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1776 - (David McCullough, 2005) An intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence -- when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Alexander Hamilton, American - ( Richard Brookhiser, 1999) In these pages, Alexander Hamilton sheds his skewed image as the "bastard brat of a Scotch peddler," sex scandal survivor, and notoriously doomed dueling partner of Aaron Burr. Examined up close, throughout his meteoric and ever-fascinating (if tragically brief) life, Hamilton can at last be seen as one of the most crucial of the founders.

American Sphinx - (Joseph Ellis, 1996) Thomas Jefferson may be the most imporatant American president; he is certainly the most elusive. Following his subject from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to his retirement in Monticello, Joseph Ellis unravels the contradictions of the Jeffersonian character. Winner of the National Book Award.

Citizen Washington – (William Martin, 1999) A meticulously researched novel that intermingles extraordinary historical characters with brilliantly imagined fictional ones, Martin brings to life the flesh-and-blood man behind the frozen face on the dollar bill.

Declaration of Independence (1776) & Preamble to the Constitution of the United States (1787) – Let the discussion about where it all began start at the beginning with our foundational documents which contain essential statements on the first principles of citizenship and the common good.

Democracy in America – (Alexis de Tocqueville, ed. by Richard D. Heffner, 1956) Tocqueville’s original work, edited and arranged for the modern reader. This study of a nation’s institutions and culture from a foreign perspective sheds new light on the idea and reality of America. 

Faces of Utah – (Shannon Hoskins, 1996) In an inspired centennial project, the Mountain West Center at USU and the Utah Humanities Council put out a call around the state: tell us your feelings about living in Utah.  Collected in this volume are entries picked out of over 500,000 responses to represent the diverse voices of the state’s people.

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin(Brands, H.W., 2000) Drawing on previously unpublished letters to and from Franklin, as well as the recollections and anecdotes of Franklin's contemporaries, H. W. Brands has created a portrait of the eighteenth-century genius who was in every respect America's first Renaissance man, and arguably the pivotal figure in colonial and revolutionary America. 

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation - (Joseph Ellis, 2002) Ellis focuses on six discrete moments during the 1790’s that exemplify the most crucial issues facing the fragile new nation: Burr and Hamilton's deadly duel; Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison's secret dinner; Franklin's petition to end the "peculiar institution" of slavery; Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address; Adams's difficult term as Washington's successor; and finally, Adams and Jefferson's renewed correspondence at the end of their lives.

Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised Our Nation - (Cokie Roberts, 2005) While the "fathers" were off founding the country, what were the women doing? Running their husband’s businesses, raising their children plus providing political information and advice. At least that’s what Abigail Adams did for John Adams.  Abigail Adams is the best known of the women who influenced the founders, but there are many more, including Martha Washington.

History of Utah’s American Indians, A – (Forrest Cuch, ed., 2000) In consultation with local scholars, members of each of the state’s six official tribes recount their past and reflect on their present. Brought together for the first time, these stories allow for new understanding of Utah’s native people.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- (Rebecca Skloot, 2010) Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights - (Richard Labunski, 2006) Today we hold the Constitution in such high regard that we can hardly imagine how hotly contested was its adoption. In fact, many of the thirteen states saw fierce debate over the document, and ratification was by no means certain. Labunski offers a dramatic account of a time when the entire American experiment hung in the balance, only to be saved by the most unlikely of heroes--the diminutive and exceedingly shy Madison.

A Journey to the end of the Millennium:  A Novel of the Middle Ages – (A.B. Yehoshua, 1998) In the year 999, the Moroccan Jewish merchant Ben Attar sails for France on his annual trading voyage. But along with the spices that make up the bulk of his lucrative business, this year his ship also carries a rare new treasure -- his second wife. Since the advent of his new bride, his lucrative partnership with his nephew, Abulafia, and the Muslim Abu Lutfi has been strained. Now, in a small Jewish community in rural France, Ben Attar takes his former partners to civil court in order to validate his marital rights.

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed American Forever --(O'Reilly, Bill, 2011) The anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.

