20 Best American History Textbooks for High School Students

Choosing the best American history textbooks for high school students can be a tough task.

There are so many American history textbooks to choose from that it can be difficult to decide which one is right for your needs.

To make this process easier, we have compiled a list of the 20 best American history textbooks for high school, including qualities such as price and level. We hope you enjoy reading our article!

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Best American History Textbooks for High School

It is very important to know our history, especially when you’re a high school student.

But where to start or which book is best for you?

Don’t worry I am here to help you. With comprehensive online research and customer ratings, I have created a list of the 20 best American History textbooks that are perfect for high school students.

So, let’s see the list and every detail about these books:

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

A Promised Land is a book written by Barack Obama in 1995.

It tells his life story through the time he was elected president of The Harvard Law Review, until the announcement of his presidential campaign in February 2007.

This history textbook brings back into focus this great American man’s struggle towards success and what it took to become one of the most powerful leaders in the world.

It is a great book for students who want to know more about Obama and his life, as well as American history from an American point of view!

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

White Fragility is a book written by an American antiracist educator, that brings into focus the reasons why some white people find it so hard to talk about racism.

The author tries to answer questions such as: Why do we act like being called racist is worse than actually acting in a racist way?

How can we overcome our defensiveness and discomfort when it comes to talking about racism?

This is a great book for students who want to learn more about why some white people find it so hard to talk about race, as well as how they can improve their own social interactions with other races.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Unbroken is a book written by Laura Hillenbrand, which tells the story of Louie Zamporini.

It begins with his service as an airman and bombardier during World War II and ends with him being rescued at sea after 47 days adrift on a life raft.

This history textbook also highlights how he managed to overcome the challenges of posttraumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, which is a great read for students who want to learn more about World War II.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The Boys in the Boat is a book written by Daniel James Brown, which tells the story of how nine working-class American men went to Germany and won Olympic gold at rowing.

This history textbook is perfect for those who want to learn more about this incredible journey as well as what it means to be an American.

History: From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day

History is a book written by Mary Beard, which starts with the creation of the universe and ends with Barack Obama’s first presidential election victory.

This history textbook is perfect for those who want to gain knowledge on some of humanity’s most significant moments as well as be entertained throughout their reading experience!

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy is a book written by J.D. Vance, which explores the struggles that poor Americans face in their daily lives and how they can overcome them to become successful members of society.

This history textbook offers insights on poverty, race relations, family life as well as what it means to be an American from Appalachia.

This is a great book for students who want to learn more about poverty, as well as what it means to be an American from Appalachia.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

The Splendid and the Vile is a book written by Gordon Corera, which tells the story of Winston Churchill’s family during World War II.

This history textbook offers insights on how they lived in London while it was being bombed at night as well as what it meant to be an Englishman living through this time period.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

An extraordinary true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system.

One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit.

The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding.

Twelve Years a Slave: (Penguin Orange Collection)

Twelve Years a Slave is an account of Solomon Northup’s life in slavery, written by himself.

The book was published in 1853 and it has been reprinted many times since then.

It is one of the few slave narratives to be written by a black man rather than an abolitionist white author.

The book provides insight into the system of slavery that existed in Louisiana at the time, and how it differed from other states where slavery was legal.

It also gives an account of his eventual rescue after 12 years in captivity.

Northup wrote his story with help from David Wilson, a white man, and former abolitionist who had met Northup and another man he identified as Henry Williams.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951.

Her cells were taken without her consent, and they became the first immortal human cells grown in culture. Known as HeLa cells, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for over sixty years.

The story of Henrietta’s life is told against the backdrop of America at mid-century—a time when Jim Crow laws kept people segregated in hospitals and even graveyards; a time when black people couldn’t get treatment for cancer because it was assumed that white doctors could not treat black patients; a time when there was no such thing as informed consent or patient rights.

This book is about medical ethics but also about history, race, and society.

In the mid-1900s, as of now, there was a tension between those who believe that science should be wholly devoted to improving life and those who believe that science should be devoted to helping humanity even at the possible expense of other species.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

The epic story of the 20th century’s greatest migration, a movement that remade America.

In 1915, in the booming city of Chicago, a southern black woman named Ida Mae Brandon Gladney found her dreams of becoming a nurse dashed when she has turned away from training programs because of her race.

So she settled for work as a domestic servant instead. Her income was meager but steady until 1929 when hard times hit and she lost her job.

With no savings to fall back on and few other employment opportunities open to African Americans in Depression-era Chicago, Ida Mae joined millions of blacks heading northward out of the segregated South.

