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Best American History Book

Every year, historians, academics, and critics release numerous books shedding new light on American history and revealing details or patterns previously hidden from view.

You can choose from a variety of non-fiction reads to brush up on U.S. history – or dive even deeper into it if you already know it.

To move forward, it’s first necessary to establish an understanding of where the country has come from – the bad, the good, the brilliant, the unjust, and the downright ugly. Start listening to the best American history audiobooks listed below.

Editor’s Pick: American History Book

Best American history book reviews

1. The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins

The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World

The Washington Post’s Southeast Asian correspondent, Vincent Bevins, explores how the United States suppressed leftist movements all over Asia and Latin America. Using events leading up to the Indonesian genocide in 1965, the author explores how U.S. policies have facilitated regime changes around the globe.

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2. The Heartland By Kristin L. Hoganson

The Heartland: An American History

The East Coast-born, East Coast-raised, and East Coast-educated Kristin L. Hoganson expected a culture shock when she was handed a scholarship to Champaign, Illinois, deep inside the heartland of the United States. Hoganson began researching Midwest history and culture after her time in the Midwest was much different than she had expected – a passion project that culminated in this widely praised 2019 book.

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3. Four Hundred Souls By Ibram X. Kendi

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019

A collection of 90 essays, short stories, poems, and pieces of memoir, Four Hundred Souls spans each of the 400 years between 1619 — when the ship White Lion brought 20 enslaved Africans to colonial Virginia as slaves — and 2019.

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4. Unworthy Republic By Claudio Saunt

Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory

Claudio Saint has been named as a finalist for the National Book Award for his account of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which relocated 80,000 Native Americans west across the Mississippi.

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5. Race for Profit By Keeanga-Yamahta Taylor

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s Race for Profit is a Pulitzer Prize finalist that examines the enduring legacy of the redlining system and how it is perpetuated by the real estate industry. Prior to the housing bubble collapse, big banks exploited the financial difficulties of black home buyers, burdening them with debt they could never repay.

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6. Caste By Isabel Wilkerson

Caste: The Lies That Divide Us

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Isabel Wilkerson takes a look at the American caste system at a time when billionaires are getting pleasure rides into space while the oceans burn. Race and class are different terms for the same thing, but caste is more complicated and nebulous.

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7. One Mighty and Irresistible Tide By Jia Lynn Yang

One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle over American Immigration, 1924-1965

The United States Congress passed a set of immigration laws that prohibited immigration from most of Asia and Europe in 1924. During the 1910’s and ’20’s, the number of immigrants from non-western countries was severely limited. According to the 1890 census, the number was only one fifth of the level pre-WWI. The United States was forever changed by another act of Congress in 1965 that lifted those practices.

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8. The Witches: Salem By Stacy Schiff

The Witches: Salem, 1692

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Schiff delves into the infamous Salem Witch trials, the only U.S. event that had a major impact on women before suffrage. The year before, nearly twenty people were killed by their friends and neighbors on the suspicion that they were witches.

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9. A Nation Forged by Crisis By Jay Sexton 

A Nation Forged by Crisis: A New American History

Analyzes the effects of various events that have taken place in the history of the U.S., such as the integration of economy between Britain and the United States, and the lack of foreign threat throughout the Civil War, as well as immigration in the past and present.

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10. Stamped from the Beginning By Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

As an award-winning work on racism and how it was created and spread in American society, it demonstrates how it persists in the 21st century. Ibram explains racist thought through the centuries by citing five famous American intellectuals — Cotton Mather, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Lloyd Garrison, Thomas Jefferson, and activist Angela Davis.

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Below you will find a list of ten American history audiobooks available for you to choose from. Each covers a different aspect of Iceland, and each has its own purpose. The best American history audiobooks on this list are listed according to their suitability for different listeners.

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