Once, America was not as we know it today. It remained hidden from the rest of the world for a significant period and only Native Americans lived on the land that were few in numbers and an uncivilized Nation. Christopher Columbus was an explorer and sailor who first landed on the shores of America in 1492. The Native Americans living at that time had various cultures.
After the discovery of America by Columbus, many new settlers tried to establish this land as a new-found colony and ever since Great Britain, Spain, France, and other powerful nations started sending their settlers to America. The growth of such colonies was a negative sign for native Americans who were less privileged and this broke into several wars. Several wars were fought between Great Britain and France over the control of America as it had become an important trading station and a large supplier for many of the needs like furs, pelts, fuel, and wood.
What are the Best American History Books to read?
America, as we know it today, has a long history of struggle, determination and hard work. A lot of efforts and the blood has been spilled to make America one of the greatest nations in the world with a stronghold over the World Economy. The history behind America becoming a super power is a subject of curiosity and interest for those who are interested in history. We have compiled a list of best books to consider if you are looking into reading about American History.
Best American History Books: Our Top 20 Picks
Here are some of the best american history books that you can consider to expand your knowledge on the subject:
1. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer winning writer who has beautifully narrated the untold story of the struggles of black citizens who fled the south for northern and western cities to better their life and get rid of slavery and racism.
The book has a dramatized version of the story of 3 real black citizens who fled southern cities and spent their lives fighting towards the greatness of America and Civil rights. The book is about the struggles, their effective roles towards making America great and fighting for the basic human rights that were being neglected and taken away from them for a long period. These citizens were treated badly in the early days and were denied the rights of native Americans or other white citizens of America.
- Authors: Isabel Wilkerson (Author)
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 4, 2011)
- Pages: 640 pages
2. The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
he Pioneers is the story of The Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America. Narrated beautifully by Pulitzer prize-winning historian David McCullough who lets you dive deep into the most dramatic chapter in American History.
The dauntless pioneers who went through hardships and struggled to build a community independent of the eastern influence of Great Britain and France that defines the very fundamental ideals on which the ideology of the current United States of America is based on. It starts with 1788 when the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of General Rufus Putnam on the brink of Ohio River.
- Authors: David McCullough (Author)
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 7, 2019)
- Pages: 353 pages
3. A People’s History of the United States
Countries are not defined by their boundaries, or economic growth but the ideals and people who have laid the foundation for such ideals and helped the country to heights that are enjoyed by the current generations.
Written by Howard Zinn, A people’s history of the United States presents American history from the perspective of Women, Factory workers, Native Americans, African Americans, The working poor and immigrant laborers. This book is a must-read for every American, student or otherwise. To understand the true values and history of the country, this is the best and wonderful book. Howard refers to the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, women’s rights as important battles that the country and its people have fought to see America towards the heights of greatness that it is on today.
- Authors: Howard Zinn (Author)
- Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reissue edition (November 17, 2015)
- Pages: 784 pages
4. Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History
US history is filled with important historical events that have shaped the legacy of today’s the United States. In March 1836, the Mexican army massacred more than two hundred Texians after trapping them in Alamo.
American legends Jim Bowie and Dave Crockett died there, along with the other settlers who were looking to have a fresh start in Texas. It was a fatal blow for Texas’s fight for freedom. The defeat was not taken easily by the Texian settlers and under the command of General Sam Houston, the rallied and within the six weeks of Alamo, they defeated the Mexican army, winning the independence for Texas that took the blood of a lot, yet reshaped the American History. Written by Brian Kilmeade, the story has attention to detail with actual facts and references.
- Authors: Brian Kilmeade (Author)
- Publisher: Sentinel (November 5, 2019)
- Pages: 288 pages
5. American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
The current United States of America is a collective input from 11 nations that shaped the basic ideals and values that are the foundation of the American state and culture. Before the days of peace and harmony, there were clashed and internal conflicts for grab on power and having dominance over each other.
Award-winning historian, Colin Woodard, defines the basic foundation and values of the American nation in the light of Eleven Rival Regional cultures and nations that have contributed towards shaping the United States to its greatness as we know it today. The book is a valid comparison between the past and present of the cultures, and how they are interlinked with each other yet entirely separate.
- Authors: Colin Woodard (Author)
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 25, 2012)
- Pages: 384 pages
6. The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels
America and its fundamentals have always been the same and with slight modifications, the people are still living up to the very values that laid the foundation of America and its ideals. While there are ups and downs in the story of America. It should always be considered that the values and principles of the country are what defines the greatness of it.
Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham, this book is a comparison of the present moments in American politics and the critical times in the history of America. The book has been #1 New York Times bestseller and for everyone who is looking to get a deeper insight into the history and political values of American history that have given people home in the time of despair, and fear for their future.
