David McCullough’s histories are perennial best sellers for a reason, his writing skills and the abilty to bring history ‘to life’ has been proven over and over. Oh, did I mention he has won two pulitzers and two National Book Awards
. In ‘1776’, at this point a classic overview of the Revolutionary War, he brings those abilities to bear. You probably know the broad events, yet the book will drive you forward in finishing it. Primary sources are used throughout, yet the book is not remotely ‘academic’. Even knownledgable amateur historians will find it a great read, even no ‘new’ insights are offered. Note that this books only covers one pivotal year – from the end of 1775 to the end of 1776. The political/social aspects that drove the colonies to this point and the resulting indpenedence of the US is only lightly covered – so if you are looking for a 1 volume history of the entire history, you may have to search elsewhere. The read is easy enough that it would be a great book if you wanted to introduce your high school age children to a more indepth discussion beyond the usual 15 page summary in their text book. While the book has some illustrations and maps, I highly recommend the Illustrated version of the book.