Add These 17 Books To Your Independence Reading List

Best books to read for American independence scaled

The signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was a breath of fresh air for everyone: for the colonies, for the founding fathers who had worked behind and in front of the curtain, and for the people who had borne the brunt for centuries.

The ideals that were propagated then have been interpreted, translated, and transformed in the many years since the signing occurred. But what remains strong is that America is a country built on the fundamental freedom of every individual.

To celebrate almost 250 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, here are a few books that you should add to your reading list. There’s everything from fiction to nonfiction, but the common thread that binds them all is that they are centred on either the actual revolutionary period or on concepts that espouse similar ideals.

To be American is to embrace every part of oneself, and there’s no better way to do this than to learn as much as possible about the world, about other people, and most importantly, about what makes us all human.

Some of these books are pretty much classics, while others are more modern interpretations. But regardless, they are all so good, and I just know that you’re going to enjoy every single one of them. Happy Independence!

1. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay

The Federalist Papers

These essays were written to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. They provide valuable insights into the principles and arguments behind the formation of the American government.

And, I know that this might not be the first text that comes to mind when you think of an Independence Day reading list, but what better way to commemorate freedom than reading the document that started everything?

2. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis

Founding Brothers

Ellis examines six critical episodes, including Hamilton and Burr’s duel, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison’s secret negotiations, Franklin’s anti-slavery petition, Washington’s Farewell Address, Adams’s presidency, and the renewed correspondence between Adams and Jefferson. 

Through lively storytelling, Ellis goes into the personal dynamics behind these public figures and they argue that the resilience of the young republic stemmed from the unique interactions and contrasting characters of its leaders. 

Founding Brothers sheds light on the enduring influence of individual character on American politics and history, while restating the roles these important events played in the development of the nation. 

3. 1776 by David McCullough


1776 is a detailed narrative of the critical year in the American Revolution, and it especially focuses on George Washington’s leadership and the challenges faced by his army. Without their success, independence would have been lost. 

This important book narrates the struggles of diverse American soldiers and the disciplined British forces led by William Howe. Central to the story are two young patriots, Nathaniel Green and Henry Knox. Washington, a novice in battle leadership, takes centre stage. 

Written by David McCullough, who is known for his biography of John Adams, 1776 is a vivid portrayal of American history that you should add to your Independence Day TBR. 

4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, set in Puritan Boston, follows Hester Prynne, who bears a daughter from an affair but refuses to disclose her lover’s identity. 

Branded with a scarlet letter A for adultery, she faces public shame and tries to rebuild her life with repentance and dignity. 

And, while this isn’t a book centered on the revolution or any of the founding fathers, it does lean into the themes of individualism, rebellion against societal norms, and the pursuit of freedom – These all resonate with the spirit of American Independence Day despite its 17th-century setting.

5. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain

Johnny Tremain is set in Boston during the Revolutionary War and it follows the journey of a young apprentice silversmith who becomes involved in the Patriot movement.

6. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans vividly shows colonial America’s struggles between Native American tribes, colonists, and the British, which isn’t far off from the emotional undertone of the era of independence. 

The book follows Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) and his Mohican companions during the French and Indian War’s chaos in New York State’s forests. The abduction of the Munro sisters, betrayal by Magua, and clashes between war parties paint a gripping frontier life picture. 

It also reflects on the vanishing Native American way of life as civilization encroaches, which in turn captures the essence of America’s evolving landscape during the revolutionary period.

7. The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss

The Whiskey Rebels

Set in the aftermath of the American Revolution, The Whiskey Rebels weaves together the stories of two characters facing post-war challenges. 

Ethan Saunders, a disgraced former spy for General Washington, is tasked with finding his ex-fiancée’s missing husband, and this leads him to work for Alexander Hamilton during the power struggle with Thomas Jefferson over the Bank of the United States. 

Joan Maycott, married to a Revolutionary War veteran, ventures to the Pennsylvania frontier for a better life, where their success with whiskey distillation attracts dangerous attention. Their paths converge in a daring scheme that alters their lives and the nation.

8. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Anderson

Octavian Nothing

This two-part novel tells the story of a young African American boy raised in a Boston household of philosophers and scientists in the years leading up to the American Revolution.

9. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The killer angels

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a gripping fictionalized account of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.

It highlights the struggles and sacrifices of soldiers on both sides fighting for their ideals of freedom and independence. This is one of the best fiction books about the American Revolution that will keep you glued for hours. 

