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  • Originally published 03/25/2014

    Review of "Stokely: A Life"

    Peniel E. Joseph's new biography restores the voice of Carmichael to the history of the civil rights movement.

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Ronald Radosh: History as Ideology: Further Thoughts on "American Betrayal"

    Writing on this website, Bernie Reeves attempts an evaluation of both Diana West's book and my own critique of it. Their method, particularly that engaged in by Diana West, is one that my colleagues John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr write is that of intellectual "'true believers,' ideological zealots who are mentally incapable of accepting or processing information that undermines their historical worldview."

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Rare Buddhist manuscript Lotus Sutra released

    A rare Buddhist manuscript, discovered by cattle grazers in 1931, has been released in book form in India.The Lotus Sutra was found in Gilgit region, now in Pakistan.The document, which dates back to 5th century, is perhaps the only Buddhist manuscript discovered in India.Believed to be one of the most revered Buddhist scriptures, it represents the discourse delivered by Buddha towards the end of his life.The Gilgit Lotus Sutra is kept at the National Archives of India in the capital, Delhi....

  • Originally published 06/08/2013

    Murray Polner: Review of Kenneth T. MacLeish’s "Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community" (Princeton, 2013)

    Fort Hood, in Texas, is named after Confederate General John Bell Hood, who lost his arm and leg at Gettysburg and Chickamauga but was defeated at Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee. It employs 50,000 troops and civilian employees and is close by the city of Killeen, population 130,000, and which, like most military satellite cities and towns, thrives because of its location, selling food, goods of all sorts, housing, and loans, some no doubt predatory. In fact, as Kenneth T. MacLeish writes, Killeen is “more prosperous than Austin, the state capital, home to a large university and a booming tech sector.” 

  • Originally published 06/02/2013

    Steve Hochstadt: Review of Lawrence S. Wittner's "What's Going On at UAardvark?" (Solidarity Press, 2013)

    Steve Hochstadt teaches at Illinois College and blogs for HNN.What if the trend toward commercialization of higher education continued and accelerated? What would the fully commercial university look like? Lawrence Wittner presents UAardvark: every building named after a corporation; TV sets that can’t be turned off, broadcasting commercials in classrooms, dorms, and offices; and a president negotiating to store radioactive waste in the New Technology Center.Wittner taught history for thirty-six years at the State University of New York at Albany, and has widely published on peace movements and nuclear disarmament. His recent memoir, Working for Peace and Justice, identifies him as an activist intellectual; he serves on the national board of Peace Action. This is his first novel.

  • Originally published 05/19/2013

    Bernard von Bothmer: Review of Harold Holzer's "The Civil War in 50 Objects" (Viking, 2013)

    Bernard von Bothmer is an adjunct professor of history at the University of San Francisco and Dominican University of California. He is the author of "Framing the Sixties: The Use and Abuse of a Decade from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush" (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010). The Civil War, the nation’s most important event, is the subject of seemingly endless fascination. This majestic compilation of objects from the era reminds us why.

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Jeffrey Aaron Snyder: Review of James Patterson's "The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Changed America" (Basic Books, 2012)

    Jeffrey Aaron Snyder is a historian of education who writes about the twentieth-century United States.  He teaches at Carleton College.When did “the Sixties” begin? The answer, James Patterson says, is 1965, after which “life in the United States would never be the same again.” When President Lyndon Baines Johnson lit the national Christmas tree in December of 1964, he declared that “these are the most hopeful times in all the years since Christ was born in Bethlehem.” One year later, Watts was still smoldering while thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the White House to chant “Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids have you killed today?” The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Changed America tells the absorbing story of how we got from the promise of Bethlehem to the nightmares of Vietnam and race riots.

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Rare Hawaiian surfing book expected to sell for $40,000

    COSTA MESA, Calif. — A book about surfers in the early 1900s is expected to sell for about $40,000.A copy of “The Surf Riders of Hawaii” will go before bidders Saturday at the Surfing Heritage Vintage Surf Auction. The auction will include more than 60 vintage surfboards and other items.The book is one of eight made by hand by A.R. Gurrey Jr. between 1911 and 1915. Gurrey is considered the father of surf photography. The book helped spread surfing’s appeal from Hawaii to the mainland.It is composed of six leaves of heavy brown woven paper, with eight mounted gelatin-silver photographs of native Hawaiians surfing Waikiki. Among them is Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympic medalist swimmer who helped popularize the sport....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Jonathan Freedland: Review of Jonathan Sperber's "Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life"

    Jonathan Freedland is an editorial page columnist for The Guardian of London.The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.

  • Originally published 03/27/2013

    How to Write a Book Dedication

    Image via Shutterstock.Let’s fantasize for a moment. That book draft, the one calling on you to sacrifice so much, is on the verge of being finished. Hooray! But wait:  shouldn’t there be a dedication -- to somebody or something? Researching and writing it was a highly personal act; nobody would blame you if you think, “The act of creation is mine -- all mine." The moment is one for euphoria! Every author owes a debt to somebody. ... If you believe the final product turned out, well, brilliantly, maybe it’s dedication time.

