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The 11 Books Every American History Buff Should Read

And maybe a non American one….

Photo by Daniel H. Tong on Unsplash

Finding well written and engaging historical books that are not too dry or long, can be a challenging task. Well stress no more, we have gathered together the best historical non-fiction books that EVERY history buff will love reading.

#1 Unknown America: Myths and little known oddities about the greatest nation on earth

In Unkown America, Myths and little-known oddities about the greatest nation on earth, historian, political commentator and host of the popular weekday talk radio program that bears his name, Michael Hart reveals some of the most fascinating, obscure, and overlooked facts in American History. Hart also exposes many of the most enduring and fictitious American myths, many of which are still presented as factual in classrooms across the country.

Uknown America is also chock full of amazing tidbits and Americana you never learned in school. Be prepared to meet some of the most interesting people, that although they made incredible contributions to life in America and to the world, have either been lost to history or their stories simply ignored.

In Unknown America you will learn: 

  • That common paintings of the Declaration of Independence depict an event that never happened.
  • Which state had 3 Governors in a single day and the incredible reason why.
  • About the African America slave that sued for her freedom in Court, and won!
  • Who really flew the first airplane and why the Wright Brothers story is wrong.
  • Which US President had a dog named Satan.
  • Strange plans hatched by the US Military; including cats as spies and bats as bombs, and more.
  • The truth about the slave trade in America including the slave that owned slaves and dozens of misconceptions and fabrications that have endured throughout history.
  • About the role, IBM may have unwittingly played in the deaths of millions during the Holocaust.
  • That the United States has actually had a Gay President. Who was he and how do we know?
  • And America's has already had a female President as well. You'll learn her story in chapter 11 of UNKNOWN AMERICA.
  • Whats wrong with the Rosa Parks story. And who really should get the credit. It ain't Rosa.
  • And speaking of credit; Betsy Ross doesn't deserve what history has given her either. You'll learn why the history books really have this enduring American legend all wrong in chapter 2.
  • What Presidential hopeful asked John Wayne, yes the Duke himself, to be his VP Running mate.
  • Why July 4th is not our Independence day, and what day really is, and how this miss-telling of history began...

And dozens, and dozens more stories just like these.

The revelations in this fun, lively, informative book will amaze and shock your audience and they will learn things the vast majority of Americans were never taught and will never know.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Michael

Company: HartofAmerica.net | TheUnknownAmerica.com 

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#2 An American Life: Benjamin Frankin

An American Life by Walter Isaacson is a must read for any American History fan. It's thorough enough to satisfy readers with a good base knowledge but [broad] enough to keep less informed readers that might not be as accustomed to reading history for pleasure.

It's also a must-read for any entrepreneur. His usage of well-placed editorials to move business and political needles prove he would be a formidable opponent to just about anyone in the business world.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Josh Quinn

Company: shoptigertree.com | Twitter

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#3 Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

National Book Award-winning history of a Black doctor who buys a home for his family in a white section of Detroit in the twenties. With the doctor, his wife and some of his friends inside the house, a threatening white mob gathers.

There are shots and a white man is killed. Everyone in the house except the wife is put on trial for murder. Clarence Darrow becomes the lawyer for the defense, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund is started to cover expenses of the trial. Dramatic, personal, political, and riveting.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Nancy Schimmel

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#4 Affairs of Honor by Joanne Freeman

Too often, early American history focuses on the narratives of a few key men and how through sheer force of will, they founded America. These narratives assume men like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin existed in a vacuum. Freeman examines the lives of these men using gender as a lens, giving our Founding Fathers more depth and contextualizing their decisions and actions, rather than relying on the same myths that are oft repeated.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Lindsey Turnbull

Company: missheardmedia.com | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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#5 Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (New Perspectives on the History of the South)

Despite losing the Civil War, the romanticized myth of the South persists today. We see this play out in cities, some far removed from the Confederacy, grappling with the decision to tear down Confederate statues. Cox's text examines how the 'Lost Cause' narrative gained a foothold and spread throughout the US through women's organizations. The women of the UDC re-made a military loss into a cultural and societal victory. This is a must-read text, especially for those interested in gender and race.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Lindsey Turnbull

Company: missheardmedia.com | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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#6 Sapiens: A brief history of humankind

This book is incredibly ambitious to even try and tackle the history of man! And yet it works. The author gives such clear explanations on why things developed as they did.

