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The Best Essays of 2022

May 2024
1min read

From the life of Lincoln to the late David McCullough, here are the top 10 stories that fascinated our readers in 2022.

Every year, we look back on our published issues to see how we did with our readers. We like to look at which subjects were most popular, which essays elicited the strongest responses, and which were most read. The results are always different, and always fascinating.

This year, we asked our readers directly which articles were their favorites. Below you can find the top 10 titles based on the results of that survey. Again, the results are enlightening — while stories about Lincoln and the Civil War landing the top spots may be expected, we were happily surprised to find lesser-known topics like privateers during the Revolution and Olympic icon Jim Thorpe getting lots of play. 

Take a look at the full list below, and feel free to email us with your own nominations or suggestions at

—  The Editors

1. Lincoln Walks a Tightrope, by David S. Reynolds, Spring Issue

The unique political genius of Abraham Lincoln was to navigate carefully and at times conservatively between abolition and the Southern cause until he knew the time was right for radical justice.

2. Antietam, America's Bloodiest Day, by Justin Martin, September Issue

In September 1862, the South hoped to end the war by invading Maryland just before the mid-term elections. But its hopes were dashed after the bloodiest day in American history.

3. Bob Dole and the Nazis’ Brutal Last Stand in Italy, by Edwin S. Grosvenor, Summer Issue

Allied soldiers struggled for months to clear veteran German troops dug into the mountains of northern Italy in late 1944 and early 1945.

4. American Rebels at Sea, by Eric Jay Dolin, Summer Issue

An estimated fifteen hundred privateering ships played a crucial role in winning the American Revolution, but their contributions are often forgotten.

5. Andrew Jackson: Our First Populist, by David S. Brown, November/December Issue

Was he the era’s greatest Democrat or its elected autocrat? A hero or a scoundrel Balancing Andrew Jackson’s legacy is a problematic exercise, complicated by his many contradictions.

6. Johnstown: “Run For Your Lives!” by David McCullough, September Issue

In the hills above Johnstown, the old South Fork dam had failed. Down the Little Conemaugh came the torrent, sweeping away everything in its path.

7. Jim Thorpe Finally Wins, by David Maraniss, October Issue

Considered by many to have been the world’s greatest athlete, Thorpe persevered through triumphs and tragedy.

8. FDR Unites America for War, by Peter Shinkle, November/December Issue

Adding Republicans to key positions in his administration, Franklin Roosevelt created a unified effort to fight World War II.

9. Remembering David McCullough, by Edwin S. Grosvenor, September Issue

He became the dean of American historians after learning his craft working five years on the staff of American Heritage.

10. Henry Ford's Bungle in the Jungle, by Mark Callaghan, Winter Issue

He was one of America's greatest innovators, but his plan to build a production city in the Amazon ultimately ended in disaster

We hope you enjoy our work.

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