She packed up her husband and three children and moved to Detroit with its bustling auto factories—and its more open racial attitudes.

Ida Mae’s move to Detroit was one of the first steps in a migration that would continue for much of the 20th century.

In that era, a total of six million African Americans left the South to live in cities and towns across the country.

In a single generation, this great migration transformed Chicago and Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York into some of the most vibrant centers of black culture in the country.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein is a book that explores the history and consequences of government-mandated segregation.

It focuses on the ways in which the federal, state, and local governments enforced residential segregation, as well as how those policies shaped American society.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte’s masterpiece, Wuthering Heights is a classic novel of love and revenge.

Set in the Yorkshire Moors, it tells the story of Heathcliff and his obsessive love for Catherine Earnshaw.

The book was originally published as a serial from 1847 to 1850 with an estimated 200,000 copies sold by the end of that period.

It has been translated into almost every language and has inspired countless adaptations including films, radio dramas, television series, and musicals.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

In this groundbreaking book, Pulitzer Prize winner Ibram X. Kendi explores how racist ideas have shaped American history and argues that we can overcome our racist past if we recognize the long, persistent history of these ideas in America.

In a nation founded on the principle that all people are created equal, it has never been easy to determine who qualifies as fully human.

From the colonial era to the present day, Americans have struggled with questions of racial difference and hierarchy.

In Stamped from the Beginning, historian Ibram X. Kendi chronicles this struggle through five centuries of history, showing how racist ideas have evolved over time and continue to infect us today through policies like mass incarceration and police brutality.

Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne

“Empire of the Summer Moon” is a sweeping narrative history of the Osage people, one of America’s most powerful Indian tribes, and their struggle to retain control over their land and resources in the face of white settlement.

The Osage were settled in present-day Oklahoma when it was still wilderness.

They lived on hunting, farming, and oil. When oil was discovered beneath their lands in the early twentieth century, they became fabulously wealthy—and then targets for murder.

S C Gwynne tells this story through three remarkable families: the Osages themselves; Mollie Burkhart and her husband; and Bill Tilghman (the “Wild West’s Deadliest Man”), who rose from deputy to head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Beautifully written, Empire of the Summer Moon is epic history at its grandest yet most intimate.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

A People’s History of the United States” is an account of the American past as seen from the perspective of those who have been exploited politically and economically.

Howard Zinn offers a radically new interpretation of American history, covering Christopher Columbus’s arrival through President Clinton’s first term.

“A People’s History” is not a dry academic work, but rather a passionate and often witty defense of democracy and social justice.

Zinn writes in an engaging style that makes his book appropriate for all readers.

The Constitution of the United States and The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution of the United States and The Declaration of Independence is a book written by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, George Mason, James Wilson.

The Constitution of the United States and The Declaration of Independence was published on October 2nd, 2011 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

This is a great book that I really enjoy reading.

It’s not just for people who are interested in politics or history but it’s also for anyone who enjoys an interesting read.

Killing the Mob: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America

This book is a true crime story of the fight against organized crime in America.

It tells the story of how law enforcement and prosecutors fought back against mobsters, including John Gotti, Vincent Gigante, Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, Joe Colombo, and many others.

The book is written by Jerry Capeci who has been writing about organized crime for over three decades.

He has covered all the major trials involving organized crime figures since 1985.

He is also co-author of two books on John Gotti: “Gotti” with Gene Mustain and “Gotti’s Rules” with Mike McAlary.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild is a nonfiction book by Jon Krakauer. It was published in 1996 and became an international bestseller, with more than four million copies sold.

The book describes the travels of Christopher McCandless across North America and his life spent in the Alaskan wilderness.

In April 1992, McCandless set out to test if he could survive alone in the wilds of Alaska.

He had given $25,000 worth of savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new identity: ‘Alexander Supertramp’. Carrying little more than a .22 caliber rifle and 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of rice, he ventured into the Alaskan wilderness.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood is a true crime novel by Truman Capote published in 1966.

It recounts the 1959 murders of four members of the Herbert Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, by Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith.

The book was groundbreaking for its literary style; it employed literary techniques borrowed from fiction to convey the events of the murder investigation and aftermath.

Capote’s narrative approach generated controversy among some critics, who said that he took liberties with the truth; others praised its literary merit.

In Cold Blood is frequently cited as one of the best nonfiction books ever written, though opinion varies regarding how to classify it: as a work of creative nonfiction or conventional biography.

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