In honor of Independence Day, I wanted to share four books that bring key periods in American history to light. This is by no means a "top four" list, as many books arguably deserve a spot. This is simply a list of books I've read recently that are worthy of your attention.
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose
This tells the story of Lewis and Clark's expeditions, including plenty of detail from their original journals. Two things stood out as I read this book. First, how incredible it was to design a journey where they had no idea what they would encounter. Meriwether Lewis met with experts in geography, botany, and medicine to try and prepare for the unknown. Second, how Lewis and Clark's crew was essentially fueled by whisky, which not surprisingly provided all sorts of problems.
Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara
A fascinating novel that illustrates the revolutionary war period from the point of view of the individual participants. Brilliant take on people including John Adams, Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin and their motivations. I especially enjoyed the perspective of British general Thomas Gage, given the difficult task of containing a rebellion.
John Adams by David McCullough
Some overlap with "Rise to Rebellion" at the beginning, including key events like the Boston Massacre where John Adams famously defended the British soldiers. For anyone that has lived in or been to Boston, the descriptions of the city and surrounding environment make this a must read. Also engaging were the stories of sea travel to Europe, which meant Mr. Adams wouldn't see his children for years at a time.
Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert Matzen and Leonard Maltin
Hat tip to my father-in-law for sharing this one. I knew who Jimmy Stewart was, and I knew about the European air battles during World War II, but I did not know how the two overlapped. Jimmy Stewart left a promising Hollywood career to become a successful bomber pilot and officer. He then returned and dropped perhaps his best known performance in "It's a Wonderful Life." Incredible color on Hollywood in the 30's and 40's as well as firsthand accounts from the skies above Europe.
While none of these books deal directly with the financial markets, they cover topics that are central to the human experience: leadership, communication, struggle, perseverance. Many of the characters show traits that many of us would strive to emulate. They also show how these same people are imperfect, fighting their own internal battles as many do.
What are your favorite books that bring American history to light? Tell me on Twitter.
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