Category Archives for "History"

The Best British History Books

Do you wish you knew more about the history of Britain? Whether you're interested in the royal family or the working class, there are books that have delved into many aspects of Britain's history.

We've taken a look at some of the best places to start. These books cover a variety of topics and are suited for a variety of different age groups, so the right one for you might vary.

Top 6: Best British History Books

1. History of Britain and Ireland

History of Britain and Ireland

This visual journey by DK Publishing is a great way to learn about Irish and British history. The book covers some of the most important events that changed the countries, including military and politics and culture. The book has been updated and revised several times with new historical information.

If you're a visual learner, this is a great choice. There are more than 700 images put together into a single book. The images include significant artwork, maps of different areas, and photographs.

In addition to covering Ireland and Britain, the book talks about the histories of Wales and Scotland, the other countries making up the UK.

The book is divided into six sections that examine different periods of history. You'll learn about how the royal family changed the country, how the country became involved in the world wars of the 1900s, and how the 2000s have brought up new challenges to the economy.

The guidebook helps to show you the larger context for many different aspects of British history. It looks at figures like Alfred the Great, who united England, to figures like Winston Churchill, who led the country in times of great crisis. You'll also learn how events like the invasion of the Romans affected later historical developments.

2. The English and Their History

The English and Their History

This epic book covers more than 1,000 pages of English history. It has been critically acclaimed by multiple publications in the UK, making it a great choice for British people who want to learn more about their own history.

England hasn't existed forever. The country was united more than a thousand years ago. This book digs into the history of England before it was officially England. It discusses how the country might be the oldest nation in the world, despite the challenges in documenting the history.

The book was put together by the historian Robert Tombs. He has dedicated his life to researching England's history. In addition to documenting the past, the book explains how these events shape the present day. It adds some much-needed context to political and social events happening in today's UK.

Tombs uses a great deal of recent works to study the UK. There is information about how the English government has changed over the years, how people in the UK have been united and divided, and how English people have persistently united when facing danger.

The book also presents some of the ways that English people discuss their own history. It talks about arguments that people have for and against different interpretations.

This is the first singular book that's dealt so thoroughly with English history in over 50 years.

3. Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy

Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy

If you're interested in the history of the royal family, this is one of the best places to start. Spanning 400 pages, this book discusses the members of the family and their connections to each other. It is written by a popular historian who is dedicated to preserving the royal family's legacy.

This reference book is the first volume that has ever provided a complete genealogy of the British royal family in a single place. The book talks about the connections between every member of the royal family in Scotland, England, and Great Britain, beginning in 800 AD and continuing all the way to the present.

The book uses a variety of sources, both from modern historians and from past documentation. Alison Weir has put together the most in-depth look at the royal family's history and heritage that exists today.

This book might not be the best choice if you're not interested in genealogy. Rather than detailing historical events and political issues, the book focuses on familial connections and heritage.

4. Foundation: The History of England

Foundation: The History of England

This history book talks about the foundation of British society. It is the first of five volumes that discuss British history. The other volumes span time periods up to the modern day. This series helps teach people the context for different events throughout England's history.

The timeline of this volume covers the early beginnings of the country to the era of the Tudors. Historian Peter Ackroyd creates a narrative that studies how England came to be. The book covers the prehistorical forests that spanned England to the death of Henry VII in 1509.

If you want to learn more about the ancient history of Britain, this is the best place to go. It has almost 500 pages of information about the ancient trials and tribulations of those in the UK.

You'll learn about everything from Stonehenge to the cathedrals and common law that set England apart from the rest of Europe. The book also talks about the variety of different people who defined England's culture, even though many of them came from other places.

You'll learn about the Saxons, Vikings, and Romans. You'll learn how they warred and united and turned the country into what it is today.

The book brings ancient England to life by telling detailed stories about the people who lived in these times. It discusses civil issues, wars, and resistance to invaders.

If you've ever been curious about the lives of people in ancient England, this book is also a great resource. Rather than touching on historical events alone, it discusses the day-to-day existence of people in the country. You'll learn about the people's humor, their food, their clothes, and how they built their homes.

All in all, this is a book you can't miss if you want to learn about the ancient history of England. To learn more about the eras after the early 1500s, you can also check out the other four volumes in this series.

5. Great Tales from English History

Great Tales from English History

If you're interested in English folklore, this is a great place to start. This book spans 544 pages and covers some of England's most legendary stories. Historian Robert Lacey has vividly brought ancient history to life with a narrative that reads like the most compelling fiction.

In this book, you'll learn about the events and the people who had the most profound impact on English history. The book discusses how the English language spread throughout the land, how the traditional rule of kings was established, and how different important figures influenced history.

The timeline covers the years of the late 1300s to the late 1600s. It begins with the Canterbury Tales and ends with the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary. The book explores the different aspects of myth and legend and true historical fact that make up England's folklore.

Each tale takes a different tone. One talks about the military victory in which a group of archers defeated an invading army with three times as many soldiers. Another talks about two tragic princes locked in a tower, murdered by a scheming uncle. Another explores Henry VIII and his divorces from both his wives and the country's primary religion.

Other tales include the tragedy of the Great London Fire, the way that Francis Drake helped to defeat the Spanish Armada, and the way the country burned those who defied the institutional religion.

