Between the cookouts, fireworks and parades, the 4th of July holiday is a great time reflect on the history of the United States — to celebrate independence and to consider its meaning in a modern context. These books offer a glimpse into America’s identity, and are great reads for Independence Day.
John Adams by David McCullough: Chronicles the life of America’s second president, including his youth, his career as a Massachusetts farmer and lawyer, his marriage to Abigail, his rivalry with Thomas Jefferson, and his influence on the birth of the United States.
All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: The two Washington Post reporters present the inside story of their inquiry into the persons involved in the Watergate scandal.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau: built his small hut on the shore of Walden Pond in 1845. For the two years, starting in 1845, Thoreau lived in a small hut on Walden Pond as simply as possible, seeking “the essential facts of life” and learning to eliminate the unnecessary details—material and spiritual—that intrude upon human happiness.
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton: Perhaps the most essential distillation of the Founders’ vision of America, The Federalist Papers consist of a series of 85 essays in favor of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Attributed to Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, the essays tackle an array of topics that are just as relevant today as they were more than 200 years ago, including human rights, republican governance, the proper scope and jurisdiction of a federal government, and much more.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Clayborne Carson: Drawing on King’s unpublished writings and other materials, a civil rights scholar assembles a first-person narrative of King’s life.
1776 by David McCullough: Draws on personal correspondence and period diaries to present a history of the American Revolution that includes the siege of Boston, the American defeat at Brooklyn, the retreat across New Jersey, and the American victory at Trenton.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe: Although the American anti-slavery movement had existed at least as long as the nation itself, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) galvanized public opinion as nothing had before. Its vivid dramatization of slavery’s cruelties so aroused readers that it is said Abraham Lincoln told Stowe her work had been a catalyst for the Civil War.
Do you have a favorite book about American independence? What are you reading for the 4th of July?