With the 4th just around the corner, I’ve made up a list of my favorite patriotic books. So when you are sitting in your car on Friday waiting for the fireworks to start, flashlight in hand, you’ll have something to kill the time. 😉
4: John Adams by David McCullough
John Adams gets no respect. We see pictures like this
and think that he was nothing more than a dour old Puritan. But he was so much more interesting than that! He was passionate, dynamic, and outspoken and every bit of that fire comes across in David McCullough’s biography. Few history writers these days seem to be able to stick to fact without editorializing and even fewer can stick to facts without being dry. McCullough, however, not only stays honest, but keeps you interested too. OK, so the chapters on Adams’s stint as an ambassador to France can be rather dry and I’m still annoyed with McCullough for not including a pronunciation guide (sooooo many French names), but overall, John Adams was a fantastic biography.
This is one of those books that I would tell everyone to read if I could. So what if it has nothing to do with America’s founding? It’s still a great Fourth of July book because it’s about FREEDOM, about rising above everyone and everything that tries to keep you down. Not only is Frederick Douglass utterly amazing in his own right, but he was a heck of a writer too, making his autobiography one of the best biographies I’ve ever read.
2: The Real George Washington by Andrew Allison
George Washington, like Mr. Adams, is another person that I don’t think Americans know all that well. We know that he chopped down a cherry tree (untrue), that he wore wooden dentures (also untrue), and that he was at the front of the boat when his troops crossed the Delaware River (finally got one right!). But we know very little about the struggles he faced as the leader of a barefoot and half-starved army; how his life was saved by the hand of God on several occasions; how he gave and gave and gave to his country until he was spent. In this book, you can read plenty about that and more. Perfect for the Fourth of July, or any day, for that matter.
What what else does one read on the birthday of America’s freedom? I think we could all stand to be reminded of what our Declaration actually says (and what it doesn’t) and now is a perfect time for that reminder. And what’s really great about this document is that it is not very long at all. Back then, government documents were designed to be as concise and clear as possible (what a novel idea!), so it won’t take you more than a few minutes to get through it. If the American Revolution is your thing, you might also want to check out Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration, the one that was rejected by the Second Continental Congress. It’s much wordier, but also more poetic, more over-the-top, and rather interesting to compare to the Declaration as we know it.