Best Non-fiction 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

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4.06 avg rating — 196,841 ratings
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2

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4.06 avg rating — 119,227 ratings
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3

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4.30 avg rating — 95,793 ratings
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4

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4.07 avg rating — 124,881 ratings
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5

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4.32 avg rating — 18,921 ratings
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6

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4.20 avg rating — 41,180 ratings
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7

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4.21 avg rating — 43,858 ratings
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8

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4.22 avg rating — 34,064 ratings
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9

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3.91 avg rating — 30,163 ratings
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10

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4.21 avg rating — 35,600 ratings
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11

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3.98 avg rating — 324,529 ratings
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12

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3.95 avg rating — 40,308 ratings
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13

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4.24 avg rating — 25,420 ratings
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14

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3.86 avg rating — 25,421 ratings
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15

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3.89 avg rating — 25,547 ratings
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16

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4.55 avg rating — 5,591 ratings
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17

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4.42 avg rating — 64,497 ratings
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18

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4.28 avg rating — 113,541 ratings
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19

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4.04 avg rating — 31,373 ratings
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20

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4.15 avg rating — 27,787 ratings
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21

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4.03 avg rating — 26,099 ratings
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22

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4.01 avg rating — 39,629 ratings
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23

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3.95 avg rating — 62,235 ratings
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24

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4.12 avg rating — 22,100 ratings
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25

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3.97 avg rating — 16,251 ratings
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26

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4.28 avg rating — 20,953 ratings
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27

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4.18 avg rating — 16,266 ratings
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28

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3.94 avg rating — 58,655 ratings
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29

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4.10 avg rating — 17,165 ratings
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30

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4.07 avg rating — 25,349 ratings
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31

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4.23 avg rating — 31,387 ratings
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32

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3.76 avg rating — 30,555 ratings
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33

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4.11 avg rating — 10,250 ratings
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34

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3.90 avg rating — 16,912 ratings
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35

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4.25 avg rating — 18,313 ratings
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36

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4.38 avg rating — 5,524 ratings
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37

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4.40 avg rating — 11,361 ratings
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38

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4.49 avg rating — 6,814 ratings
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39

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4.18 avg rating — 33,447 ratings
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40

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3.92 avg rating — 39,150 ratings
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41

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3.98 avg rating — 32,864 ratings
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42

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4.41 avg rating — 461,001 ratings
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43

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4.42 avg rating — 10,074 ratings
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44

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4.31 avg rating — 12,406 ratings
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45

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4.17 avg rating — 7,663 ratings
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46

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3.96 avg rating — 20,697 ratings
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47

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3.57 avg rating — 5,054 ratings
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48

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3.98 avg rating — 115,648 ratings
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49

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4.22 avg rating — 8,506 ratings
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50

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4.08 avg rating — 5,441 ratings
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51

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4.15 avg rating — 8,272 ratings
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52

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4.06 avg rating — 1,813 ratings
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53

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3.93 avg rating — 7,496 ratings
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54

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4.20 avg rating — 8,147 ratings
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55

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4.08 avg rating — 14,840 ratings
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56

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4.28 avg rating — 1,840 ratings
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57

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4.24 avg rating — 11,668 ratings
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58

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3.96 avg rating — 11,829 ratings
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59

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4.16 avg rating — 7,721 ratings
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60

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4.82 avg rating — 11 ratings
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61

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4.19 avg rating — 10,597 ratings
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62

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4.19 avg rating — 5,091 ratings
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63

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3.90 avg rating — 4,027 ratings
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64

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4.28 avg rating — 1,838 ratings
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65

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4.25 avg rating — 6,469 ratings
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66

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4.10 avg rating — 12,588 ratings
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67

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4.29 avg rating — 30,518 ratings
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68

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4.25 avg rating — 1,392 ratings
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69

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4.13 avg rating — 10,436 ratings
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70

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4.15 avg rating — 2,367 ratings
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71

by
4.41 avg rating — 1,318 ratings
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72

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4.32 avg rating — 4,494 ratings
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73

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4.16 avg rating — 55,327 ratings
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74

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4.10 avg rating — 5,602 ratings
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74

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4.12 avg rating — 20,153 ratings
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76

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4.33 avg rating — 9,677 ratings
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77

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4.13 avg rating — 3,708 ratings
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78

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4.25 avg rating — 907 ratings
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79

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4.06 avg rating — 779 ratings
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80

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 1,195 ratings
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81

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3.88 avg rating — 7,499 ratings
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82

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4.07 avg rating — 3,631 ratings
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83

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4.07 avg rating — 3,439 ratings
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84

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3.95 avg rating — 1,680 ratings
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85

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3.95 avg rating — 14,546 ratings
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86

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3.80 avg rating — 113,860 ratings
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87

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4.41 avg rating — 2,257 ratings
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88

by
3.87 avg rating — 4,074 ratings
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89

by
4.06 avg rating — 47,868 ratings
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90

by
4.19 avg rating — 1,559 ratings
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91

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4.49 avg rating — 7,626 ratings
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92

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 2,085 ratings
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93

by
4.08 avg rating — 148 ratings
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93

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4.43 avg rating — 7,749 ratings
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95

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4.07 avg rating — 2,664 ratings
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96

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4.30 avg rating — 14,485 ratings
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97

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4.07 avg rating — 1,856 ratings
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98

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4.26 avg rating — 7,539 ratings
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99

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4.03 avg rating — 3,491 ratings
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100

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4.17 avg rating — 1,156 ratings
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442 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Cindy 7542 books
141 friends
Steven 15974 books
2185 friends
Dave 429 books
43 friends
Heather 955 books
142 friends
Don 1414 books
105 friends
Todd 184 books
0 friends
Lisa 196 books
27 friends
R. 1109 books
24 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 74) (74 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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