If you're a fan of British history, you'll learn surprising facts about your favorite figures from history. There are also additional volumes of tales from English history, which focus on different parts of the timeline.

6. The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

For people who are more interested in the past few centuries of history, this is a great choice. The influence of the British Empire has changed radically over the past 400 years. The book chronicles how the country became a global power through conquest, and then how the country's empirical power waned in various regions throughout the world.

Britain used to control more than half of the globe. The country was one of the richest powers in the world. Today, that political power is a fraction of what it once was. The economy is unstable, and the government is constantly dealing with strife from the neighboring areas.

This insightful work takes a look at how Britain has changed from 1600 to the modern day. It uses a combination of academic discussion and accessible history to give people a better understanding of the past.

Final Thoughts

The history of England spans more than a thousand years. There's a lot to learn, whether you're looking into the royal family or the wars of the past century or the ancient history that's been turned into folklore.

For a readable and digestible history, we recommend the DK visual guide. This book has more than 700 images along with accessible text. It's a great place to start if you want to learn about basic events that have shaped British history.

For a more in-depth look at the country's history, the best choice is The English and Their History. This stunning book has more than 1,000 pages that delve into different aspects of British history. It covers everything from ancient times to modern warfare.

No matter your taste, the books on this list can help you learn more about Britain.

Best Black History Books

Have you wanted to learn more about Black history? Do you wish you had more context for the ways that history has shaped the modern world?

We've taken a look at some of the best Black history books on the market. These range from books for kids to more in-depth discussions of how historical events have changed modern life for Black people in the US.

Top 6: Best Black History Books

1. Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, and Legacies

Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, and Legacies

This is a children's book that's packed with information about Black leaders and innovators throughout history. Even for adults, the book has facts that you might not expect.

The book focuses on parts of history that are often overlooked or hidden. It teaches you about how the world is different because of the contributions of these individuals, along with how they changed the world they lived in.

Each of the timelines was individually commissioned by DK. They have visual information that makes it much easier to digest the facts. There are the same number of timelines for Black women and men, focusing on both the people you've heard about and people who are often overlooked in European history books.

Rather than focusing exclusively on the US, the book focuses on important historical moments that happened in North America, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. It includes important leaders from before Africa was colonized all the way through Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era.

The book also covers leaders in the time period between the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter movement of today. It explains some of the context surrounding Black Lives Matter and explains how the movement compares to historical movements.

This item was written, edited, and put together by a diverse team of people from many different backgrounds and communities.

The book focuses on over 100 different Black leaders in history. It also has 30 different timelines that outline pieces of world history. You'll learn about everything from Ethiopia's resistance to colonization to the way Lewis Latimer contributed to the lightbulb.

Overall, this is a super accessible book for people of all ages to learn more about Black history.


  • There are 30 timelines and over 100 Black leaders and innovators that have been written about.
  • The book was put together by a team of multicultural people with a wide range of life experiences.
  • It covers events from prior to African colonization all the way to today.


  • The book isn't as in-depth and academic as some histories that are written for an adult audience.

2. Black History 1619-2019

Black History 1619-2019

This inspiring history book covers 400 years of Black history. It focuses on the history of the African-American community. The goal is to give an in-depth look at the past by using documentation and research. It preserves materials from the time periods, which helps to prevent the history from being erased.

In addition to the rich textual information, the book also contains nearly 400 visuals including photographs, illustrations, and maps. They show the lives of Black people throughout eras like slavery, reconstruction, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement, and Jim Crow.

Rather than focusing on how the US has changed life for Black people, the book focuses on how Black people have influenced and changed American history.

There are 14 total chapters. The book begins with a chapter on the slave trade in the colonies. It ends with a chapter on the Civil Rights movement, which spans 1967 all the way through 2019.


  • The book covers four centuries of US history with a focus on correcting misinformation.
  • Multiple textual sources and photographs are used to preserve the accounts of what really happened.
  • There are fourteen chapters, each of which details a different point in African-American history.


  • The book focuses on African-American history, so it's not the best resource for learning about global Black history.

3. 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History

1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History

This engaging book is a vital tool when studying African-American history. The writing explains significant people, events, ideas, movements, and terms that relate to the history of Black people in the US. It has been critically acclaimed.

The book is authored by Jeffrey Steward, a historian who previously won the National Book Award. It focuses on both the pieces of history that people know and the lesser-known facts. For example, you'll learn about Sojourner Truth's involvement in the women's rights and abolitionist movements, along with Estevanico, who was the first African to explore America.

In addition to talking about Black leaders and explorers, the book discusses the artistic contributions of people like Ira Aldridge and Oscar Micheaux. It talks about how Black people have served in the military in wars from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

The book covers five hundred years of history and is divided into six different sections. Instead of dividing information by year, the categories include:

  • Medicine and innovation
  • Military contributions
  • Religion and culture
  • Sports
  • Migrating to the US


  • The book covers both well-known and obscure information in an interesting, easily digestible way.
  • Each section focuses on a different aspect of African-American contribution, rather than being divided by time period.
  • The author is a historian who has won the National Book Award.


  • The book was published in 1998, so it doesn't cover the past twenty years of civil rights advocacy.

