by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, Authors of America’s First Daughter
The American revolution is having a bit of a moment in the collective conscience and just in time for July 4th! Here’s a recommended reading list so that you can kick back and do a little “independent” reading during this patriotic holiday.
The hottest musical on the planet has tried to satisfy fans with a book that parallels the creative journey of making a broadway hit with the struggles and dedication needed to bring about a new nation. Gossipy, clever, and earnest by turns, this beautiful book just works.
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.
HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.
Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sondheim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by President Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.
Non-Fiction [Grand Central Publishing, On Sale: April 12, 2016, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781455539741 / eISBN: 9781455567539]
In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.
It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.
Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father’s reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.
Historical [William Morrow, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062347268 / eISBN: 9780062347275]
If you enjoyed the National Treasure movies, you’ll love Steve Berry’s modern-day sleuth, Cotton Malone, who delves into the secrets of our Founding Fathers to head off a presidential assassination. This thriller promises adventure, history, and a big dose of fun!
Four United States presidents have been assassinated—in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963—each murder seemingly unrelated and separated by time.
But what if those presidents were all killed for the same reason: a clause in the United States Constitution—contained within Article 1, Section 8—that would shock Americans?
This question is what faces former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone in his latest adventure. When a bold assassination attempt is made against President Danny Daniels in the heart of Manhattan, Malone risks his life to foil the killing—only to find himself at dangerous odds with the Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first assembled during the American Revolution. In their most perilous exploit yet, Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt race across the nation and take to the high seas. Along the way they break a secret cipher originally possessed by Thomas Jefferson, unravel a mystery concocted by Andrew Jackson, and unearth a centuries-old document forged by the Founding Fathers themselves, one powerful enough—thanks to that clause in the Constitution—to make the Commonwealth unstoppable.
Thriller [Ballantine, On Sale: May 17, 2011, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780345505514 / eISBN: 9780345530165]
Funny, irreverent, and filled with historical tidbits that shed new light on America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman, Sarah Vowell’s book is a stark reminder of how America has been influenced by our heroes, and how America influenced them.
Chronicling General Lafayette’s years in Washington’s army, Vowell reflects on the ideals of the American Revolution versus the reality of the Revolutionary War. Riding shotgun with Lafayette, Vowell swerves from the high-minded debates of Independence Hall to the frozen wasteland of Valley Forge, from bloody battlefields to the Palace of Versailles, bumping into John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Lord Cornwallis, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Antoinette and various kings, Quakers and redcoats along the way.
Drawn to the patriots’ war out of a lust for glory, Enlightenment ideas and the traditional French hatred for the British, young Lafayette crossed the Atlantic expecting to join forces with an undivided people, encountering instead fault lines between the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, rebel and loyalist inhabitants, and a conspiracy to fire George Washington, the one man holding together the rickety, seemingly doomed patriot cause.
While Vowell’s yarn is full of the bickering and infighting that marks the American past—and present—her telling of the Revolution is just as much a story of friendship: between Washington and Lafayette, between the Americans and their French allies and, most of all between Lafayette and the American people. Coinciding with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history, Vowell lingers over the elderly Lafayette’s sentimental return tour of America in 1824, when three fourths of the population of New York City turned out to welcome him ashore. As a Frenchman and the last surviving general of the Continental Army, Lafayette belonged to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction. He was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what the founders hoped this country could be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing, singular past.
Vowell’s narrative look at our somewhat united states is humorous, irreverent and wholly original.
What could be more delicious than the idea of an American actress and playwright turning her poisoned pen against a British general in British occupied Manhattan in 1777? Not much. Thorland explores the unrest of an American city under occupation and gives a glimpse into the lives of brave women at the time the nation was founded.
British Occupied Manhattan, 1777. With her witty comedies, American actress Jennifer Leighton has been packing the John Street Theater, but she longs to escape the provincial circuit for the glamour of the London stage. When the playwright General John Burgoyne visits the city, fresh from a recent success in the capitol, she seizes the opportunity to court his patronage. But her plan is foiled by British intelligence officer Severin Devere.
Severin’s mission is to keep the pleasure-loving general focused on the war effort…and away from pretty young actresses. But the tables are turned when Severin himself can’t resist Jennifer Leighton…
Months later, Jenny has abandoned her dreams of stage glory and begun writing seditious plays for the Rebels under the pen name “Cornelia,” ridiculing “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne and his army—and undermining the crown’s campaign to take Albany. By the time Severin meets up with Jenny once again, she is on a British hanging list, and Severin is ordered to find her—and deliver her to certain death. Soon, the two are launched on a desperate journey through the wilderness, toward a future shaped by the revolution—and their passion for each other…
The charming lover in Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals, is famous throughout London. However, this notoriety comes as a shock to the real Jack Absolute when he arrives in England after four months at sea. But there’s barely time for outrage before he’s forced to flee London and become a spy in America’s war of Independence. Thus we meet Jack Absolute–rogue, duelist, charmer and Captain in the Light Dragoons, from the field of honor in London through the pivotal battle of Saratoga to a hunt for a double agent in wintry Philadelphia.
