Skip to comments.Building a list of historic American biographies
Posted on 12/09/2013 5:47:24 AM PST by headbegger
I am building a list of books I can keep and/or recommend to others, especially those with kids. I need your help with books that are not the product of left leaning bias and/or were written in the past.
I am a full time professional storyteller and public speaker and use such as source material for stories and to recommend to parents and adults when they ask for suggestions.
The problem is that so many newer books portray our Founding Fathers and other American heroes poorly or have rewritten history to the point that I no longer recognize it. By telling the stories of great men and women of America I can at least do my small part to speak the truth to the next generation.
Therefore, if you were recommending books for this list, what would you include? I am looking for a good full list and also a top 10. The top 10 probably should be relatively easy to read, represent individuals or historic moments in American history.
Thanks in advance!
I recommend Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
(It is from a remarkable historical era — when people didn’t presume to write the story of their lives until AFTER they had accomplished something)
“Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” - without a dobut the best book ever written by a U.S. President.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis
This link is for a listing of books for conservatives and is a great list I stumbled upon. Not exactly what I was looking for but a list I have already started searching Amazon to get what I don’t already have.
Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice both have compelling biographies.
“Relatively easy to read” easily works its way into pablum, and I can’t recommend pablum. This list is mostly for adults and teens with a couple of working brain cells.
the Autobiography of Ben Franklin - quite readable for older kids and young teens as well as adults.
Paul Revere, and Washington’s Crossing - both relatively new and by David Hackett Fischer — must reads.
The Glory and the Dream - by William Manchester. Covers roughly 1932-1970. Excellent social history and great background for what led up to WWII and all the cold war stuff — a section of which should be read before reading - a good foundation for what’s happening today.
Witness by Whittaker Chambers - a MUST read for all anti-Communists Read the sections on “the Hiss trial” and the Chamber’s book and you’ll know all about why the left hated Nixon so much — he was RIGHT about the sainted Alger Hiss, who was a traitor to his country — and the Russian’s Venona Papers have vindicated this.
The Federalist papers.
Johnny Tremaine — For kids of about 9-10 and up
Make sure youngsters at a certain point read Animal Farm by Orwell. Not too young but when they’ve had a bit of world history and know something of dictators like Stalin (specifically) and Hitler. About 15 or so, younger if they are hip to history. Too young and they miss the allegory. Too old and they miss being able to answer teachers back in class who are Obama cheerleaders.
I am also a Mark Twain impersonator. I believe this is the book that Twain encouraged Grant to write as the President was suffering/dying from throat cancer.
Twain advanced Grant funds and continued to give advances as the dying President dictated sometimes 10,000 to 20,000 words a day. (Grant had lost his life savings to someone who took advantage and gambled with his investments on Wall Street from what I remember.)
I think Grant had resigned his commission as General to be President so had no pension AND there was no Presidential retirement/pension at the time.
In reading Twain’s biography I read of occasions when those from Grant’s household would come to Twain and let him know President Grant had no money for food or medicine. Twain would sit down, write a check and send it to the family.
Twain owned a publishing company at the time and Grant’s book was the only real success.
Lets not forget the literary masterpiece of the 20th Century;
In the course of doing genealogy I discovered an ancestor named Mary Polly Hawkins Craig. She and her daughter are official Daughter’s of the American Revolution Patriots. There aren’t a lot of women with that designation. They obtained that designation through their defense of a small settlement in Kentucky, Bryant Station. They were some of the Water Carriers. Google that. But before that Polly Craig and her extensive family were the leaders of something called “The Travelling Church.” It is spelled with two “ells.” They left Virginia and came through the Cumberland Gap to settle in Kentucky because they were not allowed to preach the Gospel in Virginia because her three sons who were preachers were not sanctioned by the Anglican Church.
There is a small book on the subject written by the Separatist Baptists. They don’t like Catholics very much. LOL I think I gave the copy I had to my son but the whole story is on the internet. I have always thought that she is worth a song or a story. Let me know.
Young people ought to know of course about the life and Presidency George Washington, A. Lincoln...and also, H. Truman.
These three are I think, America’s most significant Presidents.
Each was in office in a most crucial and challenging era which could have had the most adverse results for this country, if these men did not possess firm character and resolve.
Chernow also did a biography on Washington that isn’t bad.
Patton: A Genius for War by Carlo D'Este
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Iron Eagle: The Turbulent Life of General Curtis LeMay by Thomas Coffey
Flexner’s biography of George Washington (The Indispensable Man)—I found it very easy to read and was not a platform for modern nonsense. The overwhelming impression I got from reading Flexner’s biography was that Washington was a truly great man with attributes all leaders should understand and aspire to.
Not about a founding father but about a man who had conservative common sense and who stood alone against a leftist sea facing the storm of Nazi totalitarianism is the second book in the three volume series titled “The Last Lion: Alone 1932-1940”, by W Manchester. The first book goes on about politically correct stuff for quite awhile but this second book cannot be interpreted as anything but a test of conservative intelligence pitted against the emotional intellectualism of hopeless leftism. It will solidify understanding of concepts related to defense and peace through strength. It shows how the courage to stand firm in what is right, without hope of external approbation, saved a nation and helped save the world.
“Abraham Lincoln; The War Years” by Carl Sandburg.
At four volumes, it looks intimidating. But it is actually a pretty easy read and it is the sort of book that you can skip around in. I read it completely out of order.
I let my copy sit for a couple of years because I thought it would be a bit of a paean to “Saint Abe.” Not at all. He covers the good, the bad and the ugly and really brought Lincoln to life for me. I can appreciate the human Abe much more than the mythical Abe.
And you can usually pick up used copies pretty cheap ;-)
Biography of Eddie Rickenbacher, WW I flying ace, race car driver.
Look to the period of Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Jackson and Polk.
Mariness's book on Clinton still the best
Freeman, Robert E. Lee
Anything by Remini on Andrew Jackson
See my endnotes in "Patriot's History of the US" for all the sources on people such as Cleveland, Hayes, and so on. Too many to list here.
David Herbert Donald’s biography of Lincoln plays it straight and it’s very readable.
Truman: David McCullough is a fun read about a colorful man.
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose is another good story.
Stille, Charles Janeway, Major General Anthony Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line in the Continental Army. Gansevort, NY: Corner House publications, 2000
Trumbull, John, "Autobiography - Reminiscences of John Trumbull from 1756 to 1841". N.Y.: Wiley and Putnam, 1841
Tuckerman, Bayard, "Life of General Philip Schuyler". N.Y.: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1904
“Truman: David McCullough is a fun read about a colorful man.”
I agree,but I came away from that book really disliking Bess Truman.
“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. The life story of an American hero, Louis Zamparini, and absolutely one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. If you aren’t familiar with this one already, just buy it and start reading. Don’t even read the synopsis first; let the whole thing be a surprise. :)
J.C. Penny’s autobiography, The Golden Rule. Also look for the book Cradles of Emminence which has multiple stories of famous people in various walks of life, focusing on their obstacles or situations in childhood, grouped by type of issue such as only children, children with illnesses, etc.
Wikipedia says that Zamperini was held in the same camp as Pappy Boyington.
I recommend Boyington's book, Baa Baa Blacksheep. In addition to being an interesting account his WWII experiences, it includes a helpful message to anyone struggling with substance abuse.
I learned a LOT by reading this:
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