4. Stamped from the Beginning

Stamped from the Beginning

This book won the National Book Award. It focuses on where racist ideas and structures in America came from, exploring their creation and spread throughout history.

The concept traces modern racism back to its historical sources. This enlightening read teaches you about the racism that still exists in America, along with the racial issues you might not even be aware of.

The narrative uses compelling language and in-depth research to tell a story of anti-black racism. It explains how these ideas have persisted, grown, and affected American history.

To do this, the author focuses on the stories of five different American thinkers. He talks about the minister Cotton Mather, the president Thomas Jefferson, the activist Angela Davis, the abolitionist William Garrison, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

The author explains how racism doesn't arise from hatred and ignorance. Instead, racist ideas were created for the sake of discrimination. Simply put, the book exposes how racism exists to benefit those in power.

Stamped from the Beginning gives you valuable insight that will help you spot modern racism. It also helps you think critically about today's world and hope for a brighter future.


  • The work is critically acclaimed and even won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016.
  • The book traces the origin of different racist ideas and provides a better understanding of modern racism.
  • The ideas are presented through the lives of five different influential Americans.


  • The book focuses more on tracing the origins of ideas than on a linear history, so it's not the best if you want a linear timeline of historical events.

5. Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids

Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids

If you're looking for a Black history book to inspire children, this book is a great choice. It chronicles the lives of 51 people throughout history, from today's America to ancient Africa.

Rather than focusing on America alone, the book talks about influential Black people from Britain, the US, Egypt, and other parts of Africa. It talks about the lives they led and what things were like as they grew up. The book focuses on how they overcame obstacles and changed the course of history.

In addition to well-known individuals like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr., the book talks about less well-known people like the astronomer Benjamin Banneker.

Another great aspect of the book is that it encourages further research. Each of the biographies has information about how to learn more, like visiting a website, watching a video, or reading another book.

The colorful illustrations help to liven the reading and make the figures realer. Suitable for children from ages 8 to 12, this is a great choice to learn about influential Black people from all over the world.


  • The book has illustrated biographies of 51 people for readers of ages 8 to 12.
  • There is a focus on influential individuals throughout history all over the world.
  • Each biography includes information for how to learn more.


  • The writing is fairly simplistic, so it might not be best for adults looking for an in-depth read.

6. The Color of Law

The Color of Law

The Color of Law is a book that focuses on the ways that the American government imposed and enforced segregation. It looks at the history of segregation in a variety of metropolitan areas throughout the United States, talking about laws that are often overlooked.

The book's thesis is that the government created and enforced segregation on purpose at the local, state, and federal level. It also explores how segregation took different forms in different areas. The goal is to do away with the idea that segregation occurred as an unintentional side effect of economics or private racism.

A good deal of the book is dedicated to the segregation in residential areas. It talks about segregation in public housing, racial zoning, and whites-only suburbs. There were tax exemptions if an institution enforced these rules. The government even supported violence toward Black people who entered white neighborhoods.

This is an essential book for those who want to learn more about urban history throughout the 1900s.


  • The book takes a very specific look at how segregation was created and imposed in a variety of urban areas in the US.
  • There is vital information about how these segregation policies still influence these cities today.
  • The book will change the way you think about African-American history in the 1900s.


  • Since the book focuses on modern segregation, its historical scope is too narrow for people who want a broad view of Black history.

Final Thoughts

Black history is a vital topic that is often overlooked in the historical field. Many historians have written books that shed light on different aspects of Black history. Whether you're a child or an adult, there's something on this list that can help you learn.

For a broad look at Black history for all ages, we recommend Timelines from Black History. This visually-engaging book has 30 different timelines from global movements spanning thousands of years.

For a look at African-American history, we recommend 1000 Things Everyone Should Know. The broad categories allow you to learn about your interests even if you don't have much interest in chronological timelines.

The Color of Law is a compelling look at segregation in American in the twentieth century. To learn more about how the government created and enforced segregation, this is essential reading.

Art History Books

The history of art goes back thousands of years. Have you ever wished you could learn more about the artists who have changed history? With the right art history books, you can.

Art history books teach you about different movements throughout history, as well as different artists and their works. We've put together a list of our favorite art history books.

Whether you're a scholar or just looking for a light read, there's something here for you.

Top 8: Best Art History Books

1. Artists: Their Lives and Works

Artists: Their Lives and Works

This reference book focuses on more than 80 specific artists. It details their life histories, including their passions and loves. The book also has rich printings of the most famous works by each of the artists.

It talks about people who pioneered different art styles, people who showcased a unique voice through their art, and people whose work is still talked about centuries after they lived.

Especially grand are the full-page prints, which show color reproductions of an artist's work.

More than 500 years of art history is considered. The chapters are organized by century. The final chapter covers 1945 to the present day.

Even if you're an art history student, this book is likely to have information you haven't heard before. It contains many anecdotes about the lives of different artists, including rivalries and romances they had with their peers.


  • The book covers more than 500 years of art history, with each chapter organized by the century.
  • There are biographies of more than 80 artists, including interesting stories about their lives.
  • The book features full-color full-page prints of each artist's most famous works.


  • The book doesn't have a very academic approach to different art styles, so it's not the best if you want a scholarly analysis.

