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Carly's avatar

What are some really good books on US History between the discovery of America to 1877?

Asked by Carly (4555points) June 26th, 2011
10 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

I’m reading the textbook: America, Past & Present, but I’m looking for other books that go into more detail about certain events, wars, people, etc. Anything you’d recommend?

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FutureMemory's avatar

I’ll go ahead and make the stereotypical progressive recommendation:

People’s History of the United States

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Now We Are Enemies: The Story of Bunker Hill
Thomas Fleming

Carly's avatar

@FutureMemory yes, I totally agree. I’ve read the second volume of later us history, and I was thinking of getting the earlier volume for my library. Thanks :)

jlelandg's avatar

Is it wrong that I could never read the “People’s History” without disgust because of his chapter on WW2?

Carly's avatar

@jlelandg My mom can’t read his books because she thinks hes a crazy radical wack. idk, i remember the book from hs, but that was a while ago. What about the chapter didn’t you like?

jlelandg's avatar

@Carly I am reading this chapter right now (the book is online). I find his recollection of the saga of the decision to drop the atomic bomb to be all one sided. It does not take into account other considerations of what was going on.

Additionally, I read the chapter on Vietnam and found it to be interesting, but relying on some assumptions that I can take the same jump on (mass atrocities by American infantry, JFK’s assassination associated with Vietnam-very indirectly stated).

However, I will say that reading these two chapters does reinforce the same mindset that government is not to be taken at its word. If half of what he’s saying is true, it’s still a large amount of unchecked power.

fundevogel's avatar

Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason
It’s specifically about Aaron Burr and his shenanigans, but it does an excellent job explaining the issues facing the country in it’s infancy. Threats from foreign powers, the very real possibility of secession (west from east at this time) and why exactly the Mississippi River and the Louisiana Purchase were such big effin’ deals.

And then there’s that whole thing with Aaron Burr attempting to stage a coup and secede with part of the country while he was vice president. Dude had stones.

Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination

This is essentially a social history documenting the shift in popular opinion regarding criminals and the forces behind the shift. It’s a good source for learning about how media changed from the 17th century to the 18th and to a lesser extent religion and philosophy. I found it absolutely fascinating.

Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919
This one is past your time frame, but it’s fantastic. It’s a relatively minor bit of history, but the author does an amazing job of placing it historically in the context of WWI, the prohibition, the flu epidemic, the abuses of the Industrial Revolution and the threat of violence from downtrodden labor and anarchist supporters.

It’s a really excellent book for getting a sense of the dark side of the Industrial Revolution and the violent tact taken by some of those victimized by the system.

Carly's avatar

@fundevogel those sound amazing, especially the one on Aaron Burr. I live on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, so it would be cool to learn more about it. Thanks!

jaytkay's avatar

If you live on the Mississippi then you might like Twain’s Life on the Mississippi

It’s the non-fiction counterpart to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

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