- Authors: Jon Meacham (Author)
- Publisher: Random House; Illustrated edition (May 8, 2018)
- Pages: 416 pages
7. The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789
These 6 years of Second American Revolution are the most under anticipated events in the history of the united states that have shaped the federal United States as it is known today. In the Quartet, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis has told the dramatized version of the story as to how Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Jay, and James Madison convinced thirteen colonies who have just resisted the imposition of distant centralized governing power to subordinate themselves to federalization.
The process was long, with a constitutional convention, bill of rights to assure state compliance and convincing all the states towards confederation. However, this is the most glorious decision in American History that has helped America to the heights where we stand today.
- Authors: Joseph J. Ellis (Author)
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 3, 2016)
- Pages: 320 pages
8. Everything You Need to Ace American History in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide (Big Fat Notebooks)
This book is published by Workman Publishing and written by Philip Bigler, Lily Rothman, and Editors of the brain Quest have drafted. This book is perfect for all the middle school students who want to get good grades in their American History Exam.
The book has been compiled with most up to date information and facts from the past incomprehensible language for middle schoolers and includes notable events from the 20th century that might have the chance to being asked in the exams. It is a part of the BIG FAT NOTEBOOK SERIES that is built on the concept of making notes easier for all kids and helping them with their exams.
- Authors: Workman Publishing (Author)
- Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Study Guide edition (August 9, 2016)
- Pages: 528 pages
9. The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History)
Several moments in American history have turned the course of events completely and they have an impact so strong that they have life long impacts on not only the future of the USA but the whole world. One of these notable incidents started with the sinking of Kido Butai in the pacific that made them lose their grip over the Pacific.
This account of war by Craig L. Symonds is the right elaboration with comprehensible narrative and unclouded facts that are unbiased. For the people across the world who are looking to learn the facts behind the war over pacific, this is a worth reading book to learn about notable characters. This is a tale of Chivalry, valour, courage, and sacrifice for the nation.
- Authors: Craig L. Symonds (Author)
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition (September 1, 2013)
- Pages: 464 pages
10. These Truths: A History of the United States
Jill Lepore is known for the blunt and precise facts and figures, as he argues for the values if they are actually based on people’s choices or are being imposed on them. These truths upon the course of events that have taken place over the past 5 years.
The book states a unique narrative and perspective, implying Americans are descended from slave owners, from conquerors and conquered, from immigrants and the people who have fought to end immigration. A nation that has fought for everything including basic rights, sovereignty, and even dominance.
- Authors: Jill Lepore (Author)
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 18, 2018)
- Pages: 960 pages
11. Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times
Written by Michael R. Beschloss, Presidents of war is the New York Times Bestseller that has a complete account of Chief Executives who took the United States to wars and lead the country towards battles.
From 1812 to Vietnam, and Afghanistan, we have seen these leaders taking these difficult decisions and mobilizing the US Army towards wars. They send hundreds of thousands of Americans to death and have to struggle with the congress, the courts, press, and protest to save the sovereignty and interests of the country. The narrative is a chronicle of language as it can be expected by Michael R. Beschloss, making it a perfect read for all who have to like towards American History and historical warcraft strategy.
- Authors: Michael R. Beschloss (Author)
- Publisher: Crown (October 9, 2018)
- Pages: 700 pages
12. A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to America’s Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition
While there are dark sides to the rise and fall of the American nation and how the United States came to the position where it is at the present times. A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen is a complete account of glorified events that have spread over the history of the United States.
This book signifies the right patriotism by putting the mistakes in proper perspective and also highlighting the glorious events that laid the foundations of the greatness of the United States of America from the discovery of this new continent by Columbus to present times. The book covers everything from Columbus’s voyage to Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again”
- Authors: Larry Schweikart (Author), Michael Allen (Author)
- Publisher: Sentinel; 10th Revised ed. edition (November 25, 2014)
- Pages: 1008 pages
13. The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians
Written by David M. Rubenstein and Foreword by Carla Hayden the book is a detailed account of the conversations with a famous historian. These lively dialogues cover extensive detail on the history of the United States through the wars to culture, values, and liberty.
It includes dialogues with some of the most famous historians like David McCullough, Jon Meacham, Ron Chernow, Walter Isaacson and more.
- Authors: David M. Rubenstein (Author), Carla Hayden (Foreword)
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 29, 2019)
- Pages: 416 pages
14. Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places
Colin Dickey is known for his dramatic writing and intellectual narrative that keeps the readers captivated in his immersive writing style and perfect choice of words. Colin is on the trail of America’s ghost. There are numerous places in America that are believed to be haunted.
The haunted stories are spanning from ancient American lore to the folk tales and some facts as well. His curiosity knows no limits and dicky conjures the dead by focusing on the living. He portrays how do we the living, deal with the stories about ghosts and how we avoid the places that are believed to be haunted. The book is scary, yet insightful. The book unravels the past that we are most afraid to speak about, by a fair comparison of it with the actual ghosts.