Great insight: we are human because we can believe in fiction. Everything we have created is based on a story, be it religion, nations, capitalism, the dollar, it's all because we can believe in 'story'.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Andrew Ingkave | Twitter

Company: themusicolormethod.com | Facebook | Instagram

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#7 Death Comes for the Archbishop

The wild west has and always will be intriguing reading and Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, will not disappoint in its portrayal of the many trials and tribulations encountered in the opening up of the New Mexico territory following the region's annexation to the United States and two Catholic priest's long-lasting friendship and their devotion to each other and the Church.

The story follows Father Jean Marie Latour, a French Jesuit missionary priest from Sandusky, Ohio assigned by the Vatican, and his personal friend Father Joseph Vaillant, to New Mexico to reinvigorate the Catholic Church in the territory after years of neglect.

The book follows the many trials of Latour and Vaillant as they become entwined in their new territory with Catholics, non-Catholics, and native American Indians in their attempt to share their more disciplined approach to Catholicism.

I learned all about two friend's dedication to each other and their love of the Church. I learned about New Mexico and the Southwest region and how the Catholic Church attempted to keep their religion alive.

I was made aware of the struggles of the Native American Indians, and how difficult it must have been living in those times when the Southwest was wild and untamed, and the value of friendship to help you survive the tough times!

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Allison Constantino

Company: allison-constantino.pixels.com | Instagram | Twitter

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#8 George Romney: An American Life

In this book, you’ll learn the story of one of the most remarkable men of the 20th-century, a man who combined sheer moral force with hard-driving determination to succeed. Honest, truthful, hard-working and decent, Romney was the sort of person who comes along rarely and leaves us too soon. His type sets the standard by which others are judged. And for that, we can be grateful.

(Extract taken from Waldorf Publishing)

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Barbara Terry

Company: WaldorfPublishing.com (Twitter) | DriversSeatMedia.com  | BarbaraTerry.com 

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#9 The Coca-Cola Trail, People and Places in the History of Coca-Cola

Do you know? Coca-Cola once sold the rights to bottle Coca-Cola throughout the United States for $1.00. Coca-Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg, Mississippi, not Atlanta.

There are just two of the interesting stories revealed in a newly published book, “The Coca-Cola Trail”, People and Places in the History of Coca-Cola.

Thirty chapters and over 200 pages tell the real stories of those pioneer bottlers; the challenges they faced, and how they were instrumental in creating the world's most recognized brand.

The “Trail” takes readers to places where Coca-Cola history is told through historic buildings, local museums, restored outdoor murals, memorabilia collections, and related displays.

The author, Larry Jorgensen spent over two years interviewing Coca-Cola families and conducting extensive research in current and former Coca-Cola communities.  Historic photos and photos of modern-day sites highlight each chapter.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Larry Jorgensen

Company: thecocacolatrail.com

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#10 The Constant Outsider: Memoirs of a South Boston Mechanic

The 1960s-80s were historic times for Boston, Massachusetts, particularly in the section known as “Southie”. Thomas Cirignano experienced it all! He expresses his story in a style that makes you feel as though you are right there by his side.

Amazon Description:

Growing up in Dorchester presented real challenges, but once Tom Cirignano took over his father's auto repair shop in South Boston, his life became intense. Mob-enforcers, drug dealers and killers became his friends and regular customers. Tom experienced Southie's era of extreme violence and crime first hand.

He managed to not just co-exist, but to thrive in that environment. At the shop, Whitey Bulger threatened Tom with a gun. A neighbor was gunned-down at the gas pumps. After confronting another would-be killer, that man later returned and shot Tom's friend eleven times with a 9 Mil. At a house down the street from the shop, Whitey was killing people and burying them in the cellar.

A friendly drug dealer often tossed samples from his car window while driving past the gas pumps. Life was never dull, and Tom got himself into near-fatal situations far too often. How did Tom survive his gunpoint encounter with Whitey Bulger? Find the answer within this inspiring memoir that is tempered by amazing humor.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Thomas M. Cirignano

Company: The Constant Outsider

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#11 67 Cents: Creation of a Killer

By weaving real-life situations into this fictional adaptation of this memoir, Thomas Cirignano explores the alternate path in life which truly was available to him. Within 67 Cents, "Nick" says "Yes" to every clandestine and illicit offer that was made to the author by the Irish and Italian Mobs of Southie in real life. Those offers for criminal involvement were substantial and even included an offer to kill a man for Tom. If you have read Tom’s memoir, titled “The Constant Outsider” you’ll recognize the parallel universes, and you’ll see how a just few different decisions in life can, and will, change everything.

 Note: “67 Cents: Creation of a South Boston Killer” contains very strong language and graphically violent situations. It is not suitable for younger or sensitive readers.

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Contributor: Thomas M. Cirignano

Company: The Constant Outsider

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