By Faith Aeriel
All over the country people are gearing up for their Fourth of July traditions. Flags are being hung, sparklers are being purchased, and books are being read. This year’s patriotic celebrations are being fueled by the anticipation of the upcoming election and the recent Broadway success of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton. Here at Manhattan Book Review we’re using the holiday as an opportunity to take another look at all of our favorite patriotic books. With everything from children’s books to biographies, these books will appeal to readers of all ages as the nation celebrates the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History
By Don Brown | Children’s Nonfiction | $17.99 | Released: October 13, 2015
The most famous duel in American history dramatized by leading nonfiction picture book illustrator, Don Brown.
Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were both fierce patriots during the Revolutionary War, but the politics of the young United States of America put them in constant conflict. Their extraordinary story of bitter fighting and resentment culminates in their famous duel. For young patriots who may not yet know the shocking and tragic story, Aaron and Alexander captures the spirit of these two great men who so valiantly served their country and ultimately allowed their pride and ego to cause their demise.
The Brave Ones: A Memoir of Hope, Pride and Military Service
By Michael J. MacLeod | Memoir | $16.95 | Released: November 10, 2015
How does the US Army mold a video-game generation with its thumbs on the joystick into a proud fighting force with its fingers on the trigger—and lives on the line—in America’s War on Terror? Michael J. MacLeod, already an accomplished professional photographer and journalist, decided to find out the hard way: by enlisting in the armed forces at age forty-one. What he observed and experienced as an embedded reporter and a serving soldier makes for an unflinching and inspiring portrait of endurance, sacrifice, discipline, and courage.
From the trials of basic training on the home front to the ranks of the legendary 82nd Airborne Division to taking fire in the hot zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, MacLeod chronicles the soldier’s evolution as only one who’s been in those boots can. Candid, wise, and powerful, his memoir takes readers on an unforgettable journey through war and allows them to witness bravery firsthand.
America’s First Daughter: A Novel
By Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie | Historical Fiction | $15.99 | Released: March 1, 2016
In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph–a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.
It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love–with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.
Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father’s reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.
Washington’s Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution
By Patrick K. O’Donnell | History | $28.00 | Released: March 1, 2016
In August 1776, little over a month after the Continental Congress had formally declared independence from Britain, the revolution was on the verge of a sudden and disastrous end. General George Washington found his troops outmanned and outmaneuvered at the Battle of Brooklyn, and it looked like there was no escape. But thanks to a series of desperate rear guard attacks by a single heroic regiment, famously known as the “Immortal 400,” Washington was able to evacuate his men and the nascent Continental Army lived to fight another day.
Today, only a modest, rusted and scarred metal sign near a dilapidated auto garage marks the mass grave where the bodies of the “Maryland Heroes” lie—256 men “who fell in the Battle of Brooklyn.” In Washington’s Immortals, best-selling military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell brings to life the forgotten story of this remarkable band of brothers. Known as “gentlemen of honour, family, and fortune,” they fought not just in Brooklyn, but in key battles including Trenton, Princeton, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, and Yorktown, where their heroism changed the course of the war.
Drawing on extensive original sources, from letters to diaries to pension applications, O’Donnell pieces together the stories of these brave men—their friendships, loves, defeats, and triumphs. He explores their arms and tactics, their struggles with hostile loyalists and shortages of clothing and food, their development into an elite unit, and their dogged opponents, including British General Lord Cornwallis. And through the prism of this one group, O’Donnell tells the larger story of the Revolutionary War. Washington’s Immortals is gripping and inspiring boots-on-the-ground history, sure to appeal to a wide readership.
Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings: A Novel
By Stephen O’Connor | Historical Fiction | $28.00 | Released: April 5, 2016
Novels such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved, The Known World by Edward P. Jones, James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird and Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks are a part of a long tradition of American fiction that plumbs the moral and human costs of history in ways that nonfiction simply can’t. Now Stephen O’Connor joins this company with a profoundly original exploration of the many ways that the institution of slavery warped the human soul, as seen through the story of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. O’Connor’s protagonists are rendered via scrupulously researched scenes of their lives in Paris and at Monticello that alternate with a harrowing memoir written by Hemings after Jefferson’s death, as well as with dreamlike sequences in which Jefferson watches a movie about his life, Hemings fabricates an “invention” that becomes the whole world, and they run into each other “after an unimaginable length of time” on the New York City subway. O’Connor is unsparing in his rendition of the hypocrisy of the Founding Father and slaveholder who wrote “all men are created equal,” while enabling Hemings to tell her story in a way history has not allowed her to. His important and beautifully written novel is a deep moral reckoning, a story about the search for justice, freedom and an ideal world—and about the survival of hope even in the midst of catastrophe.
Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams
By Louisa Thomas | Biography | $30.00 | April 5, 2016
Born in London to an American father and a British mother on the eve of the Revolutionary War, Louisa Catherine Johnson was raised in circumstances very different from the New England upbringing of the future president John Quincy Adams, whose life had been dedicated to public service from the earliest age. And yet John Quincy fell in love with her, almost despite himself. Their often tempestuous but deeply close marriage lasted half a century.
They lived in Prussia, Massachusetts, Washington, Russia, and England, at royal courts, on farms, in cities, and in the White House. Louisa saw more of Europe and America than nearly any other woman of her time. But wherever she lived, she was always pressing her nose against the glass, not quite sure whether she was looking in or out. The other members of the Adams family could take their identity for granted—they were Adamses; they were Americans—but she had to invent her own. The story of Louisa Catherine Adams is one of a woman who forged a sense of self. As the country her husband led found its place in the world, she found a voice. That voice resonates still.
In this deeply felt biography, the talented journalist and historian Louisa Thomas finally gives Louisa Catherine Adams’s full extraordinary life its due. An intimate portrait of a remarkable woman, a complicated marriage, and a pivotal historical moment, Louisa Thomas’s biography is a masterful work from an elegant storyteller.
Veterans Voices: Remarkable Stories of Heroism, Sacrifice, and Honor
By Robert H. Miller, Andrew Wakeford | Art & Photography | $35.00 | Released: April 26, 1026
Through intimate photographs and poignant stories, this heart-rending book showcases the courage, heroics, and sacrifice of selected U.S. soldiers and veterans. This deeply moving, timely celebration of veterans highlights the heroes in our midst by bringing these brave men and women to life. Veterans Voices blends beauty and impact and gorgeous photographic displays with inspiring storytelling.
Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor
By Clinton Romesha | Memoir | $28.00 | Released: May 3, 2016
In 2009, Clinton Romesha of Red Platoon and the rest of the Black Knight Troop were preparing to shut down Command Outpost (COP) Keating, the most remote and inaccessible in a string of bases built by the U.S. military in Nuristan and Kunar in the hope of preventing Taliban insurgents from moving freely back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three years after its construction, the army was finally ready to concede what the men on the ground had known immediately: it was simply too isolated and too dangerous to defend.
On October 3, 2009, after years of constant smaller attacks, the Taliban finally decided to throw everything they had at Keating. The ensuing 14-hour battle—and eventual victory—cost 8 men their lives.
Red Platoon is the riveting first-hand account of the Battle of Keating, told by Romesha, who spearheaded both the defense of the outpost and the counter-attack that drove the Taliban back beyond the wire, and received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
What Is the Declaration of Independence?
By Michael C. Harris, Jerry Hoare, Kevin McVeigh | Children’s Nonfiction | $5.99 | May 10, 2016
On a hot summer day near Philadelphia in 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat at his desk and wrote furiously until early the next morning. He was drafting the Declaration of Independence, a document that would sever this country’s ties with Britain and announce a new nation—The United States of America. Colonists were willing to risk their lives for freedom, and the Declaration of Independence made that official. Discover the true story of one of the most radical and uplifting documents in history and follow the action that fueled the Revolutionary War.
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution
By Nathaniel Philbrick | History | $30.00 | Released: May 10, 2016
In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental Army under an unsure George Washington (who had never commanded a large force in battle) evacuates New York after a devastating defeat by the British Army. Three weeks later, near the Canadian border, one of his favorite generals, Benedict Arnold, miraculously succeeds in postponing the British naval advance down Lake Champlain that might have ended the war. Four years later, as the book ends, Washington has vanquished his demons and Arnold has fled to the enemy after a foiled attempt to surrender the American fortress at West Point to the British. After four years of war, America is forced to realize that the real threat to its liberties might not come from without but from within.
Valiant Ambition is a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation. The focus is on loyalty and personal integrity, evoking a Shakespearean tragedy that unfolds in the key relationship of Washington and Arnold, who is an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington’s unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.
God Bless America: A Patriotic Coloring Book
By Multnomah | Adult Coloring Books | $14.99 | June 14, 2016
Enter the pages of this coloring book for adults, and you will find a peaceful way to reflect on what makes America a truly amazing country: our values of equality, opportunity, faith,family, character, generosity, justice, and perseverance. Each coloring page features an original design from one of nine different artists, illustrating an inspirational quote from one of the Founding Fathers, an historic document, a patriotic hymn, or another of America’s heroes.
Slow down, quiet the noise, and express creativity as you color your way through history.
So grab your colored pencils or markers, find a comfortable spot to relax, and spend some time celebrating America. To help set the perfect patriotic mood, a link to the “Coloring America” playlist is included inside.
Faith Aeriel is a freelance writer and journalist. She has formerly worked as Associate Editor for Manhattan Book Review, San Francisco Book Review, and Kids’ BookBuzz, during which time she was responsible for writing articles, blog posts, and interviewing authors, as well as editing and managing incoming content for the websites. Faith loves books, cinnamon rolls, and cats.
You can learn more about Faith on her booklover’s blog.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.