12 Essential Books on the American Revolution To Dive Into

Best Books About American Revolution To Read now scaled

The American Revolution in the 18th century drastically altered history by granting America independence from the British Empire.

This period was characterized by the militancy of philosophical ideals and the widespread notion of patriotism that helped the founding fathers build a country that is now regarded as one of the greatest.

If you have been thinking of books to add to your reading list or movies to commemorate the anniversary of the American Revolution, we simply came on learning more about the events in this era. Here are some books that belong to your reading list.

There is a healthy mix of autobiographies, non-fiction accounts, and of course, fictionalized accounts based on experiences of individuals on the fringes. Rest assured that each book will give you a unique perspective of the American Revolution. 

1. Independence Lost by Kathleen DuVal

Independence lost

In Independence Lost, historian Kathleen DuVal sheds light on the Revolutionary Era from the perspectives of marginalized groups such as slaves, Native Americans, women, and British loyalists living along Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

While the thirteen colonies rebelled against the British Empire over issues like tariffs and representation, the Gulf Coast saw clashes between Spanish and British forces, with both vying for the allegiance of powerful Native American nations. 

African American slaves also sought opportunities for freedom during the war. DuVal emphasizes that individual motives played a crucial role, and they highlight figures like the Mobile slave Petit Jean, Chickasaw diplomat Payamataha, and New Orleans merchants Oliver and Margaret O’Brien Pollock. 

2. The Quartet by Joseph J. Ellis

The Quartet

The Quartet recounts the lesser-known story of the post-Revolution period, and it focuses on the men who played pivotal roles in shaping America’s second founding. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, Robert Morris, and Gouverneur Morris are among the key figures highlighted. 

They recognized the flaws of the Articles of Confederation, engineered the calling of the Constitutional Convention, guided the agenda in Philadelphia, influenced debates in state ratifying conventions, and crafted the Bill of Rights to secure state compliance with the new constitutional framework. 

Through their actions, they laid the foundation for the federal government and secured America’s future as a united nation. This is one of the most frank, in-depth accounts of what came after the Revolutionary War and it’s as insightful as it is didactic. 

3. 1774 by Mary Beth Norton


In Mary Beth Norton’s book, she examines the pivotal sixteen months leading up to the clashes at Lexington and Concord in April 1775 – when traditional loyalists to King George III reluctantly accepted the inevitability of war against the British Empire. 

Norton draws from pamphlets, newspapers, and personal correspondence to reconstruct the political discourse of the time, which reveals a vigorous conservative campaign criticizing congressional actions. 

Despite efforts by colonial governors to maintain control, the increasing power of committees and provincial congresses signalled the colonies’ move towards independence even before the formal adoption of the Declaration in July 1776.

4. Revolutionary Characters by Gordon S. Wood

Revolutionary characters

Gordon Wood’s book offers a compelling group portrait of the Founding Fathers, as he explores what made these men great and emphasises the significance of character in their lives. 

Through individual and collective biographies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, and Paine, Wood highlights the idea of character as a lived reality. 

These self-made men of the first generation understood the importance of moral progress in shaping both individual lives and the destiny of nations. This is prime reading if you’ve been on the lookout for a book about the American Revolution and the narrative will pull you in immediately. 

5. Washington by Ron Chernow


Ron Chernow’s comprehensive biography of George Washington offers a nuanced portrayal of the founding father, as he makes a calculated effort to dispel the notion of him as a dull figure. 

Chernow highlights Washington’s remarkable feats in the French and Indian Wars, his leadership during the Revolutionary War, and his role in shaping the young nation as its first president. 

Through vivid storytelling, Chernow reveals Washington as a skilled horseman, dancer, and hunter, who wielded significant influence over his contemporaries like James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. 

6. You Never Forget Your First by Alexis Coe

You never forget your first

In Alexis Coe’s fresh take on George Washington, she challenges the traditional image of the revered figure. Highlighting his upbringing by a single mother and his pursuit of military promotions and wealthy women, Coe presents a more human and flawed Washington. 

Despite his struggles with dysentery and losing more battles than he won, he exhibited bravery and unconventional tactics in espionage and propaganda. 

After reluctantly assuming the presidency and enduring political turmoil, Washington ultimately grappled with his slave ownership before his death. Coe’s rigorous research and unsentimental storytelling offer a very nuanced portrayal of the man behind the legend.

