This Fourth of July, allow the history of the holiday to inspire you to pick up a few historical books. Below, our picks for hunkering down with historical holiday reading – from ruminations on the construction of our country to a window into a single month during World War I.
This Depression-era book highlights Lorena Hickok, a news reporter and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. The administration tasked her with spending 18 months touring the country and asked her to report back, and the book catalogues her correspondence as she traveled by car around the country. Author Michael Golay, who has written three previous history books, used letters to recreate the time period and her relationship with Roosevelt.
This deviates from an American theme, but July 1914 is also a new release, this time zeroing in on this single month in World War I-era history, starting with the June murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Author Sean McMeekins uses this to delve into the stories behind the people who pushed the world into World War I. Tracking the genesis of the first global war, this book zeroes in on a single month that altered history.
“Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776”
Revisit American independence in “Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776,” by historian Richard Beeman, who counts the Constitution among his passions. The book details the 22 months during which American transitioned from a colony into a republic, and from subjects under the Brits to identifying as American citizens for the first time in history.
“The Savior Generals”
Military historian Victor Davis Hanson highlights five different generals in this book. Selecting only those who saved their countries from war defeats, he details the different ways they salvaged their nations, whether an eleventh-hour surprise or coming out of the woodwork to solve enormous problems. The laudable leadership does not always mean a clear bookmark in history, however – some careers end in controversy.
“Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence”
Pulitzer winner Joseph Ellis takes readers through the summer of 1776, when thirteen colonies decided to separate from the British Empire. Many recognizable names appear, from George Washington to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Ellis, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his previous book “Founding Brothers” – one of five others just on American history! -- is also a Massachusetts history professor.
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