US History

As part of my prep work for my move to the Big Apple, I’ve decided that it’s time to learn about the history of the US of A. Anyone have any recommendations to make regarding individual books that cover pretty much everything that you really need to know?

Much obliged.

We’re a very young country, so there’s hardly any history to learn. This’ll be easy. :slight_smile:

Not an individual book, but I’d recommend Daniel Boorstin’s three-volume The Americans. The books are not a standard linear history of the US, but a series of short essays on various bits of history that collectively add up to a better overall understanding of why we are like we are than any textbook. Boorstin is also one of my favorite history writers because he can actually write. His books are a delight to read and his credentials are awesome. Just by going through his collected works you would be considered well-read.

Not a complete history but Thomas Fleming’s Liberty makes you wonder how the US ever became a country. Also Fleming’s Duel although dealing with one event does gives some history of that period.

Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the United States is surprisingly good.

Paul Johnson’s History of the American People (or something like that) and Hugh Brogan’s Penguin History of the USA are very entertaining (they are both British, I think). If you like being beaten with a leftish cudgel, which also has its charms, you may like Howard Zinn. I’d go with Alan–that’s Alan–Brinkley if you want a text bookish kind of thing. Commager and Morison are good, too. There are, of course, countless others, but these are the one’s I dip into.

Ooh, the apostrophe on the “one” looks awful. Forgive me!!

You may want to check out * Lies My Teacher Taught Me * for some of the current controversies in teaching of revisionist history. While the author, James Loewen has been discredited in a few of his points, some of his perspectives on the resistance to the de-mythification of American history are interesting.

I have LMTTM. Where could I find out what he’s been discredited on?

** Cardinal, ** there was a thread a while back about this. Just do a search on “Loewen” and I’m sure you’ll find it.

Oh, I’ve heard of that guy. My pal Hash has his Cartoon History of the Universe Volumes 1, 2, and 3. Is the US section a separate book, or just part of that series?

I reccomand Barbara Tuchman’s “The First Salute”

Excellent reading and shows a unique perspective on the beginings of America.

It’s a seperate book. And one with much worse artwork. But as a general overview of US history it’s not the worst on earth.

Obviously, 200+ years of events is too much for any one book to cover. Try some of the basic texts before getting into detail.

I humbly submit this:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=77443&highlight=childs+AND+history

This summarizes the historical knowledge of the average American in one concise post.

Well DUH! :slight_smile:

Sorry, I appear to be wearing my pointed-headed hat this Monday morning, but a recommendation for general texts is what I’m asking for.

What are the kids (failing to) read in History class these days?

Actually, a good source for some odd real history, as told to me by my high school history teacher, is Muzzleloader magazine… I have yet to look through one, but this teacher is the only one I’ve had that expanded upon what everybody else teaches you and participates in local re-enactments of the fur trade era… a great point in history is the time of the Rendezvous… and if you want to find out about an awesome guy during the Revolutionary War, try to look up Peter Fransisco…I believe that’s how you spell his name… He was an almost unstoppable force on his own…

Samuel Eliot Morison’s Oxford History of the American People is a good single-volume overview, too.

Zinn isn’t just “leftish”, he’s a full-throated Bolshevik. But his version is worth reading after you have a more general grounding, at least for laughs.

The subject is as bottomless as any aspect of history, as I’m sure you know. You’ll never be done.

Another in the Cartoon History genre is Stan Mack’s Real Life American Revoltion, suprisingly good. (well worth the $1 it cost me at the university bookstore bargin bin).

One for Don’t Know Much About History, which should be easy to find and gives a good overview. It’s in question and answer format, which is nice if you want to know about a very specific event plus you can skip around a bit more easily.