2. Art That Changed the World

Art That Changed the World

Instead of focusing on the lives and biographies of individual artists, Art That Changed the World brings you on a journey through different art movements. The book functions as a tour of over 2,500 vital pieces crafted by over 700 artists.

Another key selling point of this book is that it doesn't focus exclusively on European art. Though it does devote time to Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, you'll also learn about art from China's Ming era, indigenous Australian art, and traditional Japanese and Hindu art.

The book analyzes themes that recur in the art, like religion and love. It explains the differences in genres, how the art reflects the society of the time, and what the different themes might mean about humanity as a whole.

Each artist has their most important works highlighted. The book talks about the most striking aspects of their technique, including what sets them apart from other artists before and after their time.

The book shows how different genres were influenced by each other. For example, it explains how some of Van Gogh's inspiration came from Japanese art, and how impressionists were inspired by the art style of those who came before.

All in all, this is a great choice if you want an art history book that discusses the evolution of art all over the world.


  • The book showcases over 2,500 pieces from more than 700 artists spanning centuries.
  • It looks at art from parts of Asia and Australia as well as European art.
  • It analyzes the technique and themes used by different artists, as well as how these reflected the time period.


  • The book doesn't get as in-depth with artist biographies as the previous option on the list.

3. Discovering Great Artists (Bright Ideas for Learning)

Discovering Great Artists (Bright Ideas for Learning)

This hands-on art book allows you to learn about more than 60 different artists. The simple, fun appreciation activities let you get in touch with your inner creative. It's a great option for both kids and adults who want to learn more about the art world.

Each featured artist is given a quick, concise biography that explains why their work is important. The art activities let you try out the techniques of each artist. For example, you might design machines like da Vinci, or sketch in nature notebooks like Audubon.

The book allows you to try different approaches to art. You get to think outside the box and develop your own sense of style. Perhaps most importantly, you learn that there is no one "true" way to be an artist.

In addition to the projects, the book has information about the movement or style that the artist worked within.


  • The hands-on projects let you try the techniques and approaches of more than 60 different artists.
  • Each artist has a biography page with information about why their work matters.
  • It's a great book for both kids and creative adults who want to learn more about art history.


  • Since the book is geared toward kids, it's not as packed with information as some options.

4. Discovering Infinite Connections in Art History

Discovering Infinite Connections in Art History

This stunning book was put together by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It discusses more than 6,000 years of the history of art, including the ways that different movements have influenced artists.

The book features over 800 works that are found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It also has an organizational system totally unlike any other. Instead of being sorted by geography or time period, different pieces are sorted by theme.

This allows you to see how different key themes and techniques have persisted in human artwork across different cultures for thousands of years.

In addition to the artwork, there are over 160 essays that explain the context of the different works. A detachable folding timeline shows you exactly where and when different pieces and movements took place.


  • The book is made by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and features over 800 artworks with over 150 essays.
  • Works are sorted by theme, so you can see parallels in global art spanning thousands of years.
  • There's a focus on art from all over the world, rather than just European art.


  • The reading can be a little dense for people who want something lighter and easier to digest.

5. The Joy of Art

The Joy of Art

This is an art history book written for people who want to better appreciate art. It discusses the different elements of visual art, teaching the reader how to understand and analyze what they're seeing.

Rather than being a dense art history lesson, the book is built to show you how to discuss the art you see at a museum. It is an illustrated guide that was created by an artist.

Inside this book, you'll find a vocabulary to help you understand the art you're seeing. You'll learn about the different elements to look at in visual art, highlights of some of the most popular art genres, and basic information regarding the artists who pioneered them.

The book also features visuals that teach you about aesthetic practices. You can play a few little games to test your knowledge once you've completed the reading.


  • Written by an artist, this book teaches you to recognize and analyze different pieces of visual art.
  • It includes information about different art movements and the artists who pioneered them.
  • It has multiple visual examples, including 150 color photographs.


  • While the book has strong art history elements, it's not chiefly an art history text.

6. The Visual Arts: A History

The Visual Arts: A History

This stunning art history book has been the leader in art history education for more than 25 years. The 7th revised edition was published only recently, and it includes information about contemporary art movements and artists.

The book aims to introduce you to the basics about humanity's art history. Rather than focusing on great works alone, it discusses the ancient arts done by past cultures all over the globe.

Even though the subject matter is broad, covering thousands of years all over the world, the book strives to provide fine details. It explains the different art movements and how they related to society.

The book is almost 1,000 pages in length. It features over 1,500 black-and-white photographs. Every chapter starts with a timeline that matches different art movements to the relevant historical events of the time period.

If you're getting started on a serious art history journey, you'll be pleased by the further reading recommendations. Every chapter has sources that you can peruse for greater detail. There's also a glossary to keep terms straight.

Since this is such a dense and academic book, it is one of the more expensive options on the list. But it's a must-have for any serious art history student.


  • The book features over 1,500 images and almost 1,000 pages of text.
  • It discusses art movements and art history on a global scale spanning thousands of years.
  • Each chapter has references for further reading, so you can do a more in-depth study if something piques your interest.


  • It's fairly expensive, especially if you're just looking for a casual read.