10. Burr by Gore Vidal 

Burr by Gore Vidal

Burr by Gore Vidal is a satirical and thought-provoking portrayal of Aaron Burr, a controversial figure in American history known for his duel with Alexander Hamilton. 

Set in 1833, Burr, now married and aging, is trying to tell his own story through the eyes of Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a young journalist. The novel goes into Burr’s past, including his infamous duel and trial for treason, while exploring the political landscape of the United States during his time. 

Through witty narrative, it challenges perceptions of Burr as a complex and misunderstood Founding Father. 

10. The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch

Revolution of Marina M

This novel is set during the Russian Revolution and follows Marina Makarova, a young woman of privilege, as she becomes entangled in the tumultuous events of the era. 

Yearning for freedom, Marina joins marches for workers’ rights, falls in love with a radical poet, and experiences personal betrayal even while the chaos of revolution is underway.

The Revolution of Marina M. might be centred around the Russian Revolution, but it’s important reading, especially if you’d like some Independence Day material because it shows the beauty and ugliness of independence, self-determination,  passion, and loss during a time of political strife. 

10. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes follows the story of Aminata Diallo, an African woman who is abducted and sold into slavery in America during the Revolutionary War era. 

It is a perspective on the struggle for freedom and independence from the viewpoint of those marginalized by society. Now, more than ever, it’s important to get the fuller picture and there’s no better way to do so than a literary adventure that takes you to the fringes. 

11. The Alienist by Caleb Carr

The Alienist

Set in New York City during the late 19th century, this historical thriller follows a group of investigators as they pursue a serial killer. 

While it’s also not directly related to the American Revolution, it does present a vivid depiction of the city’s history and the societal changes occurring during the period.

12. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Franklin’s memoir is technically non-fiction, but it reads like a novel and offers fascinating insights into the life and times of one of America’s founding fathers. 

It provides a firsthand account of the events leading up to and during the American Revolution, which is lovely if you’d like to read an interesting book on the American Revolution. 

13. The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara

The Glorious Cause

This novel follows the lives of key figures such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson during the American Revolution.

14. The Patriot by Stephen Molstad

The Patriot

Inspired by the film of the same name, this novelization follows the story of Benjamin Martin, a South Carolina farmer who becomes a reluctant hero in the fight against British tyranny during the Revolutionary War. 

This lovely book is as action-packed as you can imagine and if you’ve been on the lookout for an inventive, more original narrative of this period, this is easily one of the bestest you’ve ever read. 

15. The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs

The Hamilton Affair

This fictionalized portrayal of Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, during the American Revolution and the early years of the United States, is so interesting.

Hamilton, born out of wedlock in the Caribbean, rises to become a prominent figure in the Revolution, admired by Washington but opposed by Jefferson. While Eliza, who’s from a wealthy New York family, defies conventions to marry Hamilton and remains devoted to him despite his flaws. 

In later years, she champions public service, establishes New York’s first orphanage and cares for numerous children. Hamilton might be the most popular founding father (at least, in my book), but the real star of the show or MVP was and still is Elizabeth Schuyler. 

16. My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

My Brother Sam Is Dead

Set during the American Revolution, this young adult novel shows the Meeker family’s divided loyalties between the Patriot and Loyalist causes. 

Tim admires his brother Sam, who joins the Revolution, while their father remains loyal to the British. As war rages, Tim faces a difficult choice between family allegiances and personal convictions.

17. The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

The Turncoat

This historical romance novel follows Major Lord Peter Tremayne, a British Army officer who falls in love with Patriot woman Kate Grey during the American Revolution. 

When Tremayne’s mission is sabotaged by a spy in Kate’s household, she sacrifices her own desires to serve as an undercover agent for General Washington. Meanwhile, Tremayne, disgraced and seeking redemption, returns to Philadelphia where he meets Kate again. 

To get a future together, they both must survive a dance between passion and patriotism that will test them at every level. I’ve snuck this onto this list because a good number of these options are either “serious” fiction books or total non-fiction, but this romance book about the Revolutionary War will sweep you off your feet. 

I’ve just listed some of the best books you should read for this Independence Day, and I just know that you’re going to have so much fun reading them. 

If you go through the list carefully, you’ll see that some of them aren’t even set in America at all. But as I mentioned in the introduction, these books highlight the very themes of the American Dream.

And if you’d like to read something even more specific, I’ve also created a list of some of the best books about the Revolutionary War, which contain both first-person accounts, nonfiction narratives, and even a few fictionalized works that are heavily based on the actual events.

Let me know which of them you enjoyed and which ones I missed out on in the comment section below, and I’ll be on the lookout for your comments. Happy Independence Day!


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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