A swashbuckling adventure of spies, Illuminati, and revolution
The year is 1777. As the American Revolutionary War rages across the sea, London is swept off its feet by Jack Absolute, the dashing rogue in Richard Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals.
When the real Jack Absolute, former captain of the 16th Light Dragoons, returns after years abroad he is immediately embroiled in an illegal duel over a backstage tryst at the Drury Lane theatre.
Jack escapes with his life, only to find himself pressed again into the King’s service as a spy for the British in the Revolutionary War.
With his Mohawk blood brother, Ate, at his side-and Loyalist beauty Louisa Reardon on his mind-Jack leaves England and sets sail for the wilds of North America.
When Jack learns there is a traitor in his ranks, he is dispatched as a double agent to root out the secrets of the Illuminati, a secret lodge within the Freemasons with their own agenda in the colonies.
With no one left to trust and more blood spilling with each passing day, it’s no longer clear if Jack is a spy…or the target.
From the streets of London to the bloody battlefields of Saratoga, from forest fights on the Hudson to the seedy corners of wintry Philadelphia, Jack Absolute marks the EXHILARATING BEGINNING of an epic 18th century adventure.
One of the best historical fiction novels of the Revolutionary War with a charismatic hero.
McCullough’s narrative non-fiction is so compelling that it reads like a novel and will have you on the edge of your seat, actually doubting that George Washington is going to pull off this war of Independence. Informative, exciting, and unforgettable!
In this stirring book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence — when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.
Here also is the Revolution as experienced by American Loyalists, Hessian mercenaries, politicians, preachers, traitors, spies, men and women of all kinds caught in the paths of war. At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books — Nathanael Greene, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of winter. But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost — Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.
The book begins in London on October 26, 1775, when His Majesty King George III went before Parliament to declare America in rebellion and to affirm his resolve to crush it. From there the story moves to the Siege of Boston and its astonishing outcome, then to New York, where British ships and British troops appear in numbers never imagined and the newly proclaimed Continental Army confronts the enemy for the first time. David McCullough’s vivid rendering of the Battle of Brooklyn and the daring American escape that followed is a part of the book few readers will ever forget.
As the crucial weeks pass, defeat follows defeat, and in the long retreat across New Jersey, all hope seems gone, until Washington launches the “brilliant stroke” that will change history. The darkest hours of that tumultuous year were as dark as any Americans have known. Especially in our own tumultuous time, 1776 is powerful testimony to how much is owed to a rare few in that brave founding epoch, and what a miracle it was that things turned out as they did.
Non-Fiction History [Simon & Schuster, On Sale: June 27, 2005, Trade Size / e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9780743226721 / eISBN: 9780743287708]
If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion.
Seeds of America #3
If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?
As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.
BURR by Gore Vidal
This is a dishy and contrarian picture of the Revolution. Burr is a portrait of perhaps the most complex and misunderstood of the Founding Fathers. Aaron Burr fought a duel with his political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and killed him. He was arrested, tried, and acquitted of treason. But now he is determined to tell his own story.
Gore Vidal’s Narratives of Empire series spans the history of the United States from the Revolution to the post-World War II years. With their broad canvas and large cast of fictional and historical characters, the novels in this series present a panorama of the American political and imperial experience as interpreted by one of its most worldly, knowing, and ironic observers.
Burr is a portrait of perhaps the most complex and misunderstood of the Founding Fathers. In 1804, while serving as vice president, Aaron Burr fought a duel with his political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and killed him. In 1807, he was arrested, tried, and acquitted of treason. In 1833, Burr is newly married, an aging statesman considered a monster by many. Burr retains much of his political influence if not the respect of all. And he is determined to tell his own story. As his amanuensis, he chooses Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a young New York City journalist, and together they explore both Burr’s past and the continuing political intrigues of the still young United States.
Historical [Vintage, On Sale: February 15, 2000, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780375708732 / eISBN: 9780307798411]
A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America’s most infamous act of treason . . .
Everyone knows Benedict Arnold—the Revolutionary War general who betrayed America and fled to the British—as history’s most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold’s co-conspirator, Major John André, who was apprehended with Arnold’s documents in his boots and hanged at the orders of General George Washington. But few know of the integral third character in the plot: a charming young woman who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it.
Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold’s age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as military commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride’s beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she hides a past romance with the handsome British spy John André. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former love and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Arnold.
Told from the perspective of Peggy’s maid, whose faith in the new nation inspires her to intervene in her mistress’s affairs even when it could cost her everything, The Traitor’s Wife brings these infamous figures to life, illuminating the sordid details and the love triangle that nearly destroyed the American fight for freedom.
Historical [Howard Books, On Sale: February 11, 2014, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781476738604 / eISBN: 9781476738628]
Can you think of any more to add to the list?
Thanks to Avon we’re giving away a special Fourth of July celebration!
- Mason Jars: handpainted red, blue and white
- Hamilton inspired cuff bracelet
- Monticello Historic Plants/ Seeds in Mason Jar
- Bookmark Made from the wood from Monticello–a tree he planted himself. (Tulip Popular)
- Nerdiest necklace ever: United States Bill Of Rights Ten Amendments Constitution Patriotic American Art Pendant
- AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER
- and more!