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Favorite Books on U.S. History

Hi All — as we head into the Fourth of July weekend, I wanted to thank everyone here for all of the knowledge and support that they’ve shared with me on this forum over the last few months. As a YN, it makes a big difference to see the hobby’s elder statesman so invested in developing the next generation of collectors and investors.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to ask about your favorite books on U.S. history; bonus points for suggestions that have a economic or monetary element to them. Numismatic suggestions are encouraged as well, but would preferably offer a broader perspective. Here are a few titles that I’ve personally enjoyed: Americana by Srinivasan and Capitalism in America by Alan Greenspan.

Thanks again for all your support, advice and encouragement over the last few months. And Happy Fourth!

And finally, please know that I don’t intend to make this a politically charged thread; only seeking knowledge and perspective from those who have seen a thing or two.


  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JMoo100 ... I know you have likely already checked the pinned post at the top of this thread for numismatic history. There are several by Roger Burdette. If you have not done so, I highly recommend this reading list. Cheers, RickO

  • FloridafacelifterFloridafacelifter Posts: 1,057 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 1, 2022 9:37AM

    This is a fascinating history of how Ike and the CIA messed up the Middle East by toppling the first truly democratically elected government in Iran, basically over our greed to control their oil, and how it set both countries down a terrible path towards confrontation in the 1970s.
    The 50’s was a wild decade in the world where Ike and the boys felt they could do anything they wanted anywhere they wanted after saving the world in WWII.

  • DisneyFanDisneyFan Posts: 1,385 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents, 1773-1783 - Joseph Ellis (2021)

    This book shows the complexity and diversity of beliefs in the political, economic and social realms during the Revolutionary War. It's major points are:

    1. The writing of the Declaration of Independence and the complicated politics of the era.
    2. George Washington kept his ragtag army in the field against the most powerful nation's military machine. He did so for eight years fighting the British; but, also a Congress reluctant to give him the men, supplies, and money needed to keep up the fight. He is truly the Father of our Country.
    3. Without the French navy and the financial support of France it is improbable that the war could have been won by the United States.
    4. Most Americans held greater allegiance to their local state than to a concept of a federal government. Early federalist leaders included Washington and Hamilton.
    5. It was truly a civil war with loyalist (strong in New York) fighting against patriots.
    6. King George III kept the war in America going after 1778 though his generals had told him the war in North America was not winnable.
  • VeepVeep Posts: 1,392 ✭✭✭✭

    The Age of Gold by H.W. Brands. He’s a prolific writer and expert on 19th century history and is often seen on public tv and other networks’ history related documentaries.

    This books tells a detailed story of the California gold rush.

    "Let me tell ya Bud, you can buy junk anytime!"
  • Bob13Bob13 Posts: 1,379 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DisneyFan said:
    The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents, 1773-1783 - Joseph Ellis (2021)

    I'd recommend another of Ellis's books: "Founding Brothers." Highly entertaining and readable. Focused more on the building of the new nation and the different viewpoints at that time.

    And, if you want a LONG book and are interested in the Civil War - Shelby Foote's Civil War: A Narrative.

    My current "Box of 20"

  • BustDMsBustDMs Posts: 1,448 ✭✭✭✭✭

    McCulloch on John Adams is one of my favorites.

    Undaunted Courage on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

    U S Grants autobiography.

    Just a few to start.

    Q: When does a collector become a numismatist?

    A: The year they spend more on their library than their coin collection.

    A numismatist is judged more on the content of their library than the content of their cabinet.
  • CircCamCircCam Posts: 191 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BustDMs said:
    McCulloch on John Adams is one of my favorites.

    Undaunted Courage on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

    U S Grants autobiography.

    Just a few to start.

    I thought of Undaunted Courage the second I saw the thread title. +1 for sure, excellent read and a side-numismatic element in the Jefferson medals given to the natives by Lewis & Clark. The fact that they made the journey there and back while only losing one man to a non-violent cause (likely appendicitis) is truly remarkable.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,735 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 1, 2022 5:33PM

    I generally like shorter books that are easier reads. Here are a few that I've read:

    • Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America's Destiny by Brian Kilmeade
    • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
    • George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade
    • Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade

    I've started a few longer books which I liked, but wasn't able to finish:

    • 1776 by David McCullough
    • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

    I'm currently reading the following which Don Kagin also said he enjoyed:

    • Killing Crazy Horse by Bill O'Reilly

  • breakdownbreakdown Posts: 1,923 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 1, 2022 7:41PM
    1. Burr by Gore Vidal. If you like it, read Lincoln also. Historical novels that are brilliant and irreverent.
    2. Eagle against the Sun by Spector. Great explanation of the War in the Pacific.

    "Look up, old boy, and see what you get." -William Bonney.

  • LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    you can click the last link in my signature below for thousands of numismatic communications between mints, the public and more. depending on your experience, personality, organization skills, taste in coins and information about them, this may or not be for you. some of the stuff is as dry as the sahara but some of it is enthralling. you kinda have to practice searching to find some of the fun stuff.

    NNP has a MULTITUDE of various books, documents, periodicals, magazines, studies and so much more right at the click of our fingertips. we live in the age of information. literally NEVER in history that i am aware of has our species had access to so much free information from a plethora of sources, much of it essentially gratis.

    MANY members here and abroad have donated a lot of time and effort (including myself) into properly transcribing and preparing these documents for proper cataloging, whereas they would be sitting in boxes getting dusty and rotten otherwise, with a big thanks to roger burdette for doing the heavy lifting, literally and metaphorically.

    Transcribed Docs NNP

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

  • AotearoaAotearoa Posts: 1,306 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson. Simply a masterpiece.

    Smitten with DBLCs.

  • 1northcoin1northcoin Posts: 3,549 ✭✭✭✭✭

    All those "Killing" books by Bill O'Reilly, the number books (1421 (The Year China Discovered America), 1776) by Gavin Menzies and David McCullough respectively and for the best Numismatic U.S. History Book I nominate the Q. David Bowers tome, "A California Gold Rush History."

  • TrumboTrumbo Posts: 85 ✭✭✭

    I highly recommend any book by Nathaniel philbrick, especially mayflower and heart of the sea. He's a great historian and writer

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 3,717 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The American Revolution is my main interest in books, highly recommend American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence by Pauline Maier.

    Also The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution by John Oller. Well written with new research, Marion used insurgent guerrilla tactics before and after Yorktown that helped to win the War of Independence.

    Currently reading A Spark of Revolution: William Small, Thomas Jefferson, and James Watt, the Curious Connection Between the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution by Martin Clagett. William Small was from Scotland, a mentor and professor for Jefferson, and had great influence on Jefferson in many ways. Clagett had previously written an unsolicited review of my biography of Robert Scot in the academic journal "Eighteenth Century Scotland."

    Economics - An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776, many modern reprints) is essential reading. It was reprinted in the United States by Thomas Dobson in 1789 and had profound influence on US economic and monetary policy.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty - biography of US Mint's first chief engraver

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