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Learn the history of Independence Day with these great books

Learn the history of Independence Day with these great books
Learn the history of Independence Day with these great books (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

It's Independence Day, the day we celebrate the birth of the United States. And on this Fourth of July, take some time to delve into the history of this country's founding with these great books from the iBooks Store. Explore, in detail, the men and women, ideas, and military decisions that shaped the United States.

Here are some great books that you should be reading this Independence Day.

1776

Cover of 1776 (Image credit: Simon & Schuster)

Get multiple perspectives that saw America declare independence and the full start of the Revolutionary War with Great Britain in this book by by David McCullough. Much of McCullough's focus is on George Washington, but he also gives King George III, General Howe, Henry Knox, and Nathanael Greene considerable attention.

$3.99 at Apple Books (opens in new tab)

Alexander Hamilton

Cover of Alexander Hamilton (Image credit: Penguin Press)

This massive biography about America's first Secretary of the Treasury, and one of the loudest advocates of ratifying the Constitution, served as inspiration for the hit musical Hamilton. Ron Chernow delves into Hamilton's tumultuous childhood in the British West Indies, his advocacy for American independence, and his death at the hands of Aaron Burr in their fateful duel.

$14.99 at Apple Books (opens in new tab)

John Adams

Cover of John Adams (Image credit: Simon & Schuster)

Delve into the life of America's second president in this 752-page tome by David McCullough. McCullough offers a portrait of a brilliant lawyer, fierce patriot, and a president who kept the country out of a war with France following a diplomatic breakdown.

$14.99 at Apple Books (opens in new tab)

Ladies of Liberty

Cover of Ladies Of Liberty (Image credit: HarperCollins)

Drawing from personal correspondence, journals, and previously unpublished sources, Cokie Roberts shows us portraits of several women who helped shape this country, both behind the scenes and out in public, from the revolution to the expansion into the western reaches of the North American continent. The book takes a look at, in particular, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Rebecca Gratz, and Sacagawea, among others.

$11.99 at Apple Books (opens in new tab)

Rough Crossings

Cover of Rough Crossings (Image credit: BBC Books)

While much of the discussion of slavery in America is centered around the Civil War, we often don't talk about slaves during the Revolutionary War. In this book, Simon Schama does just that, offering an account of the slaves that escaped from their American masters to fight for the British in hopes of gaining their freedom. The book also explores how those people were treated after the war's end.

$10.99 at Apple Books (opens in new tab)

The Negro in the American Revolution

Cover of The Negro In The American Revolution (Image credit: University of North Carolina Free Press)

This defining work by historian Benjamin Quarles, originally published in 1961, details the history of Black Americans during the American Revolution. Quarles examines the important roles played by Black people during the period, from the Boston Massacre to the British evacuation of African Americans following the end of the war. Examining the impact Black Americans had at all levels of society, this book brings a compelling dimension to the story of America's founding.

Stamped from the Beginning

Cover of Stamped From The Beginning (Image credit: Bold Type Books)

Ibram X. Kendi dives into the history of racism in the United States, something inextricable from its founding. Throughout the book, Kendi shows how anti-black ideas have impacted the country from the beginning through modern times. He does this by exploring the lives of five intellectuals who have left lasting impacts on the U.S.: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and activist Angela Davis.

Washington's Crossing

Cover of Washington's Crossing (Image credit: Oxford University Press)

Focusing on Washington's revolutionary campaign during 1776, David Hackett Fischer shows a Continental Army and its commander near the end of their rope. The British have taken New York and are within a stone's throw of Philadelphia. Fischer details how American forces adapted to losses, and the choices that ultimately led to Washington's successful crossing of the Delaware River to strike against British and Hessian forces in New Jersey.

$12.99 at Apple Books (opens in new tab)

The Federalist Papers

Cover of The Federalist Papers (Image credit: Signet)

Originally published in newspapers in 1787 and 1788, these essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay lay out 85 arguments for the ratification of the Constitution, addressing concerns, making arguments for a stronger government, and more.

$6.99 at Apple Books (opens in new tab)

The 1619 Project

The history of the United States is one mired in racial violence and division, all of which can be traced to the first ship to bring African slaves to North America. The barbaric institution was the source of the wealth of many of the founding fathers, and the consequences of slavery have had repercussions that echo to this day.

The 1619 Project first appeared in The New York Times Magazine, and it traces how the roots of our racial divides in America stem back to the original sin that was slavery. Going all the way back when the first slaves were brought to North America in 1619, the project takes the form of a series of text and photo essays that touch on the Black American experince, its history, and how that experience is still informed by events more than 400 years old.

The 1619 Project

Your favorites

Do you have any particular favorite books about the beginnings of the United States? Tell us about them below in the comments.

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

1 Comment
  • And one to rule them all: “A People’s History if the United States” by the late, great Howard Zinn