All graduate students must take comprehensive exams. To help them prepare, the department has put together several reading lists that cover the basic material on the exams. Please note that these are suggested readings. Students will work with their advisor for more specific guidelines.

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U.S. History Reading List

Colonial and Early National:

Alan Taylor, American Colonies

Robert Middlekauf, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789

Peter S. Onuf and Leonard J. Sadosky, Jeffersonian America

Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes Towards the Negro, 1750-1812

Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

Mary Beth Norton, Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800

Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism

Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region 1650-1815

Early Nineteenth Century and Civil War:

Marshall Smelser, The Democratic Republic, 1801-1815

George Dangerfield, The Awakening of American Nationalism, 1815-1828

Glyndon G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, 1828-1848

David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861

James M. McPherson, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction

Alice Felt Tyler, Freedom's Ferment: Phases of American Social History from the Colonial Period to the Outbreak of the Civil War

William J. Cooper, Jr., and Thomas E. Terrill, The American South

Kenneth M. Stampp, The Peculiar Institution

Brenda Stevenson, Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South


Howard Jones, The Course of American Diplomacy


Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense, A Military History of the United States

Gilded Age:

Paul Kleppner, The Third Electoral System

Thomas Schlereth, Victorian America

Sean Cashman, America in the Gilded Age

Frank Friedel, The Splendid Little War

Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America

Matthew Josephson, The Robber Barons

Frederick Jackson Turner, "Impact of the Frontier on American History"

Progressive Era:

Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920

John Milton Cooper, The Warrior and the Priest

Lewis Gould, America in the Progressive Era, 1890 - 1914

Arthur Link, Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace

David Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society


John Higham, Strangers in the Land

Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore


Isabel Leighton, ed., The Aspirin Age: 1919-1941

William Leuchtenburg, The Perils of Prosperity

Arthur Schlessinger, Jr., The Coming of the New Deal

Arthur Schlessinger, Jr., The Politics of Upheaval

Anthony Badger., The New Deal

World War II:

Lee Kennett, G.I. The American Soldier in World War II

D. Clayton James and Anne Sharpe Wells, From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day

John M. Blum, V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II


Kenneth Jackson, The Crabgrass Frontier

Stephanie Coontz, The Way We Never Were

Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound

Stephen Oates, Let the Trumpet Sound

Walter LaFeber, America, Russia, and the Cold War 1945-1990

James Sundquist, Politics and Policy: The Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson Years

George Herring, America's Longest War

Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein, All the President's Men

John Morton Blum, Years of Discord: American Politics and Society 1961-1974

Eric Foner, The New American History

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