Blog Profile / The Edge of the American West


URL :http://edgeofthewest.wordpress.com
Filed Under:History / US History
Posts on Regator:500
Posts / Week:1.6
Archived Since:April 9, 2010

Blog Post Archive

A gold-ish dollar

On this day, the first of February, in 1934, the New York Times carried Franklin Roosevelt’s proclamation of a new gold value for the US dollar. Previously it had been worth 25 8/10 ounces of gold 9/10 fine; now it would be worth 15 5/21 ounces of gold 9/10 fine—or, as it is more commonly […]

Clinton’s counterfactual and mine; or whither Lincolnian Reconstruction…

Hillary Clinton is taking flak today for her summary repetition of the white supremacist Dunning School of historical interpretation, which held that the attempt in the 1860s and 1870s to provide African Americans with their civil rights was a terrible imposition on the white folks of the South. [Lincoln] was willing to reconcile and forgive. […]

‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; being some notes on money

In the current Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal Michael W. Clune1 writes about odd small episodes, “particularly ephemeral perceptual experiences” we have that may alert us to the gap between how things seem and what they are. Riffing on Rei Terada’s Looking Away, he lists mirages, after-images; “clouds taken for mountains … looking at […]

Inaugurate when convenient.

A year from today, the US will inaugurate a new president. But inauguration day has not always been thus fixed. In the early years of the Republic, habit (rather than statute) placed the date of inauguration at March 4—though even that convention was not quite firm. In 1821, with the incumbent President James Monroe about […]

A wreck by any other name: on the inadequacy of “Great Recession”

I dislike the term “Great Recession” to describe our times, for technical and political reasons alike. Technically, the severe recession ended in June 2009. But, as the NBER says there, In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that […]

The Passion of the West; notes on Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

Non-specific plot details discussed herein. Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight opens with a close shot of Christ’s face as he hangs on a cross; the frame widens to show us it’s a roadside crucifix somewhere in a desolate snowscape. Along that road sweeps a stagecoach bearing a bounty hunter—whose dual nature is revealed in his […]

Hitchens minor on the English and their history

Peter Hitchens is less well known in the United States than his late brother, but when asked to write for the New York Times, he delivers his Mail columnist goods, full-strength. Regarding Robert Tombs’s English and their History: Even in free countries it is sometimes necessary to alter the past to suit the present. For […]

George Will’s Serious Historical Credentials

The estimable Heather Cox Richardson sympathizes with George Will in his despair over Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Reagan. Will decries “today’s cultural pathology of self-validating vehemence with blustery certitudes substituting for evidence.” Just so. But one recalls this example of “the Magisterial Mr. Will” (oh yes, dear readers, for that is how he was billed […]

Trump, populism, Hofstadter, Heer.

In The New Republic, Jeet Heer says that Donald Trump is not a populist, he’s “the voice of aggrieved privilege—of those who already are doing well but feel threatened by social change from below, whether in the form of Hispanic immigrants or uppity women.” Or the voice of the white American man enraged at the […]

Watch out, Peter. David Brooks wants to rob you to pay Paul.

Ronald Reagan in “A Time for Choosing,” the Gipper’s speech for Barry Goldwater in 1964: Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We’re spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you’ll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among […]

Grandpa Was a Famous Nazi

With Abenesia in the news, I thought it might be useful to talk about another Axis nation’s complicated struggle with the memory of the Second World War. Jennifer Teege found out, at the age of 38, that not only was her grandfather a Nazi, he was an especially infamous Nazi: Amon Goeth, the commandant of […]

Roosevelt v. Hitler

Now, or recently, at newsagents In the TLS for 17 April, you can find my essay on Nicholas Wapshott’s The Sphinx, about the presidential election of 1940, the isolationists, and how Franklin Roosevelt engineered the US shift toward war. The essay starts like this: Franklin Roosevelt recognized the threat Adolf Hitler posed from the moment […]

Excerpting memory.

If you’re interested, Slate just posted an excerpt from a chapter — on Appomattox and memory — from Battle Lines, the graphic history of the Civil War I’ve written with Jonathan Fetter-Vorm.

“We are all Americans.”

Perhaps my favorite story of the Civil War comes from Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox, which took place 150 years ago today. Here’s an excerpt, below the fold, from a piece I wrote last year about that episode. A patient historian could have traced the long arc of the Civil War by waiting out […]

What does Paul Campos know that the Public Policy Institute of California does not?

Paul Campos writes in the New York Times about what he claims is the “real reason” for higher college tuition in the USA: far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education.… a major factor driving increasing costs is […]

Definitely, finally, actually, not mistakably off the gold standard

Forthcoming in September, from Basic Books As readers of this blog know, Franklin Roosevelt declared he had taken the US off the gold standard on March 6, 1933, as the first substantial act of his presidency. But scholars have not been so quick to accept this date or, with firmness, any other. When Roosevelt first […]

Keeping a finger on gold

Forthcoming in September, from Basic Books On this day in 1933, it was the first Friday of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, and the new president met reporters to talk to them about ending the bank holiday with which he had begun his term. The Federal Reserve Banks would open on Saturday so that member banks of […]

Lived long and prospered.

Leonard Nimoy’s Spock made the most powerful case for the value of emotional intelligence that I’ve ever seen. I’m also pretty sure that the Roanoke episode of “In Search Of…” made me the historian I am today. And, more important still, his life offscreen suggested that personal decency can far outstrip fame. RIP to a […]

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