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    NYT interviews Garry Wills

    The author of “Nixon Agonistes,” “John Wayne’s America,” “Lincoln at Gettysburg,” “Reagan’s America” and, most recently, “Why Priests?” considers Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” “the best political writing of our time.”What was the best book you read last year?Peter Brown, “Through the Eye of a Needle.” Puts a stethoscope to the fourth through sixth centuries C.E.When and where do you like to read? Anywhere. Everywhere. In high school, I read in the stands through the school’s football and basketball games....

  • Originally published 02/11/2013

    New satire unleashes Hitler on modern, multi-cultural Germany

    What would happen if Adolf Hitler woke up in modern-day Berlin to find that it was not occupied by Russian soldiers but instead by a vibrant, multicultural citizenry? This is the premise of the debut novel by German journalist Timur Vermes, Er Ist Wieder Da (He’s Back), which has topped Germany’s best-seller list.Narrated in the first-person by Hitler, the story follows the Führer as he awakens from a 66-year sleep in his bunker beneath Berlin to find an entirely changed Germany. In the celebrity-obsessed modern-day city, everyone assumes the fulminating leader of the Nazi party is a comedian in character — and soon he becomes a celebrity with a guest slot on a Turkish-born comedian’s TV show. His bigoted rants are interpreted as a satirical exposure of prejudice, leading him to decide to start his own political party....

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    Andrew Feffer: Review of Marjorie Heins’s "Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge" (NYU, 2013)

    Andrew Feffer is a Professor of History and Co-Director of Film Studies at Union College in Schenectady, NY. He is currently writing a book on the impact of the Rapp-Coudert investigation on the intellectual life of New York City.In the fall of 1940 through the winter of 1941, as Europe passed into the second year of world war and the nation slowly climbed out of the Great Depression, faculty, students and staff from New York City’s municipal colleges were called before a tribunal of the New York State Legislature investigating Communist subversion. Before it was done in spring 1942, the Rapp-Coudert investigation, as this witch-hunt was called, had stripped dozens of people of their jobs, careers and reputations. Pearl Harbor had not yet happened. The Cold War would not start for another seven years. And yet something resembling “McCarthyism” had already begun.

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Evan Thomas writing Nixon bio for Jon Meacham

    “Random House is announcing that Evan Thomas will be writing a new life of Richard Nixon for editor Jon Meacham. ‘Evan is the best,’ said Meacham. ‘He writes with sensitivity and honesty, two indispensable qualities in capturing Richard Nixon.’ The deal was brokered by ICM's Amanda Urban....

  • Originally published 01/23/2013

    Murray Polner: Review of Paul and Karen Avrich’s "Sasha and Emma: The Anarchist Odyssey of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman" (Harvard, 2012)

    Murray Polner is a regular book reviewer for HNN.Years ago Paul Avrich, my high school classmate and later a colleague in a college where he was a professor and I an adjunct, invited me to spend an evening with an aging group of Jewish anarchists. At the gathering a woman told me that other than Eleanor Roosevelt, the country’s most remarkable woman had been Emma Goldman. Ahrne Thorne agreed. He was the last editor of the anarchist “Freie Arbeiter Shtimme” (Free Worker’s Voice, it was closed in 1977 after 87 years of publication when it had 1,700 subscribers). He said he had met Alexander Berkman and knew Emma Goldman well. It was hard for me to imagine these elderly men and women as threats to the Republic. They were also despised by Communists because anarchists had the temerity to reject their Soviet paradise.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    John Nagl: Review of Max Boot's "Invisible Armies"

    Mr. Nagl, a retired Army officer, is the author of "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife" and helped write "The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual."In 2003, I deployed to Anbar Province in Iraq with my armored battalion to conduct counterinsurgency operations. I had spent nearly a decade studying the subject academically, and my reading had convinced me that counterinsurgency was the hardest kind of war, much more intellectually and emotionally difficult than the tank warfare I had seen in Iraq in 1991. Even so, I was unprepared for the blind-man's-bluff challenge of fighting an enemy I could rarely see. I would have been on firmer ground if I had read Max Boot's "Invisible Armies" before I had deployed to Iraq. The prolific journalist and military historian has taken on no less a task than presenting the "epic history of guerrilla warfare from ancient times to the present."...

  • Originally published 01/17/2013

    How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?

    American soldier burning a dwelling during the My Lai massacre on March 16, 1968. Credit: U.S. Army.For half a century we have been arguing about “the Vietnam War.” Is it possible that we didn’t know what we were talking about? After all that has been written (some 30,000 books and counting), it scarcely seems possible, but such, it turns out, has literally been the case.

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