The Emancipationist Century
May 09, 2014
David Brion Davis's book on American slavery and American freedom was 50 years in the making—and worth the wait.
The setting was not the Oval Office that Kennedy chose, nor was it the floor of a packed House of Representatives where Johnson spoke.
From Radical to Right-Wing: The Legacy of Eugene Genovese
October 02, 2012
The famed historian, who died last month, began his career as a Marxist and finished it as a conservative Catholic.
September 28, 2011
Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern AmericaBy Richard White (W.W. Norton, 660 pp., $35) I. The scene is iconic, known to many Americans even casually acquainted with their history. Locomotives of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads come engine grate to engine grate, separated by a mere railroad tie, at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.
The Surprising Reason for the Decline of American Tennis
September 09, 2011
One thing seems certain as the 2011 U.S. Open draws to a close: An American man will not win this year’s championship. Andy Roddick was both the last American to win a men’s grand slam event (the 2003 U.S. Open) and the last to compete for one (losing to Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2009). It’s by far the longest stretch of time without an American winner since the Open era began in 1968.
January 13, 2011
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery By Eric Foner (W.W. Norton, 426 pp., $29.95) I. As we begin a raft of sesquicentennials that will carry us through at least the next half-decade—the secession of Southern states, the formation of the Confederacy, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, Appomattox, and so on—I confess to feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. These are all signal events in our history, the roadblocks and thoroughfares in the making of modern America, and at a time of general crisis they are especially important to revisit.
The Road to Mastery
September 22, 2010
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong By Terry Teachout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 475 pp., $30) Duke Ellington’s America By Harvey G. Cohen (University of Chicago Press, 688 pp., $40) Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original By Robin D.G. Kelley (Free Press, 588 pp., $30) Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone By Nadine Cohodas (Pantheon, 449 pp., $30) I. During one of his engagements at the Cotton Club in the mid-’30s, Duke Ellington spotted Leopold Stokowski sitting near the stage a short time before the start of the show.
The Other Shore
May 31, 2010
James Fichter’s wonderful and important book suggests that the Atlanticists may be far less cosmopolitan than they presume. Fichter tells a story of
Race to the Plate
March 12, 2010
Relatively few people know of a most unusual story, and one that confounds many of our expectations about life in the Jim Crow era. It is the story o
The Race Man
October 26, 2009
Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington By Robert J. Norrell (Harvard University Press, 508 pp., $35) I. Once the most famous and influential African American in the United States (and probably the world), Booker T. Washington has earned at best mixed reviews in the decades since his death in 1915. Black intellectuals and political activists, from W. E. B.