Star-Spangled Book Recommendations for Your 4th of July Week

Were you expecting fireworks? If you can read this, let me know via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+...
Were you expecting fireworks? If you can read this, let me know via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+…

This is a week full of red, white, and blue celebrating. In that spirit, I searched for some appropriate books to recommend that include “4th of July” in their titles. (Please note: I haven’t necessarily read these books, but I will provide as intriguing a summary as possible for each one.)

Yes, it’s going to be that kind of a lazy, hazy, laid-back week. I do hope one of these “patriotic” tomes inspires you to trot out your (cobweb-covered?) library card…

4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land: If you’re a Bruce Springsteen fan, prepare yourself for a book that isn’t exclusively about The Boss. That said, I think you’ll enjoy this one if you like reading about the origins of New Jersey towns and history in general.

Author Daniel Wolff takes you on a journey through Asbury Park’s 130 years as a Jersey Shore destination. This book is the true story of a town that started as a religious “promised land.” Apparently, a gentleman named James A. Bradley founded Asbury Park as a Methodist retreat in 1871. Oh my!

Besides Mr. Springsteen, other musical greats entwined with Asbury Park’s past include John Philip Sousa, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, and Frankie Lymon.

Born on the Fourth of July: I’d be shocked to find out you’ve never heard of the movie version of this book (starring Tom Cruise). But have you ever read Ron Kovic’s 1976 autobiography? It recounts his personal journey from “baby boy” U.S. Marine Corps inductee (fresh out of high school and off to Vietnam – two tours of duty) to paralyzed anti-war activist.

You’ll be amazed to learn this author wrote his book in less than two months! And yes, Ron Kovic WAS born on July 4th, so he earned the right to his book’s title. Once Oliver Stone (also a Vietnam veteran – Army) read the book, I suppose he knew he had another great story to capture on film…

Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial and Hate Crime in America: Ooh, some of these 4th of July selections seem to have a dash of dark karma pulsing through them. This nonfiction book from David Neiwert is a serious read – you’ve been warned.

The hate crime referenced in the title took place on July 4, 2000, in the small town of Ocean Shores, Washington (the state). It involved three young Asian-American men, a group of alleged skinheads, and a Confederate flag. The incident happened in the parking lot of a gas station’s convenience store and resulted in a surprising twist, so I’m not going to ruin it for you.

Mr. Neiwert is a well-known journalist and acknowledged expert regarding right-wing extremism in the U.S. If detailed examination of gritty socio-cultural issues is your preferred reading matter, give this book a try.

4th of July: Full disclosure: I am not a James Patterson reader, and I’ve never heard of this book’s co-author, Maxine Paetro. But I do admire that Mr. Patterson founded his ReadKiddoRead website to encourage school-age kids to enjoy reading books. (You know, those things with words printed on paper.)

Anyway, 4th of July is one in a collection of books referred to as the “Women’s Murder Club” series. (Honestly, if I want to be “entertained” regarding the topic of murder, all I need do is watch the news or browse my daily Google News headlines.) In this particular book, a police lieutenant named Lindsay Boxer (sigh, another reference to violence) is about to stand trial for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Other printed offerings in the series include: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The 5th Horseman, and so on. Right now the series rests with the 12th book, so I can only guess at the title for (lucky!) number 13… And just in case you’re still wondering who the h#!! Maxine Paetro is, here you go.


What other “4th of July” offerings did I overlook or ignorantly exclude? If you’ve read any of the books mentioned in this blog post, what commentary are you willing to offer? Whatever your plans for this holiday week, I hope you have the chance to escape (mentally) with a good book!

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her ( for a no-obligation project quote today!

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