Happy Fourth of July! Books with an Independence Day Theme

Happy Fourth of July!  We’re doing minimal prep for a back-yard picnic:  Boca burgers, potato salad, and green bean salad.  And doubtless the neighbors will have fireworks.

And here’s a list of Fourth of July novels.

1 . Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s The Linwoods.  This fast-paced novel, published in 1835, follows the fortunes of two families during the Revolutionary War. I wrote about it here.

2 . Richard Ford’s Independence Day is the second novel in Ford’s critically-acclaimed Frank Bascombe quartet.  The muddled hero, Frank, a sportswriter-turned-realtor, has high hopes for the Fourth of July.   He plans a road trip to visit his girlfriend at Jersey Beach and then picks up his teenage son to  visit several Sports Halls of Fame.  A great novel about American culture and confusion.

3.  Jill McCorkle’s Ferris Beach.  I read this ages ago.  From the book description:  Ferris Beach is a place where excitement and magic coexist. Mary Katherine “Katie” Burns and Misty Rhodes  are inseparable friends, sharing every secret, every dream-until one fateful Fourth of July, when their lives change in a way they could never have imagined.

4.  Howard Fast’s April Morning, a best-selling 1961 novel following the fortunes of fifteen-year-old Adam during the battle of Lexington and Concord.  Haven’t read it but have heard good things.

5.  Walter D. Emmonds’ Drums Along the Mohawk, a best-selling novel published in 1936.  The story of a young couple who settle in the Mohawk Valley in the eighteenth century and struggle to establish a farm.  As the Revolutionary War begins, they see their neighbors take different sides. This book was adapted as a movie starring Henry Fonda and Claude Colbert.

6.   Esther Forbes’s Johnny Tremain, winner of the Newbery Award in 1944. My husband and I both loved this in our youth. Johnny Tremain, a young silversmith’s apprentice, has a crippling accident and can no longer work with silver.   He finds a job delivering a Whig newspaper, and  gets to know John Hancock and John and Samuel Adams. Lots of history:  the Boston Tea Party, spying for the Sons of Liberty, and Paul Revere’s ride.   Loved this book in seventh grade English!

7.  Gore Vidal’s Burr.  I enjoyed Vidal’s essays and his novel  Justinian. The novel Burr is on my list.  Goodreads says: Burr is a portrait of perhaps the most complex and misunderstood of the Founding Fathers. In 1804, while serving as vice president, Aaron Burr fought a duel with his political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and killed him. In 1807, he was arrested, tried, and acquitted of treason. In 1833, Burr is newly married, an aging statesman considered a monster by many. Burr retains much of his political influence if not the respect of all. And he is determined to tell his own story. As his amanuensis, he chooses Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a young New York City journalist, and together they explore both Burr’s past and the continuing political intrigues of the still young United States.

8. Diana Gabaldon’s A Breath of Snow and Ashes, the sixth novel in the bestselling Outlander saga.  The book description says:   The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit.  With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown. But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence—with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. 

9.  Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth, a historical novel published in 1959.  Here’s the book description:  A bustling port city, Charleston, South Carolina, is the crossroads of the American Revolution where supplies and weapons for the rebel army must be unloaded and smuggled north. From the window of the dressmaker’s shop where she works, lovely Celia Garth, recently engaged to the heir to a magnificent plantation, watches all of this thrilling activity….

10.  Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.   This one belongs in the “far out!” category. A columnist at Barnes and Noble says:   “The Moon declares independence on July 4, 2076, officially freeing itself from the Earth’s vampiric clutches before it runs out of food, which the Earth has been forcibly importing with little regard for the wellbeing of the lunar population, mostly made up of criminals and exiles and their descendants. Brilliant, dated, and still an incredibly fun read, this book is slightly bonkers, but explores the exhilarating idea of revolution for the most basic reasons of all: the right of self-determination, for better or worse.”

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