Instead of my usual July 4 musings on historical counterfactuals, let’s talk about some good books on American history. I’d say the key books I’ve read are:
— Gordon Wood’s The Radicalism of the American Revolution.
— James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.
— Eric Foner’s Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877.
— My understanding is that the professional consensus has turned against it, but I still thought Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States was and is fascinating.
— V.O. Key’s Southern Politics in State and Nation and Theda Skocpol’s Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in United States are arguably more political science than history, but they’re both great.
Those are more-or-less all standard classic works as I understand it. Jean Edward Smith’s Grant and Eric Rauchway’s Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America and Robert Caro’s Lyndon Johnson biography would be my top selections in the “books I wasn’t assigned in college” category.