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10 Revealing Revolutionary War Books

These riveting reads offer fresh insight into America's fight for independence.

In April 1775, violence erupted between American militiamen and British soldiers in Lexington, Massachusetts, thus igniting the Revolutionary War. For eight bloody years, the American colonies waged war against Great Britain. The struggle for independence was no easy feat. George Washington, in his 1783 farewell orders to the Continental Army, declared America's victory in the Revolutionary War "little short of a standing miracle." And while readers today will find no shortage of books about the American Revolution, the following narratives deserve a top spot on your TBR list.  

These Revolutionary War books offer a fresh perspective on the fight for American independence, from vivid portraits of lesser-known revolutionaries to a secret plot to kill George Washington. 

Buy The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington at Amazon

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

By Brad Meltzer

Author Brad Meltzer is no stranger to lost histories. In his latest, the New York Times bestselling author investigates a little-known episode from 1776 that nearly derailed the Revolutionary War: a plot to kill General George Washington carried out by Washington’s own bodyguards. Expertly researched and written with the propulsive pace of a spy thriller, The First Conspiracy adds a compelling chapter to the legacy of George Washington and the American Revolution. 

Related: George Washington Was Nearly Impossible to Kill 

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

By Brad Meltzer

Buy Revolutionaries at Amazon

Revolutionaries

By Jack Rakove

From Thomas Jefferson to Alexander Hamilton, it’s difficult to imagine the everyday lives of the revolutionaries who forged the American republic. Yet as Pulitzer–prize winning historian Jack Rakove illustrates in his remarkable book, the Founding Fathers were ordinary men with contrasting viewpoints who together faced an extraordinary challenge. Spanning 1773 to 1792, from the critical battles of the Revolutionary War to the ratification of the Constitution and beyond, Revolutionaries chronicles the famous and not-so-famous inventors of America, and the competing philosophies that shaped the new nation. 

Related: 14 Little-Known Facts About America's Founding Fathers 

Revolutionaries

By Jack Rakove

Buy Washington at Amazon

Washington

By James Thomas Flexner

In this four-volume biography, award-winning author James Thomas Flexner goes beyond the deified image of America’s first president to discover a man made of flesh and blood. Chronicling Washington’s life from his birth in the British Colony of Virginia through the tribulations of the Revolutionary War and final years at Mount Vernon, this indispensable biography delivers a “perceptive account of an extraordinary man who, for all his monumental image, was yet a human being.” (New York Times Book Review)

Washington

By James Thomas Flexner

Buy Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence  at Amazon

Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence

By Carol Berkin

Historian Carol Berkin examines the critical role women played in the fight for American independence. In the early days of the Revolution, women raised funds for the new nation and organized boycotts of British goods. When war broke out, they served as spies and couriers, and provided logistical support to the Continental Army. Some even took up arms and joined the conflict. Expertly written and studded with vivid first-person accounts, Berkin illustrates how women from all walks of life were essential to the success of the Revolutionary War. 

Related: You Know the Founding Fathers, Now Meet the Founding Mothers

Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence

By Carol Berkin

Buy Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775–1781 at Amazon

Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775–1781

By W. J. Wood

In search of a tactical analysis of the key battles of the Revolutionary War? Military historian W.J. Wood delivers a blow-by-blow account of the conflicts that defined the bloody fight for American independence, from Bunker Hill and Kings Mountain to the Battle of the Capes. Replete with maps and illustrations, this revealing read is a treat for history buffs and tacticians alike. 

Related: The Culper Ring: The Revolutionary Spies Who Helped Win the War 

Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775–1781

By W. J. Wood

Buy A Son of Thunder at Amazon

A Son of Thunder

By Henry Mayer

Give me liberty or give me death! Patrick Henry may not be the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of the Founding Fathers, yet the magnetic speaker and his views on liberty helped shape the tone of the American Revolution. In this engaging biography, Mayer traces the life and beliefs of an important revolutionary. 

A Son of Thunder

By Henry Mayer

Buy The Radicalism of the American Revolution at Amazon

The Radicalism of the American Revolution

By Gordon S. Wood

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this provocative work recasts the American Revolution as a fiery rebellion that took on a life of its own as it spread across the colonies. Countering traditional narratives of an orderly and enlightened conflict, Wood reveals how the Revolutionary War and America’s break from England transformed a colonial society into a radical republic, resulting in the messy liberal democracy we know today. 

Related: 7 Strange Facts About Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

The Radicalism of the American Revolution

By Gordon S. Wood

Buy Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution at Amazon

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick recreates the chaos of the Revolutionary War as he explores the doomed relationship between George Washington and his trusted general Benedict Arnold. Rich with intrigue, Valiant Ambition is a dramatic account of loyalty and betrayal, and the fraught conflict that ushered in America.

Related: "Villainous Perfidy": Benedict Arnold's Betrayal of George Washington 

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Buy West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 at Amazon

West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

By Claudio Saunt

When discussing the year 1776, one naturally focuses on the Eastern seaboard of the United States where war raged throughout the colonies. Yet it was far from the only center of activity. Westward, across the expanse of North America, Russians moved into Alaska, the Spanish landed in what is now San Francisco, and the Sioux set foot in the Black Hills. In this uncommon history of a pivotal year, Saunt invites us to examine the breadth of revolutionary moments that shaped the American continent as the colonists fought for independence in the east. 

West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

By Claudio Saunt

Buy Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War at Amazon

Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War

By Maya Jasanoff

Every student of American history knows the popular narrative of the Revolutionary War: Colonists, fed up with British rule, broke free from the monarchy to establish a new nation. Yet among these men and women were some sixty thousand who remained loyal to Great Britain. And when the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, they were forced to abandon their homes and set sail for safe harbor elsewhere in the British Empire. Jasanoff provides a moving account of these 18th century exiles and the hardships they faced as they left America in search of a new world. 

Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War

By Maya Jasanoff

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Published on 08 Jan 2019

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