21 Best American History Books You Must Read Once (Updated)

American Books That You Just Can’t Put Down…!

History is something that keeps you awake when you should be sleeping. It satisfies our need for answers to questions we should always ask.

Are you a curious reader and like to learn about the various events that took place in American history? If yes, then this is your spot! 

I have enlisted the 21 Best American History Books that you must read at least once in your life. These are books that will leave you with a plethora of emotions.

List of 21 Best Books on American History

American history is an interesting one and one that is filled with ideas of freedom and fighting for what’s right. 

So without further delay, let’s dive straight into the 21 Best American Books you must read once!

1. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2009)

Team of Rivals is a book written by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who draws attention to Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work. 

Lincoln’s success, as Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of his character that was instilled by his experiences, which raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals.

He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to be empathetic and to understand the common man and his desires. 

This biography is centered on Lincoln’s genius and how it shaped the most important presidency in the nation’s history. 

You Can Get The Book Here: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham

2. American History: A Visual Encyclopedia by DK (2019)

This is a book for all ages. It provides a detailed analysis of everything from the cultures of the first Native Americans right up to the events of the present day. American History: A Visual Encyclopedia is an ultimate book to understand American history at its heart. 

In collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, this encyclopedia provides more than 750 photographs and paintings, plus extensive maps, charts, and state-specific information. 

It focuses on one aspect of the nation’s history, including the Civil War, civil rights, the Great Depression, and the Moon landing.

Overall, it demonstrates the tremendous journey that the United States of America has taken to become a significant 21st-century superpower.

You Can Get The Book Here: American History: A Visual Encyclopedia

3. Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers by Brian Kilmeade (2019)

The New York Times bestselling author, Brian Kilmeade, wrote Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers. He brings to life one of the most pivotal moments in American history, bringing us the heart-stopping story of America’s fight for Texas. 

Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers recapture this pivotal war that changed America forever and illuminate the tightrope all war heroes walk between courage and calculation. 

You Can Get The Book Here: Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers

4. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (2007)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown‘s articulate and fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indians during the second half of the nineteenth century.

This book uses council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions as its sources. 

Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us their real-life experiences of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated.

You Can Get The Book Here: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

5. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn (1980)

Although American wars are usually glorified, this book provides a different perspective, from the perspective of American ladies to immigrant labor. 

As historian Howard Zinn demonstrates, many of our country’s most important battles—fight for a living wage, an eight-hour workweek, child labor legislation, health and safety standards, and so on.

He portrays a side of American history that can largely be seen as the exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems that hugely favor the orthodox political parties of a small elite group of rulers.

You Can Get The Book Here: A People’s History Of The United States

6. Beyond the Call: The True Story of One World War by Lee Trimble & Jeremy Dronfield (2015)

This is a book about the near end of World War II when thousands of Allied ex-POWs were abandoned to wander the war-torn Eastern Front, modern-day Ukraine. With no shelter, food, or supplies, they were an army of dying men.

“One ordinary man, one extraordinary mission, and a thousand lives are at stake.”

This is the inspiring and compelling true story of an American hero who laid his life on the line to bring his fellow men home to safety and freedom.

Get The Book Here: Beyond the Call: The True Story of One World War

7. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (2006)

1491 is one of the best-selling books which is written by Charles C. Mann and includes groundbreaking works in history, science, and archaeology. It is essentially our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

Contrary to popular belief, pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely populated in a pristine wilderness; rather, large numbers of Indians actively shaped and changed the country around them.

This book gives us a transformational new look at a rich and intriguing world we thought we knew, both challenging and shocking.

You Can Get The Book Here: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

8. The Great Bridge by David McCullough (1983)

According to the Washington Post, David McCullough is one of the most “gifted writers.” 

The dramatic and riveting narrative of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s largest suspension bridge at the time, is recounted by renowned historian David McCullough as a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction, but also of hope, valor, and tenacity.

The Great Bridge is a sweeping narrative of a historical American achievement that rose up out of its era like a cathedral, a promise of greatness then and now.

This monumental book tells the riveting narrative of one of the biggest events in our country’s history, the Age of Optimism. 

But this is more than just the story of an architectural marvel; it is also a broad tale of the social milieu of the period, as well as the heroes and rogues who were involved in either building or exploiting the astounding enterprise.

You Can Get The Book Here: The Great Bridge

9. 1776 by David McCullough (2006)

1776 is another extraordinary book by David McCullough that tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence.

It is an account of Americans in uniform; men of all shapes, sizes, and colors; farmers; schoolteachers; shoemakers; no-accounts; and ordinary lads turned warriors. 

It is the narrative of the King’s troops, led by the British leader, William Howe, and his well-trained redcoats, who looked down on their rebel adversaries and fought with a gallantry that is too seldom recognized.

Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough‘s 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history and a must-read.

You Can Get The Book Here: 1776

10. Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger (2000)

In his book Runaway Slaves, John Hope Franklin, America’s foremost African American historian, discusses the groundbreaking analysis of slave resistance and escape.

Loren Schweninger demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, a number of slaves frequently rebelled against their masters and struggled to attain their freedom. 

Schweninger takes the help of documents, such as planters’ records, petitions to county courts and state legislatures, and local newspapers.

This book explains how slaves resisted; where, when, and how they escaped; where they ran to; how long they hid; and how they lived away from the plantation.

You Can Get The Book Here: Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation

11. The Story of American Freedom by Eric Foner (1999)

In The Story of American Freedom, Eric Foner takes freedom not as a timeless truth but as a value whose meaning and scope have been contested throughout American history. 

