Book Review: The Banjo

The Banjo: America’s African Instrument. By Laurent Dubois, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016.  Laurent Dubois, professor of Romance Studies and History and director of the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University, asks a seemingly simple question early on in his book: “What sound will accompany the end of days?” … Continue reading Book Review: The Banjo

Book Review: The Glass Universe

Dava Sobel. The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars. New York: Viking, 2017. 324 Pg. $30. Dava Sobel has written another wonderful book about women and science. The Glass Universe tells the story of the dozens of women who worked in the Harvard College Observatory in … Continue reading Book Review: The Glass Universe

Review: 2016 Rollins Book Prize Winner

Hollywood Riots: Violent Crowds and Progressive Politics in American Film (2016). By Doug Dibbern. I.B. Tauris, 205 pp. A few years before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) conducted its witch-hunt to ferret out alleged communists in the Hollywood film industry—it held hearings in 1947 and 1951—there had been violent, racially-motivated disturbances in Los … Continue reading Review: 2016 Rollins Book Prize Winner

Book Review: Bone Rooms

Redman, Samuel. Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism in Human Prehistory to Museums. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. Pp. 373. $29.95   Samuel Redman’s new monograph explores an interesting topic: the history and cultural significance of the vast collections of human skeletons that flooded museums and public fairs in the later nineteenth and early twentieth … Continue reading Book Review: Bone Rooms

Book Review: Sports, Legend, and Immortality

Legends Never Die: Athletes and Their Afterlives in Modern America. By Richard Ian Kimball. Syracuse University Press, 2017.   On July 4, 1939, New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig bade farewell in a speech that has found its way into the pantheon of American history's most famous orations. When Gehrig told a Yankee Stadium … Continue reading Book Review: Sports, Legend, and Immortality

Book Review: Young Radicals

YOUNG RADICALS: IN THE WAR FOR AMERICAN IDEALS (2017) Jeremy McCarter Random House, 340 pages.   I didn’t like this book; I adored it! It is so well written that it reads like novel. Among the unorthodox things Jeremy McCarter has done is pen it in the present tense. Another is to make its major … Continue reading Book Review: Young Radicals

United States of Absurdity: Mine It, but Don’t Assign It

THE UNITED STATES OF ABSURDITY: UNTOLD STORIES FROM AMERICAN HISTORY Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds Ten Speed Press, 2017, 144 pages  The United States of Absurdity is a mix of the rapid-fire wit and non-sequiturs of Car Talk, the bad boy flippancy of Howard Stern, and offbeat history. Its authors, Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds, … Continue reading United States of Absurdity: Mine It, but Don’t Assign It

Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Book Review

WAS AMERICA FOUNDED AS A CHRISTIAN NATION? (Revised Edition, 2016) By John Fea Westminster John Knox Press, 324 pages     For tens of millions of Americans, there’s no need to pose the question raised in the title of John Fea's monograph. Most self-identified evangelicals adamantly insist that it was, and humanists and political progressives … Continue reading Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Book Review

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Last Indian War?

Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI. By David Grann, Doubleday, 2017, 352 pp.   History books tell us that the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and the slaughter of at least 150 Indians* was the final episode in the wars between Native Americans and whites. Perhaps we should … Continue reading Killers of the Flower Moon: The Last Indian War?

Wilderness of Ruin Both Fascinating and Frustrating

The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America’s Youngest Serial Killer. By Roseanne Montillo. New York: William Morrow, 2015. Gilded Age Boston and Chicago shared a lot in common. Both had World's Fairs: Boston in 1883, and Chicago ten years later. Each suffered devastating fires, with Chicago being nearly … Continue reading Wilderness of Ruin Both Fascinating and Frustrating