Historical Fiction, American Style

I’ve compiling a list of historical novels (and some well-written nonfiction) that corresponds to the Classical Conversations Cycle 3 history sentences. I have coded aamerican_bookss follows:

* = a book I have personally read (books that I have not read are recommended titles from other CC moms)

^ = young adult fiction; may or may not be suitable for your own young adults 😉

+ = nonfiction

@ = one of a series or one of many relevant works by one author


Week 1: Colombus/early exploration

Week 2: Pilgrims

  • Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick +@
  • Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks *
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller *
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne *
  • The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent *
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooperpurtian-woman

Week 3: Boston Tea Party

  • The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki
  • My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner

Week 4: Declaration of Independence

Week 5: George Washington/other founding fathers

  • Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson *^
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow +@
  • The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs
  • John Adams by David McCullough +@
  • Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage by Edith Gelles
  • Dear Abigail by Diane Jacobs
  • First Family by Joseph Ellis

Week 6: Louisiana Purchase/westward expansion/pioneers

  • Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose +
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather (one of my favorites; doesn’t quite fit here chronologically but thematically) *@
  • These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner  (again, a little out of order, but deals with pioneering) *

Week 7: War of 1812/Monroe Doctrine

  • In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick (not specifically related to the sentence, but the same time period and FASCINATING!) *+

Weeks 8 & 9: Missouri Compromise/Slavery

  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd *
  • Savannah by Eugenia Price @
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Week 10: Polk/Manifest Destiny/late 1800s

  • Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America by Walter R. Borneman +
  • Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (about President Garfield; one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read; slightly out of chronology) *+@

lincolnWeeks 11, 12 & 13: Civil War/Reconstruction/14th Amendment

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott *
  • March by Geraldine Brooks *
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson *^@
  • Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
  • Mrs. Grant & Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini
  • A Blaze of Glory (Book 1 of 4 in Civil War series) by Jeff Shaara (all of his novels are based around an American war) @
  • My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
  • The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom *
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell *

Week 14: US Industrial Age

  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow +

  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson *+@

Week 15: Theodore Roosevelt/Rough Riders

  • Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough +@
  • Alaska by James Michener @

Week 16: Immigration

  • The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber (westward expansion/pioneers) *
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith *
  • Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls *
  • The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin *
  • The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline *

Week 17: World War I/Lusitania

  • Dead Wake by Erik Larson *+
  • Fall of Giants (1 of 3) by Ken Follett
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald *

Week 18: World War IIuntitled

  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown *+
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand * +
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford *
  • All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg *

Week 19: NATO/Communism

  • God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew; not specifically US history, but well worth your time! *+
  • The Chosen by Chiam Potok *

Week 20: Brown v. Board of Education/Civil Rights

  • Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals *+
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee *
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot *+
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett *

Week 21: US Astronauts

Week 22: September 11

  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer *^

Week 23: Preamble/Constitution

  • The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen +

Week 24: Bill of Rights28efaec9a64d8486b29a2543b5753777.jpg

Books about other US Presidents:

  • Killing Reagan by Bill O’Reilly (this one is the most fascinating of this series, in my opinion) *+
  • Riding with Reagan by John Barletta +

Books about US history in general:

  • America’s Women by Gail Collins +
  • The History Chicks (podcast)


samThis is really a work in progress. If you have any additions, please let me know!



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