He shows this not just through congressional debates and political treatises but also on plantations and picket lines, in parlors and bedrooms, by our acknowledged leaders, and by former slaves, freedom riders, union organizers, and women’s rights activists.

You Can Get The Book Here: The Story of American Freedom

12. The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto (2005)

Russell Shorto has created a gripping narrative–a story of a global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan–that transforms our understanding of early America.

When the British took over New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the reality of its rich polyglot culture began to fade, giving way to legends about an island acquired for 24 dollars and a comical peg-legged governor. 

However, the tale of the Dutch colony of New Netherlands was simply forgotten and is now being translated.

This book is about the struggle between these two strong-willed men who laid the foundation for New York City and helped shape American culture. It uncovers a lost world and offers a surprising new perspective on its own. 

You Can Get The Book Here: The Island at the Center of the World

13. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis (2002)

The “Founding Brothers”, a book by Joseph J. Ellis, provides an understanding of American politics and gives us a new perspective on the unpredictable forces that shape history.

Ellis exemplifies the most crucial issues facing the fragile new nation and focuses on six discrete moments:

  • What may have really happened with Burr and Hamilton’s deadly duel?
  • Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison’s secret dinner, during which the seat of the permanent capital was determined in exchange for the passage of Hamilton’s financial plan. 
  • Franklin’s appeal to abolish the “peculiar institution” of slavery, his final public act—and Madison’s attempts to do it.
  • Washington’s historic Farewell Address, in which he announced his resignation from public office and offered his country some parting words.
  • Adams’ tough tenure as Washington’s successor, as well as his claimed plot to hand over the office to his son.
  • At the conclusion of their lives, Adams and Jefferson restarted their communication, in which they discussed their differing perspectives on the Revolution and its impact.

You Can Get The Book Here: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

14. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall (2014)

Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to lose their way in Vietnam by tapping into newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations and making full use of the published literature. 

Embers of War, an epic saga of squandered possibilities and lethal miscalculations, goes deep into the historical record to deliver harsh answers to the unsolved questions surrounding the fall of one Western power in Vietnam and the rise of another.

This book will provide a thrilling and almost life-like experience for the readers. 

You Can Get The Book Here: Embers of War

15. This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust (2009)

“This Republic” is more than just another Civil War book; it is an illuminating study of the American struggle to understand the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the Civil War’s unprecedented carnage.

Faust shows how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields—from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.

Get The Book Here: This Republic of Suffering

16. Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer (2006)

In his book Washington’s Crossing, David Hackett Fischer revisits the riveting history in which George Washington–and many other Americans–refused to let the Revolution die. 

Fischer’s thorough narratives reveal the crucial role of contingency in these events. We witness how the campaign evolved in a series of difficult choices made by many individuals on both sides, from generals to citizens.

While the German and British armies were rigid and hierarchical, Americans developed a system that was adaptable and open, which was critical to their success.

You Can Get The Book Here: Washington’s Crossing

17. The Last Gunfight by Jeff Guinn (2012)

The Last Gunfight is the New York Times bestseller written by Jeff Guinn. It’s a definitive, myth-busting account of the most famous gunfight in American history. 

It reveals who Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clantons and McLaurys really were and what the shootout was all about.

Jeff Guinn gives us an alarming, different, and far more fascinating picture of what actually happened that day in Tombstone and why.

You Can Get The Book Here: The Last Gunfight

18. Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C.Gwynne (2010)

S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon explores two astonishing stories. The first one is about the rise and fall of the Comanches, America’s most formidable Indian tribe. 

The second is about one of the most astonishing stories to emerge from the Old West: the epic drama of pioneer lady Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the Comanches’ last and greatest leader.

S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is well-researched, intellectually enterprising, and, above all, thrillingly experienced.

You Can Get The Book Here: Empire of the Summer Moon

19. No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin (1995)

No Ordinary Time is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History. It’s a chronicle of one of the most vibrant and revolutionary periods in US history. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin goes through a number of storylines.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt’s life as First Lady, Roosevelt’s marriage and partnership
  • FDR’s White House and its influence on America and a war-torn world

Goodwin weaves all together to create an intimate portrayal of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, as well as the period in which a new, modern America was formed.

You Can get The Book Here: No Ordinary Time

20. Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War by Nathaniel Philbrick (2007)

The acclaimed author Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower” takes us on an astonishing journey to learn the truth behind our most treasured national myth: the voyage of the Mayflower and the establishment of Plymouth Colony.

As Philbrick reveals in this astonishing book, the story of the Pilgrims does not end with the First Thanksgiving; instead, it is a fifty-five-year epic that is at once tragic and heroic.

You Can Get The Book Here: Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War

21. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (2005)

A book filled with new interpretations and busting old myths and challenging the new ones, Battle Cry of Freedom is a rollercoaster ride that will unquestionably become the standard one-volume history of the Civil War.

The title of the book relates to the emotions that influenced both the Northern and Southern perspectives on the conflict.

The fast-paced narrative of James McPherson completely incorporates the political, social, and military events that filled the two decades between the onset of one war in Mexico and the end of another at Appomattox.

This comprehensive work makes sense of the Civil War, the massive and perplexing “Second American Revolution” that reshaped a nation and enriched our liberty inheritance.

You Can Get The Book Here: Battle Cry of Freedom


If you are a student, historian, or just a curious person, these books are bound to answer some questions and raise a few new ones.

History provides us with new perspectives and defines the ones already in place. So, get your coffee ready because it’s going to be a long journey to the past…!

The Above were the list of 21 Best United States book on History…!


"As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases"