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.
A new book by acclaimed historian Patrick K. O’Donnell, The Indispensables reveals the history of the 14th Continental Regiment, also known as the Marbleheaders. Assembled in 1775, this regiment was made up of seafaring men hailing from Marblehead, Massachusetts and the surrounding area. The Marbleheaders worked tirelessly to defend the colonies during the American Revolution, and played a pivotal role in numerous skirmishes—from rescuing George Washington’s army from the British after the disastrous Battle of Brooklyn, to secretly ferrying his men across the icy Delaware River in the days before the Battle of Trenton.
The Marbleheaders were also a remarkably diverse group, setting an inclusive standard that wouldn’t be reached by the U.S. Army for another 170 years. In his new book The Indispensables, O’Donnell shares the full story of the Marbleheaders for the first time, shedding light on this little-known regiment whose fearless acts were instrumental in the success of the American Revolution.
The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington
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.
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.
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)
Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence
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.
Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775–1781
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.
A Son of Thunder
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.
The Radicalism of the American Revolution
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.
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution
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.
West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776
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.
Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War
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.
This post is sponsored by Flatiron Books. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for The Archive to continue publishing the history stories you love.