Rethink That History Textbook!

If you have ever wondered about the durability of racism and white supremacy in America, why these odious evils have persisted for so many years, Donald Yacovone has an provocative answer: we have been teaching them for centuries. Yacovone is a scholar, researcher and writer with long-standing ties to two important Harvard University centers, the…

Racism’s Wicked Legacy

To truly understand the wicked legacy of racism in the United States, look to well-researched history. Current media may buzz about critical race theory – and it can be provocative – but history has staying power. And really well-done history explains so much in ways that can engage and enrage, that can make you weep…

Thinking Through Modern History with Professor Judt

For most folks, a historian is a scholar concerned about the past, possibly with an obsession over dates. Within the academy, historians are considered unreliable social scientists (economic history is never quite as rigorous as real economics) or denizens of the humanities who focus in nonfiction. Good historians write well, but not too well. As a discipline, a systematic…

Decline in the 1970s – A Pivotal Decade

Judith Stein’s Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies makes for depressing reading. Her narrative counters Whiggish histories of continuous progress with a sobering account of economic decline. It is a chronicle of poor decisions, written from the vantage point of a post-industrial United States with fractious politics and a…

Necessary Lies

A well-crafted history arranges space and time into a set, frames a proscenium for our viewing, and knows when to raise the curtain and when to let it fall. It crafts order out of chaos; it conjures up beginnings, middles and ends where none exist, boxing up time, processing it and rendering it digestible. History…

Colossus – Building the Hoover Dam

Good popular history combines the rigor of academic historical scholarship with accessible, lively prose. Good popular history is about telling a story with heroes, villains, drama and resolution. Popular historians can situate their subjects within broader historical questions. Most importantly, good popular history takes a complicated story and renders it in human scale. Popular history…

Clio, Ares and Hestia

In Civil War Wives, Carol Berkin sketches the lives and times of Angela Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis and Julia Dent Grant. This is solid women’s history, close to the sources and closely attuned to opportunities and constraints these well-known women faced. Weld was married to abolitionist Theodore Weld. Davis was the spouse of the…