Best History Writers Today

If you are looking for good books… to purchase with your holiday gift cards, consider some choices from the best historians writing today.  Good histories are informative, scholarly, and readable.  Academics may scoff at the idea of “popular” history, but well written books stand up to any and all tests.  Here are some of the best writers working today:

5.  Joseph Ellis–Founding Brothers (Pulitzer Prize)  American SphinxFirst FamilyJoe Ellis is a professor of history at Mount Holyoke college.  His books are authoritative and readable.  For instance, Founding Brothers begins with a detailed account of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

Look beyond the powdered wigs

4.  Eric Foner– The Fiery Trial (Pulitzer Prize)   Forever FreeFree Soil, Free Labor, Free MenWell respected in academia, Foner’s work has been reaching wider audiences the last decade.  His research on the Republican party has become the gold standard for all students of 19th century history.

3.  Gordon Wood– The Radicalism of the American Revolution (Pulitzer Prize)  The Idea of AmericaRevolutionary CharactersFans of the movie Good Will Hunting remember hearing Gordon Wood’s name dropped by Matt Damon.  What the film fails to convey is that Wood is the leading authority on the Founding generation.  Wood’s success stems from his scholarly and realistic portraits of our iconic founders.

Matt Damon should actually read this

2.  James McPherson–Battle Cry Freedom (Pulitzer Prize)  For Cause and Comrades This Mighty ScourgeMcPherson’s name is synonymous with Civil War history.  His research is impeccable and his volumes are always manageable.  Battle Cry Freedom is the greatest single volume history of the Civil War ever written.

1.  Nathaniel Philbrick– In the Heart of the Sea (National Book Award)  Sea of GloryMayflower.   Fans of maritime history and seafaring tales rejoice!  Philbrick spins wonderful yarns about adventure on the high seas.  In the Heart of the Sea tells the true story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. 

Moby Dick starts here

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10 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Ephemera

10 responses to “Best History Writers Today

  1. Thank you for this list. I haven’t read any of these; however, I see some kindle downloads in my future!

  2. Battle Cry of Freedom is a masterpiece. All the way through I was jealously enjoying his writing.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog “longitudes.” I’ve read “Heart of the Sea.” Great book. I look forward to reading some of the others, especially “Founding Brothers.” Happy New Year, Pete

  4. Pingback: History wishes for the New Year | Practically Historical

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