7. The Short Story of Art

The Short Story of Art

The Short Story of Art is a book that functions as a field guide to art. It's a small, pocket-sized travel book with a simple layout. The author has chosen to explore 50 works that have a marked impact on art history.

One of the biggest selling points is that this book makes concepts accessible to those without a strong art history background. If you're intimidated by the dense academic text in some of these options, this is the book for you. It's a primer to the most important terms in art history.

The book explains different concepts, shows how different movements and periods are connected, and gives information about who changed the game.

It's a very simple book, but it's one of the best if you want a beginner's introductory guide.


  • The pocket-sized book can be easily carried around, and the text is simple to read.
  • There is information about 50 different artworks that have influenced art history.
  • The book explains how different art movements are connected and who pioneered them.


  • It's a little more simplistic than someone who already has a background in art history might be looking for.

8. ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected

ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected

This is a great choice if you're looking for a more entertaining venture into art history. While the book is educational, it doesn't have the dryness of a textbook. Instead, it tells you quirky and fun anecdotes about different parts of art history.

For example, you might not know that Monet's work was originally considered ugly. Or that Andy Warhol has an entire tail built around a moldy birthday cake.

Even if you're a learned art student, the book will have stories that surprise you. You'll learn about the humanity of different artists, and about how that humanity influenced their art.

Consider this a book of art history for people who aren't particularly interested in art or history. The stories are zany enough that you don't need to be interested!


  • The book is filled with quirky anecdotes that can entertain even those who are bored by art history.
  • It's educational about different art movements, but in such a fun way that you won't get bored.
  • It has compelling information about different artists and their lives.


  • It doesn't have the same global, in-depth look at art history that some pieces do.

Final Thoughts

Art history is a broad and nuanced topic. There are so many different angles that you can explore. Do you want to learn about artists, or movements, or the ways that different civilizations have painted through the centuries?

The right book for you will vary depending on your interests.

For a look at many different artists, we recommend Artists: Their Lives and Works. This book includes biographies and artwork from multiple artists.

For a general history, Art That Changed the World is a great start. It showcases different pieces and explains how they influenced art history.

For an in-depth global history, we recommend Visual Arts: A History. This book comes with nearly 1,000 pages of information about artistic traditions that span thousands of years on every continent.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was art first created?

As far as scientists and historians can tell, humans have been creating art for as long as we've existed. The oldest known example of two-dimensional art is dated at about 32,000 years ago!

What is art history?

Art history refers to the history of art: different artistic movements, influential artists, and the ways that art shapes and is shaped by society. It spans thousands of years across all known cultures.

Best US History Books

Are you struggling to find US history books that actually make history, well, interesting? We know your pain. The history of the United States is such a fascinating topic with so much to explore, but a lot of academic discussion just seems dry.

We've put together a list of our favorite US history books, along with some information about what you'll find in each.

Top 7: Best US History Books

1. Howard Zinn's People's History of the US

Howard Zim's People's History of the US

This book is one of the most fascinating US history texts on the market. It does something that no other book has ever tried to do: It tells the entire story of US history from the point of view of the average person.

The author doesn't focus on the different founding fathers or prominent political figures of each time period. Instead, he describes the struggles and triumphs of the average American. He sheds light on people who are often forgotten in discussions of American history.

In doing so, he makes a powerful statement: History is written not by the elite and the powerful, but by the common people who work together to achieve their goals.

He also highlights the tragedies of certain groups: atrocities faced by enslaved African Americans, genocide survived by Native Americans, deaths and disability caused by lack of labor regulation, and more.

Despite shedding light on some of the darkest parts of US history, the book is ultimately hopeful. It shows how we can have an impact on the future of our country by standing together as people.

The author has also gathered primary sources in the form of writings and interviews given by involved individuals. You'll read words from groups including:

  • Native Americans and African Americans
  • Impoverished individuals
  • Factory and manual laborers
  • Poor working immigrants
  • Suffragettes

You'll get a chance to think about the incredible things these people have accomplished, things that are often ignored in traditional history classrooms.

The book begins with the arrival of Columbus and continues all the way through the first term of Bill Clinton. In addition to facts and primary sources, the author provides analytical insight into how these events affect life today.


  • The book sheds light on parts of US history that are often forgotten, focusing on the words and accomplishments of average everyday individuals.
  • The timeline comprehensively covers important events from the arrival of Columbus to the first term of Bill Clinton.
  • The writing style is lively and engaging, making the history interesting even for those who aren't usually interested in history.


  • The book doesn't focus much on "traditional" events like certain battles or the lives of the founding fathers.

2. American History: A Visual Encyclopedia

American History: A Visual Encyclopedia

This book from DK Publishing was created with contributions from the Smithsonian Institution. It is a visual journey through the history of the United States, built for children anywhere from infancy to twelve years old.

The encyclopedia has over 750 full color paintings and photographs. It also has specific information about each state, along with maps and charts that explain different events.

Every spread discusses a single part of US history. It might be an event like the moon landing or a time period like the Great Depression. It might be a movement like the civil rights movement or a war like the Civil War.

The book begins by discussing the thriving Native American cultures that existed when Columbus first came to the land. It takes you through different aspects of colonialism, war, independence, slavery, emancipation, and other events all the way up to today.

