Blog Profile / The Edge of the American West

Filed Under:History / US History
Posts on Regator:493
Posts / Week:1.7
Archived Since:April 9, 2010

Blog Post Archive

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 […]

A life well lived!

Nothing brings me more joy than Edgar Allan Poe’s obituary.

The bug.

I don’t know enough to know for sure, but this looks like potentially big news. Relatedly, I don’t remember where I was when the Challenger blew up, but I do have a flashbulb memory from when I learned that Magic Johnson had HIV.

Gordon Wood v. Gordon Wood

Possibly the right response to Gordon Wood’s “History in Context” in The Weekly Standard – a “get off my lawn essay,” as one historian says – is parody. After all Wood does begin the essay by saying his mentor Bernard Bailyn is woefully under-appreciated, and then proceeds to mention that Bailyn has two Pulitzers.1 What […]

“Poignant and heartbreaking.”

No, not my lovemaking, Battle Lines. Or so says Publishers Weekly. The full review, if you want to read it but fear of links, is below the fold. In 15 harrowing chapters, Fetter-Vorm (Trinity) and Ari Kelman’s (A Misplaced Massacre) graphic take on the Civil War brings home the shattering costs of America’s epochal conflict […]

A small sample.

My friend Phillip Barron has put together a flip book of sample pages from Battle Lines. If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

Does Samuel L. Jackson Say the Right Thing?

I recently re-watched Do the Right Thing and found the ending a little shocking. No, not the violent part – which has, sadly, only become more familiar in the quarter century since 1989 – but the actual last scene. The morning after the movie’s climax, the camera shifts up and away from the street while […]

What we do.

Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members captures the absurdity of the present moment in the hallowed halls of academe: the beleaguered state of the humanities; the way a shrinking pie has left even tenured scholars, already an insecure subset of the species, more fragile than usual; the fraught relationship between faculty and their administrative paymasters. In […]

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