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US History Project Status & Reading List
addendum to US history project
ABOUT THE READING LIST ON US HISTORY: The US history series is paywalled in general, but quite a few free subscribers asked for the reading list/structure of the plan, so this is not behind the paywall. I will keep it updated as I finish each post and update my reading plan.
The first entry is not paywalled, and will give you an example of what the series will be like. If you’d like to subscribe and read them all, as well as gain the ability to comment, I’ve put annual subscriptions 10% off at this link.
As always, if you can’t afford a paid subscription, email and I’ll give you a free year. hollymathnerd at gmail dot com.
STATUS/LIST OF POSTS COMPLETED SO FAR:
list updated Tuesday, July 4, 2023
Announcement of project (hugely valuable recommendations in comments!).
The 1828 dictionary,
Freedom vs Liberty
When I announced my intention to focus on learning about US history and write about this, I got a deluge of recommendations from commenters and emails, which was amazing and so helpful. Thank you!!
In response to numerous requests for the reading list I’m using, the list is below.
I’ve also been given a glorious and wonderful gift—a copy of the 1828 dictionary, which I’m using to contextualize what many of the words they used meant to them when they wrote them.
Please note that I’m not planning this project with a rigid timeline, either for myself or for the study of US history more generally. I’ve started with the founding documents and some reading about what things were like when they wrote them. But some things are much faster reads than others, and I obviously won’t know when I’ve found a slow read until I start reading it.
I’m finding my curiosity sparked by almost everything I read, and sometimes I will likely go off on a tangent and read something else. (Side note: I’m reading A Nation of Victims, by Vivek Ramaswamy, today, and holy shit, is it it good.)
Additionally, I know that I’m in over my head with this one. It’s not math, where you can prove you got the right answer, and it’s not coding, where either you get the requested output, you get output you didn’t expect, or you throw an error. I am anticipating there will be times when I need to pause and go read something else to make up a deficit in my knowledge base.
All that to say: here’s the list, but I make no promises (or guesses) as to when I’ll be writing about each element of it, or that there won’t be other elements that appear before I get to some of them. The links go to Amazon for your convenience, but I don’t have an affiliate link, so there’s no benefit to me if you buy any of them. I have noted the ones that are available on Kindle Unlimited (an Amazon thing where for $10 a month you can borrow many eBooks and read them on your computer or phone—they have apps—or your Kindle if you own one).
I continue to appreciate your recommendations and will update this as I get to the point of either ordering or adding something to my Kindle Unlimited borrowing limits, or listening to it/watching it (for other resources).
READING LIST FOR PROJECT
list updated Tuesday, July 4, 2023
Important Reference Material:
1828 version of American Dictionary of the English Language.
The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights (from a boxed set).
Other Primary Source reading:
The Articles of Confederation (will try to find a book that both includes and explains the text for this one, haven’t yet).
The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, by Bernard Bailyn.
(currently reading this; it’s rich and fascinating but a slow read).
First Principles, by Thomas Ricks.
On Politics, by Alan Ryan. (In general I prefer paper books but the Kindle version is $16.50 compared to college textbook prices for a hard copy.)
American Heritage: A Reader, edited by the Hillsdale College History Faculty. (Kindle Unlimited.)
I am aware that Hillsdale has a definite conservative bias, which is why I chose this book. College gave me a thorough understanding of the “America was founded on slavery and every founding principle and institution was designed only to facilitate white supremacy and thus benefit heterosexual cisgendered able bodied white landowning wealthy Christian males” perspective, and while I will be sure to include reading from that perspective at some point, right now I still feel like I’m working against that narrative in my head, so I chose something written by conservatives to try to balance it out.
First Definitely Chosen Revolutionary War Book:
The British Are Coming, by Rick Atkinson. (Kindle Unlimited.)
Would like to find at least one more Revolutionary War book.
Other Books Already Chosen and Ordered/Borrowed through Kindle Unlimited:
Miracle at Philadelphia! The Story of the Constitutional Convention, by Catherine Drinker Bowen.
What Hath God Wrought, by Daniel Walker Howe.
The Year of Decision: 1846, by Bernard DeVoto. (Kindle Unlimited.)
Vindicating the Founders, by Thomas G. West.
This may be too ambitious, and I know this project will likely take a couple of years longer if I do this, but I am thinking that reading at least one biography of each President would be a very cool and interesting way to follow the trajectory of the nation.
If you have a favorite biography of any President, especially Woodrow Wilson (ha ha) or one of the first five Presidents, please leave a comment or send me an email.
Abraham Lincoln books:
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
I am very curious about the process and reasoning that caused Senators to stop being elected by state legislatures and start being elected directly. One of the people whose minds I admire the most told me this happened during Woodrow Wilson’s term and filled me in a bit on what was going on at the time. I will likely read about this and the related concept of arguments over the electoral college sooner rather than later.
The author of this argument against the Electoral College is one of my subscribers, so if I don’t find his argument convincing (and I will be going into it strongly in favor of the Electoral College) he may be willing to write something for us in response!
The History of the Americans, a podcast by Jack Henneman.
About My Substack: I’m a junior data scientist (two years experience and presently job-hunting if you’re hiring). My great love is mathematics, but I also enjoy writing. My posts are mostly cultural takes from a broadly anti-Woke perspective—yes, I’m one of those annoying classical liberals who would’ve been considered on the left until ten seconds ago. Lately I’ve regained a childhood love of reading and started publishing book reviews. My most widely useful essay may be this one, about how to resist the demon of self-termination.
Paid subscribers get access to occasional creative writing posts and, starting with part 2 of the Declaration of Independence, have sole access to a journey I am making to educate myself about United States history. The first entry is not paywalled and is accessible here.
I used to be poor, so this Substack has a standing policy: if you want a paid subscription but cannot afford one, email me at hollymathnerd at gmail dot com and I’ll give you a freebie.
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