Letters of John and Abigail Adams, The - (Penguin Classics, 2004) Provides an insightful record of American life before, during, and after the Revolution; the letters also reveal the intellectually and emotionally fulfilling relationship between John and Abigail that lasted fifty-four years and withstood historical upheavals, long periods apart, and personal tragedies.

Martha Washington: An American Life - (Patricia Brady, 2005) Patricia Brady resurrects the wealthy, attractive, and vivacious young widow who captivated the youthful George Washington. Here are the able landowner, the indomitable patriot (who faithfully joined her husband each winter at Valley Forge), and the shrewd diplomat and emotional mainstay. And even as it brings Martha Washington into sharper and more accurate focus, this sterling life sheds light on her marriage, her society, and the precedents she established for future First Ladies.

Missing Stories: An Oral History of Ethnic and Minority Groups in Utah – (Leslie Kelen and Eileen Hallet Stone, 1996) This extensive volume contains oral histories from some of Utah’s oldest and largest cultural  communities: Ute, African-American Jewish, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Greek, and Chicano-Hispano.

Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - (Frederick Douglass, 2000 Edition) This book calmly but dramatically recounts the horrors and the accomplishments of his early years-the daily, casual brutality of the white masters; his painful efforts to educate himself; his decision to find freedome or die; and his harrowing but successful escape.

Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, The – (Jerome Lawrence / Robert Lee, 1971) Henry David Thoreau, philosopher, poet, and naturalist, had refused to pay taxes to the government which was engaged in the Mexican War, condemning the war as unjust. For this unprecedented act of protest, he was thrown in jail, an act that has had worldwide repercussions.

Red Cavalry
– (Isaac Babel, 2002) One of the great masterpieces of Russian literature, the Red Cavalry cycle retains today the shocking freshness that made Babel's reputation when the stories were first published in the 1920s. Using his own experiences as a journalist and propagandist with the Red Army during the war against Poland, Babel brings to life an astonishing cast of characters from the exuberant, violent era of early Soviet history.

Sum of Our Past, The – (Judy Busk, 2004) A Ford van is about the same length as a covered wagon and about a foot wider. On a journey taken by Judy Busk and her husband, Neal, to retrace the Oregon and Mormon trails, horsepower comes in the form of a combustion engine. Along their journey, they seek a connection to the past in museums, archives, and at historical sites. What most surprises Judy is what she finds about pioneer women. Through her narrative, we move beyond stereotypes of the past and find a vibrant spectrum of attitude, education, occupation, and family- women motivated by their religious beliefs, and forerunners of the modern women's movement. She parallels the past with experiences in the present.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - (Dorris Kearns Goodwin, 2005) This multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history. Lincoln won the presidential election, Goodwin determines, because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption - (Laura Hillenbrand, 2010) On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge - (Thomas Fleming, 2005) The defining moments of the Revolutionary War did not occur on the battlefield or at the diplomatic table, claims Thomas Fleming, but at Valley Forge, where the Continental Army wintered in 1777–78. This book tells the dramatic story of how those several critical months transformed a beaten, bedraggled group of recruits into a professional army capable of defeating the world's most formidable military power.

With Malice Towards None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln – (Stephen B. Oates, 1977) A masterful biography of Lincoln that follows his bitter struggle with poverty, his self-made success in business and law, his early disappointing political career, and his leadership as President during one of America's most tumultuous periods. More than any other biographer, Stephen B. Oates brings the plain-talking man from Illinois to life as a canny politician, a doting husband, and a determined wartime leader. Oates has an appealing appreciation for Lincoln's majestic control of the English language, his raw humor, and his undeniable heroism. The final pages, covering Lincoln's death and his legacy, are graceful and moving.

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey – (Lillian Schlissel, 1982) More than a quarter million Americans crossed the continental U.S. between 1840 and 1870.  Men of the frontier have become an integral part of history and folklore, but pioneering was a family matter, and the experiences of American women are central to an accurate picture of what life was like on the frontier. These chronicles of women show an absorbing and informative aspect of the westward saga.


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