1. Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, 2003)–a wonderful overview of BF’s life, written in clear, lucid prose. Lots of good “fodder” for lecture.
2. Sheila Skemp, ed., Benjamin and William Franklin: Father and Son, Patriot and Loyalist (Bedford Books, 1994)–this is a collection of letters between Patriot-father and Loyalist-son. At the end of the book, there’s a list of questions you can have your students answer. This is very appropriate to assign in high school classes, although teachers of middle school and jr. high school will find appropriate materials they can read to their class as well.
3. Gordon Wood, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (Penguin Books, 2004)–if you have a good grounding on Franklin, and you want something more sophisticated than Isaacson, then I’d go with Wood’s book. For those of you who plan to take my graduate seminar this fall, we’ll read this book. It’s very good.
4. Read Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography–you can find this online or you can buy it at any bookstore, including our Barnes and Noble in Pueblo. There’s nothing like this wonderful story, written for BF’s son.
5. James Delbourgo, A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders: Electricity and Enlightenment in Early America (Harvard Univ. Press, 2006)–this interesting book traces Americans fascination with electricity in early America. It discusses BF, but also a host of other interesting characters.
6. Edmund Morgan, Benjamin Franklin (Yale Univ. Press, 2002)–if you’re a diplomacy buff then this is the book for you. The title is misleading, because it’s not a biography but rather an account of BF’s diplomatic efforts in France during the War.
7. Bernard Cohen, Benjamin Franklin’s Science (Harvard Univ. Press, 1996)–the best book on the subject!
8. Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (Alfred Knopf, 1997)–this wonderful book traces the debates that led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. It also has a list of Jefferson’s rough drafts of the D of I in the Appendix. I’ll assign this book in my grad seminar this fall.
9. David Waldstreicher, Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution (Hill and Wang, 2005)–examines BF’s role in slavery and forces us to rethink just what that role was
10. There are lots of books on the Constitution–see me if you want something other than Carol’s book.
11. Allen Guelzo, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (Simon & Schuster, 2005)–a wonderful book on the topic, written in clear prose. The author teaches in Gettysburg.
12. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford Univ. Press, 2003)–this is the best overview of the Civil War, written by the preeminent scholar of the War. It won the Pulitzer Prize for History.
13. Charles Royster, A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and the American Character, 1775-1783 (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006)–arguably the best book on the subject
14. David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (Oxford Univ. Press, 2005)–covers GW’s daring trek across the Delaware River in Dec. 1776 and then the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. Won the Pulitzer Prize–a great read.
15. Joseph Ellis, His Excellency (Alfred Knopf, 2005)–a well-written character study of George Washington
16. Edward Lengel, General George Washington: A Military Life (Random House, 2005)–the best account of GW’s leadership during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution
17. James Flexner, Washington: The Indespensable Man (1994)–a popular bio of GW
18. John Ferling, Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War for Independence (Oxford Univ. Press, 2007)–this author makes the compelling argument that the American victory during the War was a fluke, esp. when you consider that GW lost almost every battle he fought. A must read for you Revolution buffs!
19. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter, 6 vols.