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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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4.05 avg rating — 257,162 ratings
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2

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4.06 avg rating — 159,489 ratings
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3

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4.28 avg rating — 125,442 ratings
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4

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4.08 avg rating — 153,726 ratings
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5

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4.34 avg rating — 23,124 ratings
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6

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4.22 avg rating — 49,203 ratings
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7

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4.23 avg rating — 79,740 ratings
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8

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4.11 avg rating — 70,174 ratings
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9

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3.92 avg rating — 36,494 ratings
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10

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4.22 avg rating — 41,795 ratings
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11

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3.99 avg rating — 412,294 ratings
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12

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4.24 avg rating — 32,992 ratings
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13

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3.86 avg rating — 30,636 ratings
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14

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3.96 avg rating — 44,986 ratings
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15

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4.43 avg rating — 80,386 ratings
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16

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3.91 avg rating — 31,331 ratings
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17

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4.30 avg rating — 154,308 ratings
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18

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4.53 avg rating — 6,570 ratings
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19

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4.17 avg rating — 35,354 ratings
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20

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4.04 avg rating — 39,669 ratings
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21

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4.06 avg rating — 31,286 ratings
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22

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4.01 avg rating — 50,994 ratings
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23

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4.13 avg rating — 25,724 ratings
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24

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3.98 avg rating — 90,751 ratings
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25

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4.07 avg rating — 39,737 ratings
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26

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4.20 avg rating — 17,967 ratings
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27

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4.01 avg rating — 19,886 ratings
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28

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4.38 avg rating — 620,576 ratings
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29

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4.17 avg rating — 36,403 ratings
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30

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4.24 avg rating — 36,828 ratings
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31

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3.98 avg rating — 76,724 ratings
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32

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3.78 avg rating — 36,733 ratings
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33

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4.11 avg rating — 21,729 ratings
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34

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4.50 avg rating — 9,375 ratings
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35

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4.43 avg rating — 12,923 ratings
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36

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4.11 avg rating — 12,350 ratings
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37

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4.26 avg rating — 20,443 ratings
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38

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3.95 avg rating — 49,778 ratings
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39

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3.90 avg rating — 18,669 ratings
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40

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4.20 avg rating — 43,856 ratings
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41

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4.31 avg rating — 8,013 ratings
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42

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3.97 avg rating — 25,446 ratings
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43

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4.44 avg rating — 13,032 ratings
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44

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3.98 avg rating — 36,499 ratings
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45

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4.18 avg rating — 10,119 ratings
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46

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3.99 avg rating — 135,503 ratings
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47

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4.34 avg rating — 14,713 ratings
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48

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3.58 avg rating — 5,946 ratings
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49

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4.34 avg rating — 41,565 ratings
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50

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4.13 avg rating — 10,819 ratings
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51

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4.22 avg rating — 10,917 ratings
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52

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4.11 avg rating — 6,606 ratings
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53

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4.15 avg rating — 69,680 ratings
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54

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4.25 avg rating — 13,896 ratings
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55

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3.95 avg rating — 9,827 ratings
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56

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4.10 avg rating — 16,268 ratings
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57

by
4.31 avg rating — 2,182 ratings
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58

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4.22 avg rating — 9,613 ratings
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59

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 14,984 ratings
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60

by
4.07 avg rating — 2,103 ratings
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61

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4.19 avg rating — 14,060 ratings
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62

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4.13 avg rating — 10,171 ratings
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63

by
4.13 avg rating — 11,835 ratings
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64

by
4.14 avg rating — 25,909 ratings
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65

by
4.31 avg rating — 17,824 ratings
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66

by
4.82 avg rating — 11 ratings
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67

by
4.15 avg rating — 2,839 ratings
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68

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4.34 avg rating — 5,114 ratings
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69

by
4.10 avg rating — 15,600 ratings
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70

by
4.22 avg rating — 18,801 ratings
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71

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4.07 avg rating — 58,383 ratings
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72

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4.42 avg rating — 1,621 ratings
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73

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4.26 avg rating — 7,626 ratings
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74

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4.29 avg rating — 2,087 ratings
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75

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4.37 avg rating — 1,247 ratings
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76

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3.91 avg rating — 4,792 ratings
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77

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3.82 avg rating — 135,127 ratings
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78

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4.21 avg rating — 6,308 ratings
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79

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4.24 avg rating — 1,583 ratings
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80

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3.92 avg rating — 9,449 ratings
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81

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4.05 avg rating — 1,480 ratings
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82

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4.14 avg rating — 6,771 ratings
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83

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3.95 avg rating — 17,087 ratings
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84

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4.15 avg rating — 4,325 ratings
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85

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4.38 avg rating — 12,477 ratings
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86

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4.23 avg rating — 31,213 ratings
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87

by
4.16 avg rating — 2,073 ratings
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88

by
4.42 avg rating — 9,976 ratings
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89

by
4.09 avg rating — 927 ratings
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90

by
4.09 avg rating — 4,122 ratings
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91

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3.99 avg rating — 23,990 ratings
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92

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4.26 avg rating — 1,061 ratings
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93

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4.34 avg rating — 10,244 ratings
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94

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4.11 avg rating — 4,183 ratings
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95

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4.10 avg rating — 2,442 ratings
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96

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4.27 avg rating — 9,066 ratings
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97

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3.98 avg rating — 2,041 ratings
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98

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4.09 avg rating — 3,875 ratings
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99

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4.02 avg rating — 2,925 ratings
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100

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3.90 avg rating — 8,934 ratings
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645 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Cindy 8355 books
167 friends
Steven 1872 books
2225 friends
Dave 574 books
49 friends
Heather 1019 books
158 friends
Don 1484 books
118 friends
Todd 252 books
13 friends
Lisa 199 books
27 friends
Rob 1334 books
24 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 89 (89 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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