Every year on the Fourth of July, we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which in 1776 pronounced the Colonies were sovereign states no longer subject to the rule of Britain. The document goes beyond the boundaries of government to famously declare that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And while this statement may have been heartfelt, written as it was by men who had been subjugated by a monarch who gave them little in return, it has proven very difficult to put into practice. The concepts of “equal rights” and “liberty” have been particularly challenging for us throughout our 245 years as a nation.
This year, after one of the most tumultuous times in recent American history, we here at the weekly live web show and podcast Friends & Fiction urge book lovers to step back and read more deeply and widely about our country and its painful, sometimes complicated, but always fascinating history.
The ten books we have chosen — fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults — represent a mixture of the history surrounding Independence Day and the trials we have faced in living up to and defending its ideals, from the nation’s inception to our present day. We offer these as just a starting point for deeper conversations about our country’s past, and our future.