4 Books to Celebrate the Fourth of July

The United States turns a robust 240 years old this Fourth of July, and everyone’s invited to the birthday festivities, sure to be full of food and fireworks (both literal and figurative). Many of our Independence Day commemoration rituals stem from the wishes of Founding Father John Adams, who wrote in a letter to his wife on July 3, 1776, that people should celebrate “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” But Adams probably wouldn’t begrudge you if, during the quieter moments of this long weekend, you spend some time curled up with one of these books about the Revolutionary War and the subsequent founding of the U.S.

1776

The year 1776 may be remembered fondly now, but for George Washington and the ragtag American rebel army, it was one strenuous year, with each military victory feeling like a rather large miracle. The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough focuses his attention on a wide cast of characters, from the U.S.’s not-yet first president and the ragamuffins who followed him in battle. 1776 is an essential walkthrough of the pivotal year during which the Declaration of Independence was signed but the war for freedom was hardly won.

Angel in the Whirlwind

Bobrick provides an engrossing, holistic view of the American Revolution, from its “no taxation without representation!” days to the British finally lowering their flag and conceding defeat. While still focusing on the human elements, putting the reader in the mindset of the colonists during that time, Bobrick also gets into the nitty-gritty of the hard-fought battles during the war. A thrilling ride through the whirlwind decades of the War for Independence.

Revolutionary

There are so many reasons that Alex Myers’ fictionalization of a true story is revolutionary, as it plays with just about every expectation of what a war story should be. Revolutionary follows Deborah Samson as she disguises herself as a man to join the colonial army. It captures the struggles of army life, from waiting around in boredom, building camaraderie, to laying your life on the line, while also exploring the trappings of gender and the experiences of being transgender.

The Declaration of Independence

Have you ever actually read the document that sparked our obsession with sparklers? Well, it’s better late than never—and we assure you that it’s better to listen to it aloud, to get the proper cadence of the weighty words. This audio edition, recorded from a live lecture, also provides useful contextual information, like the process of drafting the Declaration. After listening, be sure to declare to your fellow revelers how much smarter you are than them.


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