The biggest selling point of the book is the images. But there is also important historical information that's laid out in an easily-digestible format.

You can read the book from beginning to end to understand how the US became the powerful country it is today. Or you can flip through to learn more about different specific events and time periods.

Teachers will appreciate that the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is included as well. It's a great book for classrooms or for casual at-home perusal.


  • The encyclopedia is perfect for visual learners, packed with photographs, charts, paintings, maps, and diagrams.
  • It's a great tool for both younger kids and adults who want a more casual read.
  • The timeline covers pre-Columbus societies all the way up to the modern day, so you don't miss out on any important historical events.


  • There aren't as many primary textual sources as you'd get with something more academic.

3. American History: A Captivating Guide

American History: A Captivating Guide

Captivating History has put together a whopping eight different manuscripts to create this comprehensive look at the history of the United States. In addition to covering events like the Revolutionary War, it also explores more recent events like the Gulf War and Pearl Harbor.

There are eight different sections of the book. Each focuses on a different time period in US history and has extremely detailed information about what happened.

Whether you're a big history buff or just getting started, this book has something for everyone. It covers more topics than most history books do, and it provides greater detail and nuance than you'd expect.

The first part covers the Native American nations that existed when Columbus arrived, the colonization of the US, the French and Indian War, and the factors leading up to the Revolution.

The second part discusses life in the colonial US, the struggle for independence, and the talking points around taxation without representation. It also explains what the Seven Years' War was and the impacts that it had.

The third part is focused on the Revolutionary War itself. The book talks about the tensions and the different battles in the war. It talks about the strategies that generals like George Washington used to turn the tide and establish the US officially.

The fourth part focuses on the city of Chicago. It talks about how Chicago evolved over the years, what the worst parts of it were, and what the best parts of it were. It discusses how Chicago represented changing times.

The fifth part discusses the earlier part of the 20th century, like Prohibition and World War One. Part six focuses on the Great Depression, how it happened, and how FDR saved the nation.

The seventh part talks about how the world changed following the First World War. In the eighth part, you'll learn about the Gulf War: when it started, why it started, and what the costs were.


  • The book is divided into eight parts, each of which focuses in great detail on a different aspect of US history.
  • There's a lot of time devoted to understanding events that occurred in the 20th century.
  • This is one of the most detailed accounts of US history on the market today, with a length of nearly 700 pages.


  • The information may be a little dense and overwhelming for those looking for something casual.

4. Scott Corbett's U.S. History

Scott Corbett's U.S. History

This book is perfect for those who have been seeking an academic textbook approach to US history. The goal is to cover the topics required by the majority of basic introductory curriculums.

The book offers a nuanced view of US history. It talks about the ideas and the people who have had a lasting impact on the United States. It discusses events that shaped the country's trajectory.

Some of the book focuses on big picture concepts like economics, politics, and diplomatic relations. But it also includes the experiences of real people along with eyewitness accounts. This makes it much easier to read than a dense academic text.

In addition, the book pays attention to gender, class, and race. It seeks to emphasize that the "American experience" is very different depending on your wealth, skin color, and gender.


  • The textbook covers the majority of curriculums that introduce US history to pupils.
  • The nuanced writing considers how race, gender, and class affect the experiences of people in America both historically and today.
  • The book is packed with information, including eyewitness accounts and primary sources.


  • It's built for a classroom setting, so those who want an at-home read might struggle with it.

5. A History of US

A History of US

Rather than being a single tome, this is actually a set of eleven paperback books. All together, they make a stunning portrait of US history. Because it's an entire book set, the price is a little high. But it's worth it if you want a comprehensive look at the nation's past.

Each of the books focuses on a different aspect of US history. The title War, Terrible War explores the horror of the Civil War. There's also Or All the People, which is a modern book that considers how the 9/11 terror attacks have changed our world.

The series is designed for children, but many adults find themselves riveted by the writing. It's easy to read, but it doesn't gloss over the more brutal details of different historical events.

Many critics have hailed it as the best historical account written for children on the market. It's a series that turns US history into a thrilling, high-stakes narrative, one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.


  • The compelling writing makes US history accessible to children and adults alike.
  • Each volume focuses on a different aspect of US history, from the modern era to the Revolutionary War.
  • It has been hailed by critics as one of the most brilliant and thrilling nonfiction series ever written.


  • Since the set comes with eleven books, a purchase tends to be a little pricey.

6. Advanced Placement United States History

Advanced Placement United States History

This textbook is specifically made for AP US History courses. In addition to buying the book, you can also rent a copy.

The book is excellent for AP students who want to study. It covers all of the material in an AP history course, and it also has study tools and review questions to help you retain the information.

In addition to the educational information, the book talks about how AP tests are structured, how they're graded, and what essay prompts look like. There are sample questions and essay prompts available, so you can get some much-needed practice before your exam.


  • It includes all the information that you'll need for an AP US History exam, plus some study and review tools.
  • It provides practice essay prompts and teaches you how the AP test is structured.
  • It's a good reference manual when studying or learning new material.


  • The book is exclusively made for AP students, so it won't provide much benefit to people who aren't taking AP US History.

