5 Great Books about America’s Birth

  • September 15, 2017

A handful of nonfiction titles that capture how it all began

5 Great Books about America’s Birth

September 17th is Constitution Day! (Hope your shopping’s done.) In its honor, we offer five good reads about how the U.S. got its start.

  1. Sentimental Democracy: The Evolution of America's Romantic Self-Image by Andrew Burstein. This is an unsentimental look at the manner in which the founders addressed both reason and emotion as they established the institutions of the USA. If you think of Hallmark cards when you hear “sentiment,” be prepared to learn!

  2. The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution by David O. Stewart. This book — by the Independent’s president — is a fascinating look at how the most important (and sometimes most perplexing) document in our history came to be. It brings to life the respected Founding Fathers and others who gathered in Philadelphia seeking to reconcile and codify a wide variety of answers to the question, “What is the United States of America, and what do we want it to be?”

  3. American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic by Joseph Ellis. Six narrative essays illuminating the drama — onstage and off — of the birth and early days of the republic, including the Constitutional Convention that almost wasn't.

  4. 1776 by David McCullough. This nail-biter of an historical chronicle is so well written that you’ll be on the edge of your seat wondering whether the struggling George Washington and his hapless army can pull it out. (Spoiler alert: They can.)

  5. Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick. This account of the country’s best-known traitor offers stirring battle scenes and plenty of other drama. At its heart, though, it’s the story of a pathetic, remorseless man.
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