2017 Reading: American Stories

In looking over the books I read in 2017, it’s apparent that I somehow got on a kick of reading books that told stories about the history of the United States.

Maybe it had something to do with the four 1000+ mile road trips across the country that I took. At any rate, if you too are interested in American stories, I think you’ll enjoy these 7 books (hopefully as much as I did):

Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America’s Role in the World, by Robert D. Kaplan

Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World

I think this book would have to be at the top of a list of best books I read last year. It’s the story of the growth and development of the western US, and the crucial role that geography plays. It was particularly meaningful to read (listen, actually) to this book while driving west toward and over the Rockies in April. In fact, I liked this book so much that when I got home I ordered the physical book so I could re-read it and take notes. I admit it; I am a geography nerd!

Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission, by Brett Baier

Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission

Baier tells the story of Eisenhower and his presidency through an analysis of the final speech he gave to the nation before the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, by John M. Barry

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

This is the stuff of nightmares, with descriptions of bodies piled in the streets of eastern cities. It’s a bit heavy on medical details, but push through all that and the story is riveting.

Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out, by Annette Atkins

Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out

Just trying to learn more about the history of my home state!

Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, by Paul Teroux

Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads

I read (listened to) this after returning from our southern road trip in November. It’s typical Theroux — lots of stories and wordy descriptions. But an interesting look at the uniqueness of southern culture.

How the Post Office Created America: A History, by Winifred Gallagher

How the Post Office Created America: A History

It may be fashionable to malign the post office these days, but it played a significant role in the history of the nation. As they say, “who knew?”

Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America, by Andrew Ferguson

Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America

Ferguson, in a way that will make you chuckle, writes about the quirky sub-culture of Lincoln buffs. My favorite was his story of attending a national convention of Abe “presenters,” people who make a living (or try to) giving speeches “as” Abe Lincoln, one of whom was short, fat, and bald!

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