10 Books That Help You Understand America’s History

The best American history books take us to the past in order to understand the present and the future better. If you want to know more about the American Revolution, you should try reading some of these books. The history within these books will give you a general idea of the events that transpired during this time.

It’s important to learn historical facts to find out where we come from and how we got to where we are today, whether you’re an American or not! These 10 books will help you learn about the country’s beginnings, as well as its turbulent present day.

10 Best American History Books

“The Soul of America” by Jon Meacham

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our National Identity by Jon Meacham is a history of the United States, from its Civil War to present day. It is very readable and engaging, with many interesting stories and a strong narrative. The book includes many themes that are relevant to today’s political climate, such as immigration, gun control and race relations in America.

Meacham brings a good balance to the topic of presidential history. He discusses things in a meaningful way without becoming too biased. The topics he brings up are not necessarily the most critical or the most common ones. But they are important and Meacham writes about them in a way that makes readers rethink what you may consider the “usual” view of these presidents. Meacham also brings a unique sense of understanding to the subject.

He has a background in American history and has studied just about all of the presidents as well as many other figures from the past. This makes the book more credible and gives readers a better understanding of what makes a president great. This is definitely one of the best american history books for anyone who love the topic.

“American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House” by Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written about American history for over 20 years. He’s also the editor in chief of “American Daily”, which is a newspaper based in Washington, DC.

Meacham’s new book “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House” covers the life of Andrew Jackson. He was both President and military leader during his time as commander-in-chief.

The book takes us through many important moments in American history, including:

  • The Battle at New Orleans (1814) – this battle was when President Thomas Jefferson ordered troops to attack British ships that were transporting supplies for British forces occupying Louisiana territory
  • The Seminole War (1817–1819) – this war involved Native Americans fighting against settlers from Georgia who wanted access to land along Florida’s coasts
  • The Missouri Compromise (1820) – this law established that slavery should be prohibited north of 36° 30′ latitude, but allowed it southward into areas with free soil

“Battle Cry of Freedom” by James McPherson

“Battle Cry of Freedom” by James McPherson is a comprehensive history of the Civil War, from its causes to its conclusion. It’s also available in an easy-to-read style that makes it enjoyable even for people who don’t normally like reading about war.

The book covers all aspects of this struggle, from politics and military strategy to how the people reacted during each major battle. There are plenty of details about battles themselves — who were the participants? How were things going when it happened? What did they do afterward?

The book has nearly 500 pages worth of information on everything related to this time period in American history; there aren’t many books available today with that kind of breadth and depth on one topic.

“Washington’s Crossing” by David Hackett Fischer

“Washington’s Crossing” by David Hackett Fischer is one of the best American history books to read. That’s especially if you’re interested in learning more about the crossing of the Delaware River and its effects on history. It’s also one of the best books about how important it was for America’s Revolutionary War.

The book starts with an overview of what happened during this time period. It covers everything from King George II’s attempts at creating peace between England and France (which failed).

The rest of the book focuses on specific events leading up to December 25th 1776 when George III demanded American colonists pay taxes on tea. They imported them into Britain through packets sent there by British ships instead of bringing them directly into London City Hall.

This decision led directly into battles fought near Boston Harbor between British regulars against patriots defending themselves using whatever weapons available including rifles made from wood which fired bullets made from lead mined locally instead.

“Neveryon series” by Samuel R. Delaney

The Neveryon series is a science fiction series written by Samuel R. Delaney, and published from 1975 to 1987. It’s set on a planet called Neveryon, which an artificial intelligence, the Ewelderiada governs.

The first book in this series is Dhalgren (1975). It was about an American writer named John Hailey. He travels to Neveryon for inspiration. He encounters many problems along the way and eventually ends up being forced out of his own country.

The second novel in this trilogy is entitled “Nova Swing” (1977). It follows one man’s quest through space after discovering that his girlfriend has been killed during an alien attack on Earth’s moon during World War II.

“A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn

A People’s History of the United States is one of the best American history books written by Howard Zinn. He was a professor emeritus at Boston University and an award-winning author. Besides, he has been recognized for his work in many ways. Including being named one of The 100 Most Influential Americans by Time Magazine in 1999. And receiving a Gandhi International Peace Award from Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) in 2005.

A People’s History of the United States was originally published in 1980; it has since become one of America’s most popular books on history. It tells how U.S.-based corporations have shaped our country into what it is today. However, this isn’t just another political theory piece. It also offers incredible insight into why people fight over certain issues like gay marriage rights or gun control laws.

“Dreadful, Pitiful, Miserable City: A memoir of homelessness, recovery and redemption in 1980s Los Angeles” by Anne H. Blume

Anne Blume is a writer and journalist who has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire Magazine and more. She also wrote this book in 1985 when she was homeless in Los Angeles.

In her memoir “Dreadful, Pitiful, Miserable City: A Memoir of homelessness, recovery and redemption in 1980s Los Angeles,” Anne Blume writes about her experience being homeless during the 1980s.

Anne explains how she became homeless through drug addiction that led to her being on welfare at one point.

Later she describes how she got out of homelessness by going through rehabilitation programs at Hazelden Behavioral Health Center in Minnesota.

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison

The story explores how Sethe deals with finding herself in this new world, dealing with memories of her past and trying to forget what happened there. It’s definitely one of the best American history books.

The novel also explores themes around grief and loss as well as family bonds through its main character’s relationship with her daughter Denver (who was born after she left Cincinnati) and granddaughter Sethe’s ghost baby sister(s).

“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller

The Crucible is one of the most well-known plays about the Salem witch trials. It was written in 1953 by Arthur Miller, and made into a movie in 1996. The play takes place during the winter of 1692 when people in Massachusetts started believing that witches were causing them harm.

The story revolves around an old woman named Abigail Williams who accuses Mary Warren of being a witch. That’s because she’s been having an affair with John Proctor (who is also accused). During this time period, there were many other people who were also accused as witches. But they weren’t as lucky as Abigail or Mary Warren.

best american history books

“The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros

Told through the eyes of a girl growing up in Chicago, the book The House on Mango Street, published in 1984. It tells a story of a family in transition and the young girl growing up. The story is top-notch through poems that are short and simple. Yet they tell a story far deeper than the words themselves. The poems illustrate the struggles of growing up young in America and the need to belong.

One of the more influential poem in the book is “I am Joaquin,”. Over there the young girl relates to the Mexican poet. The poet is more popular outside of America than he is in it. In the end, the story is about the girl’s journey of self-discovery. After realizing that she is not the only person who feels different and alone.

Lots of people call this novel a classic. That’s because its message is so important: that anyone can succeed if they work hard enough for it. And even though this book has been available decades ago, it still holds true today. Especially for young readers who might have parents who don’t understand why their kids want to learn about other cultures or languages.


I hope you found the best American history books helpful and that you’ve learned a lot about our nation’s history. But if you want to continue to learn, there are many other great sources out there! The Library of Congress has an extensive online collection of historical documents, which you can search by topic or author. You can also try searching for books in your local library or bookstore that relate to your interests and passions.

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