant to the historical period either from Columbus through the Civil War, or Reconstruction to the end of the Cold War. So I was wondering if anyone could point out a few good books, I might be interested in. THANK YOU.


message 41: by Karen (new)

Karen Schwind If you're looking for an easy-to-read but good non-fiction work, I recommend The Perils of Prosperity. It covers 1914-1932.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads It's easy to add books to lists; at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


message 43: by Marguerite (new)

Marguerite Manhunt is the best book about Lincoln's killer. Went to the Surratt House and the Dr Mudd Farm. Great


message 44: by Piseth (new)

Piseth Lobstergirl wrote: "Deleted The Man in the High Castle - speculative/alternative history (fiction)."

poster book is published to reader.


message 45: by Piseth (new)

Piseth Hello, Mr./Mrs. ! how are you doing ? i would like reading a book too thus i am a supporter of reading book every day to find another acknowledges about this, actually, all of them are preferred reading them and wanna a writing some story of mine. that story is said about a life of mine surely. i will write some the meaning of story connecting to real life of mine was child, can be made a plan to refer to supporter. thanks you !


message 47: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Removed a novel and 3 nonfiction books not about America.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Does Man Hunt (#75) belong on here? It appears to be historical fiction. (And aside from this list, the other lists it appears on are all for historical fiction.)


message 49: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn John wrote: "Although I'm reluctant to be critical of anyone who undertakes the kind of effort on display here, I can't resist commenting that any list of books on American History that includes Jesse Ventura's..."

John, I'm assuming this list was not made up before for us to vote on, but is instead a list we make with our choices. If one person wants to put Jesse Ventura on his list--or Bill O'Reilly for that matter-let them do so. Such votes will be drowned out by less fringe opinions. Democracy, etc. etc.


message 50: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Susanna wrote: "Does Man Hunt (#75) belong on here? It appears to be historical fiction. (And aside from this list, the other lists it appears on are all for historical fiction.)"

Deleted.


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