The Books

The 100 (or so) Greatest Books on the American Revoution

History buffs love books and American Revolution buffs have a lot to choose from.If you search on Amazon, you will find over 12,000 books under the heading of “Revolution and Founding”.

With so many choices, where does any student of the Revolution begin? Which tomes are the most credible for their impeccable research and unbiased scrutiny of the era? Who better to answer that question but our friends at the Journal of the American Revolution?

As editors of Journal of the American Revolution, they read and sample a lot of history books. They also schmooze with many early American historians and subject matter experts, who have strong book opinions and recommendations. From their years of publishing, writing, reading, researching, interviewing and gabbing, they’ve compiled a list of what they consider to be the best American Revolution books of all time. Ok, maybe not of all time, but certainly our time. And this is arguably the most exciting time in history for history.

Modern technology has made an unprecedented amount of primary source material conveniently available to researchers, thus improving the depth, breadth and accuracy of information being published. So, it’s no surprise that many books on this list were published in the last two decades.

While this list was originally set out to identify the top 100 American Revolution books, I will undoubtedly add more to this list over time. Groundbreaking work is being published with greater frequency than ever and there may be titles that I missed (let me know which ones you think we missed in the comments).

To make the list more manageable, I split the books into five broad categories, which we’ve sorted by our recommended reading order:

  1. Start with some all-in-one books to gain a broad-brush understanding of the era, its timeline, its challenges and its characters. You’ll also pick up a strong synthesis of cultural, economic and political analysis.
  2. Learn the origins and causes of the Revolution. How did a small regional rebellion escalate into a widespread revolution? What were the key inputs and influences?
  3. Next, meet the people—individuals and groups—who made the Revolution; what were their motivations, their inspirations and so forth. It’s important to observe the Revolution from many perspectives.
  4. Fully understand the politics of the revolution, locally, nationally and globally. A lot of political ground is covered in the other four categories and volumes dedicated to this topic are not as prevalent as biographies or battle books, so naturally this section is lighter than others. If you want, save the post-war political books for later. We’ve highlighted a few of those below, but there are many other excellent Constitution and Federal period books to consider beyond this list.
  5. Finally, more than just strategy and tactics, appreciate what all participants sacrificed by understanding the conflict and war, from small skirmishes and large campaigns to bloody massacres and epic battle scenes.

The best books under each sub-section below are listed alphabetically by title. And in most cases we’ve included the original publisher and publication year even though a more recent paperback or reprint edition is available. Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite American Revolution history book as well as anything you think we missed or got right. Cheers to fascinating American Revolution history and happy reading!

The links below take you to the books on Amazon using my affiliate link. Using this link will let you support the blog without you paying any more for the stuff you were going to purchase already!

All-in-one

Origins

People

Politics

Conflict & War