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Free History Books to Download in June 2024

Explore classic nonfiction reads at no cost.

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  • Photo Credit: Ruby Khoesial / Unsplash

What's better than diving into a new ebook? Knowing that you got it for free. Check out these fascinating history accounts that are free to download for the whole month.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine

The Confessions of Saint Augustine

By Saint Augustine

FREE

The world’s most famous spiritual autobiography

Written between 397 and 398 CE, The Confessions of Saint Augustine is the story of Augustine of Hippo’s childhood in Numidia, his youth and early adulthood in Carthage, Rome, and Milan, and his conversion to Christianity. As he struggled to liberate himself from his sinful past, Augustine embarked on a quest that would transform him into one of the most influential religious thinkers of all time.

A moving testament to the power of faith and an inspirational guide to a fulfilled life, The Confessions of Saint Augustine is a masterwork of Western literature.

Two Years Before the Mast

Two Years Before the Mast

By Richard Henry Dana

FREE

In this nineteenth-century nautical memoir, a Harvard man sails around the tip of South America to California—and returns with this classic tale of adventure.

In 1834, nineteen-year-old Richard Henry Dana left Harvard University to enlist as a deckhand on a brig sailing from Boston to the California coast. For the next two years, he recorded the terrifying storms, awe-inspiring beauty, and dreadful hardships of the journey in a diary he would later expand into this riveting memoir of “the life of a common sailor at sea as it really is.”

Dana spares no detail in portraying the wretched conditions he endured and the cruelty of the ship’s captain, but he also paints vivid, unforgettable pictures of natural wonders such as icebergs and schools of migrating whales. His descriptions of the missions and presidios of pre–Gold Rush California captured the imagination of the country when the book was first published in 1840, and they serve as valuable historical documentation to this day.

An instant classic and inspiration for contemporaries such as Herman Melville, Two Years Before the Mast is one of the most remarkable and influential adventure stories in American literature.

The Complete Papers and Writings of Abraham Lincoln

The Complete Papers and Writings of Abraham Lincoln

By Abraham Lincoln

FREE

A complete documentary archive of Abraham Lincoln’s writings, from historic speeches to personal letters and telegrams.

Collected here are numerous documents written by Abraham Lincoln from 1832 to 1865, over the course of his long career as a lawyer, statesman, and president of the United States. From the man who led the nation through the Civil War and into its Reconstruction, Lincoln’s written statements—including the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address—are some of the most significant documents in American history. Included with these works are telegrams to politicians and wartime generals as well as personal letters discussing a range of topics, from youth and marriage to depression.

This extensive collection is not only an excellent documentary history of America’s greatest trial as a nation, but also an opportunity to enjoy the intellect and wit of one of America’s greatest orators. As Theodore Roosevelt says in his introductory comments, “Lincoln’s deeds and words are not only of consuming interest to the historian, but should be intimately known to every man engaged in the hard practical work of American political life.”

The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

By Sojourner Truth

FREE

From slavery to liberation to life as an abolitionist, feminist, orator, and preacher—the autobiography of a woman who refused to be anything but free.

Born into slavery in New York around 1797, then sold from master to master, Sojourner Truth spent her formative years witnessing the cruelty inherent in the institution of slavery. Escaping to a friendly household before emancipation, she learned that her young son had been sold illegally and launched a lawsuit that would end with his release—the first time in America that a black woman went to court against a white man and won.

But Truth hadn’t even begun her work. She made it her life’s mission to free all those who were considered less than equal—both those in chains and those held down because of their gender—ultimately inspiring her friends and followers with the legendary speech that came to be known as “Ain’t I a Woman?” So great was Truth’s renown and respect that she met with President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. She was later named one of the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time by Smithsonian magazine.

Published in 1850, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth was spoken aloud to Truth’s friend and neighbor Olive Gilbert, as she herself was illiterate. Along with The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, it remains one of the most moving and eloquent slave narratives—a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Featured image: Ruby Khoesial / Unsplash