Skip to main content


Our Readers' Favorite Articles of 2023

June 2024
2min read

1 “With Malice Toward None” by Jon Meacham

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and clashing understandings of reality.

2 The Secret Plans to Invade Japan, by David Dean Barrett

U.S. military leaders drew up elaborate plans to invade Japan, with estimates of American casualties ranging as high as two to four million, given the terrible losses at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

3 Why Did Ruby Kill Oswald? by Burt W. Griffin

Sixty years ago, Jack Ruby shot Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. What was his motive? The Warren Commission lawyer who investigated Ruby reveals the killer’s state of mind.

4 Who Really Was FDR? by Derek Leebaert

He could be charming and witty, but also devious and cruel, said aides closest to Franklin Roosevelt.

5 Special Issue: Japan and the Atomic Bomb, by Edwin Grosvenor

In this special issue, we look from multiple viewpoints at the conventional and atomic attacks on Japanese cities to end the Asia-Pacific war.

6 Samuel Adams Starts a Revolution, by Stacy Schiff

Enlisting an army of alter egos, Adams used the Boston press to make the case for American independence and to orchestrate a burgeoning rebellion.

7 Teddy Falls in Love with the West, by H. W. Brands

As a young man, Theodore Roosevelt struggled through a brutal winter on a cattle ranch in the Dakota Territory. The adventure launched his love affair with the western United States.

8 Struggling to End the War, by Richard Overy

As defeat became inevitable in the summer of 1945, Japan's government and the Allies could not agree on surrender terms, especially regarding the future of Emperor Hirohito and his throne.

9 What Were the Japanese Thinking? by Richard B. Frank

Leaders in Tokyo alone controlled when the war would end, but the regime's political structure was so complex that it crippled rational decision-making.

10 "Why We Used the Atomic Bomb" by Henry Stimson

In 1947, former Secretary of War Henry Stimson recalled the agonizing decision to use the bomb: "This deliberate, premeditated destruction was our least abhorrent choice."

11 First Shots in the Pacific War, by Keith Fitzgerald

Eighty minutes before Pearl Harbor, Japanese troops stormed ashore at Kota Bharu in Malaysia and fired the first shots of World War II in Asia.

12 Did We Really Need to Drop the Bomb? by Paul Ham

American leaders called the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki our "least abhorrent choice," but there were alternatives to the nuclear attacks.

13 Cities Reduced to Ashes, by David Dean Barrett

In the spring of 1945, American bombing raids destroyed much of Tokyo and dozens of other Japanese cities, killing at least 200,000 people, without forcing a surrender.

14 Was the Flag-Raising on Iwo Jima Posed? by Marc Lancaster

One of the defining images of World War II continues to be trailed by controversy.

15 The Daring Escape of Frederick Douglass, by Linda Hirshman

As he recounted in his memoirs, Frederick Douglass endured daily beatings and forced labor before taking his chances on the road to freedom.

16 We Must Do A Better Job Teaching Civics, by Richard Haass

Our classrooms are failing to pass down the essentials of what it means to be an American, a citizen of the United States.

17 Brutal Reckoning in the Creek War, by Peter Cozzens

Two hundred years ago, the conflict in which the United States seized the Deep South from its Native inhabitants was a turning point in American history, but it is largely forgotten today.

18 Reconsidering Jimmy Carter, by Kai Bird

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

19 Triumphs of a Tuskegee Airman by Philip Handleman

Colonel Harry Stewart downed three advanced Nazi fighter planes in one day, then surprised the Air Force when he and his Tuskegee teammates won the first "top gun" competition.

19 Why Do We Call It "America"? by Jonathan Cohen

Popular history tells us that America was named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. But could there be other, perhaps even older origins of the name?

20 Banneker’s Answer to Jefferson: “I Am an American” by Edward J. Larson

The black naturalist, astronomer, surveyor, and almanac-writer Benjamin Banneker took issue with Thomas Jefferson’s attitude toward “those of my complexion.”

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.