GABRIEL’S LIST: Books About America To Grow Up With*

GABRIEL’S LIST: Books About America To Grow Up With*

Jack Riccardi

July 4, 2020 (reposted March 4, 2021)

*A listener to our radio show, Omar, wrote me a note. As a dad, he wants his son, Gabriel, to have a well-rounded appreciation of American history, now more than ever. Knowing that I love to read, he asked me to recommend some books. I asked him about Gabriel’s age. He’s 7. But, said Omar, these are to be books his son can turn to throughout his life. So, for his Gabriel, and my Gabrielle, who’s 15, and all of us, here’s it is.

This list is by no means the last word on a major subject. These are the books I’ve loved and learned from, so far in my life. Any one of them will give you a deeper appreciation of America, and just having them around the house might mean someone picks them up and gets inspired. Most are works of American history. A few are not, but help explain our place in the world.


After making a BIG list, I broke it down into categories: “Founding and Forming”, “Presidents”, “War”, “Terrorism”, and “General Topics”.


In addition, there are three authors whose work I especially recommend: Stephen Ambrose, Rick Atkinson and Taylor Branch. They have separate sections.


These are, except for one book, all works of non-fiction.  I think my next project might be to look back at the American novels that, in their own way, tell our story.



  • John Adams, by David McCullough (2001)
  • Hamilton, by Ron Chernow (2004)
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson (2010)
  • Born Fighting, by James Webb (2004)
  • Restoring Our Republic, by Ned Ryun (2019)
  • The First American, by H.W. Brands (2000)
  • Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose (1996)
  • Miracle at Philadelphia, by Catherine D. Brown (1966)
  • Lone Star Nation, by H.W. Brands, (2004)
  • Washington’s End, by Jonathan Horn (2020)
  • American Cicero, by Bradley Birzer (2010)






  • Team of Rivals (Lincoln), by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2006)
  • Coolidge, by Amity Schlaes (2013)
  • Grant, by Ron Chernow (2017)
  • Speaking My Mind, by Ronald Reagan (1989)
  • Lincoln, by David Herbert Donald (1995)
  • R. The Last Romantic, by H.W. Brands (1997)
  • Eisenhower, by Geoffrey Perret (1999)
  • Polk, by Walter Borneman (2008)
  • No Ordinary Time (FDR), by Doris Kearns Goodwin (1995)
  • The Making of the President 1968, by Theodore White (1969)
  • An Honest President (Cleveland), by H.P. Jeffers (2000)
  • The Crusader (Reagan), by Paul Kengor (2006)
  • Three Days in January(Eisenhower, JFK), by Bret Baier (2018)
  • Whistle Stop (Truman), by Philip White (2014)
  • JFK: Conservative, by Ira Stoll (2013)Th




  • With The Old Breed, by E.B. Sledge (1981)
  • Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell (2007)
  • Iwo Jima, by Richard Newcomb (1965)
  • 1776, by David McCulloch (2005)
  • The Coldest Winter, by David Halberstam (2009)
  • One Bullet, by Nathaniel Fick (2015)
  • The Battle for Leyte Gulf, by C. Vann Woodward (1947)
  • We Were Soldiers Once…, by Hal Moore (1992)
  • Triumph Forsaken: Vietnam War 1954-65, by Mark Moyer (2006)
  • Goodnight Saigon, by Charles Henderson (2005)
  • The First World War, by John Keegan (1998)
  • Battle Cry of Freedom, by James MacPherson (1988)
  • Pacific Alamo, by John Wukovitz (2003)
  • Pork Chop Hill, by S.L.A. Marshall (1957)






  • The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright (2006)
  • The Black Banners, by Ali Soufan (2011)
  • The Only Plane in The Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett Graff (2019)
  • Field of Flight, by Gen. Michael Flynn (2016)
  • 102 Minutes, by J. Dwyer and K. Flynn (2005)
  • The Day The World Came To Town, by Jim DeFede (2011)



  • 1984 (fiction), by George Orwell (1949)
  • The Forgotten Man, by Amity Schlaes (2007)
  • Leadership in Turbulent Times, by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2018)
  • The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek (1944)
  • Americanism, by David Gelernter (2007)
  • Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington (1901)
  • The Island at The Center of the World, by Russell Shorto (2004)
  • Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne (2010)
  • How To Raise an American, by M. Blyth and C. Winston (2007)
  • April 1865, by Jay Winik (2001)
  • A History of the English-Speaking People Since 1900, Andrew Roberts (2007)
  • Lone Star Nation, by H.W. Brands (2004)
  • The Federalist Papers, by Hamilton/Madison/Jay (1787-88)













World War II

  • Band of Brothers (1992)
  • D-Day (1994)
  • Citizen Soldiers (1997)
  • The Victors (1998)

Lewis and Clarke

  • Undaunted Courage (1996)



Civil Rights Trilogy

  • Parting the Waters (1988)
  • Pillar of Fire (1998)
  • At Canaan’s Edge (2006)




“Liberation Trilogy (WW2)

  • An Army at Dawn (2002)
  • The Day of the Battle (2007)
  • The Guns at Last Light (2013)

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