7. An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Native American voices are often missing from literature about US history. Which is absurd - Native American history goes back much farther than colonial history! This book is written for adolescents, but adults can also enjoy the experience.

The book goes back over 400 years and turns traditional US history on its head. Instead of talking about the founding fathers, the author discusses how Native Americans have suffered and triumphed and resisted under imperialism.

Author Roxanne Dunbar-Oritz is an indigenous rights activist. Her goal with this stunning book is to help open people's eyes to how genocide and settler colonialism shaped the nation.


  • This is a look at US history through a Native American lens, shedding light on vitally important subjects.
  • The timeline covers 400 years and explains how imperialism has affected Native Americans.
  • The prose is geared toward adolescents, giving America's youth a more nuanced look at the nation's history.


  • The text deals with a lot of hard topics, so it's not exactly a light read.

Final Thoughts

The right US history book for you will depend on your interests, needs, and age range.

Overall, we highly recommend the People's History of the US. It's a fresh perspective that sheds important light on topics that are often overlooked. It also shows us how we can make a difference in our day-to-day lives.

For a denser read, we recommend the Captivating Guide to American History. The eight parts are each packed with detail.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is US history?

US history refers to the history of the United States. The US became an independent country in 1776, but some people consider history before that to count as well.

European settlers had been in the country for over a hundred years. Meanwhile, Native American nations had been thriving in the land for thousands of years before the US came into existence.

Best American History Books

There are quite a few books that discuss the history of America. The best one depends on what you want to learn. We've taken a look at some of the top books on the market that can teach you about American history in an easy, entertaining way.

Top 8: Best American History Books

1. Captivating History: American History

Captivating History: American History

This is the best American history book if you're looking for a comprehensive guide that spans centuries. In fact, this single book comes with eight different manuscripts from Captivating History. Rather than focusing just on the American Revolution, it covers time periods including:

  • The French and Indian War
  • The Civil War
  • The Roaring Twenties
  • The Great Depression
  • Pearl Harbor
  • The Gulf War

There's also a manuscript that details the entire history of the city of Chicago.

Captivating History works to detail different aspects of American history with nuance. It talks about the Native Americans who lived in the country first, as well as detailing the horrors of slavery and the Trail of Tears.

It's an excellent account if you want a book that isn't afraid to shed light on not just the achievements of the American government, but the mistakes as well.


  • This history book covers pre-colonial times all the way through the Gulf War.
  • The text is extremely detailed and has eight manuscripts put together.
  • It's a nuanced look at different aspects of American history.


  • The subject matter may be too broad for people who are only seeking American Revolution information.

2. A People's History of the United States

A People's History of the United States

A People's History of the United States is a book written by the historian Howard Zinn. Rather than teaching history the same way most American curriculums do, this book focuses on the voices that are often forgotten in American history.

It chronicles the history of America for the average individual. As such, you'll learn about the struggles of Native Americans, African Americans, factory workers, women, immigrants, and poor individuals. These people are often forgotten when talking about the achievements of the American government.

This is a comprehensive history of the US that begins with the arrival of Columbus and continues up until Bill Clinton's first term as president. Spanning more than 700 pages, the book's prose gives you good insight into what different events meant for people.

It dispels many common misconceptions about American history, and it also delves deep into the last century.


  • The book retells American history from the point of view of the average American throughout the years.
  • It covers events from the arrival of Columbus to the first term of President Bill Clinton.
  • It has information that is often omitted from the average American history course in public school.


  • It may be a little dense for people who prefer a lighter, faster read.

3. The Virginia Dynasty

The Virginia Dynasty

The Virginia Dynasty is a book that focuses on the four first presidents to come from Virginia: James Monroe, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.

The book seeks to explore the different roles that these four men played when working together, along with the legacy they left behind. It also explores the hypocrisy in their being slaveowners while creating a society built on the idea of freedom.

It's a good way to learn about the differences between these presidents and how their individual actions changed the course of history.


  • The book focuses on the first four presidents from Virginia.
  • There is a sharp characterization that helps to differentiate each of the men.
  • It's a good book for those who want to learn more about people who created America.


  • It only covers American history through the first five presidents of the US, so it's not the best if you want a longer book.

4. Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

This biography, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow, was the inspiration for the musical Hamilton. It is an account of American history that follows the life of Alexander Hamilton through the creation of the nation.

Chernow also relates the struggles that Hamilton faced to the struggles that the modern American faces. Alexander Hamilton often championed ideas that others found too strange or dangerous to put into place.

This is a compelling look at history that will appeal to those who prefer strong characterization over dry facts. It seeks to give Alexander Hamilton a complex portrayal that takes into account both his mistakes and his triumphs.


  • This fascinating book gives us a human look at Alexander Hamilton, the circumstances that shaped him, and the struggles he faced.
  • It's a good book for those who often find American history to be dry and boring.
  • Through one man's life, we get to see an entire nation form.


  • Since the focus is on Alexander Hamilton, you don't get the same broad view of American history that you might with other books.

5. 100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History

100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History

This book is part of a series, with every volume detailing 100 different people in a certain group. In this case, the focus is on 100 African Americans who had an impact on history in America.

The biographies are arranged chronologically, so you can follow American history through the struggles and triumphs of each person. Each entry illustrates how the person contributed to American history. The text is easy to read and concise. If you want to find historical figures to research more, this is a great place to start.

