I'm a history buff. There are few well-written history books that I don't enjoy reading. But I just came across a couple of exceptional volumes of American history that I thought I'd share.
My first recommendation is Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, by Garry Wills. I was made to memorize the Gettysburg Address some time in grade school, but I never before appreciated how those few words changed the way Americans looked at the Civil War and at their nation. This Pulitzer-prize-winning examination of the text, the political landscape, and the historical circumstances places the speech in a unique context and elucidates the manner in which it affects us all, even today.
My second recommendation is more of a traditional historical narrative, and I'm only through with a couple of chapters, but I'm enjoying it so much I can already recommend it: Mayflower, a Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick. This detailed, well-researched and highly readable story of the men and women who crossed the Atlantic in the Mayflower, and their traumatic experiences in founding a new community among the native residents, will give you an entirely new viewpoint on our collective American experience. Example: did you know that William Bradford's wife may have committed suicide by jumping off the Mayflower shortly after it first anchored by Cape Cod? That illustrates how incredibly bleak things must have looked at that time for their prospects in the new land. And that was before over half of them died the first winter.