Celebrate Our Nation’s Birthday With Great American Reads

If you’re looking to celebrate the Fourth of July by learning about how America really became the country it is today, check out one of these books, each one with a different and important glimpse at the nation’s past.

These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore

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In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian … Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history. Written in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself–a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence–at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas–‘these truths, ‘ Jefferson called them–political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. 

The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul by Brian Kilmeade

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In The President and the Freedom Fighter, Brian Kilmeade tells the little-known story of how the two men moved from strong disagreement to friendship, uniting over their love for the Constitution and over their surprising commonalities. Both came from destitution. Both were self-educated and self-made men. Both had fought hard for what they believed in. And though Douglass had the harder fight, one for his very freedom, the two men shared a belief that the American dream was for everyone.

American Story: Conversations with Master Historians 

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Co-founder of The Carlyle Group and patriotic philanthropist David M. Rubenstein takes readers on a sweeping journey across the grand arc of the American story through revealing conversations with our greatest historians. In these lively dialogues, the biggest names in American history explore the subjects they’ve come to so intimately know and understand. Through his popular program The David Rubenstein Show, David Rubenstein has established himself as one of our most thoughtful interviewers. Now, in The American Story, David captures the brilliance of our most esteemed historians, as well as the souls of their subjects. 

Fourth of July, Asbury Park : A History of the Promised Land by Daniel J Wolff

Bruce Springsteen brought international attention to the Jersey shore by naming his debut album ‘Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ.’ But the real Asbury Park has an even more fascinating story behind it: a seaside city of dreams that became a magnet for both the best and worst of America, playing host to John Philip Sousa, Count Basie, and Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as the mob and the Ku Klux Klan. Fourth of July, Asbury Park tells the tale of the city’s first 150 years, guiding us through the development of its lavish amusement parks and bandstands.

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

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A People’s History of the United States is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of–and in the words of–America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country’s greatest battles–the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women’s rights, racial equality–were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.

One Man’s America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation by George F. Will

In his provocative and compelling new book, America’s most widely read and most influential commentator casts his gimlet eye on our singular nation. Moving far beyond the strict confines of politics, George F. Will offers a fascinating look at the people, stories, and events–often unheralded–that make the American drama so endlessly entertaining and instructive.

America: The Story of Us : An illustrated History by Kevin Baker

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America The Story of Us is a groundbreaking series that brings to life the epic story of our nation in a new way for a new generation. The companion book, America The Story of Us is a history that is at once penetrating and lively, elegant and authoritative; great for serious reading as it is for casual skimming. America The Story of Us brings to life the vast forces that shaped this remarkable country and the ways in which revolutions in technology and transportation altered the way Americans lived, made money, and fought one another.

The Soul of America the Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham

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“Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear. Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day.

Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About History but Never Learned by Kenneth C. Davis

From the arrival of Columbus through the historic election of Barack Obama and beyond, Kenneth C. Davis carries readers on a rollicking ride through more than five hundred years of American history. In this 30th anniversary edition of the classic anti-textbook—which includes a new preface by Davis—he debunks, recounts, and serves up the real story behind the myths and fallacies of American history. 

American Spirit: Profiles in Resilience, Courage, and Faith by Taya Kyle

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Life leads us through difficult terrain. But what happens if you use challenge as an opportunity to discover your PURPOSE? These Americans did and are changing the world. Presents an inspiring collection of stories of Americans who have persevered over adversity and built extraordinary lives after loss, hardship, and setbacks, showcasing the resilience of the American spirit.

-Hongmei, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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