This is a great choice for kids who want to learn more about American history. It's also ideal for adults who want a book that's a little more digestible.


  • The book looks at the contributions of 100 African Americans to American history.
  • It's a quick read that's great for kids and adults who want a more relaxed book.
  • It focuses on people who are often forgotten in discussions of history.


  • It might be too light for people who want a denser, more in-depth read.

6. Everything You Need to Ace American History

Everything You Need to Ace American History

This study guide is built for middle schoolers who need to pass American History. It's built to contain all the information you'll learn in class, but the format is very easy to read.

The book is created for kids who grew up on study games like Brain Quest. It is divided into multiple units, each of which focuses on a different aspect of American History.

The book begins with colonial America, takes you through the Revolutionary War and the founding of America, explains how the Western expansion worked, and details the Civil War and the Reconstruction period.

In addition, notable events throughout the 1900s are touched on. You'll learn about the Great Depression, the World Wars, the Civil Rights movement, and other events that are likely remembered by your parents and grandparents.


  • This is a fun study guide for middle schoolers that comes from the makers of Brain Quest.
  • The book covers the Revolutionary War, Civil War, events of the 1900s, and much more.
  • It's a great supplemental study tool for students who are worried about passing their American History classes.


  • The book is made for middle schoolers, so it's not the best choice for adults who want an in-depth read.

7. American History, Combined Edition

American History, Combined Edition

This textbook by Thomas Kidd combines the two volumes of the American History series. It begins with Columbus in 1492, detailing the rich Native American cultures and the changes that came over the land. The text then chronicles events all the way up to modern times.

The prose is clear and easy to read. Rather than focusing only on the best-known figures, Thomas Kidd discusses both the well-known founders and the lesser known individuals who impacted American history.

It's an ideal book for students who want to learn the basics of American history. In addition, it functions well as an educational tool for older people who want to remember what they learned in school.


  • The history spans Columbus's arrival in 1492 to the present day, touching on both well-known and lesser-known historical figures.
  • It combines two American History volumes for a complete look at the nation's history.
  • The textbook is great for both beginning and intermediate learners who want to know more about the nation.


  • It is an academic textbook, so it's not the best for people who want a non-academic historical account.

8. American History: A Visual Encyclopedia

American History: A Visual Encyclopedia

This visual book is designed for children up to age twelve. It discusses many different historical events that have shaped today's America. You'll learn about the Roaring Twenties, the American Revolution, and everything in between.

The reference guide was created collaboratively with the Smithsonian. Not only does it include detailed information about different historical events, it also has more than 750 paintings and photographs. The book uses charts and maps to detail different events, battles, and state issues.

Also included is the complete text of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Whether you want to learn about civil rights, the Civil War, the moon landing, the Great Depression, or the different battles fought during the Revolution, this book works as an excellent reference.

It's the perfect choice for younger children and for visual learners who want an easy-to-understand guide to American history.


  • This encyclopedia has more than 750 paintings and photographs, along with charts and maps.
  • Historical events are covered from the Revolutionary War all the way through the Civil Rights movement.
  • The text is easy to digest and great for kids who are studying at home.


  • The text is not as in-depth as with some other reference guides, since the focus is on the visuals.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of great books on American history. The best one for you will vary depending on your reading level, your interests, and the time period you want to focus on.

For a fair and thorough look at American history, we recommend the Captivating History book. This text combines eight different manuscripts to give you a robust look at many different aspects of history. It details the struggles and triumphs of Native Americans and African Americans in addition to talking about the founding fathers.

For a book that focuses more on unseen heroes, we recommend A People's History. Instead of talking about those in power, this book focuses on the people who have struggled throughout the centuries to bring change to America. It has excellent information about women's suffrage, labor rights, and slavery.

If you're looking for a textbook, we recommend the American History book by Thomas Kidd. This academic text covers the history of the United States from 1492 to the present day.

For younger audiences, the Everything You Need study guide is a great option. The Visual Encyclopedia is another reference guide that can help to supplement your studies.

If you want a history book that focuses more on people than places and events, Alexander Hamilton is a good place to start. This biography has a human portrayal of Alexander Hamilton that shows how he struggled during the early days of America.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did America start?

Europeans began colonizing America when Columbus first sailed to the continent in 1492. Prior to this, there were thriving Native American nations with rich histories.

The majority of colonies were formed after the year 1600. Jamestown was one of the first colonies and was established in what is present-day Virginia. It was the first permanent settlement started by Englishmen.

What were the United States first called?

The United States were originally called the United Colonies. It wasn't until September 9, 1776 that the members of Congress made a formal change to the United States of America.

What is George Washington known for?

George Washington is known for being the first president of the United States. Prior to that, though, he played an important role as a general in the Revolutionary War.

George Washington also served just two terms as president. He decided not to run again so that he could set a precedent. It was important to him that the country not be run like a monarchy.

Washington also wanted to keep political parties out of Congress. Despite his best efforts to discourage political parties, there were two parties forming by the time he finished his tenure as president.

Nowadays, George Washington is remembered as the father of the United States. His legacy lives on in classrooms all over the United States of America.