U.S. History

Here are this month’s five great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders! Click on a title to place a hold. To find previous Chris Picks just click on the “what to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our home page.

In celebration of July 4th, I have gathered five American History books to honor the day and month.

David McCullough and Stephen Ambrose are my favorite American History writers. They do more than simply reveal facts; they make you care about the story they are telling. I think I have read just about everything McCullough has written. 1776 is a standout, though not my favorite. Path Between the Seas, about the building of the Panama Canal, ranks higher for me. Both amazing books show how much detail McCullough puts into each book he writes.

Undaunted Courage
In addition to McCullough’s works, I have read many Stephen Ambrose books. Undaunted Courage is about Lewis and Clark’s trip to map the west. Another one to read is Nothing Like It in the World, which details the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman
What I found completely fascinating about American Gunfight is the fact that I had no clue this happened. A gunfight on the streets of Washington DC? Crazy, right? Even crazier is who planned the assassination attempt.

Isaac’s Storm
Isaac’s Storm is the first book published by Erik Larson and it is still my favorite. About the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas, the book held me in its grip.

46 Pages: Thomas Paine, Common Sense, and the Turning Point to American Independence
I remember when Scott Liell wrote 46 Pages. He lived in Madison and spent many days here at the Scranton Library working on the book. Thomas Paine and his original pamphlet called Common Sense was only 46 pages, hence Liell’s title. I checked recently to see if Scott had written anything else and much to my shock discovered that he passed away in 2016. But he left a legacy with this book.

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