Mightier than the Sword: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the Battle for America. New York: W. W. Norton, 2011; paperback edition 2012.
-- A New Yorker Favorite Book of the Year. A Kirkus Top Nonfiction Book of the Year. Top Spring Nonfiction Picks, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. The 20 Smartest Nonfiction Reads for the Summer, Christian Science Monitor.
Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson. New York: HarperCollins, 2008. "Notable Books of the Year," New York Times Book Review. “Best Books of the Year,” Washington Post Book World.
John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Sparked the Civil War, Killed Slavery, Seeded Civil Rights. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. Winner of the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Prize.
Walt Whitman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, March 1995. Winner of the Bancroft Prize. Winner of the Ambassador Book Award. Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award. "Notable Books of the Year." New York Times Book Review.
Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988 (reprinted by Oxford University Press, 2011; reprinted by Harvard University Press, 1989). Winner of the Christian Gauss Award. "Notable Books of the Year," New York Times Book Review.
Faith in Fiction: The Emergence of Religious Literature in America. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 1981 (reprint 1984).