- Authors: Colin Dickey (Author)
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (October 3, 2017)
- Pages: 336 pages
15. The American Revolution: A Visual History
History can be dry and boring for some people who do not take much interest in the subject. American history is filled with immersive events from the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea party, and the declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Paris.
The book by DK with the contribution of Smithsonian Institution presents a visual version of the events beginning with the first stirring of colonial resistance that was the birth of an Independent United States. The gallery has unseen and featured a collection of old age weapons, uniforms, the ugly face of war, like the treatment of prisoners and the impact of the revolution on women, native Americans and African Americans. American Revolution is all about the story of throwing away British and rising to become the Super Power.
- Authors: DK (Author), Smithsonian Institution (Contributor)
- Publisher: DK (April 5, 2016)
- Pages: 400 pages
16. Advanced Placement United States History, 2020 Edition
This is the right book for all the students who are looking to take the current AP United States History Exam. This new edition is correlated to the 2019 course in accordance with the exam framework in the areas of historical thinking skills, themes and the content to write in the exam.
This edition has short-answer questions that use secondary sources. These can come handy for the exam preparations. Chapters are based on a thematical organization of key terms, events and their comprehensive details and critical reviews. It is written by John J Newman and John Schamalbach M. This book is the right recommendation for all the students of American History.
- Authors: John J Newman (Author), John Schmalbach M (Author)
- Publisher: Perfection Learning; 2020 edition (June 1, 2019)
- Pages: 808 pages
17. Impeachment: An American History
Impeachment is the method to remove an elected president through a process of voting by parliament. While it was designed to get rid of the tyrants, Thomas Jefferson states it as “the most formidable weapon for a dominant faction that was ever contrived”
Impeachment has only been used thrice in American history against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. The book is a collaboration of four American Presidency experts, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, Peter Baker, and Jeffery A. Engel. The book discusses in detail as to how it nullifies the will of people who have elected a president and why it is necessary for the safekeeping of interests of the nation. The book has a complete account of instances and actions of presidents that lead the institutions to this extreme step.
- Authors: Jon Meacham (Author), Timothy Naftali (Author), Peter Baker (Author), Jeffrey A. Engel (Author)
- Publisher: Modern Library (October 16, 2018)
- Pages: 220 pages
18. The U.S. Constitution: Explained–Clause by Clause–for Every American Today
Faces in the parliament change, politicians come into power and lose it, the presidents are elected for their tenure. The one thing that remains the same is the constitution. It is upheld by all state institutions.
The constitution is the Supreme Law of the land. This book provides you a complete account of all 27 amendments and the origin of the constitution of the United States of America by acclaimed historian and Constitutional expert Ray Raphael. This is a must-read for every American citizen with the right insight on fact-checking on the political scene.
- Authors: Ray Raphael (Author)
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 31, 2017)
- Pages: 192 pages
19. American History: Connecting with the Past
American History by Alan Brinkley is the right read for students who are having difficulty in understanding the very fundamentals of American Nation and want to have a better grasp on the subject.
History has a tendency to repeat itself and the instances from the present can be connected with the past easily. This book makes the understanding process easier for students by connecting the past incidents with present and providing a critical comparison between both. The forces that played an effective role in shaping the history of the United States are discussed elaboratively in this book.
- Authors: Alan Brinkley (Author)
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 15 edition (October 8, 2014)
- Pages: 1008 pages
20. American History, Volume 1: 1492-1877
American History, Volume 1 is the account of events penned down by Thomas S. Kidd from the first Native American societies in 1492 to the Reconstruction period in 1877.
This book has engaging narrative for students with the first half of American history that has so much to learn from and this book is useful for preparation of American History exam as it is equally a worthy read for all the history enthusiasts who are looking to learn the history from not only the perspective of notable men like presidents and generals but also how it has impacted the common people and what role they played in making the United States, one of the most glorified and successful nations in the world. The book has a detailed account of the role of Christianity in the fundamental principles of American and the fights against slavery.
- Authors: Thomas S. Kidd (Author)
- Publisher: B&H Academic (April 1, 2019)
- Pages: 352 pages
Choosing the Best American History Books
American history is full of facts, lessons, and tales of interest for those who find pleasure in reading about history and want to read about it. We have critically read and reviewed these books and tried to provide the best possible reviews for you to consider these books for your reading leisure. You can go through these reviews to decide which book suits your preference best and which one would be worth buying for your reading pleasure.
Most of the books are worth reading for the people who take interest in history, as American history is enriched with stories of struggle, sacrifice, valour, courage, and the blood being spilled to see the United States to one of the most glorified countries in the world from an unknown distant nation.