Related: Add These 17 Books To Your Independence Reading List

7. Revolutionary Summer by Joseph J. Ellis

Revolutionary summer

In Revolutionary Summer, Pulitzer-winning historian Joseph Ellis offers a distinctive portrayal of the pivotal moments of 1776 in American history. As the thirteen colonies decided to secede from the British Empire, the British dispatched their largest armada to crush the rebellion. 

Ellis intricately examines influential figures like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard and General William Howe. 

Seamlessly blending political and military experiences, he highlights how events on both fronts shaped the outcome of the revolution.

8. Liberty’s Exiles by Maya Jasonoff

Libertys Exiles

Focusing on the plight of loyalists who faced uncertainty and displacement after the British evacuation of New York City in 1783. Jasanoff meticulously reconstructs the experiences of ordinary individuals who became refugees, such as Elizabeth Johnston and David George, tracing their journeys to Britain, Jamaica, Canada, and beyond in this magnificent book. 

She highlights the different paths taken by loyalists, from Mohawk leader Joseph Brant resettling his people in Ontario to adventurer William Augustus Bowles attempting to establish a loyalist Creek state in Florida. 

Despite their displacement, the loyalists carried elements of their former homes with them, which only showed the enduring American influence on the wider British world. Liberty’s Exiles offers both an intimate narrative history and a thought-provoking analysis, as it sheds light on a lesser-known dimension of America’s founding and the meanings of liberty itself.

9. The First American by H. W. Brands

The first american

H. W. Brands’s biography, The First American, offers a comprehensive and engaging portrait of Benjamin Franklin and he shows the many shoes Benjamin Franklin wore – diplomat, scientist, philosopher, businessman, inventor, and socialite. 

From his humble beginnings as a penniless runaway to his pivotal role in securing America’s independence through alliances with France, Franklin’s life is explored with meticulous scholarship and previously unpublished sources. 

Brands’ narrative provides a vivid depiction of Franklin’s greatness and humanity, with special care taken to show his deep relationships with influential figures like Voltaire, Hume, Burke, and Kant.

The First American is a vital reminder of Franklin’s enduring legacy and his significant contributions to American history and culture. While this book might not be directly about the Revolutionary War, it is focused on one of the many key figures who made a difference. 

10. The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory

The winter of red snow

Abigail Jane Stewart, an eleven-year-old girl, documents the trials and triumphs of the winter of 1777-1778 in her cherished diary. 

Through her eyes, you’ll see the hardships endured by George Washington and his soldiers at Valley Forge. Abigail’s diary captures the despair and hope of this pivotal period in American history and the best part? It shows a unique perspective on the struggles for independence.

11. Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood

Empire of Liberty

In Empire of Liberty, which is part of the esteemed Oxford History of the United States series, Gordon S. Wood provides a brilliant account of the early American Republic from 1789 to the end of the War of 1812. 

Wood delves into the tumultuous changes that marked this period, in every ramification – politics, society, economy, and culture. 

Despite the high hopes of the founding fathers, the reality differed from their expectations: political parties emerged, the country’s identity evolved unpredictably, and slavery persisted despite aspirations for its abolition. 

And by 1815, the United States emerged as a new and rapidly expanding nation, with many Americans optimistic about its future. Empire of Liberty is a marvellous narrative of this pivotal era in American history.

12. The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan

The road to Guilford Courthouse

This is an amazing narrative of the courageous American fighters who defiantly opposed British forces in crucial battles that shaped the destiny of the Carolina colonies and influenced the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

The story of those on the fringes is one that’s seldom ever told and in this enlightening account of the Revolutionary War, you’ll get an in-depth, deeply heart-aching vantage point of the highly politicised war that paved that paved the way for the growth of the country. 

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The books I’ve listed above are just some of the many books about the American Revolution that everyone needs to read, regardless of whether or not they are from the United States of America.

In truth, the Revolutionary War is one that captured the ideals of the burgeoning nation-state, and to this day, its effects have had a ripple effect on several other nations. These books are essential reading for history buffs and those who are simply looking to try out something new, so make sure you check them out.

And if you’d like even more books to read, here is a list of some of the best American classic books penned by some of the greatest literary minds that ever walked the Earth. I know you’re going to enjoy all of them.


Hi! I'm Preye ("pre" as in "prepare" and "ye" as in "Kanye"), and I am a lifelong book lover who enjoys talking about books and sharing bits and pieces of all the fascinating things I come across. I love books so much that I decided to become a developmental editor, and right now, I work with authors to help them tell their stories better. On this blog, I share everything from book recommendations to book reviews and writing tips, so feel free to stop by anytime you like!

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